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Volunteer in Ecuador: Wildlife, Rainforest Conservation, Teaching

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By Jordyn Hotchkiss
Guest Writer
Volunteer Forever | Volunteer in Ecuador

If you have wanderlust in your heart and are looking for an amazing reason to travel, then volunteering in Ecuador should definitely be on your list.

Ecuador is the only country named after a geographical feature (the equator), is home to two of the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Galapagos Islands and the city of Quito – and is an absolutely gorgeous place to visit. However, with a 32% poverty rate for a population of over 13 million, Ecuador is in great need of volunteers like you.

As a volunteer in Ecuador, you’ll have the opportunity to help people living in poverty, improve their way of life, and contribute to the development of communities all across the country. With an economy based on industry, agriculture, and exports, it’s important to ensure that working conditions are safe, and that workers are healthy and thriving. You can teach English, life skills, and sports to Ecuador’s children, allowing them to grow into healthy, successful adults. And for adults or families living in poverty or in underserved communities, there’s lots of opportunity for you to work in hospitals, clinics, special needs homes, and elderly care facilities to support some of the country’s most vulnerable populations. And through conservation programs – such as food production, sustainable agriculture, marine research, wildlife protection, and more – you can help ensure Ecuador’s natural resources and habitats are kept safe for years to come.

From the peak of Cotopaxi, to the beauty of Cajas National Park, to the history of El Panecillo, Ecuador has so much colorful culture for you to explore during your travels. And through your volunteer experiences, you’ll get to know locals and learn about a way of life that may be much different from your own, all while experiencing the beauty that is Ecuador.

So, brush up on your Spanish and get ready to explore all there is to offer in the wonderful Latin American country of Ecuador!

8 Great Volunteer Programs In Ecuador

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

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If you’re looking for an affordable and impactful volunteer opportunity in Ecuador, take a look at what International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) has to offer. Since 2007, IVHQ has sent more than 80,000 volunteers to dozens of countries worldwide to help out with teaching, childcare, conservation, and much more. IVHQ partners with local NGOs at each of its project sites to provide the best support and training they can for their volunteers, and to make sure their programs positively impact their communities. And all year round, International Volunteer HQ offers a variety of volunteer projects in Ecuador, each of which lasts anywhere between one and 12 weeks. Based in the capital city of Quito, you’ll stay in a shared volunteer house or with a host family throughout your volunteer program, and you can expect to work Tuesday through Friday each week. On weekends, you’re free to explore and learn all about the culture, heritage, and sites around Quito. Volunteering in Ecuador with IVHQ is super affordable and starts from just $270 for your first week abroad.

Kindergarten Teaching and English Teaching

One of IVHQ’s Ecuador volunteer programs offers you the chance to assist teachers in primary and kindergarten classes with preschool math, writing, reading, and art, plus helping organize lunch and playtime for your students. Depending on your placement, you’ll volunteer in a school for girls, or in a private school for low-income families. While you don’t need a background in planning a school curriculum or teaching, this is a fabulous opportunity if you’re an aspiring teacher or looking to improve your Spanish language skills.

If you’d like to teach English, IVHQ also invites you to teach in an Ecuadorian school for low-income students or in a community center as an assistant. Through both of these placements, you can help plan activities, provide classroom support, and give one-on-one attention to your students in pronunciation, conversation, and reading and writing skills. You’ll work with classrooms of 15 to 35 students, and a few activities you’ll take part in include:

  1. Providing weekly evaluations
  2. Identifying communication problems
  3. Addressing linguistic concerns
  4. Developing language teaching strategies

Placement for this program is dependent on your previous classroom experience, Spanish language skills, and your confidence in teaching English.

Street Children Support

IVHQ also is offering a program in Ecuador where you can help to support street childrenwho have not had the option to attend school, and who instead have to work in markets, perform in the streets, or otherwise help to provide a stream of income for their families. As a volunteer on this project, you will work and play with children of all ages, helping them out with basic school lessons, hygiene awareness, and new activities and games that can help them gain new perspectives and pursue educational opportunities they may otherwise not be able to find.

For more information on these programs and other volunteer opportunities IVHQ offers in Ecuador, please visit this page.

What Volunteers Say: Review from Rachel

I really loved the 4 weeks I spent on my program in Ecuador. Everything was really well organised, the staff were all fantastic and responded very quickly to questions and I felt like the work I was doing in the program was really making a difference to the lives of the children there and their future possibilities. I would highly recommend IVHQ and the street children program in Ecuador to anyone looking both for an adventure and to make a real difference to the lives of others.

Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

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Global Leadership Adventures is an excellent option for teen and high school travelers who want to make a difference abroad. Through GLA’s programs, you’ll combine volunteer service with hands-on learning and travel – and as outlined in Global Leadership Adventures’ five-point safety system, you’ll be sure to have a fun, safe adventure overseas with experienced staff dedicated to providing the very best service learning experience you can have. Each year, GLA sends thousands of travelers to 23 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and as a leader in youth development, Global Leadership Adventures has a database of nearly 2,000 references happy to vouch for the impact of their programs.

Galapagos: Preserving Nature’s Wonders

Right now, Global Leadership Adventures is offering an amazing opportunity for you to travel to the Galapagos Islands to learn about wildlife conservation and protecting the environment. For two weeks, you’ll volunteer on Isabela Island and San Cristobal Island – for the first part of your volunteer experience, you’ll work in a tortoise breeding center, and on the next part, you’ll help clear invasive plants that are detrimental to the local ecosystem. Along with your volunteer project, you’ll also learn about current issues affecting the islands’ natural habitats, and learn about the many different species local to the Galapagos. And finally, you’ll have the wonderful opportunity to go hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming throughout your stay. This program costs $4,499, and includes all in-country expenses, such as domestic airfare, housing and food, full-time staff support, secondary medical and travel insurance, and much more.

To learn more about GLA’s volunteer programs, please click here.

What Volunteers Say: Review from Caitlin

I would recommend Global Leadership Adventures to any high-school looking for a life-changing summer. I volunteered twice with Global Leadership Adventures, once to the Galapagos Islands, and the second time to Tanzania. Both times the staff were very supportive in helping me organize everything needed to participate, from flights to visas to forms. Once in country the mentors, locals staff, and international directors were amazing. They always greeted us with smiles on their face, and were truly there to help make your summer a memorable one.

Throughout the whole experience there was never a time in which I didn’t feel safe. This was a huge concern for my parents, as I had never traveled internationally before, let alone by myself! Global Leadership Adventures did an amazing job is putting to rest my parents concerns.

Overall I would just like to say to anyone reading this, go on one of these trips. They are a life-altering experience. Through service abroad you can learn so much about the world, other cultures, and yourself.

Projects Abroad

Volunteer in Ecuador with Projects Abroad

One of the world’s largest and most trusted volunteer travel organizations, Projects Abroad sends more than 10,000 volunteers each year to take part in impactful programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Europe. You can choose from volunteer programs, internships overseas, under-18s trips, and lots of other programs fitted to your travel style. Placements with Projects Abroad start from $1,720 for your first week overseas, depending on your program, and you’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like to gain the most from your experience.

Volunteer in Ecuador with Projects Abroad and contribute to worthwhile community development or critical conservation work on the breathtaking Galapagos Islands. The fertile ash from towering volcanoes promotes the growth of lush green vegetation, where a vast array of colorful species make their homes.

Work with Children in Ecuador

Education starts from an early age. It’s during these formative years that children need the most support for developing important skills; however, many students struggle to keep up in understaffed schools. As a volunteer in Ecuador, you’ll work with teachers and caregivers to provide children with more focused attention. Depending on your interests, you can:

  1. Run interactive classes, like arts and crafts to promote young children’s development
  2. Support older children with their schoolwork, including subjects like English and math
  3. Promote physical development and active lifestyles on a sports coaching project

To learn more about volunteering to improve children’s education in Ecuador with Projects Abroad, click here.

Help Conserve Galapagos Wildlife

Along the coast lie the pristine beaches of the Galapagos, where sea lions sprawl lazily on the sand. Although an exciting novelty for tourists, the remote nature of the islands makes it difficult for locals to access basic amenities. Animals on the islands struggle with a range of challenges. You can help address some of these issues on a Projects Abroad volunteering program.

The beauty of the Galapagos Islands can’t be overstated, but this breathtaking environment is under threat from habitat destruction and invasive species. Join a conservation project here and help protect indigenous plants and animals. As a volunteer, these are some of the tasks you’ll do:

  1. Assist with feeding and caring for giant tortoises at a breeding center
  2. Remove invasive plants and replace them with indigenous species
  3. Collect data on animals to inform conservation policies
  4. Run conservation awareness campaigns throughout local communities

This is a great opportunity to gain practical conservation experience while making a difference. To learn more about this program and to sign up, click here.

What volunteers say: Review from Bianca

“The first project we were involved in, and my favorite one, was feeding and taking care of the tortoises at the Galapaguera, the giant tortoise breeding center on the island. Feeding, cleaning and walking with these giants were unbelievable experiences. In particular, the project focused on locating the nests and eggs, cleaning ponds and controlling the juvenile population through surveys. The next two and a half weeks were as exciting as the first few days.”

Love Volunteers

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Love Volunteers offers a huge number of volunteer and intern abroad programs in more than 30 countries worldwide. With more than 20,000 volunteers placed since the organization’s founding, Love Volunteers offers impactful projects ranging from conservation, to childcare, to education, to arts, to healthcare and medical care, and so much more. Right now, Love Volunteers has several opportunities to check out throughout Ecuador, where you can make a difference, explore the country, and learn skills to enhance your studies and career. Projects include teaching, empowering women, working in hospitals, and more, and depending on which opportunity you sign up for, you can stay from one week at just $380.

Volunteering with the Elderly

If you want to volunteer in the capital city and support one of the country’s most vulnerable populations, consider signing up with Love Volunteers’ elderly care program. Through this placement, you’ll work in a residential facility for older men and women who are destitute or who have mental or physical disabilities. As a volunteer, you’ll help with cooking, providing meals, reading to residents, accompanying residents on walks, and taking part in handicrafts and other activities. For this program, it’s important that you have some Spanish language ability, and you can sign up for lessons for an additional fee.

Amazon Animal Welfare

Another opportunity you can sign up for in Ecuador with Love Volunteers focuses on Amazon animal welfare, where you’ll work side-by-side with an indigenous Quichuan community. You’ll work in either Puyo, Pastaza Province or in Tena, Napo Province to help rescue wild animals – primarily primates, birds, and reptiles – from unhealthy and illegal situations. Many of the scenarios you’ll encounter involve illegal animal trafficking and mistreatment, and each day you’ll help out with an agricultural project and then move on to your individual volunteer program. To sign up, you must be in good physical health, be 18 or older, and have a love of animals.

If you’d like to learn more about these two amazing opportunities or the other volunteer programs you can apply for with Love Volunteers, please visit this site.

A Broader View

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A nonprofit organization based in the US, A Broader View is an excellent place to start planning your trip to Ecuador. Through partnerships with NGOs and communities worldwide – working in 25 different countries with nearly 250 placements – A Broader View strives to make sure you have the best volunteer experience possible while also making a great difference in the community where you’ll work. In Ecuador, A Broader View offers an incredibly wide range of volunteer opportunities: from the Amazon to the coast, this organization has projects available right now for volunteers of all interests, ranging from community development, to welfare, to animal care, to child or elderly support, and so much more. Depending on the project you sign up with, you can stay one week or longer, with a program cost starting at $895. Your program fee covers registration, donation, airport pickup, orientation and support, housing and meals, and much more.

Coastal Community Development

One program you can sign up for right now is A Broader View’s coastal community development project, located in the southern side of Manabi – a community of about 5,000. This particular program combines teaching, construction, community development, and conservation projects, making it a fantastic option for proactive volunteers who want to gain a wider insight into this community and how it’s supported.

Through the education component, you’ll volunteer in a school or in a daycare center, where you can teach English, sports, or other lessons that the local teachers may need help with. For the community development aspect of your placement, you’ll teach English to people in the local community, develop ecotourism practices, and help promote tourism in the area. As part of the construction program, you’ll help paint and repair classrooms and school desks, paint murals, and maintain school facilities and recreational areas. And finally, your conservation work can consist of working at a native plant nursery to preserve different types of species, organizing a recycling campaign, and monitoring and collecting data on whales. Altogether, you can stay two to four weeks on this program, and you’ll live with a host family who will provide you with three meals each day. You can expect to work 30 to 40 hours each week, with weekends free to explore, travel, or relax.

English Teaching in the Galapagos

If you’d like to take a more focused and specific volunteer track, check out A Broader View’s English teaching program in the Galapagos, where you can teach in a public school in Santa Cruz. With over 650 children enrolled in preschool through 7th grade, you’ll have no shortage of work while you assist teachers with conversational English lessons, recreation, and any developmental needs of the children, such as homework help or one-on-one tutoring. You may also have the opportunity to work in a multilingual educational facility for children from the islands, many of whom have migrated from indigenous communities with their families. This school has children aged 4 to 11, with 30 preschoolers and 100 children enrolled in basic education. This program lasts two to four weeks, and you’ll work Monday through Friday with weekends free for your own activities.

For more information on these projects and the other opportunities offered to volunteer in Ecuador through A Broader View, please click here.

What Volunteers Say: Review from Michelle

From the minute I began to plan this work with my first emails to ABV to my time at the Reserve, I will say that the whole experience was very enjoyable and exciting. I have spoken to those at home about my experience at the Reserve and with ABV and I hope I have generated the interest of others here at home to do what I did. I would love to do this work again. Thanks.

Global Nomadic

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If you want to find an internship or volunteer opportunity that will help further your studies or career, Global Nomadic should be on your list. Global Nomadic offers high-quality placements in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific, and Latin America, all with the purpose of helping travelers pursue their dreams and learn from hands-on work with NGOs worldwide.

Agroforestry and Environmental Development Internship

Global Nomadic is currently offering one Ecuadorian travel opportunity, and if you’re a graduate student or industry professional in the environmental field, this may be the perfect placement for you! Global Nomadic’s agroforestry and environmental development internship takes place in Central Ecuador, where you can work anywhere from two weeks to one year with scientists, agronomists, and marketing staff. Your daily work will include community development, agricultural economics, social entrepreneurship, forest conservation, environmental education, agroforestry research, online media and graphics, urban ecology and permaculture, and ecotourism development.

Throughout your stay, you’ll live in a fully equipped guesthouse in Tena, along with several other interns or volunteers – though host family accommodations also are available if you prefer. To sign up, you must be 18 or older, and ideally be able to commit to a minimum stay of eight weeks. You must have advanced Spanish language ability and be knowledgeable in your area of research – it’s also a plus if you have experience living and working in Latin America or in a rural setting.

For more information on Global Nomadic and this amazing internship opportunity in Ecuador, please visit this page.

Frontier

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For more than 25 years, Frontier has placed travelers on projects alongside local communities and researchers to aid ecosystem protection, community development, economic growth, and much more. A nonprofit scientific research organization, Frontier started with a marine park in Tanzania, created in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, and today hosts over 400 projects in 72 countries worldwide. Through their initiatives, Frontier invites you to embark on volunteer programs, gap year travel, internships abroad, and teach abroad / TEFL programs that will let you engage in valuable and meaningful work worldwide. In Ecuador, Frontier has a wide variety of programs, ranging from language learning, to agriculture, to child care, to conservation and much more. Depending on which trip you sign up for, you can stay one week or longer, starting from $595 – this covers your project fee, airport transfer, housing and meals, training sessions, emergency support, and more.

Community Development and Agriculture

Through this program, you’ll travel to the Galapagos Islands to aid with community development and education, therapy for disabled children, or environmental conservation. You’ll work with local families to care for livestock, plant trees, repair fences, teach English or other subjects at a local school, and more, depending on the needs of the program, which aims to support people within the community you’ll visit through sustainable initiatives. During your stay, you’ll live with other volunteers at a ranch house, and while meals are not included, you will have access to a shared kitchen. In your free time and on weekends, you can go birdwatching, surfing, swimming, snorkeling, and more.

Medical Internship

If you’re a medical student or qualified professional, check out Frontier’s medical internship in Ecuador, where you’ll gain valuable experience working in a hospital or clinic, and observe medical practices from local doctors and nurses. A few activities you’ll help with include taking patient histories, diagnosis, assisting medical staff, and helping with community outreach programs, such as medical camps, health education, and other activities. You’ll work five days each week, and in your free time, you’re invited to explore restaurants, museums, monuments, and more around Quito. To apply, you must submit a CV, have relevant experience in your field, and preferably have intermediate Spanish language ability.

Teaching English

If you want to teach English abroad, look no further than Frontier’s English teaching program in Quito, Ecuador. Through this placement, you’ll teach in a public school to educate your students in English, math, art, hygiene and nutrition, and other subjects, depending on your experience and Spanish language ability. You can also help create educational materials, grade homework, and teach new games and activities to the children. If you’d like to travel to Ecuador outside of the school year, you’re also welcome to volunteer in a nursery for poor and at-risk children, or assist at a school for children with disabilities. During your program, you’ll stay with a host family who will provide three home-cooked meals each day, and in your free time, you can explore Quito or take side trips with local providers.

To learn more about volunteering in Ecuador and beyond with Frontier, please click here.

Ready to Travel and Volunteer?

With so many volunteer and intern abroad opportunities in Ecuador, and it’s just a matter of choosing which one is best for you and the impact you’d like to make on the community you’ll visit. Whether you’re interested in childcare, conservation, teaching, or beyond, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture, learn about a community you may never have thought to visit before, and learn more about yourself than you ever thought you would – even if you’re just staying one week.

For more information and inspiration, please visit Volunteer Forever’s Volunteer Abroad, Teach Abroad and Intern Abroad sections at the top of this page – you can also take a look at some of these articles to learn more about volunteering opportunities in Latin America!

Volunteer Programs and Projects in Brazil and Ecuador

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