• Ecuador
    • Quito
1 to 12 weeks

Program Details

Short Term Spring Break Summer Winter Year Round
Guesthouse Host Family
Travel Type
Budget Family Older Travelers Solo Women


Starting Price
Price Details
Fully hosted experience from only $270 for 1 week - this includes accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, orientation and 24/7 in-country support.
What's Included
Accommodation Some Activities Airport Transfers Meals
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance Visa
Jun 15, 2021
Aug 03, 2021
13 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Trusted by 114,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the world's most popular volunteer programs in Ecuador and 50+ other destinations around the world.

Based in and around Quito and Santa Elena, volunteers can choose from 16 meaningful programs starting at just US$270 for one week. When you're not giving back to the local community, you can immerse yourself in Ecuadorian culture and join exhilarating tours for periods ranging from 1 to 12 weeks.

Your fully-hosted experience includes airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support. You’ll be accommodated in either a homestay or a dormitory-style volunteer house with other like-minded, impact-focused travelers from around the world.

IVHQ is trusted to support the meaningful adventures of thousands of volunteers, so even before you depart, you’ll receive outstanding service from your IVHQ Program Manager and gain exclusive access to volunteer training and preparation tools.

Consider your impact: Volunteering abroad can be a rewarding experience for both volunteers and local communities, and at Go Overseas, we believe all volunteers should have the resources to make informed decisions about the type of volunteer project they want to partake in. However, despite best intentions, some organizations offering placements in orphanages may unknowingly place children in danger. You can read about the potential dangers of orphanage volunteering here. Learn more about how International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ is promoting ethical volunteering.

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Program Highlights

  • IVHQ’s Ecuador programs are available year-round, starting every Monday
  • Fully-hosted volunteer experience from only $270 for 1 week - IVHQ provides the most affordable and top-rated programs
  • You’ll be joining a global network of 114,000+ volunteers backed by the world’s leading team of volunteer travel experts with an outstanding safety system and track record
  • Support impact-driven volunteer projects run by locals within your host community
  • Flexible booking and free changes so you can register with confidence

Popular Programs

Volunteer in Ecuador with IVHQ

Based in Santa Elena, Animal Care volunteers assist veterinarians in a local animal treatment center within an aquarium. Help to treat marine animals while building on your experience or studies in a relevant field.

IVHQ Ecuador

With projects available in both Quito and Santa Elena, Community Development volunteers assist local organizations to do things like run school meal support programs for underprivileged children, maintain community gardens and help with cleaning and renovation projects at schools, community centers and playgrounds.

Volunteer in Ecuador with IVHQ

With placements available in Quito and Santa Elena, volunteers on this project teach English to students ranging from 3-12 years old. Tasks include helping with lesson planning, providing classroom support and working one-on-one with students who require it.

Volunteer in Ecuador with IVHQ

As an Environmental Education volunteer in Santa Elena, you'll help teach local children and adults techniques for conserving the environment and assist with beach clean ups, community upcycling and recycling programs and more.

Program Reviews

4.69 Rating
based on 39 reviews
  • 5 rating 74.36%
  • 4 rating 23.08%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 2.56%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.65
  • Support 4.7
  • Fun 4.75
  • Value 4.6
  • Safety 4.55
Showing 1 - 8 of 39 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Street Children Work

My trip to Quito was one I will never forget, I am a teacher in the States and I really wanted to go out of the country and give back. I never could have imagined what I was walking in to. The kids and staff are wonderful and very appreciative of ever volunteer there. The community is awesome and the children are even better. All of these children deserve a chance to dream and have goals and I think by doing our part they can see they can do much more with their lives. I plan to do more things like this, but this trip I will never forget.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
This is easy, they have a dish with pork cheek, I did not like it but it seemed to be very popular!
30 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Experienced History in Santa Elena, Ecuador

I volunteered for two weeks in Santa Elena, Ecuador with Volunteer Connection Ecuador (VCE), via IVHQ. My experience was definitely unique to say the least. The first week I was there, the President made a political decision which set the entire country in an uproar; resulting in nationwide protests, road closures and bus shutdowns. Feel free to look it up if you're interested. It was the removal of the subsidy for diesel fuel. I believe it's been resolved.

Nevertheless, being that Santa Elena is along the coast, which was away from the majority of the protests, I never felt unsafe. In fact, being from New York, I'm used to protests and people being upset over something a government official has done. So it didn't really phase me much. I mentioned this mainly to suggest that you research the political climate for anywhere you travel in the world, just to prepare yourself for what to possibly expect.

However, regarding my volunteer experience; it was great! I initially signed up for the Environmental Education project. But due to the buses being shut down, I couldn't go to that after the 1st two days. This actually turned out to be for the best, as my local program manager, Gina, was able to adapt quickly to finding alternate ways for us to serve the community. We ended up painting a mural for a local school, which turned into multiple people in the community asking us to do the same for other locations that the local kids used for either playing or learning. This ended up being a great way for us to serve the community, due to the direct impact it had. So many people were grateful for the work we did, that they even posted it in the community Whatsapp and Facebook pages. We'd be sitting in a local restaurant and people would come up to us to say thank you and say jokingly how we were now "famous" in the area.

Along with painting, we also did some beach cleanups. It's not until you're 5 large trash bags in, that you realize how much of a mess we humans make to our environments. I definitely recommend anyone to volunteer with IVHQ and taking a chance on Santa Elena, Ecuador. You'll spend on average $3.00 USD per meal, the people are friendly and beaches are really nice. If you go in the summer, June-Sept., you might even get to see turtles coming on shore to give birth. My advice is keep an open mind and be adaptable.

What was your funniest moment?
Funniest moment would have to be using the bathroom in my room, in the volunteer house. The bathroom is really small and my roommate and I are each 6ft tall. We couldn't sit down without our knees pushing open to door, so we had to figure out ways to make it work. Although we had the option of using the upstairs bathroom, which was way bigger, we decided not to, mainly due to the sheer hilariousness of it all. Gives a better story to tell later on if you have a good sense of humor.
34 people found this review helpful.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Sungi, thanks for your review of our Ecuador - Santa Elena program. I'm so glad to hear that, despite the political unrest and change to your project, you had such a rewarding experience. I liked hearing about your funny moment with the bathroom! It's the small things like this that make the best memories! Thank you so much for your adaptability and for the amazing contribution that you made to this project. It is so obviously appreciated by this community. We welcome you to come back and volunteer with us soon! ^ Kate - IVHQ Ecuador - Santa Elena Program manager

Default avatar
Sophie Eve
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible and life changing

My name is Sophie and I’m from Canada (the French part!). I’m currently studying in psychology and I just finished volunteering in Quito, Ecuador, on the Shelter project. During the project I worked at the Albergue San Juan de Dios with the most amazing people in the world! They have the biggest hearts and they work so hard to help others in need; it was an honor for me to give them a hand. The opportunity to experience a different culture while still being able to give back to individuals who are in need, was something I could not pass up on. Seeing how some of them had a hard life made me more appreciative of the resources that are easily accessible to individuals such as myself. The experience overall was incredible and life changing. I loved every second and would volunteer again a million times. Ecuador feel like a second home to me now.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The cacao fruit! It tasted nothing like chocolate… but it was good.
33 people found this review helpful.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thanks for the lovely review, Sophie! It's great to read that the program in Ecuador has had a positive impact on your life and thank you for you valuable contribution to the program in Ecuador. We hope to have you join us again sometime soon! ^Grace - IVHQ Ecuador Program Manager

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Ivhq Quito, Ecuador

Ivhq was the first volunteer program I have done. I was nervous before I left, wasn't sure what to expect, and I was traveling alone. No matter how many questions I had before I landed in Ecuador, someone was there to help. Once I landed in Quito, everything was better than what I thought it would be. The staff was incredible and helped with everything. Any questions about the city, country, my program, anything, they were there to help. I worked for 5 weeks in a school helping to teach English. I adore those kids and wish I could have stayed longer. The country was amazing and it's a hidden gem that more people should learn about, such a Cotopaxi, the roses, making chocolate, city of Baños, exploring the Amazon... everything was amazing. Thank you IVHQ.

30 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

6 weeks NGO support (street children) - Quito

I spent 6 weeks on NGO support in Quito, Ecuador working alongside UBECI, a local NGO established since 1999, aiming to eliminate child labour by providing educational programs to children in south Quito markets, encouraging them to develop an interest in learning, as well as cognitive/social skills, so that they'll be better equipped for life.

Volunteers in the NGO support/admin role primarily assist the Director in a variety of daily tasks, depending on what the organization's needs are - translation, videography, report-writing, fundraising, social media, business strategy planning, improving financial accountability etc It is recommended that volunteers have a basic level of Spanish, in order to communicate effectively. It would also be hugely beneficial to have some work experience, and/or fundraising/grant-writing/international relations background, as volunteers are expected to come together, share ideas/past experiences and collaborate. As a finance professional, I assisted the Director in reviewing their budget tracking process, financial statements, wrote a donor report, and drafted a framework for improving accountability.

Working hours are 830AM - 430PM from Tuesdays to Fridays. We have the weekends and Mondays off, and it's really easy & cheap to travel out of town, or just spend a day walking about the historical old town, visit museums, people-watch at the Plaza, and enjoying the many culinary delights scattered around the city. Quito is very safe for tourists and generally it's more convenient to take Uber (personal preference).

For accommodation, I opted for a homestay. You'll definitely get a more 'local' experience living with a family. Breakfast and dinner are included, even on weekends if you're staying in. The best part is our home is located a mere 2-minute walk from the office. Cheap lunch options are plenty nearby, and there's a huge mall (El Recreo) with a cinema and supermarket.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Recommended minimum period - 1 month. This is in order to really understand the organization and its challenges, to contribute meaningfully, more importantly, ensure continuity to existing projects - also because there's a ton of information & data to work with.

Make use of this opportunity to practise your Español! Learn a few basic phrases, then take lessons once you arrive - VCE (IVHQ's local partner) provided 1-to-1 classes for an affordable rate, and everyone has found it very useful in your daily work.

Connect to past & current volunteers on Facebook to find out if they need anything in particular, so you can come well-prepared instead of being confused for your first few days. There will definitely be "down time" where it may seem like there's nothing much to do, speak to your fellow volunteers and don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't forget what you're here for!
34 people found this review helpful.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thanks for taking the time to write such an informative review Jingying! I really enjoyed hearing about your time on the NGO Support Project, it seems that you were able use your skills and expertise to make a significant contribution! It sounds like you also had a great time exploring Quito and surrounds! We would love to have you volunteer IVHQ again anytime! Grace - IVHQ Program Manager

Read my full story
Yes, I recommend this program

IVHQ Quito is a trip I will cherish FOREVER

IVHQ was an amazing opportunity I am so appreciative to have had. IVHQ was thorough and extremely helpful throughout the entirety of the process (before, during, and after). Everything went so smoothly and they even helped me retrieve my lost luggage. The program itself once I arrived in Quito was phenomenal. You truly get to interact and make a difference no matter the duration of your time there. I taught English to grades 1-7 and I was only there for a week, but I do truly feel I was able to help make these children visualize long term goals for learning English through helping them complete a short term goal. If you are considering volunteering with IVHQ, do not hesitate. The price is also very good and all the staff are exceptionally friendly.

What would you improve about this program?
No improvements needed, everything about this program went above and beyond my expectations.
30 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Sven in Santa Elena

I worked with IVHQ as a volunteer in Santa Elena, Ecuador on the Environmental Education programme. The organisation was great. It provided all the information I needed before making a decision about where and what voluntary work I wanted to do. I never had an issue or a problem during application or registration. All the necessary preparation steps were properly explained. Before arriving the communication was clear and sufficient. All information was provided. In Ecuador the accomodation was clean and had everything I could wish for. Everything was done to make me feel welcome and at ease. The local staff was friendly and helpful. The work itself was also nice and fullfilling. With the work I got to know and help the local community. In short: I absolutely recommend working as a volunteer with IVHQ.

What would you improve about this program?
The local organisation (COASE) will grow and improve with the years. No specific recommendations required.
35 people found this review helpful.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Sven - thank you for your contribution to the Santa Elena volunteer program! We hope you join us again soon. Rachel - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Two months In Ecuador

I spent 2 months volunteering in Quito Ecuador in a private school. Also, I volunteered last year but I kept my review in a doc. I've decided to post it here for future volunteers. I'm from the states and I've studied abroad 2x prior to this volunteer trip. I'm also semi-fluent in spanish at a B2 level. Ok, let's begin.

Volunteer Placement:
I volunteered at a private school in south Quito. I assisted a teacher for 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes. I helped the teacher pronounce words and corrected their grammer as they were at an upper-intermediate level of English but weren’t fluent. One time after classes my head teacher asked me how to pronounce the difference between, “beach” and “b*itch”. I enjoyed my placement a lot, but I felt four weeks was enough because even the children eventually lose interest. They cried like crazy when my friend, Yan, was only there for 2 weeks. They like new faces. Also, I feel I would have made a better impact at a public school where there were 0 teachers of English and budget cuts.
I stayed at 2 different homestays during my 8 weeks of volunteering. For the first 4/5 weeks, I was at S's (since this is a late review I'm gonna call her "S" but if you're there you'll know). I really liked our living quarters. It was sort of like a hostel and us volunteers had privacy. There were 2 beds to a room and some of us got our own. She was a 20 minute walk from VCE or 25 cent, 5 minute bus ride. Her food was okay at times, and delicious others. She was a bit stingy at times and skimped on giving us 6, satisfying portions. She also did a few shady things and made up rules but I would give her a 7/10. Unfortunately, my other housemates were brutally honest in their feedback form and the volunteers before us had also made several complaints to the head of VCE so we were moved into different locations and they put S on a “2 month break”. I really hope she is still serving volunteers though. She was sweet and she tailored one of my skirts. After, I got placed in Myra’s house alone because I was staying the longest and a “big group was coming in 2 weeks”. I heard a few things about her house but they didn’t seem to drastically negative….If I only knew. If you are with a decent sized group at Myra’s your food quality should be okay. The best places to stay would be at America’s and the volunteer house. I heard about those 2 the most. The best breakfast is at the volunteer house. If you stay at Myra or Susana’s you will get bread, jam, a fruit and tea. The volunteer house makes omelettes, pancakes, etc.

Language Lessons:
Don’t buy too much at first. I originally paid for 30, then lowered it to 20. If I had to do it again I would have just stuck with 12 or none at all. If you are a beginner/intermediate, you may find it beneficial to take lessons but I would not recommend it for advanced students. 3/5 volunteers who lived with me took the beginner classes and none of them liked it. One didn’t even finish. However, I did meet other non-advanced volunteers to enjoyed their 12 hours but most people were bored. If you are a language lover like me and you are a beginner just buy 12 hours and decide if you want to extend or not. I’m advanced and even my teacher said I did not need to take lessons, I only needed conversation practice, which he failed at giving. I was past subjunctive, etc. Another advanced student from Switzerland lived with me as well and did not find it beneficial to take lessons. After finishing my hours I bought some Verbling.com lessons from another teacher. You decide.

Volunteer Connection Ecuador(VCE):
Sigh, I’m on the fence. They do really great with the feedback they receive when you fill out a form every two weeks. If you make a complaint they ask if you want to leave and switch you from a project. The negatives would be miscommunication and low level of English from some workers. They also treat us like children. Besides the curfew, one time I emailed the head of VCE that I would be taking off my first day after over 7 weeks of volunteering. They ignored my emails and only communicated with my host mother for 3 days. This ruined my last week as my driver was told not to show up as my host mother had not seen me as of yet. You can't come here for 2 weeks and feel you know what's happening.

The first country I’ve been to with no beggars. If poor people want money, they either sell something or they perform. That was my biggest shock. It was beautiful. Speaking of beautiful, the country is beautiful with nice food and diverse landscapes. I love how close everything was and how there were endless things to do each weekend. It’s also very cheap for those of us from the US, Europe, and other wealthier countries.

Most are young. Either late teens or in their twenties. There were a handful of older folk in my 8 weeks. I saw 3 in person. Many came for short stints my first 6 weeks and my last two, people came for 8+ weeks. The main negative of this placement are all the short term stints however, but it's life. Not everyone has time. It’s easy to make friends as you all live together and volunteer together, especially with the street children project. Depending on your stay, you could get really amazing people, or the opposite (not bad but boring), but most people are the same as back home except a handful may think they’re special because they travel. On that trip I met great people, but only about 5 stood out. I’m sure I wasn’t any more special to anyone else either. Just regular gap year folks.

VCE Impact:
I felt we were needed. Many schools lacked English teachers. There weren’t any particular jobs that us volunteers took from other locals. At first, I was suspicious of the street children project until I volunteered 3 days with it. The children in the market really look forward to the volunteers. They are so poor that their parents have them working in the market with them, and a lot of the children I saw had rotten teeth and dirty clothes. The street children project brought them excitement, gave them attention, taught them lessons, and most of all, allowed them to be kids.

Also, sometimes I felt like IVHQ could be doing more. Like there was some type of maintaining poverty or the current situation of the people for the volunteers. I’m not sure how much money VCE gets from us volunteers, but it appears to be little as the NGO team has to request a lot of donations to keep on running. Some projects seem very simple. In fact, most projects make an impact but not a strong change for the people as most volunteers are short term. I also read online that VCE isn’t allowed to take any non-IVHQ volunteers on. That sounds super sketch. You would think IVHQ wants to help as many suffering people as possible but a lot of it is about money. They are the middle man. Check the next topic.

The only thing I was adamant about before volunteering abroad was no orphanages. It just seemed extremely unethical to me. Today I still do not know where I stand on the issue of volunteers working with orphans short term. I’ve read about the positives and negatives. Anyway, some time after my trip I discovered responsible volunteering. It is a site that gives information about different organizations like IVHQ and the ethics of volunteering. A few of their posts made me give IVHQ the side eye, so I decided to message past volunteers on FB their opinions. A lot of what responsible volunteering and other negative reviews about IVHQ said were true to some extent, but they’ve improved a lot. IVHQ FB pages also deletes negative comments off of their Face Book pages so there really can’t be a real topic of discussion, so don’t drink the koolaid. I literally found old posts of people complaining about why their commentary was being deleted. I’d love for others’ to send me information as well. Some placements are in fact unprepared for volunteers. A few don’t need them. Either way, until proven wrong, I believe IVHQ benefits communities more often than not.

Ecuador felt very safe for me. As long as you exercise caution, you should be good. I kept my bag in front of me whenever I was on public transportation, and rarely had my phone out while distracted. Only one girl got robbed at knife point on her second day. She was on her phone in a park near VCE office when a local came up to her and stole her phone (threatening with the knife).

At the end of the day, I volunteered for selfish reasons. I wanted to travel. I wanted to learn Spanish. I wanted an enriching life experience. I wanted to have fun. I did all of those things. I’ve added more experience to my life and I’ve had the privilege of impacting the lives of my students and every person I’ve met on my trip (in some way or another). Would I volunteer with IVHQ again? Absolutely.

What would you improve about this program?
Mandatory 2 weeks of volunteering for volunteers. No one week stints. Communicate with volunteers and not just their hosts.
34 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Don't overexert yourself. If you do too much too early you'll start to feel sick. But DO be active. Walk about the city with your friends, explore, travel... just make sure to take plenty of breaks as you need to. You will find that slowly but surely you'll begin to acclimate! Also: Drink lots of water! Really, it helps.