Location
  • Ecuador
    • Galapagos
Length
2 to 12 weeks

Program Details

Language
English
Age Min.
18
Timeframe
Year Round
Housing
Guesthouse Host Family
Groups
Small Group (1-15) Medium Group (16-30)
Travel Type
Family Older Travelers Solo Women

Pricing

Starting Price
1700
Price Details
What’s Included?
Cost includes full room and board, permits, Transient visa, local coordination and training at respective facility, local transport, full access to our facilities, National Park certificates, etc. — everything minus personal expenses, travel insurance, and your airfare to Galapagos.

Where does the money go?
100% of your contribution is used to sustain your volunteer project, 0% is used to sustain the organization’s overhead.

*To safeguard our host local community, staff and other participants, IOI requires all participants to be fully vaccinated within the past 12 months. If by your project start date it will have been 12 months since your full-scheme vaccination, you will need to show proof of a COVID booster.*
What's Included
Accommodation Airport Transfers Equipment Meals Visa Wifi
What's Not Included
Airfare Domestic Airfare Travel Insurance
Mar 05, 2024
Feb 08, 2023
46 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

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

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

Impact

Sustainability

As an organization, we are working to maximally reduce our emissions in line with latest climate science. Rather than simply offsetting by “paying” for our pollution and continuing business as usual, we are balancing remaining residual emissions through carbon removal credits and “in-setting”—mitigating internally as an organization.

Our Net-Zero 2025 Strategy extends our current 2021 carbon-neutral initiative which inset all of our Scope 1 (direct) and 2 (indirect) emissions, and offset all our Scope 3 emissions. Scope 3 emissions “are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly impacts in its value chain” (EPA 2022).

IOI’s programmatic on-site emissions, Scopes 1 and 2, were inset through our own conservation efforts. Our Scope 3 emissions, mostly created by travel to our faculty-led study abroad programs and volunteering opportunities, will be mitigated through collaboration with external providers.

Ethical Impact

Our Mission
To provide international education programs that support the education, conservation, and social development of isolated communities by assisting local institutions in sustainably handling the human-environmental intersection.

What We Do
We strive to help establish ecological sustainability and social stability in our host communities by applying thoughtful assistance and expertise to local needs – financed by educational travel programs.

How We Do It
1. We offer volunteer opportunities in conservation, education, and social development, that provide our participants with life changing experiences, and our local partners with funding, expertise, and human power on site.

2. We offer study abroad programs in which students spend up to three months studying the local environment and learning the local culture.

3. We develop and implement outreach projects with local institutions that address pressing conservation, education, and social development needs via fundraising and grants.

Program Highlights

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

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 an English Teaching Volunteer, you will have the opportunity to work with students, teachers, government workers, and community members. You may be teaching in both formal and applied teaching settings, depending on the needs in the community at the time. This may include:

- Assist classroom English teachers with management, lesson planning, and leading activities.
- Teach job related English to community members
- Design and run continuing education programs for community members.

Volunteer in the Galapagos National Park

As the Ecotourism Volunteer, and according to your skills and experience, you will help the Galapagos National Park in tasks related to:

The management and monitoring of visitors and visitor sites near Puerto Villamil

Translation and design of English language visitor information

Graphic design for promotional and educational material

Running satisfaction questionnaires to visitors

Registering tourism related information and generating statistical databases from your surveys

Giant Tortoise Breeding Center Volunteers

Volunteer at the Galápagos National Park and get the chance to provide assistance at the tortoise breeding center. You will be a member of the research and zookeeping staff. Take responsibility for taking care of and measuring the shells of tortoises for their growth charts, as well as informing tourists of rules and regulations and other necessary tasks at the center, depending on individual skillset.

Sea Turtle Nest Monitor Volunteer

Sea turtle nest monitors walk a 2km stretch of Isabela beach during early light and late evening shifts. During your patrol you will collect baseline data for the Galapagos National Park to support the management plan of the local beach.

Monday-Sunday monitor walks; all volunteers have 2 days off during the week.

5-6 hours/day: 6:00AM-9:00AM and anywhere from 8:00PM-01:00AM; 4-6PM Kikuyo removal.

The morning patrol is 4kms; the night patrol requires walks the beach twice totaling 8kms.

Social Media Volunteer

As an IOI social media volunteer, you will generate photo and video, as well as text that accurately and meaningfully captures the nature of IOI’s international presence and impact. This will include:

Collaborating with IOI team members to highlight the work that most thoroughly demonstrates and illuminates its lasting, positive effects.

Develop environmental education material that educates tourists, as well as the local population, about the surrounding habitats.

Related Programs

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 16 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.75
  • Support 4.85
  • Fun 4.75
  • Value 4.6
  • Safety 4.95
Showing 1 - 8 of 16 reviews
Default avatar
Mairi
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Tortoises and the Galapagos islands

I stayed 3weeks on Isabella volunteering in the tortoise centre.
Volunteering and visiting the Galapagos Islands were both on my bucket list so not only a lifetime achievement for me but I'm happy to say I loved every minute of it.
Mornings are spent at the tortoise centre - learning and working (not too hard!). Although because my Spanish was very limited, it was a struggle for me to understand all that was being said.
Afternoons, evenings, and weekends are free to do what you want. Lots of times to explore the local area, on foot or cycle; and lots of time to tick off those must see sights. Also an opportunity to meet new people from all over the world.
I stayed in the volunteer house so lunch and dinner was provided in a wide choice of local restaurants. Cooking facilities are available in the house for breakfast. Room was ensuite.
IOI staff are always on hand to help with any problems, or to answer any questions.
Although it wasn't cheap, what price can you put on a once in a lifetime experience.

Pros
  • It's the galapagos!
  • Unique wildlife
  • Open spaces and open mind
Cons
  • Distance from UK
  • No kettle!
  • Poor spanish
47 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Allie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

3 Weeks On Isabela

I had an absolute blast volunteering for 3 weeks at the Tortoise Breeding Center on Isabela! I spent the mornings at the center doing a variety of tasks such as feeding the tortoises, maintaining their enclosures, landscape work on the grounds and even painting informational signs. Since I had free time every afternoon and on weekends, there was more than enough time to partake in the popular tours based on the island as well as enjoying Puerto Villamil town itself. I would recommend staying with a host family as they will help you really get to experience the island and they are all amazing people. I enjoyed my time volunteering so much that I extended my stay a week (thanks to the quick help of the lovely IOI team) -- if you are wondering how long you should stay, go for as long as you possibly can, you won't regret it!

Pros
  • Spending an elongated amount of time on a beautiful island! Great flora, fauna and people :)
  • Being able to directly give to the community and island itself through volunteering
  • Many land based tours leave from Isabela that can be done during your free time
Cons
  • Beware of the wasps on the island, I got stung one time and those suckers hurt!
  • The Ferry ride to the island can be very bumpy (especially in winter). Bring Dramamine
  • Food is simple and delicious, but can get repetitive (meat, rice & small side salad)
63 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Epke
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Galapagos

I loved everything! The experience was so amazing from the start and I would absolutely recommend to anyone considering. The staff were really helpful in getting me there and helping to get me settled, and were very accessible the whole time I was there. The food was incredible and a great way to experience local Ecuadorian cuisine. (Definitely try an empanada!) The town and the people are so awesome, the beach is amazing, and the adventures are endless. I wish I could've stayed longer! Bring bug spray!

Pros
  • Amazing city
  • Walkable community
  • Lots of friends around
Cons
  • The BUGS
  • Not great hot water
57 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Shaun
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Sustainable Agriculture Programme - Los Najaranos

The work was tough but the experience was fantastic. If you want to get to know as much as possible about organic coffee growing, Walter will spent time with you and tell you everything he knows. It's essential to speak some Spanish to make the most of this opportunity. You will get involved in lots of manual labour but if you are outgoing and inquisitive, you'll really enjoy this experience. I'd certainly say that you need to like dogs as there are three rather exuberant ones which can be a little daunting at first. It really was an insight into how tough it is to be an organic coffee farmer and what life is like on the farm. I loved every minute of it!

Pros
  • A great chance to learn about sustainable agriculture
  • If you're committed, you can improve your Spanish a great deal
  • If you're a fitness fanatic, you'll definitely get your work out on this project!
Cons
  • If you can't speak Spanish you might feel isolated and bewildered.
  • The days are long and you are committing more of your time than on other projects.
  • You've got to be happy about getting dirty, rolling your sleeves up and getting on with the job.
60 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Sebastian
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Great time with Turtle nest monitoring / Eco Tourism

I spent one week in the Turtle Nest Monitoring team and one week in the Ecotourisn Team. For me it was a perfect mix of both activities. I felt very welcomed from the first second on, I was blessed with a wonderful caring family and I don’t want to miss this great time on Isabela Island. You can feel and see that IOI really cares about nature and the community, to be a part of this was a great experience. The mix of working, spending the time with your family, have time to explore nature by yourself or with other volunteers was so much fun and overwhelming. I hope I can stay in contact with many of them. Even if I immediately learned that my Spanish was very rusted, I am more than happy I have chosen to stay with a local family - people and so caring, openminded, friendly and thankful! There are so many things you can do - from snorkeling to biking, diving, hiking…. You will love this beautiful landscape.

What was your funniest moment?
The first moment I met my family and learned that they don’t speak one single word in English. I asked myself why I am doing this, but we laughed so much and really had a great time, you will learn so much things - one of it is that you can communicate even with no great Spanish skills, it will work!
78 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Vicki
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Experience

I spent 3 weeks on the Tortoise Breeding Centre programme ran by IOI a few weeks ago. The experience was amazing. It was so much fun working with the Giant Tortoises everyday, you really got to know some of them and learn their characters. The working day was 8am - 12 which meant we had the entire afternoon to snorkel, relax on the beach, surf or just stroll around. I have to mention the accomodation is beautiful too :)
All in all I would throughly recommend this programme. I booked through Working Aborad and they were also amazing. I will definitely be back.

104 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Cara
5/5
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.
101 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Jackson
5/5
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.
102 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story

Questions & Answers