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:

Almost there!!!!

 Posted by Maria Cavallari at 6:45 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Almost there!!!!
Jun 022012

I am getting on the plane TOMORROW night to finally fly out to Quito, which is the capital city of Ecuador and where I will be staying two days for my orientation meeting before I leave for the rainforest! I have to say that it only started hitting me now that I’m actually going, not that I have everything packed up and ready to go. I first started getting excited when I bought my pair of hiking boots but in my head the idea that I was finally going to be in the Amazon (one of my long time dreams especially since I have always loved watching National Geographic and Discovery Channel) still seemed so unreal to me. The few people that I know who have had the chance to travel to Ecuador’s rainforest have told me that they absolutely loved it and that it will be a life changing experience which I have no doubt that it will be! Apart from the volunteer work that I will be doing there, I want to take every chance to explore as much as I can and go on as many tours on my days off, not only to experience the beautiful sights and culture but to also get inspiration for my creaive work. Some of my hobbies are painting, illustrating and designing accessories and clothes, so I can only imagine the ideas that will be flowing through my head as I am on this trip. Definitely bringing a sketchbook and a few pencils, and ofcourse a camera! I am really looking forward to this trip which would not have been possible without my amazing mom and the support of my wonderful dad, I am so blessed to have such a loving, supportive and adventurous parents in my life <3


 Posted by Sarah & Brian at 5:24 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Lococolumbia
Nov 102011

In the Zone Cafetera of beautiful Colombia, the hills are fertile and support fine quality coffee, bamboo for building, eucalyptus for paper and plantains for food. But in the main town of the region, Armenia, lots of people earn a living from selling mobile phone minutes  to those with no access to a phone and middle aged men in smart trousers sit by typewriters in the street waiting for someone who needs a form filling or help with a letter. This is the only place we have experienced aggressive beggars, thin dark men who shout at you but can be pacified if you buy them a bread roll from the bakery. The wealth of the natural resources here including oil and coal (which Britain buys) benefits  the so called developed countries.  The coffee profits do not flow back into this town, or the small villages on the hills around where the residents decorate their houses in a riot of colour. The real money goes to Germany where there are no coffee plants but the beans are processed. We have been very lucky here because we met Nestor, a leading Colombian environmentalist, who is an old friend of Jim from Wakefield. He generously took us around his lovely district including taking us on hike into a cloud forest, where we saw hummingbirds and I had to cross not one but 5 shaky wooden bridges over a mountain river. By coincidence he was going for a week nearby to the next city on our list, Medellin. He and his partner Xalli, a journalist and artist,  invited us to their country house, an idyll in the hills, and drove us to see the  lakes and sights of this relatively rich area where hydro electricity, car and clothing manufacture support  a higher standard of living [click here to read more]

Quito Days

 Posted by Sarah & Brian at 3:24 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Quito Days
Oct 262011

The capital of Ecuador lies north to south at the foot of a volcano, one of the 17 which there are in the country, 7 of which are active in some way. One has just shown signs of eruption quite nearby at Banos. On the bus journey to get here we tried to see as many of them as we could but the mountain road mostly defeated us, although there is one snowy peak, Cotopaxi, once thought the highest mountain in the world before Everest was ‘discovered’, that you can see from many viewpoints. We stood at the side of a volcanic lake on a day tour around the district which included  a magic waterfall where people bathe in the early morning to cleanse themselves of the evil spirits of life and before that went to the markets of Otavalo. This town in the hills around Quito has a famous textile market where local families sell their knitted goods and many other forms of folk art as well as everything else you can imagine and some you can’t.  There is also a livestock market where we watched the locals sell all kinds of animals, guinea pigs, ducklings, pigs on strings. People haggled over the value of the chicken they held by the feet. It looked like a chaotic scene but serious business was being done on all sides. No-one was the least bit interested in us. People often wear a distinctive  local costume in Otavalo, and men as well as women have long plaits down their backs. One positive thing about Ecuador is that it is evident that there is a policy drive to encourage the country to embrace the diversity of all its indigenous cultures and races, which, after the brutal history of colonisation in all of South America, is still needed. Quito has [click here to read more]

Toucans before breakfast or Spiders in the bathroom

 Posted by Sarah & Brian at 5:46 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Toucans before breakfast or Spiders in the bathroom
Oct 232011

We trekked through the rain forest, assailed by the threat of poisonous snakes, lethal frogs and red termites, tarantulas and spiny trees, breathing the hot humid air and shadowed by the canopy, unable to see through the thick vegetation on either side if there were hostile tribes or jaguars prowling. In fact, we were being safely led by a local guide down a track – not a path, we did have to scramble over fallen trees and avoid the mud and the  vines –  and learning about the hazards and the marvels of Amazonia. Our eco lodge was by a tributary river, in a large protected reserve in Ecuador, where the company can only rent the site and has to use local skills and staff.  I thought I was very brave when after being shown the tarantula large enough to eat a small bird on the thatched roof of our communal hut, I found another spider, luckily not with hairy legs, in our little bathroom. I only gave out a small scream. The whole experience was wonderful. The guides were brought up in the jungle and were full of knowledge and enthusisam for this threatened ‘ green sea’. At night we stood in the dark, torches off, and listened to the symphony of insect and amphibian life calling for their mates. Any one leaf might have 2 or 3 different insects on it. As we learnt, the significance  of bio diversity lies in this amazing variety of life. Scientific opinion is that the full range of species has not yet been seen, and moreover, never will be. We saw the tinest orchid ever discovered, hardly bigger than a blade of grass, the vine which produces poison for hunting but only if you know how to boil it down, the plants [click here to read more]

Countdown: 6 days to departure

 Posted by Cara Deringer at 5:02 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Countdown: 6 days to departure
Aug 102011

Hello.  This is my test entry, please let me know if you can read this! I can also upload photographs that I take while in Ecuador – exciting! Wish me luck and Bon Voyage! Thanks J,A,A, and A

Week 3

 Posted by Mackenzie Wacker at 7:17 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Week 3
Jul 242011

Baños last weekend was sooo much fun. Definately my favorite place in Ecuador so far. Saturday I think 8 of us rented bikes and rode towards Puyo on the highway . The view was stunning and there were a lot of waterfalls on the way. We didn´t go the whole way because of the many stops we made but that´s pretty normal, a is getting a ride back to Baños because it´s mostly uphill and we didn´t have much time. Except for James, he´s crazy and decided to bike back alone. Josephine and I Hitch-hiked back in the back of a truck and I LOVED IT. Interesting how I only feel comfortable doing that not in the US, It was sad to say goodbye to Nadia and Kevin on Sunday but this week brought a few new volunteers as well. I´ve been horrible with journaling but something exciting from this week is the project James and I took on. we´re building new playground equipment for the school. On Thursday alone we built a et of monkey bars out of bamboo and will set it up Monday. This kids have holiday this week so we´re hoping to build a swing set and maybe one other thing for them to come back to. I love these kids they are so adorable I´m really going to miss them. This week aso consisted of a lot of weeding which was less than entertaining. Yesterday James and I went to the Santa Domingo vs Barcelona soccer game in Santa Domingo. Unfortunately the home team only had what appeared to be3 a section of 20 cheering them on.. EVERYONE was in Barcelona gear, it was kinda pathetic ha but they ended up tying 2 to 2 which I guess was a big deal.. I was definately [click here to read more]

Week 2ish

 Posted by Mackenzie Wacker at 10:31 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Week 2ish
Jul 152011

Que Pasa Wisconsin and world. I am simply loving my time in Ecuador and at La Hesperia. Ahh and yes the showers are cold. Initially a brief period of hyperventilation occurs but after it´s just good old fun. Breakfast is served at 7:30 am, which always consists of bread, made by one of the volunteers, with a sweet spread called manhar… delicious, oatmeal, unless we run out.. coffee picked and made by the volunteers, fresh squeezed juice and sometimes fruit. Morning jobs run from 8:30 to 12ish and are basically random. This week I took Mula the mule and 76 liters of milk down the hill to sell to the locals (and 16 empty bottles of Pilsner grande), planted 50 trees on tree planting tuesday (by machete-ing my way through the jungle) , made manhar (where I stood for 3 hours straight stirring some concoction nonstop while rocking out to some tunes and studying spanish), picked coffee beans, peeled coffee beans, washed coffee beans, watched coffee beans dry, peeled second layer of coffee beans, roasted coffee beans, grinded coffee, and drank coffee. I also helped Freddy (local who works at La Hesperia) and Walter (volunteer coordinater with an awesome high-pitched laugh that could give Steve a run for his money) cut bamboo trees down and chop em up. The bamboo is for an eco-construction project: we´re making a roof for another room that is being built at the school. Nadia has been expanding the English program at La Hesperia´s school and I´ve been helping her teach. This was her last week so I will be taking over the program for the last three weeks of my stay. The school consists of 3-6 year olds and they are adorable, teaching them is so much fun. Also, the mosquitos in Wisconsin are [click here to read more]

Week 1

 Posted by Mackenzie Wacker at 11:52 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Week 1
Jul 092011

Hola from Otavalo. This city, although I´m not quite certain of its exact whereabouts.. is very well know for it´s markets. I spent way too much in too short of time, but it´s all awesome and haggling with vendors is my new favorite hobby.  I arrived in Quito last saturday at 11:00pm ish and once I got to my hostel set my alarm for 7:00am to get an early start on the day. Who was I kidding… I got up at 9:30 and rushed down to breakfast. That day consisted of a visit to the [almost] top of mt pichincha in a tiny cable car with 6 people called La Teleferiqa (THE VIEW OF QUITO WAS INCREDIBLE). (I do not have anything with me at the moment so all of the places I mention are probably spelled wrong or completely off) I also went to the equator and took a sweet pec, and the Historic old town where I snapped another sweet pic of the inside of a gold building which turned out to be illegal, but thankfully they didn´t confiscate my camera.. Early in the day in the cable car I had met a man named greg..I think..  We bonded over the English language and thus spent the entire day together. I probably saved 50 dollars that day. I arrived at Carmen´s office, my Ecuadorian rep, early monday, and met Allie who was also headed to La Hesperia. We´ve been having a great time.  All the volunteers are awesome and incredibly educated.. we´ve got a guy, James, going into Astro-physics. another girl who just graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering and who is off to Cambridge for Nuclear something grad school, several bio majors, etc. A few things I´ve learned since I got here: 1) I suck at [click here to read more]


 Posted by Mackenzie Wacker at 6:33 pm  Ecuador  Comments Off on Anticipation
Jul 012011

It is 1:30 in the morning. My permethrin-soaked clothes are hanging outside, attempting to dry in the damp nighttime air. Meanwhile I am watching criminal minds, facebooking and apparently journaling yet I have things covering every inch of this living space. My plane leaves from O’Hare in 11 hours. I am HORRIBLE at packing, clearly. I promise future entries will actually come from Ecuador. Testing, testing… 1 2 3… =)

The rest of my cruise and diving

 Posted by Lauren McPhee at 9:56 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on The rest of my cruise and diving
Mar 302011

So after I went to the lava tubes I was able to find a camera to replace the old one that is no longer functioning. Probably due to humidity. It is a nice camera that is working very well. I can not wait to share my photos with everyone. The next day we visited the Charles Darwin Research Center to see Lonesome George. He looked quite lonesome. I guess he has a broken leg as well at the moment so he is a sad lonesome tortoise. Very cute though. After seeing many tortoises I went to Tortuga Bay with the rest of the Jatun Sacha group. It was the most amazing beach I have ever seen. Silky white sand and clear water. Nice large waves as well. After seeing this beach 3 of us decided to stay here an extra night so we could return. Since it is a 45 minute walk to the beach our time there was short so it was necessary to extend it. The next day we just went to the beach, used the internet and went back to San Cristobal where it was raining. It was nice to return to Jatun Sacha yet sad to leave a beautiful island. We reutrned to Jatun Sacha on Tuesday and I spent Wednesday working at the nursery and in the kitchen. I was not feeling all that well so I had to go lay down. I must have eaten something funny but the next day I was better. On Thursday I went back into town to do a diving course for 4 days. It is through PADI and at the end I became a certified open water diver. The first time I went into the water was a bit scary and uncomfortable. I was thinking of dropping out [click here to read more]

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