Sustainable Summer: Ecuador & The Galapagos

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Ecuador is one of our favorite countries to visit. It is the most biodiverse place on the planet by many measures, with beautiful Pacific beaches, the majestic Andes mountains, and Amazonian rainforest all packed into a country about the size of Colorado. Plus, you've got the otherworldly Galapagos Islands, too. on an exploration of the global food system!

Sustainable Summer offers three different programs in Ecuador: Our 2-week Sustaining the Amazon program explores economic development and natural resource extraction in Ecuador's Oriente; our 3-week Seeds of Change program is focused on food and agriculture; and our 2-week Galapagos program is the popular choice for the budding ecologists and wildlife scientists among our student population.

Take a look at our website to see which Ecuador program is best for your interests and objectives.

  • Learning the principles of permaculture and the politics of seed saving.
  • Snorkeling with white-tip sharks and Galapagos penguins at Bartoleme Island.
  • Rafting the mighty whitewater of the Rio Jatunyacu.
  • Trips to the chakras, the ‘forest gardens’ of the indigenous Kichwa people.
  • Environmental leadership courses through a collaborative, multidisciplinary, challenge-based learning approach.

Questions & Answers

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  • Growth 9.6
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 8.8
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
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Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible experience!

The Seeds of Change program in Ecuador was one of the highlights of all of my high school summers. Learning about sustainable agriculture in such a culturally rich and beautiful country was very impactful, especially when thinking big picture about agriculture and food policy. The participants on my trip shaped my experience in an enriching and amazing way-our discussions were thought provoking and open-minded and we all just had a lot of fun together. Our trip leaders were super engaging and fun, but also very organized. We explored a handful of different parts of Ecuador, the Andes and then the coast, which was beautiful. Everyone was excited and engaging with everything we did, which made the trip so great. Being around like-minded, environmentally-conscious people solidified my interest in the environment as well as my undergraduate study of environmental policy at a small liberal arts college.

3 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Trip!

This was a wonderful experience with very knowledgeable and amiable staff and similarly delightful, like-minded students. We traveled throughout the Amazon and saw mountains, gorgeous waterfalls, and enjoyed many jungle hikes. The housing and food (lots of vegetarian options) were generally very good quality and the Ecuadorian guides that we had at each location were all a lot of fun and were extremely knowledgeable. We got to have a lot of very neat experiences (including white water rafting and milking cows!!!) and our group culture was very fun and respectful. Our leaders taught us a number of games and we would simply enjoy spending time with each other while traveling or before going to bed each night. The staff was also well aware of our safety and I never really felt that our activities or practices were endangering in any way.
This program, despite its name, did not focus on environmental issues quite as much as I had expected. We did go to several hydroelectric projects and discussed the implications of those, but besides that, environmentalism was typically only mentioned in our evening discussions and we didn't focus on it or learn quite as much as I had been hoping. Besides that, the Sustaining the Amazon trip was a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

3 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Once-in-a-lifetime Experience

Venturing through the dense layers of the Amazon forest, engaging in lively and scholarly conversations with the local Kichwa people, and examining the impact of our nation's thirst for non-renewable resources, I discovered my future passion for environmental science.
This summer, I set a goal to learn more about the world and myself. Sustainable Summer fully helped me achieve this goal. Myself, along with thirteen other students, left behind our indulgent, urbanized lifestyles and traveled to Ecuador to expand our knowledge of sustainability. The result was an unforgettable experience- emphasized by the helpful leaders, amazing accommodations, exciting activities, and intriguing lessons. Furthermore, the program allowed me to experience what a career in environmental science would entail, and supported my belief this would be a suiting career for me.
Sustainable Summer was honestly one of the best experiences of my life, and I can only hope others are able to experience this amazing opportunity.

3 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Unreal Experiences and Adventures

The experience was unlike anything I could have imagined. In the Galapagos, I got to swim with a penguin and a sea turtle, made friends with a sea lion, touched a white-tip shark (by accident), and saw dozens of marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies. On the mainland, I had a wild monkey jump on my back, a millipede crawl on my face, and of course hiking with the interspersed sheer rock cliff. Not to mention having a Tribe Leader of the indigenous Kichwa people tour me around a small part of the forest and feed me natural remedies.
Yet, my perspective shifted during my adventures in the Amazon. While the experiences were unforgettable, they weren't the focus of the trip. I got to see firsthand what is being threatened by modern needs.
I saw the conservation efforts in the Galapagos with the fight to keep it as natural as possible, yet still keep it open to humans. I learned the land and forest in Ecuador must be protected; yet one of the major financial resources is the boil beneath the Amazon.
It's very easy to sit at home and say, "Oh, I love the rainforest and I support the movement to protect it!" Meanwhile, global environmental threats and concerns only continue to grow. What Sustainable Summer has taught me is that there is no reason why I should wait until someone else takes charge of these issues to work on and resolve them.
Everything from planting gardens, to composting, or even bans against plastic bags makes a huge difference. Returning from my trip to the Amazon, I am going to bring the skills and knowledge with me so I can spread awareness about the threatened rainforest, and help create meaningful change in my own urban wilderness.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the trip to the cacao farm could be cut. It was hot out, getting there was difficult, and no one was really in the mood for natural chocolate and its extreme bitterness... That's really the only thing I would change!
3 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Very worthwhile trip

I did not expect much when signing up for this program. I was so wrong. I cannot put into words how grateful I was for the four weeks. I am so thrilled that I ended up going, I would do it again in a heartbeat. My interest in travel and environmentalism sparked. I think this program effected how I am going to live my life in the future and the types of people I plan to surround myself with. I really enjoyed the outdoor activities- hiking, farming, snorkeling, horseback-riding, etc. (that we participated in almost everyday)- but what shocked me is the relationships I made with other students. The type of students when enroll in Sustainable Summer programs have a sort of independence, free spirit, and excitement about life that is difficult to find anywhere else.

3 people found this review helpful.