About Ecuador

Our partner in Ecuador was established in 1989 by the government, and is a private non-profit foundation. Besides protecting ecologically important forest habitats, the foundation's biological reserves are nationally and internationally recognized as leaders in the development of innovative and concrete programs in community agro-forestry, and environmental education.

Volunteers may participate in research, education, community service, station maintenance, plant conservation, and agro-forestry activities carried out by biological reserves. The reserves are located throughout Ecuador, with locations in the Amazon, Andean, Coastal and Galapagos regions. The Ecuador volunteer program is intended to provide practical experience for people interested in contributing to our partner's conservation activities and projects. Volunteers work on a variety of projects under the supervision of the resident researchers, environmental education instructors and administrative staff in each reserve.

Please visit the Global Volunteer Network Ecuador program page for more information about this program.

Recent Ecuador Journals:

Day 4

 Posted by Gabrielle Appiah at 11:59 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Day 4
Jul 112014

Today we harvested veg for our kitchen and got the chance to use the machetes. We started with the plantains. Jonas (pronounced Honas) makes using the machete look like a piece of cake but that it is not! We took it in turns to cut the plant and each time, in your mind you think you’ll do better at it but that definitely was not the case. It took 10 times as many swings of the machete than Honas had demonstrated and then took more time as we’d all get the machete jammed in the plant. What’s interesting is that we cut down the whole tree for 1 bunch of plantains. Moving onto what I’m best at harvesting, the yuka. It looks like yam/sweet potato and they eat it A LOT here in Ecuador. It grows a whole twig-like tree which needs to be chopped in order to pull it out of the ground. After chopping it with the machete which is far easier than the plantain tree, you have to find the right angle where it will come out with ease and voila, you get a bunch of 3-6 yukas. I got a pat on the back from Honas so I am over the moon with my yuka harvesting. Another interesting fact is that you plant the stem of the yuka tree in order for it to grow. After another tasty and hearty meal cooked by our beloved chef Alfredo, we returned to the reserve with 2 new Ecuadorian and far more experienced volunteers. We trekked to the cocoa trees and there we used the machetes to clear overgrowth around the trees. Having completed that task we cut down a few cocoa plants and cut them open to find what looked and felt like brains but tasted like a fusion of mango and pomegranate. After consecutive late nights we hit the pillow early.

Long time no post…

 Posted by Gabrielle Appiah at 11:54 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Long time no post…
Jul 112014

Apologies all, I have been in the rainforest so access to the internet has been scarce. I´m writing this in an internet cafe in Tena (the nearest city to the reserve). Before I tell you about my amazing first day volunteering at Jatun Sacha I should tell you all the great things that happened before this post (WARNING: this will be a long post!)

Let´s rewind back to Sunday 29th – the dream team (made up of 5 awesome people from the community hostel and myself) went to the Telefonica (cable cars) in Quito where we saw some beautiful views of the city by day and night having spent the daylight hours hiking, ordering strangers to take pictures of us (Marrow), horseback riding in the Andes and met a Britney Spears lookalike. A funfair met us at the base where we spent a lot of time and money to end up winning a smiley plush toy (which I cherish dearly – thanks Uma). We missed the last taxi back down the mountain and succumb to hitchiking but in a pick-up truck which took us to the doorstep of our hostel for FREE – best first hitchiking experience ever! Our trip was followed by a delish Italian meal out. Monday 30th consisted of Ovi´s (great guy who works at the hostel) famous free tour of Old Town in Quito where we tried the tastiest juice I will ever have (for just $1)saw the Ecuadorian president and spent time in the extravagant churches. Ovi was also nice enough to take us to the equator where I was crowned ‘egg master’ (I was able to balance an egg on a pin on the equator). On Tuesday we visited the Angel which is a beautiful statue like Christ the Redeemer in Brazil with an alternative view of Quito. I was required to complete an orientation session before starting my volunteer program but I ended up at the biolgical reserve, Jatun Sacha 5 days early because I thought my orientation session was there (7 hours from where it actually was in Quito where I was staying already). I started off tearful about it but the people here are awesome, I was thrown into a match of soccer and I saw a Blue Morpho (the butterfly on the front of the book that influenced me to do this trip) so it was meant to be. Thursday was spent organising everything after the mishap and I decided to continue the plans I’d made to stay in Banos over the weekend (Friday to Sunday) with friends from the first hostel. Banos was brilliant! The hostel was nice as were the people and I had an amazing time canyoning and getting a pedicure in one of the many spas. As it is tourism-central most things opened late which is where your advice came in handy Alan. I’m yet to return on one of my free weekends to do more of the extreme sports.

Anywho, that was that and the real reason I am in Ecuador began today – to conserve the Amazon rainforest! Breakfast is at 6:30am and work starts at 7:30am so i’ve had a double shock to my body clock. It’s a 15 minute walk down the road to the reserve from where our cabins are (which are lovely, modest huts with electricity, 2 beds with mosquito nets and a table). When I went in my jaw dropped because of how B.E.A.Utiful it was and this is just secondary rainforest. We were greeted there by a senior volunteer, Kelly who is volunteering here for the third time. She gave us the shpeel on what work Jatun Sacha have done and what we were about to be apart of and it amazed me how much they have accomplished. The first task we completed was taking newly sprouted trees which had grown under the mother tree from fallen seeds and replanted them in bags of soil in the tree nursery. Having completed that we prepared more bags for new trees in the coming weeks. Lunch served by our masterchef, Alfredo was moy delicioso and we get a long enough break that we also get to enjoy time in the hammocks. After lunch we sieved soil ready for more bags for the trees. All in all it was an easy going, wonderful day.

I’ve arrived!

 Posted by Gabrielle Appiah at 3:31 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on I’ve arrived!
Jun 292014

So I’m here in Quito and it’s BYOOTIFUL!

On the way to Heathrow airport we drove past nearly every great tourist attraction in London (missing the ArcelorMittal Orbit – the best of them all) and staring out of the window looking at it all as if I was in a movie made me realise that I’d seen it all before and I was ready for some new scenery. I must say, the views here of towns on hill sides, etc. is definitely a new and FAB thing to see.

The flight was great and plane food isn’t as bad as people say. In my true procrastinating spirit, I watched ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ instead of reading my Spanish book (which showed when I arrived at the gate for my flight to Ecuador and couldn’t understand much). When I arrived in Miami, I didn’t anticipate its size and ended up spening my 3 hour stopover getting to my gate, but I did get to ride in a buggy for part of the way so I’m not complaining.

Whenever someone gets to an airport in a movie there’s someone waiting with their name and I was very excited for my turn. After getting through customs, there was Geovanna (my lovely volunteer coordinator) with my name on a whiteboard. Again, I underestimated distances and we drove for hours to get to the Community Hostel that I’m staying at. I’m here now and the food is delish and the room and people are lovely. I already managed to get myself locked in the bathroom which required a full toolbox but everyone here is so friendly and helpful. I had a late night chat with a few others staying in the hostel in my linen sleeping bag  (thanks a bunch!) which they found very amusing and now I have a well planned itinerary of amazing things – the one I’m most looking forward to at the minute is the zip line in Banos.

Today I’ll be doing the cable cars and a hike with my hostel mates which should be awesome and it’s also pasta night! I’ll keep you all updated! :)

~ G


My third week on the Reserve at San Cristobal

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 10:08 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on My third week on the Reserve at San Cristobal
Feb 212014

San Cristobal my third week on the Reserve Firstly I would like to mention that I had a good weekend, resting and enjoying the beach (and the showers!!!) and watching the sea lions! I was sitting on a bench and a sea lion actually slithered over and laid on the bench beside me!!! Omg!!! I couldn’t find my camera so I decided to move on as the smell of fish was overwhelming !!! The town itself looks like a huge building site, lots of half built houses some of which seem to be worked on at night when it is cooler, in some areas you can hear the generators going as the site is flood lite to enable the work to be done. There are new roads also being created quite slowly though! It is election time now and all the candidates are shouting at everyone very loudly as they walk through the streets or ride in taxis with speakers on the back!! so it was an interesting weekend! Monday 17th February Today it has been very humid, we really are in a jungle here and there is no escape!!! If we wanted to which of course we don’t!!!! No water this morning again and so that was quite difficult as there is now about 15 in our house all sharing one shower and one toilet!!! I don’t think I need to say more about that!! Some of my new chums have now gone home which is a bit sad as we all got on really well! But there are 20 new volunteers expected tomorrow. When we arrived in the garden! this morning to do some gardening we discovered that either the pigs or the horse had eaten all the potatoes we planted last week! They left some very good [click here to read more]

My trip to the Galapagos week 2Y

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 3:27 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on My trip to the Galapagos week 2Y
Feb 142014

Monday 10th February Week two on the reserve Back to work today, it rained a lot during the night but now it is very hot and humid, we have been working all morning clearing undergrowth to start planting seeds for vegetables as at present most of the food on the island is shipped. This project is going to take a long time to complete, not sure why this has not been done before! Unfortunately I was unwell after lunch so not able to work in the afternoon. In the evening though we were given our instructions for the rest of the week. We were also asked to clean up an area for the community in a nearby town on Friday morning, not quite sure what that involves yet! Tuesday and Wednesday 11th and 12th February. Much the same work as .last week although we did plant potatoes on Tuesday morning! Now It is really hot and very difficult to work and we are hungry all the time…..we are told not to have any food in our room as it encourages rats! I did mention that I have already had a few visits from Freddy and I don’t have any food! However …….. I can’t get enough of the yummy rice!!! but I might give it a miss for a while when I get home Though!!!!! And the dogs don’t seem too keen on rice either!!! I almost forgot to mention that I had the biggest beetle in my room last night, I’m sure it was 4 inches long!!!! Apparently they are flying beetles and when they are about to die they land on their back and if you turn them over they turn back again!! I decided to give that a miss and left it to its fate!!! We have [click here to read more]

Weekend in the town of San Cristobal

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 7:45 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Weekend in the town of San Cristobal
Feb 082014

It has been wonderful to be in the town, I really appreciate the lovely clean bed no mosquitoes and hot showers, I am having a lovely time here, there are so many Sea Lions and all sorts of birds, and it is about 90 degrees had a really good meal last night with some new volunteers that have just arrived very friendly the food was good only 3 dollars for 2 courses!!!!! I may last the full four weeks here!! However I have been thinking that maybe I will spend the last week in town just to rest and enjoy my final time here.  Will try to write more next weekend. Internet is not good and very slow!

The reserve on San Cristobal

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 7:37 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on The reserve on San Cristobal
Feb 082014

Saturday, my first day here! Flight was good, the cabin and the overhead lockers were sprayed before we landed. A large number of Japanese tourists wore masks throughout the flight and started screaming when we were all sprayed!!! On arrival I was collected by someone who ushered me into a truck with a local family lots of food and  lots of children!! I was told that all the volunteers were in a hotel for the weekend and did I want to join them, not sure what to do  I decided that it was better to get settled in and find my bearings so to speak!! We began our climb up to the reserve and then we arrived……….. I cannot begin to say how I felt!!!! Excitement as well as surprise I think because I had planned this trip for so long and I had checked out the website for the charity and looked at all the photos as well as much more, I had a picture in my mind……..it was not quite like that!!! Im sure it will be fine I just need to get used to the differences.   The night was strange as all you could hear were the dogs barking every so often, but I’m here and it’s another day. We really are in a tropical rain forest, the area is mostly beautiful, there is a wild horse wandering around and two pigs that always seem to be hungry, a kitten has arrived recently which apparently might go as the bird life could be effected if the cat starts multiplying!!!  Lots of chickens….. Not sure how to describe the house as at first glance it looks a bit like a sturdy wooden chalet style but it’s more of a shack! It puts whole new meaning on the description [click here to read more]

I stood on top of the world

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 4:00 pm  Ecuador  Comments Off on I stood on top of the world
Jan 312014

Tomorrow I go to the Galapagos to work but today has been wonderful, a friend of the family I am staying with offered to take myself and another volunteer on a tour to the Andes! We drove for about an hour through Quito and other towns until we drove into beautiful countryside and then up into the Andes!! George our guide stopped at a friends house who has a farm in the mountain and she offered to take us off road in her 4×4 to the very top of the mountain..!!! It was so exciting and a bit scary  at the same time as we climbed so high and there was very little road when we finally got there we stood on the Equator! Longitude  0. Latitude. 0…… I’m so tired now I can write no more up at 4am tomorrow for my flight to the Galapagos! Not sue when I will write again as there is no reception , but will try to get a SIM card ! What a very exciting day it has been.  Ps. I have photos and will put them on shortly. I forgot to mention the lovely lady who took us up the mountain was called Eva Peron!!!

I’m here in Quito

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 1:45 pm  Ecuador  Comments Off on I’m here in Quito
Jan 302014

The plane journey was long but ok, it was a bit strange to arrive in beautiful sunshine when at home it is midnight!! the family I am staying with are lovely, very kind and friendly, there are four other students also who have been here for a while , one who has broken both her arms while working on the Galapagos and had to be flown over to Quito!she said that this has not happened before and told me about the work she had been doing on the coffee plantation. She is going home tomorrow.  This morning I went for a walk with one of the students into the town, I have never been any where like this before, Im not sure how to describe it….. most of the people are friendly, they are very poor, one family I saw were going through rubbish bags outside someone’s house the children as well,a lot of stray dogs and buildings that are empty and some that are lived in but look as though they might fall down anytime!  I will write again..there is a lot to take in.

On my way to San Cristobal

 Posted by Lizzy Bamber at 4:51 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on On my way to San Cristobal
Jan 272014

Well  it’s time to go, I’ve packed just about everything and I can barely lift my rucksack!!! I have wanted to do something like this for so long,  to be honest I thought perhaps I needed some sort of qualification, and that I might be to old!!! but no,  I wrote to GVN told them about myself and they said yes, happy to have me,  and now here I am , retired, going on an adventure and  hopefully I will be helpful too! I leave at 7.30 Wednesday morning, change at Madrid and then 11 hours and I will be in Ecuador …..golly that sounds a long way! bit apprehensive but I’m sure I will be fine.  Will write again when I arrive.

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