Volunteer in the Galapagos with IOI

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Intercultural Outreach Initiative (IOI) has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

Galapagos Islands Penguin
Galapagos Islands Penguin
Volunteer Galapagos Iguana
Volunteer Galapagos Iguana
Community Group (Cero Nicotina) with Volunteers
Community Group (Cero Nicotina) with Volunteers
Galapagos Islands Marine Iguanas
Galapagos Islands Marine Iguanas
Volunteer Galapagos Turtle Centre
Volunteer Galapagos Turtle Centre
Galapagos Islands Sea Lion
Galapagos Islands Sea Lion
Volunteer Galapagos Turtle Centre
Volunteer Galapagos Turtle Centre
Galapagos Islands Marine Iguanas
Galapagos Islands Marine Iguanas

About

Intercultural Outreach Initiative (IOI) is located on Isabela Island, in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Founded in 2006, IOI’s vision is to help establish an ecologically sustainable and socially stable local economy in the Galapagos by supporting education, conservation and social development. We have made some incredibly positive and impactful contributions to the local community and we are able to continue doing so with the help and support of volunteers that want to make a real difference.

At IOI Galapagos we have 6 different volunteer positions available:

1. Ecotourism Volunteer (Galapagos National Park)
2. Community English Education Volunteer
3. Giant Tortoise Breeding Center Volunteer
4. Turtle Nest Monitoring Volunteer
5. Sustainable Agriculture Volunteer
6. Social Media Volunteer

Highlights
  • Galapagos Islands.
  • Conservation.
  • Service Learning.
  • Full immersion.
  • Cultural knowledge.

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Popular Programs

Adding soil to a raised garden bed

The farms of Isabela Island are starting work in greenhouses to optimize production year-round in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. The highland town of Tomás de Berlanga is about 10 miles uphill from the coastal part of town, on the side of Volcano Sierra Negra, the highlands are fertile, lush lands with rich volcanic soil - perfect for agriculture! Volunteers will learn local techniques for sustainable tropical agriculture and will help to create food sovereignty.

Teaching in the Classroom

As the Community English Education Volunteer, you will have the opportunity to work with students, teachers, government workers, and community members. In this program you will have the choice between formal and applied teaching opportunities.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.8 Rating
based on 10 reviews
  • Impact 9.2
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 10
Default avatar
Cara
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Once-in-a-lifetime Experience

Once-in-a-lifetime experience working at the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre on Isabela Island. IOI put us under the care of the Galapagos National Park, and we worked for 6 weeks at the centre. It was a far cry from our usual jobs in the city, and felt a little bit like being a zoo keeper; feeding the tortoises, clearing the enclosures, cleaning the ponds, supporting park staff with daily tasks and more.

What a privilege to contribute to the conservation of these endangered species - every day we felt like our work was valuable, and I loved sharing my newly-acquired tortoise knowledge with visitors to the park.

We were close to nature the whole time, seeing flamingos, marine iguanas and mangroves on our walk to and from work, then working every morning next to the giant tortoises. In the afternoons we were free to enjoy Isabela island, from hiking the volcano to surfing the beaches and snorkelling offshore. Highly recommended.

What would you improve about this program?
An improvement for IOI could be more education for the volunteers (currently any education you acquire about the Galapagos wildlife is self-led), a little more on-the-ground organisation, especially when you first arrive.
Default avatar
Jackson
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Turtle Walk Program Review

Not really sure the impact my 3 weeks in the turtle walk program made and feel like I could have stayed in the Galapagos for less money, but without hesitation I give this program a 10/10 and highly recommend to anyone wanting to be more than just a tourist. Walking a beautiful beach every morning / afternoon with purpose is a wonderful feeling. With IOI you are instantly plugged into a local and volunteer community and can see first hand the value of all the different programs, which are efforts I gladly support. I deeply miss the splendor of this island and applaud the efforts of IOI!

What would you improve about this program?
Some additional pre-program reading material with a more in depth description of the nature and value of the work would have been useful.
Having some bicycles for the volunteers would have been a nice touch as well.
Default avatar
Stefan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Social Media on Galapagos

I was doing the social media volunteering on Isabela island. This included the follow-up of different activities and documenting them for online purposes. As a ioi-volunteer you are also allowed to access areas that are forbidden for the public as for instance at the breeding center, which gives you a deeper insight of the work going on there. Further, i was also able to go up to the highlands for helping there a family with coffee harvesting and stuff, which was interesting and fun to do. If you plan to stay for a longer period, then you will also need to think about own projects I guess, my time was two weeks only which was fair enough to follow up the daily activities.

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

Working with giant tortoises is definitely a once in a lifetime experience!

It seems that dreams are there to be made. My dream was to go to the Galapagos Islands to work with giant tortoises and discover this unique and wonderful place. So I gave the means to realize my dream and left for the adventure.

During one month, I had the opportunity to feed the tortoises at the breeding center, to see the birth of baby tortoises and even to measure them. Despite the prejudices about the slow speed of the turtles, taking care of giant tortoises is not that easy but always brings great moments and memories. Moreover the way to take to go to work is already an amazing experience as I met everyday about 15 flamingos, many marine iguanas and other lizards or birds on my 30 minutes walk.

I really enjoyed my free afternoons to visit the islands, to go on excursions around the island and to simply relax on the beach. This a very good rhythm that allowed me to discover a new culture and a new place while gaining professional experience in a wonderful environment.

The staff was great, always ready to help me. Living in a host family was a very nice experience as well to learn more about their culture and improve my Spanish skills. Working with giant tortoises is definitely a once in a lifetime experience!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I once ate an avocado icecream. I actually wouldn't recommend it but it's always funny to try new things!
Default avatar
Delaney
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

IOI

I was able to volunteer for six weeks through IOI at the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, and it was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. IOI was extremely supportive and helpful leading up to my arrival and made every effort to ensure I had the best experience possible. Transitioning into life on Isabela was a breeze with the help of IOI and the welcoming community, and I was so sad to leave. Working with the giant tortoises was an adventure every single day, and I was able to work alongside the staff in taking care of the tortoises and collecting data for the National Park. The things I learned through this program translated so well into my university classes upon returning home, but the hands on experiences enhanced my education far more than my university lectures ever could. The staff at the breeding center were so knowledgeable and such amazing people to work with every day. Overall, I would highly recommend this program to anyone, and I hope I will have the opportunity to return in the future!

Response from Intercultural Outreach Initiative (IOI)

Delaney, thank you for the wonderful review. We're elated to hear you had such a good time, learned a lot, and want to come back. When you do, we got a 20% discount waiting for you (and all other returning volunteers and students) - hopefully soon!

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

Island Adventures

Volunteering at the hospital on Isabela Island in the Galapagos was one of the more enriching and rewarding experiences I've had. I was welcomed by the hospital staff and given many opportunities to help and observe the different healthcare procedures within the hospital. I felt fortunate to be trusted with many hospital tasks that I might not have had the opportunity to do back in the States. I gained valuable experiences in healthcare fields abroad and also learned a lot about community health by being immersed in such a small island population. I had an amazing time on Isabela and made livelong friends in the most beautiful and adventurous location possible. The Galapagos Islands gives you a sense of fearlessness that allows you to enjoy each day for what it is and grab all opportunities laid out for you. By volunteering through IOI I was able to enjoy this feeling and gained memories that I hope will stay with me for a lifetime.

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

Life on Island Time

I spent 3 weeks on Isabela Island in the Galapagos through this volunteer program, and it was the most rewarding experience I could have asked for. As a tiny community within a community, IOI makes the transition to island life easy, and the staff is very approachable. The locals and the staff at the hospital are also all welcoming, and the volunteer experience I received was invaluable. Because of the location and small scale size, I was given more responsibility than I would have been given in the states or other similar type of program. This allowed me to experience aspects of healthcare and learn skills that I would not have been able to anywhere else! The other volunteers you meet and local friends you make are long-lasting and the island lets you see/do things you couldn't imagine. I recommend this program to anyone looking for something totally different and I definitely hope to go back again one day!

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

Life on Island Time

I spent 3 weeks on Isabela Island in the Galapagos through this volunteer program, and it was the most rewarding experience I could have asked for. As a tiny community within a community, IOI makes the transition to island life easy, and the staff is very approachable. The locals and the staff at the hospital are also all welcoming, and the volunteer experience I received was invaluable. Because of the location and small scale size, I was given more responsibility than I would have been given in the states or other similar type of program. This allowed me to experience aspects of healthcare and learn skills that I would not have been able to anywhere else! The other volunteers you meet and local friends you make are long-lasting and the island lets you see/do things you couldn't imagine. I recommend this program to anyone looking for something totally different and I definitely hope to go back again one day!