• Ecuador
    • Quito
    • Galapagos
    • Amazon
1 to 24 weeks

Program Details

Age Min.
Age Max
Host Family Hostel Hotel
Small Group (1-15)
Travel Type


Starting Price
Price Details
Our whole team and expertise is based in Ecuador & Galapagos so we can provide the safest and most affordable programs in Ecuador & Galapagos.

Our fees include:

* FREE Phone Consultation.
* Accommodation and meals depending on the program
* Discounted trips and flights to Galapagos.
* Discounted Spanish lessons if required.
What's Included
Accommodation Some Activities Some Meals Wifi
What's Not Included
Activities Airport Transfers Travel Insurance Visa
Oct 11, 2023
Dec 01, 2013
17 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Lead Adventures, we've partnered with an amazing network of local companies who share our commitment to making a positive impact on the world. We're also proud to manage a government grant dedicated to promoting volunteering and cultural exchange in Ecuador.
Our placement areas are: Amazon Animal Rescue and Galapagos Conservation projects.
Now, here's why you should choose Lead Adventures:

-We offer the most comprehensive and budget-friendly programs in Ecuador, making your dream of volunteering abroad a reality.
-With our deep local knowledge, you'll make a real impact while immersing yourself in the culture.
- Our team is here for you 24/7, providing support and guidance. Plus, we're just a phone call away with our FREE Phone Consultant.
- Discounted trips and flights to Galapagos Islands.

Need to brush up on your Spanish? We've got you covered with discounted Spanish lessons.

And as a bonus, you'll receive a cool t-shirt and a bag for your adventures!

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Travel with local people
  • Explore the culture of the places according your interest.
  • You decide what to do or visit according your preferences

Related Programs

Program Reviews

4.40 Rating
based on 5 reviews
  • 5 rating 60%
  • 4 rating 20%
  • 3 rating 20%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 5
  • Support 3.6
  • Fun 3.8
  • Value 4
  • Safety 4.2
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Personal experience in Machala

When I went (May - July '13) the job and environment had been very much misrepresented. This made for a lot of frustration and dissatisfaction. There were two main organisations (one in Quito & the other in Machala) who organised the volunteers. The poor communication between the two made it very difficult for the volunteers. However, they had made some improvements by the time I left and some of the volunteers had put a huge amount of effort into improving this.

Machala's population is about 200,000. There is little entertainment, unless you're into very noisy night clubs.
So be prepared to travel usually at least a few hours for entertainment and sight seeing on the weekends.

Females it is a very difficult culture. If you show an interest in the men and they like you, be prepared to be harassed by them. Local females take great pride in what they look like so be aware you will be constantly looked up and down. They don't say anything but it does get annoying.

We were strongly advised not to walk around Machala due to safety reasons, but many of us did without any issues. However, Puerto Bolivar (more like a suburb of Machala) is dangerous and it is very risky to walk around. So much so we had a driver pick us up from our homes and drop us at the school gate, even waiting outside the school gate was not acceptable.

The drivers were great but with only one and a group of volunteers punctuality is not possible even though they try really hard.

Actually punctuality is not a priority at all in this area so don't be surprised if you are kept waiting for very long periods of time for anything and everything. My advise, always have something to keep yourself entertained while you wait.

I was placed with a lovely family in a beautiful house in a safe neighbourhood but I was very lucky. Accommodation can be very hit and miss whether is it is in a hotel or home stay.

Teaching between 34 - 40 kids in a very noisy hot environment (there is no glass in the windows) with very limited resources is very challenging but can potentially be very rewarding.

The more Spanish you know the better, while you can get away with knowing little when teaching English. It makes everyday living so much easier and more interesting, especially if you are going out with your host family (they spend a lot of time socialising at family and friends places).

I definitely recommend visiting some of the attractions Ecuador has to offer instead of just doing the volunteer programme. I went to the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon (you need a bit of time to do these and money) and they were both awesome experiences definitely worth doing. Both are such diverse places, and doing them after the dreariness of Machala was even better.

While over all I didn't enjoy my experience in Machala but I don't regret going, I certainly learnt a lot about a country, culture and myself. I had different experiences on a daily basis, every thing from bad to awesome, confusing and funny. Definitely an adventure.

84 people found this review helpful.
Response from Lead-Adventures Ecuador & Galapagos Islands

Our teaching volunteer program in the coast region sponsored by the local government started in 2013. The first year of operations for this program has been quite challenging since it requires the participation and coordination between the local government, families, and administrators in general.

We know and realize it is not a smooth running operation yet but the results are great and we see improvements in operations day by day.
We have hired more than 15 teachers last year, that helped us a lot by creating group support and improving the situation of this poor region in Ecuador. All of our teachers have been young volunteers that finally had a nice experiences knowing this country, our culture, traditions, traveling through the 4 regions in Ecuador in some cases.

Fortunately for the current year, we have booked more teachers and expect to have volunteers on a regular basis to continue the process already set by the last ones, helping the children and the education in this country.
We apologize for any unmet expectations about this program although the overall feedback has been positive and believe that being part of something that is in the process of being built is perhaps the most important experience any participant can get from this.

Many thanks

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Emerging Program

A lot of changes occurred within this program before and during my time in Machala. The negative experiences I had with this program were mainly teething programs with changes to the program and the false expectations I had of the program communicated to me though Lead Adventures website (as a 3rd party representative since this program is designed by the El Oro government), my interview and orientation. This information has since been updated and amended .

Daily I was picked up from my house (we stayed with host families not in a hotel) by a driver from the port authority and driven to school. Usually drivers arrived on time but being South America it wasn't a surprise if they didn't. My school was an all boys school until 2010 and so I taught classes from first grade to seventh grade of up to 40, mostly boys. Scary at first but once I got used to their craziness and boisterousness and they got used to me it was difficult for me to leave. These kids have a lot of love to give. The drivers then picked us up from school and took us to the port authority for an always tasty and substantial lunch. Depending on our schedule (some worked mornings, others afternoons and others a mix) we had either the morning or afternoon free. I spent this time with the other volunteers or my gorgeous host family, studying Spanish, planning classes, helping my host sister with her English, chilling out in Machala or Jambeli (on my days off) or going to free aerobics at the stadium. Some of us also helped out at the Instituto de Idiomas for university students. We worked between 20 and 25 hours per week.

Other difficulties I had were communication with the volunteer coordinator in Machala who worked for the government and was extremely busy, we were at the bottom of his to do list. Another problem for me was the amount of male attention I got in the streets. But any female volunteering for an extended period of time in Latin America needs to toughen up and deal with this.

All in all, I think this program has great potential. There are more organised programs in Ecuador and nicer places to be based for extended periods of time. During my time in the program I improved my Spanish, made amazing friends, had the opportunity to travel on weekends and had an exceptionally rewarding experience teaching the children at my school. The benefits outweigh the negatives.

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing it would be that there was a volunteer coordinator in Machala/Puerto Bolivar who was readily available and could act as a mediator between volunteers, schools, the government, port authority, Lead Adventures and host families (not sure host families will continue based on the current advertisement on this homepage). I would recommend someone who spoke both Spanish and English, well organised and diplomatic.
88 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My Thoughts

I spent 3 weeks in the Andes and 3 weeks in the Amazon rainforest at Yanacocha. I enjoyed both places. My host family in Guayaquil was very nice and I enjoyed the experience there. The animals were amazing at both places...I learned so much! I had a blast with the other volunteers at Yanacocha. So many interesting and unique animals (compared to my North American life)...and such need for their care. Even the less fun tasks of preparing food and cleaning habitats was good. I really felt needed and that I was helping a lot! Great experience...hope to return soon!

78 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with Underpriviledged Children

I volunteered at the Quito Dump Daycare center, which was built for the children of the dump site workers. The facility is excellent. It's clean and bright. There is 1 teacher, 2 helpers and 1 cook. The cook is amazing. She makes a hearty soup and rice dish for lunch every day.

The children are 6months - 5 years of age and are divided into 3 age groups. I often started off the day by helping the workers feed the youngest children their daily milk. The children then split off into their appropriate age groups. The older children learn to count and read. The middle aged children (2-3 years old) often play with blocks, cars and dolls. The youngest children (under 2 years old) play with toys.

The best part of the day is just playing with the children. They love to cuddle and dance. If you go in with an open mind you'll have a great time!

Many afternoons are spent at the playground that is build on the dump site just for the children.

The staff don't speak much English but they do their best to let you know what needs to be done (take the children to the washroom, help feed them, etc.). They really appreciate it when you try and speak Spanish.

There's also a mobile medical clinic across the way. If you have a medical background the doctors there (they're an American couple) are quite keen to get you involved if you wish.

74 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable Galapagos Experience!

My trip to Galapagos was thoroughly amusing! ! It is such an amazing and unique place, where you can volunteer, see the improvments and at the same time enjoy getting to know Ecuadorian culture and interesting personalities not only from Southa America but also volunteers from all over the world. I was very happy that I was able to learn so much and actually participate in conservation projects. I have always wanted to visit the Galapagos but could not justify being a tourist without helping this delicate habitat.
Lead-adventures provided me the perfect opportunity to visit four different islands, see so many interesting species and also help out with conservation work! Traveling with Lead Adventures let me discover Eciador not only from the turist side- but aloso from teh side of Eciadorian People. Living with the families, learning spanish, eating traditional food- really unforgettable.
Although the work was physically demanding, some of my best memories on the trip were during the project days. I met so many people from all over, and their stories were intriguing and inspiring. I hope to continue conservation work in the future.

In addition to the work, the organised trips were amazing. I know I couldn´t have planned some of the adventures we had participated in and I´m so grateful that Lead-adventures was so good at providing scheduled activities, along with meals and transportation.

What is the most important Volunteering with Lead-Adventures let me open my eyes - appreciate more what I have and see the need of helping others.

78 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers