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Ecuador is home to breathtaking volcanic lakes, the Andes' mountainous terrain, the Amazon jungle, sunny beaches, and friendly people. The country's world-famous Galapagos Islands are extremely unique and incredibly beautiful. You'll just have to visit to know what we're talking about!
Ecuador is always looking for volunteers to help with projects to assist local communities, especially in the Galapagos Islands where conservation projects to help the depleting natural environment are especially needed. When the hard work is done, take time to explore the environment and community you are volunteering with.
In Ecuador's mainland and the Galapagos area, there are a number of different volunteer vacation opportunities available. Group trips, as well as individual travelers, are welcome to take part in any adventure they desire.
Environmental Conservation: Volunteer in Ecuador to save the environment! Get your hands dirty and make a difference in the lives of Ecuador's ecosystems. Ecuador was named one of 17 megadiverse countries by Conservation International because of its high number of diverse plant and animal species.
You will find volunteer opportunities in the tropical rainforest region or in the Galapagos Islands. No experience required for the programs, however, biology and conservation experience is a valuable asset. Examples of possible volunteer activities include: data collection, reforestation, trail maintenance, environmental education, agricultural activities, and more.
Wildlife Conservation: Love animals? Volunteer in Ecuador to eliminate wildlife mistreatment and abuse through rescue and rehabilitation. Assist in releasing animals back into the wild or provide sanctuary for those animals that have been badly treated and are unable to be released. No experience required for the wildlife volunteer programs, however, having a biology background and experience working with animals is helpful. Volunteer activities at animal welfare centers, found in Ecuador's mainland, may include: cleaning, feeding, monitoring behavior, maintaining crops, building animal enclosures, assisting local veterinarian.
Health: It's possible to find opportunities to volunteer at medical rehabilitation centres in Ecuador, especially in the city of Quito. Availability depends on the time of year. The role of the volunteer is based on his/her medical experience. The volunteer experience may include: assisting doctors in prostheses laboratory and with rehabilitation, language therapy, patient information, and special projects.
Youth Support: In Ecuador, day care centres and programs have been developed for children who accompany their parents to work on the street each day. There are volunteer opportunities at these centres, and the placement depends upon availability and length of the participants' stay. There are also opportunities to provide volunteer support within schools as well. Some of the duties of these programs may include: ensuring and improving proper hygiene, planning activities, helping with assignments and homework, aiding teachers, supervising children, and organizing snack and meal time.
Other Volunteer Opportunities: Teach English in Ecuador at local community schools or be a live-in teacher with an Ecuadorian family. Some experience may be required, depending on the program you choose. Work in local daycare centres or teach your favourite sport to local children in the community. Experience the satisfaction of helping Ecuador's locals. Travel while growing your career. Marketing internships in Ecuador are available, particularly in Quito. Build your resume with international work experience.
Traveling to Ecuador typically requires a few vaccinations as a precaution. Visit MD Travel Health for a listing of the required vaccinations for Ecuador travelers. Medications for the prevention of malaria are also important for all areas except the cities of Guayaquil and Quito, the Galapagos Islands, and altitudes greater than 1500m (4921 ft.) Highest risk areas are in Esmeraldas, El Oro and Manabi. For a map of the risk areas, go to the Pan American Health Organization.
Travelers' diarrhea in Ecuador can be common. It is suggested to bring pain relievers and stomach/diarrhea medications. Drink bottled water and stick to restaurants instead of street vendors for enjoying Ecuador's delicious foods.
As with many countries, theft, robberies, and reckless driving can be common. Foreigners are obvious targets to criminals, so make sure to keep a close eye on your belongings and be aware of your surroundings. Public transportation can sometimes be dangerous, due to improper upkeep of road conditions.
All tourists need a valid passport. Citizens of Canada, UK and USA do not need to obtain a Visa for stays up to 90 days in Ecuador. If you are a different nationality, you need to contact your local Ecuadorian Embassy. For stays longer than 90 days, you must obtain a 6-month Tourist Visa. More information on business and other visas can be found at VISA HQ.
Lead Adventures has been operating since 2004, providing custom volunteer and travel experiences throughout mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. All programs help give back to local communities and/or support the environment. Find them on Facebook and Twitter.
Do you think there is something missing in our guide to volunteering in Ecuador? Contact us and let us know! We want to make sure our information is relevant and up to date.