Eco Volunteer UP Foundation
94% Rating
(7 Reviews)

Eco Volunteer UP Foundation

Eco Volunteer UP is an Ecuadorian organization recognized legally by Ecuador Government. Eco Volunteer UP gives you the opportunity to volunteer in different regions of Ecuador, you will enjoy in our voluntary positions, Free Spanish lessons, expeditions, involve with local indigenous culture, animals, help disadvantaged children, conservation and environmental project, alternative break abroad and other programs which provide you a new experience learning about other cultures and species. Volunteer in Ecuador would change your life and help you develop into a better person and gain lifelong experiences.

Most Recent Program Reviews

Default avatar
bando182
Male
32 years old
Los Angeles
Other

Animal rescue center

10/10

I had a very positive experience in my volunteer trip to Ecuador. I went with my girlfriend for 2 weeks into the heart of the rainforest, where we stayed at an animal rehabilitation center, which is sort of like a camp for grown-ups. Limited electricity, no hot water, bunk beds, etc. We were working directly with a diverse range of animals (monkeys, birds, tayras, kinkajous, to name a few). EcoVolunteer UP was the 'agency' that placed us, but the actual center is called Sacha Yacu. You can look them up directly, if you want.

Ecovolunteer Up is run by a nice woman named Maria. It's a small operation, run locally by her and a few other people. I was slightly reticent to commit to an organization with limited web presence and with substantially lower costs than the competition (like 80% less), and Maria refused to tell me the name of the center, which made me more uneasy. But I'm so glad I went for it, and trusted in this place, because it was a truly amazing experience. What's more, I discovered that there were several other volunteers at the center with us, who had been placed by much more expensive agencies. If you aren't familiar (I wasn't), the way these things work is you do all of your communication and payment through a company like EcoVolunteer UP or ProWorldVolunteers, etc. Some charge a lot more than others, and it's unclear what exactly you get for that price. In my experience at Sacha Yacu, there was literally no difference between the experiences of the different volunteers, but some paid a lot more than others to their respective agencies. So I would heartily recommend doing a lot of research and trying to find the exact program you want and the most reasonable agency that provides access to it. Then that agency will take care of your basic transportation, etc.

Again, the location is called Sacha Yacu. I understand why Maria wouldn't tell me the name. In theory you could circumvent the agency and go straight to the center, to save a few bucks, but I wouldn't recommend it. It's nice to have a middle-man, provided they don't charge you an obscene amount. And EcoVolunteer UP was very reasonable.

A few quick details about the experience at Sacha Yacu:

The volunteers seem to range from 19-30 years old. The family that owns/operates the place is very kind hearted and fosters a familial environment with the other volunteers. At any given time you might meet one or several members of the family. There are usually at least one or two 'long term' volunteers at the center -- people who are there for several weeks or even months, and subsequently develop some seniority there and can help run the place. The primary language that was spoken, at least in our experience was English. This was good because it bridged the gap for the various volunteers that came from all over the world. While we were there, we had about 10-12 people in the center at any given time, which was great. 9 or 10 volunteers and 2-3 members of the family. It's got a casual vibe, so there is no one there that would be called "staff." We would work about 6 hours/day, and then spend the rest of the time reading, talking, hiking, playing games, cooking, etc.

It was remarkably satisfying working closely with animals, as well as being outside all day, being active, meeting good people, and adapting to a completely new lifestyle. I lost some weight, got a nice tan, made friends, ate healthy, and disconnected from the rest of the world. I'll admit, at first I had a tough time with the fact that it's a physically challenging environment (lots of hiking, carrying, shoveling poop, etc.) and the sleeping situation isn't exactly luxurious, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons, and by the end of our stay there, I wasn't ready to leave.

So now you know everything you need to! Look it up! Sacha Yacu! It's great!

How can this program be improved?

If I had to offer critical feedback, it would actually be related to the other programs that Maria arranged for my girlfriend, who stayed for an additional three weeks pursuing other volunteer opportunities within Quito. There were times in which she felt less safe, less 'in the know' and more alone (there were a few instances in which she was placed at locations with no other volunteers). I didn't experience these events myself, but I can't help but factor them into my overall critique of the organization. My feeling is that Maria could have been a little more candid/informative about these scenarios before they came up. She could have offered a little disclaimer like "Hey just so you know, there won't be any other volunteers at that time." Or "Here is a reliable map so you don't get lost." Yeah. But again, this was not my personal experience, so I can't really complain!

Default avatar
Nora
Female
32 years old
Dresden, Germany
Other

Eco Volunteer Galapagos

9/10

Great Volunteer program - we started off with a one week language course in Quito and flew ove to the Galapagos Islands after touring South America. 3 weeks ecological / environmental volunteering on San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands was very interesting, fun, we learned and experienced so many things. Great place to be, very motivated people! A must do!

Default avatar
OliviaLee
Female
24 years old
Utah and California, United States
Brigham Young University

An Adventure!

10/10

Eco-Volunteer UP has ton of different programs, and I participated in two of them. Basically, Maria is the coordinator/communicator. She has contacts all across the country, and she sends volunteers to whatever program interests them. Maria and Freddy picked me up from the airport and dropped me off with a host family in Conocoto, a suburb of Quito. I spent a week there taking Spanish lessons and volunteering in a daycare. Then Maria drove some other volunteers and I to a bus station to ride 10 hours away into Pastaza, another province, where we stayed with host families in an indigenous community called Shiwakucha. I was told there were different volunteer positions in the community- those working in the school, those working in the nursery, those working in the fields, and those in the forest. It turned out that we all worked together on whatever the community wanted to us accomplish that day, accompanied by a local who taught us what to do. On Tuesdays the entire community gets together and all works on the same project- it might be a new building, or a huge fishing trip. I loved my time in the community. Once I was there, I didn't really need anything from Maria and was on my own. While I was in Conocoto, Maria was very kind, available and flexible. I'd definitely recommend this program, especially if you can handle being very adventurous and self-driven. Ask Maria for the contact information of someone who did the programs you're interested in, because that will probably get you a lot more detail than the website or Maria herself, even.

How can this program be improved?

I wrote some ideas up above:)

Default avatar
Allison
Female
24 years old
United States
Northwestern University

Hospital and Childcare volunteer

9/10

I traveled to Ecuador in Summer, 2012 to volunteer with Eco Volunteer Up for 4 weeks. I enrolled in this program before I started graduate school in clinical/health psychology, so I was interested in working in a medical environment and improving my Spanish. I was very fortunate in that I was able to experience a number of different situations. Maria was very responsive to my needs/interests.

For the first week, I assisted a doctor in internal medicine at a hospital in Sangolqui, taking blood pressures, transcribing prescriptions, and practicing some medical terms in Spanish. We also did rounds of the inpatient unit and the emergency room. The second week, I observed a psychologist (my primary field of interest), which gave me a lot of insight about cultural differences in healthcare. The third week, I worked at a daycare. For my final week, I assisted in the emergency room at the local Centro de salud (in Conocoto), which was very close to my homestay. While there, I was also able to spend time in vaccines, learning about policies, etc. All of these were great experiences, and I only regret that I feel that I was getting more out of them than I could put into them. In all cases, I would say it was extremely helpful to be able to speak Spanish, but everyone was willing to work with meto improve my Spanish and practice speaking.

My homestay family was great, and I was in a really great location - close to bus stops, walking distance to the Centro de salud, and I felt very safe in the neighborhood. I was not in the city of Quito, but rather in a "suburb" called Conocoto, which I preferred. It was easy to catch a bus or cab ($10-12) downtown, from which you can take a bus to go on other adventures (e.g., climb Cotopaxi, visit Mindo, etc). I highly recommend hiking Cotopaxi!

The staff at Eco Ecuador Up were very helpful and responsive to questions/concerns I had. Maria took a lot of time giving me directions, how to ride the bus, and helping me transition to other positions (e.g., the daycare center) just because I expressed an interest. She was very flexible with my travel schedule as well, and it was great to have a ride from the airport so I didn't have to figure out how to take a shuttle/bus to my homestay family after a long day of travel.

How can this program be improved?

Knowing more about the experience going in would have been helpful. Ask to speak with previous volunteers (I have since spoken to people who were going to the hospital in Sangolqui), and perhaps a better description of the day-to-day happenings/needs of your chosen volunteer location.

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Bethan
Female
24 years old
Somerset, England
Brunel University

A brilliant adventure!

10/10

Overall, I had a fantastic time away in Ecuador. I spent 6 months mostly on the Amazon volunteer program but I also took some time out to travel and volunteer in the Cloud Forest and the Galapagos Islands, also with Eco Volunteer.
The best bit was definitely the friendliness and welcoming of the community and I was lucky to adapt and immerse myself in their culture which is truly fascinating.
I went over without being able to speak Spanish which was extremely challenging. I would definitely recommend either having a previous knowledge of the Spanish language or to plan starting your trip with a couple of weeks in the city to take language lessons. It is very affordable, completely worthwhile and a good way of getting some city site seeing in too!
I would highly recommend volunteering with Eco Volunteer and making some memories and creating a brilliant experience for yourself!

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