EcuaExperience: Pre-Medical and Volunteer Programs

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About

Help, Learn and Discover is a student-driven volunteer organization that offers four week Pre-medical and Volunteer programs in Ecuador. These programs provide students with three main opportunities: to Help those less fortunate, to Learn first-hand knowledge about the medical field, and to Discover the amazing diversity of Ecuador. In the Help component, students use fundraised money to participate in a specific large-scale volunteer project. For example, in 2012 we built 21 homes for underprivileged families in a rural community called Pallatanga.

Students work alongside local families and are able to see the homes develop while integrating themselves into the community. In the optional Learn component, students shadow leading doctors and health professionals through eight different wards in a hospital setting.

We conclude the program with the Discover component, where students embark on an 11-day tour through the jungles, rainforests, highlands and beaches of Ecuador.

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Questions & Answers

Most of our students are 18+. However, we have had students under 18 that need their parents to co-sign their contract.

Reviews

97%
based on 220 reviews
  • Impact 9.7
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 151 - 165 of 220
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Sandra
9/10

May 2013 Med Trip

This trip was an absolutely amazing experience! I got so much more that I expected and imagined out of all 3 parts of the trip; med rotations, traveling, and volunteer.

The Med rotations were definately one of the things that most attracted me to this trip, and they did not disappoint. Its crazy how much we learned in just a week. It was an experience I could not have gotten anywhere else. We all got to see a wide variety of surguries and my group was even lucky enough to see a birth. But we also learned a lot from the workshops and the case studies too. The tutors were amazing, so knowledgeable and always answered all our questions, and went above and beyond to make the rotations exciting and educational for us. They were well chosen and definately were a huge part of why the med rotations were so great

The traveling around Ecuador was super cool because we got to know all the different sides of what Ecuador had to offer. We never stayed very long in one place, even though they did try to arrange longer stays in some of the nicer places like Canoa, but that was ok because thats what made it possible to see so much. We got to do some pretty sweet activities like surfing and waterfall rapelling too. Our tour guides Olivia and Tom were also awesome!!

The volunteer part was once in a lifetime experience. Nothing compares to actually meeting these families that will be receiving the houses and getting to know them, playing with their kids, and working along side them for the week. The work was hard but so rewarding, and at the end of the week it was so hard to say goodbye to the community. One thing that really struck us was how grateful they were and how generous and willing to give, even though they had so little! They made dinner for us the first night, and had a `dance party` for us to show us their appreciation. It was really special to witness.

Overall this trip was a great experience and I would definately reccomend it to anyone! You will do so many amazing things in a month and build so many lifetime memories and friendships!

How can this program be improved?
One thing I would have liked would be to spend more time at the volunteer site. :)
Yes, I recommend
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Ecua2013
10/10

August Pre-Med Group 2013

This was a trip of a lifetime. The group tour guide as well the owners did an amazing job of making everyone in the group feel included and excited about all of the events on the trip. They helped to foster teamwork and camaraderie in the group, and provided useful and interesting information about the different places we traveled to in Ecuador. The accommodations throughout the entire trip were amazing, as well as the food on tour and at the volunteer site. Volunteering was a highlight of the experience, as it was evident that the money raised by the group and the physical labour done by members of EcuaExperience made a major impact in the lives of the families in the community. Getting the opportunity to work alongside individuals who would be moving into the houses was an amazing opportunity and a chance to experience another culture. Another unique aspect of the trip were the medical rotations. From watching natural births to learning how to stitch, this week displayed many of the different fields in medicine as well as giving students insight into the daily lives of doctors. This is an experience that would probably be impossible to replicate in Canada outside of medical school. Overall, the trip was unbelievable; the group was filled with amazing people, I learned more about working in healthcare, and also gained exposure to a different culture. Once in Ecuador, the trip was very well organized.

How can this program be improved?
I wouldn't change anything about the trip itself. The only change I would make is to some of the organization beforehand (for example, receiving receipts for payment).
Yes, I recommend
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Alaina
8/10

August Pre-med

This trip was overall an awesome experience - due to it's nature you meet so many great people and experience so many new and exciting adventures.

Help - The volunteer site was amazing to see! We didn't get to see much of the beginning but the end result was really great and giving away the houses was such a fun experience, definitely a perk of going in August.

Learn - This part was incredible, we learned more than I could have imagined and standing behind the surgeons in the ORs was something you'll never get in Canada. If you're unsure if being a doctor/medicine is for you this is 100% the best way to find out. I even thought the case studies we did were a lot of fun!

Discover - We went to so many places I definitely got a feel for Ecuador. We saw ocean, mountain, rainforest, shopping, hot springs and did lots of activities like hikes, rappelling and tubing. We sacrificed time spent in each place for quantity but I'm glad we saw as much as we did.

How can this program be improved?
Help - While this part was great it would have been nice to spend more time there. We were scheduled for a week there but ended up only there for 4 days and of those days we weren't always working due to lack of supplies (frustrating since there was no lack of fundraised money).

Learn - No complaints! Great experience

Discover - Although we saw lots, we didn't see enough in my opinion. Disorganization was a big factor...our group didn't even make it to the equator monument which may not be a big deal for some but it was something I really wanted to see & take pictures at. I also wish we didn't visit the same places twice; I feel as though that time could have been better spent.

Overall I really think more organization and communication would solve most of this feedback and make ecuaexperience a top-notch program.
Yes, I recommend
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Zoe
10/10

Bio/Pre-med

An amazing way to travel, meet incredible people, learn, and feel as though you have made a difference in the world. This program taught me so much from seeing culture changes up close in the village of Camerones, exploring the landscape and biodiversity of the galapagos islands, to watching natural births and open heart surgerys in the hospitals of Quito. Looking back It's hard to imagine how we fit so many amazing adventures into only 4 weeks. Everyday is filled with new experiences from surfing lessons on the beaches of Canoa to jungle walks and tubing in the Amazon. I would recommend this trip to anyone who is looking for an unforgettable adventure in a beautiful country with people who create a positive, fun, free atmosphere. At the end of this trip you will feel as though you have found your second family.

How can this program be improved?
-As there were many groups travelling in all different directions some days seemed a little bit disorganized which led to time being wasted. This occurred a lot on the volunteer site, where there was a ton of mis-communication and the first hour of every shift was spent moving people around, finding tools ect.
-Having HLD T-shirts/bandanas before the trip to wear at the airport would have also been beneficial so that people travelling alone could identify other HLDers at the airport!

Yes, I recommend
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K.
10/10

Lifetime Ecuaexperience

Help, Learn & Discover has been an breathtaking, wild, knowledgeable and extremely valuable program. Not only does it cover aspects of medical rotations and show you the hot spots of Ecuador, but it also allows you to help the unfortunate communities by providing them with homes that they can cherish for the future.

Personally, my favourite part of this program was the "Help" portion where we were able to support the community in Camarones by helping build 20+ homes. Fundraising money in the places we live and knowing 100% of the proceeds going to the constructions of these houses as well as dealing with the money by ourselves makes this program exceptional as it gives you a great amount of responsibility and you are able to see all your fundraising work helping the lovely children and parents that are in Ecuador. In addition, the program allowing you to get to know the community on a personal level by holding meet & greets and parties makes this portion of the program important and emotional as you build a friendship with the community that you are helping. The smiles on children that you get to see everyday when you are working; that is something that words really cannot describe and one must travel to experience first hand. This program allows you to truly feel and see the support you are showing to the community and I would highly recommend anyone to join this program on this reason alone.

However, Ecuaexperience not only has a Help section but also a "Learn" and thus makes this program is truly worthwhile. Since I did the pre-med program I was privileged to see some amazing things in hospitals that I would never be able to see in Canada unless I was to be in medical school. For anyone wondering if they would like to pursue a medical career the "Learn" quadrant of HLD gives an exceptional taste of what it is like to be a medical student with case studies, morning rounds, physical exams, surgery viewing and much more. By doing this program I have assured myself that I want to pursue the medical path even after seeing how difficult it is. HLD also hires English medical students to help you out throughout the week and therefore you do not feel lost at anytime during the learning process and you can have as many questions answered. The med tutors are extremely knowledgeable, supportive and you get to know them on a personal level so this program also gives you the opportunity to make a lot of overseas friends.

If that isn't enough alone HLD goes above and beyond with the Discover portion by taking students to some of the absolute beautiful places in Ecuador including waterfalls, natural hot springs, jungle, stunning beaches etc. They also throw in some crazy activities such as water fall repelling! I wont say much more so I do not ruin the experience for those that are intending to embark on this lifetime adventure.

I can understand how the prices may seem high for this program, however I assure you every penny I paid was completely worth it for what I received out of this program. Not only do you get a sense of accomplishment as you get to support an entire community, you also learn some really cool things along the way and you get to travel the beautiful land of Ecuador!

There isn't much to say other than its time for you to go experience Ecuador yourself and to say this program is the best is an understatement (its simply amazing) as it manages to let you find out a lot of things about yourself as well as see and do things that you will be sharing for pretty much the rest of your life!

How can this program be improved?
One thing that would be nice is if they told us a little more in advance what would be happening in the near future. There was times where we received information on short notice and it was a little more difficult to adjust, however it was a very minor problem.
Yes, I recommend
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August2013
9/10

Pre-Med

This trip was absolutely incredible and life changing. The places we visited were so beautiful and the people I met were amazing.

Help- the volunteer component was great, it was a really good feeling to know that we were making a positive difference.

Learn- absolutely amazing and no complaints about this part of the trip. I got to see things I would never see back home. The tutors are all incredibly bright, mature, friendly and intelligent. They make sure that you understand everything you are seeing and that you learn as much as possible. I stood in on numerous surgeries and natural births, and got an idea of what the work day of a doctor was like. The seminars at night are interesting and fun. For anyone interested in medicine I would highly recommend this trip.

Discover- Ecuador is such a beautiful country with so much to offer. We visited Quito, Banos (waterfalls and cable cars, night club), Papallacta (hot springs), Mindo (hiking, waterfall repelling, white water tubing, el quetzal chocolate factory, salsa dancing and butterfly sanctuary) , Misahuailli (jungle hike, tubing into hotel) , Otovalo (indigenous market), Cotopaxi (incredible scenery), Canoa (surfing and partying) and Mompiche (all inclusive resort). Every place was awesome for completely different reasons.

Overall my impression of this trip was very positive. it was my first time travelling for that long and I was amazed at the things we saw and did. I would definitely recommend it to people looking for a safe and enjoyable trip, especially if you are contemplating a job in healthcare.

How can this program be improved?
Help- I know that lots of the other groups had great experiences overall and I did too HOWEVER I hope that in future years, HLD ensures that ALL volunteers are able to spend adequate time on the work site, that the collection of funds is more organized and that the spending of funds is more transparent (as it was originally promised to be). My group only spend 3 or 4 days on the site even though we were scheduled for 9. I was really looking forward to spending time with the families and putting a lot of work into the homes but never got a chance to, in part because of scheduling confusion and in part because of disorganized ordering of supplies.
Learn- No complaints. awesome!
Discover- The only complaints for this part of the trip are that it was disorganized at time- there were transportation issues like the bus breaking down several times causing us to not be able to visit the equator line, having to take random taxis to make up for malfunctioning vehicles, waiting around for other groups for a long time, going to some places twice but not even once to others. Everything we did do was amazing and I would do it all again in a heart beat, but the organization could definitely improve.
The only other complaint I have is that if you run into problems like losing a passport or luggage, you will have a hard time dealing with it as the trip organizers are often to busy to help you.
Yes, I recommend
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August2013
5/10

Experience like no other

If the med rotations are what draws you to this program then you will be more than thrilled. You'll never get an experience like that anywhere else. You're right behind the surgeons and can take pictures for later use. So so so amazing. The tutors are great and I learned so much.

Unfortunately the other parts of this trip weren't as great as I hoped. I feel like the help and discover portions should be predictable and the same amongst groups but they weren't. There was time wasted & missed opportunities due to extreme disorganization. If that's the part you most look forward to, I suggest looking elsewhere.

Anyone going on this trip will undoubtably have an amazing time and meet such great people. It's only the experienced traveler that will notice the discrepancy with other tour groups for the volunteer and travel portion.

Yes, I recommend
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Shelby
10/10

Ecuaexperience= The Best Experience

This trip was the most rewarding and challenging experience of my life. I learned so much about Ecuador as a country, about medicine, and, most importantly, about myself through this month-long journey.

If I had to pick a favourite week, it would definitely be the volunteer site. Nothing compares to the looks on a family's face as they see their new homes come together. Even though we didn't speak the same language, we still were able to understand each other. It's incredible how close you can get with a community in a single week. The families receiving the homes work beside the volunteers every day, and it really gives perspective and meaning to your work.

In the touring sections, you were given the opportunity to discover the diversity of Ecuador. We travelled from the highlands, to the coast, to the jungle and back. Along the way, we hiked, surfed, tubed in the Amazon, and sat at the base of a volcano. You truly saw a bit of everything Ecuador has to offer. The guides were hilarious and really made these weeks worth-while. It was a lot of bus rides, but they flew by in a wave of dance parties and sing-alongs.

Med rotations were so unique and educational. On top of shadowing doctors in Quito hospitals, we were given access to bilingual tutors who answered all of our questions. We were able to see the ER/ICU, pediatrics, births, OR, radiology, and sports medicine. Nightly labs gave us the opportunity to learn stitches, and how to draw blood (from each other!!!).

Overall, this was the best month of my life, and I will miss the country and people every day. Everyone remotely interested in this program should go. You won't regret it.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change is the all-inclusive resort in Mompiche. I didn't think it was a necessary spot on our tour. As nice as it was, we were only there for one night and had to travel ~4 hours to get there. I much rather would have spent that day at the volunteer site or in Canoa surfing.
Yes, I recommend
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Marc-André
10/10

Help, Learn & Discover - Nothing but the truth

I honestly don't know where to start... HLD Ecuaexperience has been an opportunity I won't soon forget. The people are remarkable, the things we see and people we meet are life changing, and the impact we make is heartwarming.

Help: The long and hard days at the volunteer site are worth every drop of sweat when you accomplish something as worthwhile as giving a family (especially 21 families) a home. The community is so appreciative, it really gives you a new perspective on life.

Learn: Thinking about medicine? The medical rotations are definitely an eye opening experience. During the long hours in the hospitals, you'll see anything from live births to a rhynoplasty, all while interacting with knowledgeable tutors and medical staff that really want to make your experience enjoyable.

Discover: Want to see sights that take your breath away? Ecuaexperience is not short on awe inspiring scenery. You haven't really hiked until you've hiked through the Amazon to one of the most breathtaking waterfalls.

All in all, this program is top notch and I would recommend it to anyone interested in making a difference. On top of it all, the friends you will make during this trip are ones that you will never want to let go. Trust me, this trip is more than worthwhile.

August 2013 HLD Participant

Yes, I recommend
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Julie
10/10

Best month of my life

As I was in the Bio-premed group, I got the chance to visit the Galapagos Islands. We had days jam packed with activities and everything was easy to do. The medical rotations were so amazing, I got to see many surgeries, like a cholecystectomy and a tubal ligation. We also had the great experience of preparing a case presentation. The only difficulty that I had was that I needed warmer clothes. The leaders and guides were awesome, supportive and good friends too! Love you HLD!

How can this program be improved?
Because we were going from one place to another a lot I didn't get to experience nightlife as much as I would have liked. More time in Quito please.
Yes, I recommend
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Kelsey
10/10

By FAR the best month of my life

Words cannot describe how incredible the HLD program really is. I went into it knowing very little about what it would be like, but quickly fell in love with the country and the people. My group started our journey at the volunteer site, where 21 homes were being built for 21 deserving families. The fact that we worked with members of the community and the families that would soon be living in the homes made the experience so much more meaningful. The children were always running around and the time we spent playing with them was so much fun. After volunteering for a while, we went to several different places in Ecuador.
Almost every single day of the trip we would say to one another that it was our favourite day yet.. only to find out that the next day was just as exciting, if not more exciting. There was never a dull moment. We did everything from repelling down a waterfall, tubing to our hotel in the jungle, swimming in hot springs (which were right outside our chalets) and the list goes on and on. I was in the Pre-Medical program which was so much better than I expected. We were right behind the surgeons watching surgeries and the things we saw were incredible. We also learned how to do stitches and draw blood. The highlight of my trip was probably the inauguration party, where the completed houses were given away to the families. They were so grateful and I was so happy for them. I decided to end my trip off with the Galapagos and it was by far the best decision I ever made (aside from going on the main part of the trip). It was absolutely amazing and the perfect way to end the best month of my entire life. The friends I made on this trip will honestly be lifelong friends. Those who didn't sign up for the Galapagos had the hardest goodbye because by the end of the trip we were like a little family and they weren't coming with us. If I can give you any advice, don't be the one who's going home while your new best friends are going to the Galapagos (or one of the other optional places).. you won't regret spending the extra money I GUARANTEE it. This program is one of a kind and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone!!!

How can this program be improved?
I honestly can't think of a single thing I would change.. and I can be pretty critical
Yes, I recommend
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Eva
10/10

A month was all it took for me to fall in love with Ecuaexperience.

Before coming to Ecuador, I never knew how hard it would be to leave this beautiful place. There are so many great things I can say about my experience with Ecuaexperience. I never had to worry because with great company, comes with great pleasure in this beautiful, mind-blowing country. I went on my trip not knowing a single soul and I came back with so many friends all around the world. Many activities were planned very well: waterfall rappels, tubbing down rivers, volunteering in local communities, bonfires next to the beach, bargaining in local markets, relaxing in hot springs, and eating ONLY the best food I have ever had. It was beyond my expectations; the accommodations made me speechless. No words can ever explain how much this trip has changed me personally. This trip has made me realize that my goal of studying medicine is set in stone. After getting exposed to the life in the hospital, it really motivates me to help others in need in the future. While learning about how to help others, it helped me find myself in the process. I am so glad that this program had offered me so much, and I can never be more thankful for the leaders, tutors, and our guides for making this trip a life time experience. A month was enough to fall in love with Ecuador.

Yes, I recommend
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Taylor
10/10

I Think Everyone Should Do This!

There are no words I can say to express how amazing this trip was. It was a life changing experience. I learned so much, and not just about medicine (I was in the premed program) but about life, my goals and about myself. I got a whole new perspective abut what I want in life and had a blast in the process.

Help: we work super hard and fundraise as much as possible before we leave on this trip and we get to see where every penny we raised goes. We also get to get our hands dirty when we spend time at the volunteer site building the houses we fundraised for. The best part is meeting the people of the community. Which ever community HLD chooses to help, you can bet on it being a great one. The people are so welcoming and friendly and also so willing to help. Meeting the people who live in Camarones was the best part of my trip and I'll never forget them! I had so much fun playing with the kids and the community organized some special events for us to get to know them. We had two soccer games in which we volunteers played, and two community parties where we all got together danced and had snacks! You know when you're there that you've made a difference in these people's lives and they appreciate it.

Learn: I was in the premed program so I did rotations in the hospitals. I got to see so much in fields such as orthopedics, obstetrics, and geriatrics. I got to see lots of surgeries and interact with the patients. You learn a lot about the different fields of health care and can maybe even start to narrow down which ones you're the most interested in. The tutors HLD arranges to take you around on these rotations are invaluable. You will learn more from them in a day than you do in any class in your undergrad and this knowledge will help you to achieve your goals. They are the coolest people too so you can feel free to ask them any questions and just have a good time when you're with them! I can't thank my tutors enough for the time and effort they put into us.

Discover: HLD will show you all the best of Ecuador! I can't even choose a favorite site because I loved them all, everywhere I went I'd say this is perfect! They plan so many activities ranging from hikes, to waterfall repelling to surfing. One of my favorite parts of the trip was the Amazing Race. I wasn't that excited for it because I wasn't too sure what to expect but it turned out to be so much funner than I'd imagined. The best part about where they take you in Ecuador is that they show you what Ecuador is so you're not in all the touristy areas doing touristy things. You get to know the country and it's people and you will fall in love! I certainly did.

I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for this trip and I got way more than I could've hoped for. The things I got to do and see helped me grow as a person while having the best time of my life. If I could do it all over again (and I probably will) I wouldn't change anything! Except maybe stay longer than 35 days!

Thank you HLD for everything this was the trip of a lifetime!

How can this program be improved?
If I had any criticisms during the trip I cannot remember them now. All I can think of is how much fun I had and how much I miss it already!
Yes, I recommend
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Melissa
10/10

HLD experience

This trip was absolutely amazing in every aspect. Everyday we were seeing or learning something new. We got to participate in Med rotations which consisted of very long days, but well worth it. I saw many surgeries which opened my eyes to what the real medical field would be like. Leaders and tour guides were upbeat, fun people who encouraged us to live the trip to the fullest. They will all be lifetime friends for sure. We got to help build houses by putting up walls and other jobs. It was an incredible experience. As we helped build we developed friendships with the locals and the families who would later be living in the houses. One of my favourite memories is when we played soccer with all the locals. The girls actually got to throw on jerseys and play on the communities women's team. We travelled a lot on this trip, allowing us to get a good feel for all of Ecuador and the amazing things it has to offer. And of course, we also got to party and enjoy the beach. This trip was the perfect balance of learning, seeing, and doing. A few of the activities you may look forward to on this trip are: hiking, waterfall rappelling, surfing, paragliding, and much more. I definitely recommend this trip to everyone.
One last thing... As someone who has been to other countries with other organizations, I can honestly say HLD is a great one. It is extremely well organized, safe and aims to give you the best experience possible.

How can this program be improved?
If I had to change one thing, I would make the Med rotation days more spread out so that the days were not quite as long.
Yes, I recommend
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Monica
10/10

An Incredible Experience

This trip to Ecuador was definitely one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done. From the people I met to the experiences we shared to how many things I actually learned, my experience with Help, Learn, Discover far exceeded what I ever thought it would be like coming into this trip. The unique part about HLD is how they offer such a multifaceted way of experiencing the beauty of Ecuador as it allows you to gain so much more out of it than you can ever imagine. The activities are really well planned and you don’t have to worry about the accommodations and food, which leaves you free to enjoy it to the fullest without having to stress over those little, yet incredibly important details.

For the Learn part of the trip you get to spend a week in Quito shadowing doctors by visiting different wards and watching surgeries while actually standing right there inside the operating rooms! It’s an experience unlike any other, especially for aspiring doctors. The Help portion was definitely my favorite part, as you’re in the village building houses for the local people who cannot afford proper housing themselves. It is sometimes hard, physical work as we did things like mixing concrete with only shovels, digging for the foundation of the house, etc. but I finished each day with the most rewarding feeling that we’re actually physically making a difference in other people’s lives. To see the result of our work at the end of the day, and to know that all of our fundraised money is going directly toward people who truly need it is amazing. And because we work alongside the locals and play with the children, we quickly built strong, lasting bonds with them, making it very hard to say goodbye when we had to leave. But the Discover part of the trip, which is scattered throughout the whole month, quickly helped take our minds off of missing the village too much, as we travelled to some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and got to do some pretty exciting things. From Amazon hikes to waterfall rappelling to surfing to tubing down a river through the rainforest for a couple hours, this month was utterly packed with so many exciting things that I look back and wonder how we managed to fit all of it into only four weeks. But what really made this trip for me was getting to do all these incredible things with some of the best people I’ve ever met. You come into the group meeting so many new strangers, but you leave with some of the greatest friends.

I would also definitely recommend going on one of the extra weeks if possible. I went to Peru after finishing the month in Ecuador and I was really skeptical of how this next week could even meet the level of the rest of the trip, but once again, Peru far surpassed all expectations. It was different from Ecuador as there was a lot more sightseeing, but doing things such as spending time in the beautiful city of Cusco, watching the sunrise at Machu Picchu, and going paragliding off the cliffs of Lima on the Pacific coast were the perfect conclusion to what I already knew was one of the best months of my life.

How can this program be improved?
Though it might be hard to accommodate because of the already busy schedule, I would love more time at the volunteer site.
Yes, I recommend

About EcuaExperience

Help, Learn and Discover is an innovative organization offering educational programs in Ecuador, South America. We strive to offer a fulfilling life experience which combines helping those less fortunate with learning about a specific academic area...