The Leap | Conserve the Galapagos, jungle tribes + adventure week

Video and Photos

Ecuador - Conservation project
Ecuador - Conservation project
Ecuador - Conservation on the Galapagos.
Ecuador - Conservation on the Galapagos.
Life it the Andes
Life it the Andes
Heading down the Amazon.
Heading down the Amazon.
Swing on top of the world
Swing on top of the world
Ecuador - Living with a local community
Ecuador - Living with a local community

About

This 5 week program is all about getting stuck into conservation and sustainable projects within traditional communities desperate to combine the ancient with the modern world. You will play a vital part in conserving the natural landscape so, roll up your sleeves, practice your Spanish and expect a full cultural immersion as you travel across this stunning and diverse country.

You will experience:

Lowland Jungle:
Live with the Tsa'chila community, one of the last remaining ancient tribes.
Learn about their traditions and help improve their standard of living through farming & sustainable building. Swim in the rivers, challenge kids to soccer matches or trek in the jungle.

Galapagos Islands:
Reintroduce the tortoise. Help with organic farming, reforestation and with the therapy of special needs children.

+ Ruta de los Volcanes, Expedition week:
Bike to waterfalls, white-water raft, trek around volcanoes & kayak.

Looking for a January/February Departure?

We still have a few spaces left in our Tanzania, Ecuador, Cambodia and Costa Rica teams heading off in Jan and Feb. Just get in touch for more information.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

94%
based on 8 reviews
  • Housing 8.5
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.6
  • Value 8.8
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 8 of 8
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olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible journey

This experience was life changing.
Although this is from a personal point of view, i wanted to share the great personal development this trip gave me. I believe travel and unknown/unusual environments affects and shapes any individual.

It altered my being in a way i find hard to articulate, it changes you and challenges you that no 9-5 working existence ever could.

The diverse range of places, people and environments your in, call on your skills and coping mechanisms you never realised you even had. Whilst trying to deal with emotional and physical hardship, you experience an empathy and love for others that you're living with, the bond you develop with these people is incredibly strong, and your adaptation to group dynamics is incredible.

You uncover sides of your personality that you are obligated to work through, being away from home it just makes you realise how strong you are able to coup. Humans are incredible, and we adapt easily, no matter how great the strain.
The Leap were fantastic at paring people to certain groups, and i believe it is a real merit to their skills to be able to understand one's personality through conversation, and trust their instinct in placing that person with the right people.
You experience such beauty and wonder in some of the most stunningly exotic places on earth. Your senses and feelings begin to alter and appreciate the worlds beauty. Its incredible as your sharing this with people who you truly develop love for. It a heartwarming, adventure, where true freedom is at its best. exploring and discovering the earth and yourself. What better way to spend a year out of education.
Do it. Its magic!

What would you improve about this program?
The only 2 issues that i found truly difficult, and i believe that there could be great improvement on, was
1. the food.
Only in terms of food allocation, the money we paid was a large amount, yet i felt we were very restricted to budget and type of food choices when we were in Quito or Banos ect ...

2. In the mountains, i felt our time was incredibly poorly structured, and i didn't feel that i was making a difference at all. (this was the part of the trip i found hard to deal with, not even in a positive way) i felt there a great lack of structure and hardly any voluntary work that was meaningful. this upset me.

Default avatar
Rachael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Gap Yah!

This was an incredible experience providing me with oppurtunities that i could never have had without the help of The Leap.

I chose Ecuador mainly because 3 of my friends were also going too- I wasn't going to University and I didnt know what else to do. I worked really hard to save the money and absolutely everything i did proved worth it once I arrived there.

The families we stayed with, the rest of my group and the Leap leaders were all incredible people.

Every day was different, with different challenges and things to do. Every day was fun and every day was a memory I wont forget.

I have made life long friends!

The volunteering was totally rewarding- seeing a whole water irrigation system put into place in the Andes, planting hundreds of Cacao plants in the Jungle(I caught a bad chest infection whilst in the jungle and the family and leaders couldnt have been more helpful), being in the Galapogos was incredible in itself but being able to work with the Hacienda also was really great!

I would recommend the Galapogos to any one that goes to Ecuador- it is an unforgettable experience and one that you probably wont ever do again!

This was truly the best experience i have ever had- it was hard work but very rewarding. Of course it wasnt all just work- there were the trips we were able to do also- Zip lining over the Cloud Forest, visiting Banos and qaud biking across the town and Mindo in the Bio-Hostel, and of course the endless partying and tanning in Montanita!

Most of all the people in my group made my trip too- All from different backgrounds but we all gelled together and have truly made life long friends.

Everyone is usally sceptical about an organised trip like these- no need to be when it comes to The Leap.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would change would be the money/food allowance when it comes to eating out all together when we are not in the projects. This proved an issue as to what budgets we could have etc
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Torks
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sceptical about an organised trip at first but I was proved wrong!

The experience was absolutely unforgettable. At first I was pretty sceptical about doing an organised trip for my gap year but in the end I was so glad that I did it.

I lost my bag on the first flight out and never got it back! The leap were super helpful with trying to deal with the airline and in trying to recover it.

I also caught meningitis when I was out there with them (freak accident!) and the group leaders were amazing, helpful and professional.

The time there was really made all the more special by the quality of the team that I was with. I made some life-long friends out there, all from completely different backgrounds. The special thing about the trip is the length of it (vastly longer than others available from different companies) that offers the most important aspect - the chance to forge friendships and relationships with people out to do the same thing as you - have fun!

I could not have spent my money better, or asked for a better experience to start off my travels.

This is definitely not "organised fun" so you have all the freedom to do your own things in free time.

Extremely enjoyable and rewarding experience, getting the most out of a unique, extraordinary country.

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Jess
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Great Experience

My time spent in Ecuador was amazing and The Leap did everything they could to ensure this. I especially enjoyed my time on the Galapagos Island where I was able to swim with turtles and sharks. My favourite volunteering part was when we went to the Rainforest and spent the days planting cacao plants and then went back to living in very basic houses made from plants. Overall I had a fantastic time and made some great friends.

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LH
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

fantastic well-rounded experience

Having chosen Ecuador as the destination for my first extended trip abroad for the variety of environments, the Leap ensured my expectations were met, providing for a memorable trip.

With the right balance between working/volunteering, learning, socialising and exploring, I felt that the opportunity for an individual sense of adventure was more than catered for within the structure that was provided.

In the Andes we were warmly welcomed by the local community, and although the work was more laborious than expected, it felt as if we were genuinely helping. Spanish lessons were also provided, and having previously never learnt it before, I was surprised at just how quickly we picked up the basics and were able to use to it travel around at the weekends.

The Galapagos proved to be the highlight of trip. Friendships within our own Leap group long cemented it was fun to socialise with a new bunch of volunteers staying in the same place as us. The leaders were incredibly friendly and supportive and the work seemed slightly easier than before, and we spent afternoons snorkelling and exploring San Cristobal. We were also able to have an extended weekend away visiting the other islands. I would recommend however budgeting for the more expensive trips, such as diving.

In terms of support we were very lucky to have friendly Ecuadorian group leaders who helped us immerse ourselves in the culture, providing help whenever needed. Whenever an issue arose there was the opportunity for review, which hopefully they have taken on board for future trips.

From the Andes, to cloud forests to hanging out with seals in the Galapagos, the Ecuador Leap was a fantastic well-rounded experience.

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Seamus
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Well Rounded Experience

In general, the programme is a very well rounded experience where you can go with your group on adventure weekend breaks during or in between volunteer segments.

The communities that we stayed with seemed appreciative of the work we were doing and we fostered good relations with them.

The UK staff are very professional and always there to help. My group leader at the time was very knowledgeable and knew how to travel in Ecuador.

The work itself may be harder to you if you come from a first world city where rural living conditions may be more difficult for you and you have to do hands-on work.

For specific examples of day to day experiences: In the Andes we readied a patch of land for seeding so that the local school could feed the kids.The community was wonderful, made us great food and had good living conditions.

With the specific Tsachila community we stayed with: living conditions were sufficient and the people were friendly. The only significant downside was that the food they provided was typically insufficient, though im sure much of the issue can be attributed simply to lifestyle difference rather than anything else.

In the Galapagos: The boss was friendly and the work was tough at times but very rewarding. You get to meet many more volunteers here because the Hacienda you work at accepts volunteers from all over the world all year round. You get to be next to all of the endemic species and experience the life of the islanders.

What would you improve about this program?
As far as I know my group leader already addressed the issue that I would change. We gave feedback during the trip which was noted by the leader.
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Lauren
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Ecuador experience

Fantastic opportunity to immerse one's self into a completely new culture. It was hard work, particularly getting to grips with using tools I had never used before and carrying heavy pieces of lumber but seeing the faces on the residents of the tribal communities made it all worth it. Thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

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Kat
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience!!!!

I can't recommend this program enough!

The time in the Andean community was incredible. It was hard work, but the people there are so welcoming and kind and, most importantly, inspiring - they don't have much money or anything, but they are so skilled in their craft and so hardworking. Plus the food they gave us was delicious!!!!!!
The jungle was also a very interesting experience, as we saw how a very different indigenous community lived in a very different manner. They have a rather odd blend of modern and traditional, which was very unexpected.
Then came the gem - The Galapagos!! Nothing can prepare you for the sheer beauty you witness out there; sea lions everywhere, idyllic beaches and incredible snorkelling!! The work we did there was harder than anywhere else, with full days in hot hot weather but it was really worthwhile. We did stuff like cutting down invasive species as well as building a nursery to grow endemic species.

In between voluntary placements we have time off to travel around Ecuador and do more traditionally "touristy" things. We're visited several adventure towns, where we whitewater rafted,zip lined and jumped off bridges!!! Plus we had he opportunity to visit some historic attractions in Quito and Guayaquil.

The only things I'd warn you about is there are some pretty basic living conditions, some of the food is pretty substandard (ie gross) and the altitude can be a bitch!!

Have fun!!!

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About The Leap

The Leap has been leading the field in overseas volunteering and career enhancing internships since 2002, providing award winning programs across Africa, Asia and South America. They are the first UK company to be accredited by the Gap Year...