I spent 6 weeks in San Cristobal volunteering in conservation. I was initially looking for a study abroad program but was uninterested in the classes that were offered. After some research I found this project. Initially I was worried that we would not truly be making a difference or working very hard. However, upon arrival I met the staff who were extremely dedicated and passionate about conservation and preserving the incredible biodiversity that exists in the Galápagos, I quickly realized this would not be the case.
We worked from 7AM to 12PM and 3PM to around 5PM Monday through Friday. On Fridays we had the afternoon off. On MWF we spent the morning in the Galapaguera which is the tortoise breeding center on the island. We would cut Otoy to feed the tortoises and spend several hours doing machete work to remove invasive species like blackberry and lanta. On Tuesdays we would go to the Otoy plantation to clear blackberry in the effort to later reforest with endemic species. We also spent a considerable about of time building a greenhouse which was difficult work but it was also very rewarding. In the afternoons we generally did less physically demanding tasks such as iguana monitoring, bird monitoring, and campaign. We also worked very closely with the National Park. I spent two weeks doing sea lion monitoring at 5:30AM every morning which was a spectacular experience. There is nothing like watching the sunrise on a beautiful beach full of sea lions in the Galápagos islands.
While not working I spent a lot of time with the other volunteers snorkeling or visiting the beaches near by. The animal life in the Galápagos is phenomenal! Every time I snorkeled I saw at least two sea turtles and while I was there I saw sharks, manta rays, dolphins, marine iguanas, sting rays, sea horses, sea lions, and of course a plethora of beautifully colored fish. The closest beach was only a 10-15 minute walk away. I also went island hopping with a great group of people. Traveling to Santa Cruz and Isabella is fairly inexpensive and I would advise everyone to experience the other islands while they are here. I also took a tour around San Cristobal which was fantastic.
Another aspect of the trip that I loved was meeting volunteers from all over the world. I did not think it was possible to get so close to people in just 6 weeks. I already have plans to meet with some of them in the near future. You will meet so many remarkable people in this program. We all went out almost every night and enjoyed learning about each others respective countries and cultures. I met volunteers ranging from 15 years old to 53 years old and we all got along wonderfully. There is a sense of community in this program that is extremely unique.
I cannot speak more highly of this program and I would do it again in a heartbeat. My only complaint is that I couldn't stay longer. Be prepared to work hard because you will be expected to. The work is rewarding and I loved every minute of it. Your Spanish will also improve greatly especially if you spend quality time with your host family. My host family was very kind and the food was amazing! I hope that you will consider the Galápagos for your next volunteer trip. I am so glad that I did!