Enjoy the wild side of Ecuador this summer while simultaneously helping its people on this special service program. Explore the incomparable Galapagos Islands, paddle into mysterious caves and canyons, and change lives for the better in a tiny Amazon village. Swim with playful sea creatures who are not afraid to swim and play alongside humans. Visit the famous Otavalo market filled with native handicrafts and sample typical potato llapingachos. Appreciate the bounty of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands through the eyes of those who call it home.
“My experience in Ecuador and the Galapagos was eye-opening. I came home a changed person.”
— Jessie S., Greenwich, CT
Quito and Andean Highlands Service
We board a plane from Miami and arrive in Quito, a city surrounded by volcanoes. We explore this breathtaking capital city of the ancient Incan Empire before we receive an orientation in local customs. We begin our first service project in a community in the Andes Mountains. Here we offer our help by painting a new classroom at the local school, and spending time with the schoolchildren.
Otavalo Market, Lake Cuicocha & Ziplining in Mindo
We visit the sprawling, colorful native market of Otavalo and can support local artisans by purchasing handicrafts and other goods. We then hike around the picturesque Lake Cuicocha that with the impressive Avenue of the Volcanoes as a backdrop. Thereafter we descend into the cloud forest in Mindo, and take an exhilarating ride through the forest canopy on a series of ziplines. We also cool off with a tubing adventure down the Mindo River.
Whitewater Rafting and Amazon Service Project
Our journey continues on the Rio Jatunyacu, meaning “big water” in the local language, Kichwa. Reminiscent of the “Lost World,” the Jatunyacu offers us exhilarating Class III rapids before making its way to the mighty Amazon. In a tiny jungle village near Tena, we join a minga – a Kichwa word for “community project for everyone’s benefit.” We help with the construction of a building that will function to serve the community. In the afternoons we spend time with the children, teaching English through activities, songs, and play. We find that our volunteering directly and positively impacts the lives of the residents and brings us true insight into Ecuadorian culture.
Baños Hot Springs
At the end of our long days of work in the Amazon, we travel to Baños where we are rewarded with a visit to the local hot springs. We take advantage of all that this area has to offer by taking short hikes in the hills for majestic views, and playing in the impressive waterfalls in a nearby canyon.
The Galapagos Islands guarantee an adventure of a lifetime. We swim, snorkel and mingle with prehistoric lava lizards, flamingos, blue-footed boobies, baby sea lion pups, dolphins, and playful penguins. Our evenings are spent exploring the local island communities. We also take time to give something back, by working on a service project in conjunction with the Charles Darwin Research Center. Island hopping highlights include kayaking the rocky coastline, visiting a giant tortoise breeding ground, swimming with sea lions at San Cristobal, and snorkeling at a submerged volcano. Our journey concludes with a flight back to Quito for our final evening celebration and then on to Miami.