Puerto Lopez

Volunteer in Ecuador | Turtles Conservation Program in Puerto Lopez

Brief description

Volunteer in Ecuador Puerto Lopez Conservation program
  • The local NGO was created in 2004 in light of the urgent need to obtain information to conserve Ecuador’s ecosystems and marine resources. Working with public, government and business sectors with competing interests, the organization strives to find functional solutions that keep conservation in mind. Volunteers help with this by doing all / some of the following:
  • Day-time and night-time patrols of beaches inside and outside of the national park.
  • Measurement and tagging of sea turtles.
  • Egg counting and nest tagging.
  • If required; Egg transfers to an egg hatching site.
  • Installation of transmitters on turtle shells.
  • Telemetry activities onboard a boat (telemetry is an automated communications process by which measurements are made and other data collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring).
  • Capture and recapture of turtles in the sea.
  • It is possible that volunteers may have to work Saturdays & Sundays, especially during turtle nesting season (November to April) when there are many tasks to be fulfilled.
  • This program requires a minimum commitment of one month.
  • Furthermore activities may include the counting and registering of dead sharks brought in by fishermen from illegal shark fishing. Volunteers must count how many, what type, whether they’re male or female and, if possible, should try to measure the sharks in order to get an idea of how many of the sharks are juvenile.

Apply

Puerto Lopez program info

Accommodation

  • The volunteer house is a 20 minute walk from the center of Puerto Lopez and can house up to 10 volunteers. The amenities include flushing toilets, a functional kitchen with a fridge, a number of hammocks and reasonably fast wifi connection. It does not have washing machines, but volunteers can go to a nearby launderette service or can hand wash their clothes and hang them to dry on a clothes wire.
  • olunteer rooms have 2 to 6 bunk beds and so, often volunteers have to share a room with others from the opposite sex. The bathrooms and showers are also shared by all the volunteers, which is why volunteers are asked to constantly help keep the house clean and organized.
  • The house also has computers that are used mainly for research activities, which volunteers can make use (to a limit) for personal matters.

 

View of the international volunteer house

The living room of the international volunteer house

 

Food

    • This program does NOT include meals. Volunteers either cook themselves or eat in any of the nearby restaurants.
    • Underneath you can find approximate prices of meals in Ecuador. These prices are roughly the prices you would find in Puerto Lopez.

apply

Cost US$ EUR
Average Price for meal in inexpensive restaurant US$ 3 € 2.7
Average Price meal. mid-range restaurant for 2 p US$ 16 € 14.4
Water US$ 0.5 € 0.45
Domestic beer (0.5 L) US$ 1.10 € 0.99

  

 What to see & do:

(In Puerto Lopez)

  • Puerto Lopez is a small fishing village with a population of about 16,000. Its main industries are fishing and ecotourism. It has quite an authentic ‘local’ feel to it, though tourism picks up during the tourist season. The town provides for scuba diving, whale watching and the likes, but by no means does it have the feel of a tourist haven. Though it is a small fishing village, it does have a fair amount to keep you busy. There is a small market, a nice pier, a collection of small shops with artisan products, and it has a pleasant night life with a fair amount of bars and possibilities to dance some salsa :)
  • Machalilla National Park: This national park is a 750 Km2 (15,000 hectares) reserve just outside of Puerto Lopez that stretches along some of the Northern coast, but above all inland to the East. In it you find beautiful, stretched out beaches, dry forest, fog forest, small islands and two larger islands; Salango and Isla de la Plata, the latter named after a legendary collection of silver left by Sir Francis Drake. Amongst its wildlife you find approximately 270 species of birds, armadillos, two species of monkeys, and it is the only region outside of the Galapagos islands where you find the waved albatross. The parts of the park that give onto the ocean are also a breeding ground for humpback whales. A lot of the work the volunteers do takes place inside the Machalilla national Park.
  • Los frailes beach: Los Frailes is a lovely, long beach inside the Machalilla National Park. It finds itself at about a twenty minute bus ride from Puerto Lopez and is one of the beaches volunteers must do day patrols on as well. It’s a great place to go when you have some free time, as there are very few people (even during peak season), has no beach vendors and is always well kept and clean. Surrounding the beach you have some lovely trails and viewpoints from which you can see the Pacific and some of the other nearby beaches, beautiful birds and at times even humpback whales and/or turtles, though the turtles tend to come out more at night. Note that there are no restaurants or bars as the beach is quite “off the beaten track”.

Volunteer in Ecuador Puerto Lopez Conservation program the beach

  • Isla de Plata: This island is a 1,5 hour boat ride from Puerto Lopez and can be visited via one of the many tourist agencies. The island is home to many different animal species, of which many can be found on the Galapagos Islands. In fact, it is often referred to as the “poor sister” of the Galapagos, due to the fact that it is much smaller and far cheaper to travel to, yet it has some amazing wildlife, and is a great place to scuba dive or snorkel, as it has coral reefs and of course, is also a very popular island for a number of different turtle species.
  • Some reasonably nearby cities are manta and Guayaquil. Manta can be reached by a two hour bus ride up North. It has the one of the largest ports of Ecuador and also has an international airport. Guayaquil is slightly further and takes approximately three hours to reach by bus. With a population of approximately 2,7 million, this charming city…

Schedule

Turtles Conservation Program in Puerto Lopez

  • Working hours are typically six hours a day and at least five days a week. At times volunteers work night shifts patrolling the beach and can work Saturdays and/or Sundays. Our local partner tries to keep the average working hours around 30 hours per week.
  • For this program, it is important to understand however that the schedule can vary a lot according to circumstances. The local organization adapts its schedule to the animals and climatic circumstances, so all volunteers that go on this program should be aware and open to this.

Location

  • Puerto Lopez is situated on the coast of the South Pacific Ocean, and finds itself bordering the Machalilla National Park reserve.
  • The nearest big city is Manta, which is approximately two hours by bus to the North. Slightly further is Ecuador’s largest city: Guayaquil (three hours by bus heading South). Finally Quito is approximately an 8 hours bus ride inland.
  • Ecuador in itself is a relatively small country, so you can reach a number of big cities in Colombia (Cali, Bogotá, Medellin, Cartagena…), Panama (Panama) and Peru (Lima and Cusco) for relatively cheap prices if booked early.

Volunteer in Ecuador Puerto Lopez Conservation program map

Turtles Conservation Program

  • Minimum 20 years old
  • A minimum of beginner’s level Spanish
  • Great interest towards environmental issues, with emphasis on marine conservation.
  • Ability to learn sampling techniques and to apply them satisfactorily in the field.
  • Predisposition to camp and patrol beaches during the day and night.
  • A careful and responsible person who can assist local staff with data collection of great importance.
  • Predisposition to assist local staff with environmental education activities.
  • Predisposition to:
    • walk beaches collecting trash and take measurements of turtles/turtle tracks.
    • work under the sun.
    • work within water.
  • Patient, tolerant and hardworking, enthusiastic and must have the ability to work alone or as part of a team.

  • Accommodation at the volunteer house in Puerto Lopez.
  • All transportation expenses that are directly related to the projects.
  • Training/orientation, field coordination, and field equipment/material.
  • Volunteer ID card.
  • A letter certifying that you participated in the Volunteer Program at the end of your stay.
  • Internet access.

What’s NOT included?

  • Air fares.
  • Travel/Medical insurance.
  • Vaccinations.
  • Police Check form.
  • Visas.
  • Transportation to and from Puerto Lopez, or within Ecuador.
  • Meals.
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, etc.
  • (Intvs and at times our partners advise on all of the above, and all are generally obligatory, but Intvs does not cover these costs).

 

Volunteer period Shared Room Cost (US$)
1 week minimun one month
2 weeks minimum one month
3 weeks minimum one month
1 month US$ 550
2 months US$ 1,100
3 months US$ 1,650
4 months US$ 2,200
5 months US$ 2,750
6 months US$ 3,300
Additional month US$ 550

Please click here to convert the prices to your local currency.

INTVS charges its own fee of 185€, regardless of the time that a volunteer stays abroad. This fee covers;

  • Volunteer support prior to, during and after the volunteer experience (in English, French & Spanish)
  • All necessary preparatory information including;
    • Visas
    • Vaccinations
    • Travel/Medical Insurance
    • Police Check form
    • The program (the site, schedule, role…)
    • Local contacts & important numbers

And also…

  • History, demographics & local norms
  • What to bring
  • Do’s and don’ts
  • And much more.
  • It also covers work and travel costs that INTVS staff incur to check up on and document the programs on a regular basis.
  • The payments to the local organizations and INTVS are completely separate. We do NOT charge them a commission and 100% of the program cost goes to them.

Volunteer in Ecuador Puerto Lopez Conservation Sarah

“When I decided to start volunteering, my goal was to do something good, to work somewhere, where it is appreciated that I help. That is what I love about being a volunteer at the turtle preservation program in Puerto Lopez; you really feel that the work we do here is useful and that it might actually help to preserve turtles. And also you get really close to those animals, it is just wonderful to see them swimming around or helping the babies to find their way into the sea. It is just a beautiful experience.”.

Sára Walter (Germany)

Demographics

  • Population: 15,7 million (2014)
  • Currency: US Dollar (US$)
  • Capital City: Quito
  • Land area: 105,000 square miles / 283,500 square kilometers (about the size of New Zealand)
  • People living below poverty line: Approximately 25% of the population. (Nearly 4 million)
  • Language: Official: Spanish. Other languages are about 9 varieties of Quechua (Kichwa) and Suar.

Volunteer in Ecuador Puerto Lopez Conservation program map Ecuador

Culture

  • Diversity: Ecuador is country with a vast number or racial backgrounds. The majority of Ecuador’s population is mestizo, a mixture of both European and Amerindian ancestry. The remaining 10% are from European descent, above all from Spain, Italy, Lebanon, France and Germany. Around the Chota and Esmeraldas region, there is a strong African influence.
  • Religion: Approximately 82% of Ecuador is catholic, 14% believe in another form of religion and approximately 4% has no religious affiliation. Though most indigenous Ecuadorians are catholic, they generally blend Catholicism with their traditional beliefs. The church has a lot of influence in the government and most holidays are based on Christian festivals.
  • Regionalism: There are four main regions in Ecuador; the coast, the highland Andes, the Amazon rain forest, and the Galapagos Archipelago. Each region’s differences are manifested in their physical appearance, their dress and their language and family name. There is a fair amount of dislike between the sierra (highlands) and the coastal region. This general dislike finds its history traced back to prehistoric times.
  • Machismo: There is still a strong sense of what is the man’s role and the woman’s role inside the family unit in Ecuador. The wife should look after the home and children while the husband goes out to work.
  • The people: Ecuadorians are positive, warm people that have an indirect, but very friendly way of communicating. They speak diplomatically and with courtesy. They view blunt communication as extremely rude. They are quite tactile, in the sense that men generally give hugs when greeting friends and women give kisses on the cheek.
  • Family: Family is very important to Ecuadorians and, more often than not, grandparents will live with their son or daughter as opposed to going to a facility for the elderly.
  • Food: The most basic, common food is soup, which has many variation according to region. Coastal regions will incorporate fish, sierra regions will incorporate more potato and in the Amazon region there will be combinations with peppers, chicken comsommé and other meats or vegetables. Rice is also very common and is served with everything. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are based upon the European model and hence tend to be at around 8, 9 a.m (breakfast), 13:00 p.m (lunch) and approximately 19:00 p.m (dinner).

 

Volunteer in Ecuador Puerto Lopez Conservation program the Port

History

  • It is generally accepted that Ecuador was initially populated by people that emigrated from Brazil, who were drawn by the habitable coastline landscape. Its first sedentary culture was the Valdivia (approximately 5,500 years ago), a people that were well known for their fine pottery.
  • During the so-called “Formative period” however, the most popular culture was the Chorrera. This culture, along with the Machalilla culture was known for its practice of skull deformation, whereby elongated and flattened craniums were signs of status.
  • 600 BC: Around 600BC, an elite caste of shamans and merchants started to gain influence, starting a long-distance trade. Amongst others these included the Bahía, Jama-Coaque, Guangala and La Tolita cultures.
  • 800 AD: More hierarchical societies started to appear around 800AD with the coming of the Manteños, the Huancavilcas and the Caras on the coast; the Quitus of the northern highlands; the Puruhá of the central highlands; and the Cañari of the area around present-day Cuenca.
  • When the ‘caras’ expanded into Quitus region in the highlands, they formed a joint culture known as the Quitu-caras or ‘Shyris’. They would be the dominant power in Ecuador until approximately 1300 AD, which is when the ‘Puruha’ gained power in the highlands and the Cañari further south.
  • Inca rule: When, during the early 15th century the Inca Empire began to expand, they spread north and were met by fierce opposition from the Cañari. The cañari were eventually overcome, and the Incan king Yupanqui eventually had an empire that stretched from today’s Southern Colombia, through Ecuador and Peru, all the way to Western Bolivia, Northern Chile and a small part of Northern Argentina. Yupanqui’s son Huayna Capac, grew up in Ecuador and, throughout his reign, travelled his empire, strengthening his position by marriage. He fathered two sons: Atahualpa and Huascar…who would eventually be at the base of the downfall of the Incan empire.
  • As in other modern day South American countries, the Spanish conquistadores benefitted from the turmoil of the Incan civil war started by the brothers Atahualpa and Huascar, and the conquering of modern day Ecuador did not take too long. The incan war general Rumiñahui however, did resist fiercely upon hearing that his incan king Atahualpa’s execution by the Spaniards, and preferred to burn the city of Quito to the ground rather than to leave it in the hands of the conquistadores. Rumiñahui was eventually captured and killed in 1535 and Quito was refounded.
  • Incan influence: Though the Inca rule lasted for only one century, its influence in Ecuador is omnipresent, and the Inca language (Quechua) is still spoken today by about a quarter of the population.
  • The colonial era: The early colonial era was a period of relative peace. Agriculture and arts flourished, and new products such as bananas and cattle were imported from Europe. Churches and monasteries were bult on top of indigenous sites, and Spanish and indigenous styles blended. The indigenous (and later ´mestizos´; people that were of Spanish and indigenous decent) were however harshly repressed, whereas the ruling colonialists lived a comfortable life. This eventually led to uprisings against the Spanish ruling class in the 18th century, which prompted the ruling class to start importing African slaves.
  • Independence of Ecuador: As was the case of many other modern-day South American countries, Ecuador was eventually liberated by Simón Bolivar (a Venezuelan freedom fighter). Bolívar supported the people of Guayaquil when they claimed their independence on October 9th, 1820, and the Spanish were finally defeated two years later at the Battle of Pichincha. Thuogh Bolivar´s initial idea was to form a united South America, Ecuador finally became fully independent in 1830.
  • The following decades were packed with volatility in Ecuador, in which political warfare between liberals and conservatives marked the trend. Today Quito remains a far more conservative, church backed city than the liberal, social Guayaquil. Though volatility remained through practically the entire 20th century, there was never as much bloodshed in Ecuador as in many of its neighbouring countries.
  • 70s: Though Ecuador was very much a ‘banana republic’, the discovery of oil in 1967 caused a shift in export, with oil accounting for half of total export earnings by 1973. With the discovery of oil, Ecuador began to borrow money for investment purposes, only to find themselves in extreme debt when oil prices slumped in 1986 and a disastrous earthquake in 1987 wiped out approximately 40 km of pipe line. To this day Ecuador relies heavily on oil exports, though reserves are much diminished now.
  • 80s & 90s: The 80s and 90s saw more struggles between the liberals and conservatives with leaders coming and going at a swift rate. Corruption scandals, lack of stability due to constant shifts of power, devastation caused by the ‘el Niño’ hurricane, sagging oil prices and the eventual devaluation of the currency led president Mahuad to dump the national currency in order to introduce the stable US dollar. Though initially met with mass protests and the eventual resignation of Mahuad, the dollar was eventually introduced at the turn of the 20th century by then president Gustavo Noboa.
  • Since Noboa, president Lucio Gutiérez primarily introduced austerity measures to control Ecuador’s debt, losing popularity and finally being ousted. He was followed by Alfredo Palacio, who focused more on social and health welfare, as well as the redirecting of oil profits to pay off national debt.
  • Today: Under the rule of Rafael Correa since 2007, Ecuador has seen relative stability. He has strong ties with the business community and has presided over a period of economic growth and a drop in unemployment and poverty. Though the U.S.A is Ecuador’s main trading partner and the source of most of its tourism, Correa has a very confrontational stance against the U.S.A. He declared that he would not run for another term…but this remains to be seen.

Las Tolas

Volunteer in Ecuador Las Tolas Nature Reserve program

Volunteer in Ecuador | Nature Reserve Program in Las Tolas

Brief Description

Volunteer in Ecuador Las Tolas Nature Reserve program description
  • International volunteers or interns on this program stay in a wooden cottage inside a nature reserve that finds itself inside the Ecuadorian rainforest. The house can accommodate a maximum of 10 interns or volunteers. Volunteers and interns pay a different price and have different tasks, of which some can overlap. These are the following:

For Volunteers:

  • Trail building and maintenance: Situated on 15 hectares of rain forest, volunteers help work on the 5 kilometer trail that was originally created by the local owners. The trails are there to access different parts of the reserve, where people can observe diverse plant and animal life (above all birds). Trail work consists of straightening out land, replacing wooden steps, clearing vegetation and fallen branches, amongst others.
  • Working in the organic garden: With the idea of being as self-sufficient as possible, there is a small vegetable garden, where volunteers help water the plants, plant seeds, produce compost, remove weeds, amongst others…
  • Maintenance of the fruit feeding stations: There are a couple of fruit feeding stations on the reserve for specific (rare) bird and mammal species. These are used to feed and monitor the bird and mammal diversity, and the banana feeders must be cleaned and refilled twice a week.
  • Carpentry work: Volunteers at times also help with simple carpentry.

For conservation internships:

  • Interns on this program do the above tasks, but to a lesser extent. Other tasks they have are:
  • Assistance with bird monitoring and mist-netting
  • Controlling camera traps and analysis of animal activity.
  • Visiting of local workshops.
  • Planning of environmental workshops for local children.
  • Plant “living fences” trees and help with the reforestation project.
  • (This program requires minimum 4 weeks’ dedication).

For research traineeships:

  • On these programs, students work on their own internship project, or work on on-going research projects, receiving support from the local NGO. Assistance is provided with planning, carrying out the project and analysis. Interns considering doing this might consider taking a tropical ecology course before.
  • (This program requires minimum 8 weeks’ dedication).

Apply

Las Tolas program info

Accommodation

  • Volunteers stay in a beautiful wooden cottage on the nature reserve that can lodge up to 10 volunteers / interns. The upstairs part of the house has 4 double rooms with bunk beds, of which two have a double size bed on the lower bunk. All the rooms give onto a balcony that provides a view of the thick rainforest.
  • On the bottom floor there is an open kitchen, a dining area and a small laboratory.
  • There are two warm-water showers and two bathrooms. The two bathrooms are situated just 10 meters from the house.
  • Some visitors bring tents and camp just outside the house.
  • Electricity: The house is solar powered and so all electronic devices can be used and charged during the day. In the evening, generally candles and flashlights are used.
  • Internet: For internet use, a mobile modem is used. The device is shared amongst the volunteers and so the use of the device is organized amongst all. Internet usage is charged 2$ per 100MB.

Volunteer in Ecuador Las Tolas Nature Reserve program house

 Food

    • Lunch and dinner are included in the price of the program(s) from Monday to Friday, and are generally vegetarian. It is, above all, typical Ecuadorian food (rice, plantains, yucca etc), but also pasta, potatoes and lots of vegetables. Breakfast should be prepared by the volunteers themselves or with other volunteers/interns.
    • Breakfast: 7 – 8 a.m.
    • Lunch: 1 p.m.
    • Dinner: 8:30 p.m.  

Volunteer in Ecuador Las Tolas Nature Reserve program food

What to see & do:

(Close to the nature reserve)

 

  • As the nature reserve is deep inside the Ecuadorian rain forest, this program is above all for people that enjoy nature, as the nearest (small) town is a half hour drive away. The region is known as the ‘Chocó’ region, and it is known for its amazingly high biodiversity. Approximately a quarter of all the plant species are endemic…and in the more mountainous region, it’s up to half! Above all, it is known for its diversity of birds (over 260 different species), and so there are very often bird watchers that come to the reserve.
  • The nature reserve finds itself approximately 30 minutes’ drive from the nearest town. Las Tolas is a small rural village located in the cloud forest west of Quito. The community here is very friendly and welcoming. Most people live from dairy farming or other agricultural work, but there is also a community tourism project. There are two small shops and a primary school in the village. The community tourism project offers visits to a waterfall or coffee plantation, horse back riding and mountain biking, or you can learn how to make your own jewelry with seeds from the cloud forest, how to make typical Ecuadorian food or how to milk a cow.Just another 10 minutes away, the archeological museum in Tulipe can give you an insight to the areas unique Yumbo culture.
  • Quito: About 2,5 hours by bus from Las Tolas is Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. At times, volunteers or interns go to Quito on weekends. It is Ecuador’s 2nd largest city with a population of over 2 million people, and is the highest capital city in the world, at an altitude of nearly 3,000 meters above sea level. It also has one of the largest and best preserved historic centers in the Americas, which was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978. It’s known for its beautiful colonial constructions, as well as for its charming restaurants and night life.

Volunteer in Ecuador Las Tolas Nature Reserve program landscape

Schedule

Nature Reserve Program in Las Tolas

  • Volunteers work 5 hours a day (08.00 to 13:00)
  • Working hours of interns are basically the same, but depending on on-going research projects e.g. bird banding), interns will also have to work early in the mornings (6.00-11.00).

Location

  • The nature reserve is approximately 3 hours’ drive from Quito (2,5 hours by bus and another 30 minutes by car from the nearest town, where volunteers / interns get picked up.
  • The nature reserve is located in the montane rainforest in the province Pichincha about 90 km west of Quito as the crow flies. The closest bigger town in San Miguel de Los Bancos which is about 7km away, though there is no road crossing the river Pachijal. Therefore the nature reserve can only be reached via Las Tolas.

Volunteer in Ecuador Las Tolas Nature Reserve program map

Volunteers

  • Minimum 18 years old.
  • Capable and happy to be doing quite physical work.
  • A minimum of beginner’s level Spanish.

Interns:

  • Minimum 18 years old.
  • Genuine interest in ecology.
  • A minimum of beginner’s level Spanish.
  • Capable and happy to be doing physical work and getting hands dirty.
  • Happy to get up early and be outdoors most of the time.
  • Patient, tolerant and hardworking, enthusiastic and must have the ability to work alone or as part of a team.

What’s offered?

  • Accommodation & food (lunch and dinner from Monday to Sunday).
  • Practical information and arrangements.
  • On-going support and supervision during the program.

Volunteer in Ecuador Las Tolas Nature Reserve program volunteers

What’s NOT included?

  • Air fares.
  • Travel/Medical insurance.
  • Transport is not included; pick up from nearest town (from Las Tolas) can be done for a fee of 15US$
  • Vaccinations.
  • Police Check form.
  • Visas.
  • Internet access (cost US$ 2, per 100 MB).
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, etc.
  • (Intvs and at times our partners advise on all of the above, and all are generally obligatory, but Intvs does not cover these costs).

 

For volunteers

Volunteer period Shared Room Cost(US$)
2 weeks minimun one month
3 weeks minimum one month
4 weeks US$ 380
5 weeks US$ 475
6 weeks US$ 570
7 weeks  US$ 665
8 weeks US$ 760
13 weeks(3 months) US$ 1,235
26 weeks(6 months) US$ 2,470
39 weeks(9 months) US$ 3,705
52 weeks(12 months) US$ 4,940
 Extra day US$ 14

 

For conservation internships

Volunteer period Shared Room Cost(US$)
2 weeks minimun one month
3 weeks minimum one month
4 weeks US$ 730
5 weeks  US$ 897.50
6 weeks US$ 1,065
7 weeks US$ 1,232.5
8 weeks US$ 1,400
13 weeks(3 months) US$ 2,237.5
26 weeks(6 months) US$ 4,415
39 weeks(9 months) US$ 6,592.5
52 weeks(12 months) US$ 8,770
 Extra day   US$ 24

 

For research traineeships

Volunteer period Shared Room Cost(US$)
2 weeks minimun one month
3 weeks minimum one month
4 weeks US$ 780
5 weeks US$ 975
6 weeks US$ 1,170
7 weeks US$ 1,365
8 weeks US$ 1,560
13 weeks(3 months) US$ 2,535
26 weeks(6 months) US$ 5,070
39 weeks(9 months) US$ 7,605
52 weeks(12 months) US$ 10,140
 Extra day  US$ 28

 

Please click here to convert the prices to your local currency.

INTVS charges its own fee of 185€, regardless of the time that a volunteer stays abroad. This fee covers;

  • Volunteer support prior to, during and after the volunteer experience (in English, French & Spanish)
  • All necessary preparatory information including;
    • Visas
    • Vaccinations
    • Travel/Medical Insurance
    • Police Check form
    • The program (the site, schedule, role…)
    • Local contacts & important numbers

And also…

  • History, demographics & local norms
  • What to bring
  • Do’s and don’ts
  • And much more.
  • It also covers work and travel costs that INTVS staff incur to check up on and document the programs on a regular basis.
  • The payments to the local organizations and INTVS are completely separate. We do NOT charge them a commission and 100% of the program cost goes to them.

Volunteer in Ecuador Las Tolas Nature Reserve program Caroline

“My experience has been really interesting! Every day I learned new things such as the mist netting technique, but I also discovered many plants, insects and animals that were unknown to me! Furthermore, the Spanish language is a real pleasure for the ears! It’s been a great adventure!”.

Caroline Gérard (Belgium)

Demographics

  • Population: 15,7 million (2014)
  • Currency: US Dollar (US$)
  • Capital City: Quito
  • Land area: 105,000 square miles / 283,500 square kilometers (about the size of New Zealand)
  • People living below poverty line: Approximately 25% of the population. (Nearly 4 million)
  • Language: Official: Spanish. Other languages are about 9 varieties of Quechua (Kichwa) and Suar.

Volunteer in Ecuador Las Tolas Nature Reserve program map Ecuador

Culture

  • Diversity: Ecuador is country with a vast number or racial backgrounds. The majority of Ecuador’s population is mestizo, a mixture of both European and Amerindian ancestry. The remaining 10% are from European descent, above all from Spain, Italy, Lebanon, France and Germany. Around the Chota and Esmeraldas region, there is a strong African influence.
  • Religion: Approximately 82% of Ecuador is catholic, 14% believe in another form of religion and approximately 4% has no religious affiliation. Though most indigenous Ecuadorians are catholic, they generally blend Catholicism with their traditional beliefs. The church has a lot of influence in the government and most holidays are based on Christian festivals.
  • Regionalism: There are four main regions in Ecuador; the coast, the highland Andes, the Amazon rain forest, and the Galapagos Archipelago. Each region’s differences are manifested in their physical appearance, their dress and their language and family name. There is a fair amount of dislike between the sierra (highlands) and the coastal region. This general dislike finds its history traced back to prehistoric times.
  • Machismo: There is still a strong sense of what is the man’s role and the woman’s role inside the family unit in Ecuador. The wife should look after the home and children while the husband goes out to work.
  • The people: Ecuadorians are positive, warm people that have an indirect, but very friendly way of communicating. They speak diplomatically and with courtesy. They view blunt communication as extremely rude. They are quite tactile, in the sense that men generally give hugs when greeting friends and women give kisses on the cheek.
  • Family: Family is very important to Ecuadorians and, more often than not, grandparents will live with their son or daughter as opposed to going to a facility for the elderly.
  • Food: The most basic, common food is soup, which has many variation according to region. Coastal regions will incorporate fish, sierra regions will incorporate more potato and in the Amazon region there will be combinations with peppers, chicken comsommé and other meats or vegetables. Rice is also very common and is served with everything. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are based upon the European model and hence tend to be at around 8, 9 a.m (breakfast), 13:00 p.m (lunch) and approximately 19:00 p.m (dinner).

 

volunteer-in-ecuador-puerto-lopez-conservation-program-port

History

  • It is generally accepted that Ecuador was initially populated by people that emigrated from Brazil, who were drawn by the habitable coastline landscape. Its first sedentary culture was the Valdivia (approximately 5,500 years ago), a people that were well known for their fine pottery.
  • During the so-called “Formative period” however, the most popular culture was the Chorrera. This culture, along with the Machalilla culture was known for its practice of skull deformation, whereby elongated and flattened craniums were signs of status.
  • 600 BC: Around 600BC, an elite caste of shamans and merchants started to gain influence, starting a long-distance trade. Amongst others these included the Bahía, Jama-Coaque, Guangala and La Tolita cultures.
  • 800 AD: More hierarchical societies started to appear around 800AD with the coming of the Manteños, the Huancavilcas and the Caras on the coast; the Quitus of the northern highlands; the Puruhá of the central highlands; and the Cañari of the area around present-day Cuenca.
  • When the ‘caras’ expanded into Quitus region in the highlands, they formed a joint culture known as the Quitu-caras or ‘Shyris’. They would be the dominant power in Ecuador until approximately 1300 AD, which is when the ‘Puruha’ gained power in the highlands and the Cañari further south.
  • Inca rule: When, during the early 15th century the Inca Empire began to expand, they spread north and were met by fierce opposition from the Cañari. The cañari were eventually overcome, and the Incan king Yupanqui eventually had an empire that stretched from today’s Southern Colombia, through Ecuador and Peru, all the way to Western Bolivia, Northern Chile and a small part of Northern Argentina. Yupanqui’s son Huayna Capac, grew up in Ecuador and, throughout his reign, travelled his empire, strengthening his position by marriage. He fathered two sons: Atahualpa and Huascar…who would eventually be at the base of the downfall of the Incan empire.
  • As in other modern day South American countries, the Spanish conquistadores benefitted from the turmoil of the Incan civil war started by the brothers Atahualpa and Huascar, and the conquering of modern day Ecuador did not take too long. The incan war general Rumiñahui however, did resist fiercely upon hearing that his incan king Atahualpa’s execution by the Spaniards, and preferred to burn the city of Quito to the ground rather than to leave it in the hands of the conquistadores. Rumiñahui was eventually captured and killed in 1535 and Quito was refounded.
  • Incan influence: Though the Inca rule lasted for only one century, its influence in Ecuador is omnipresent, and the Inca language (Quechua) is still spoken today by about a quarter of the population.
  • The colonial era: The early colonial era was a period of relative peace. Agriculture and arts flourished, and new products such as bananas and cattle were imported from Europe. Churches and monasteries were bult on top of indigenous sites, and Spanish and indigenous styles blended. The indigenous (and later ´mestizos´; people that were of Spanish and indigenous decent) were however harshly repressed, whereas the ruling colonialists lived a comfortable life. This eventually led to uprisings against the Spanish ruling class in the 18th century, which prompted the ruling class to start importing African slaves.
  • Independence of Ecuador: As was the case of many other modern-day South American countries, Ecuador was eventually liberated by Simón Bolivar (a Venezuelan freedom fighter). Bolívar supported the people of Guayaquil when they claimed their independence on October 9th, 1820, and the Spanish were finally defeated two years later at the Battle of Pichincha. Thuogh Bolivar´s initial idea was to form a united South America, Ecuador finally became fully independent in 1830.
  • The following decades were packed with volatility in Ecuador, in which political warfare between liberals and conservatives marked the trend. Today Quito remains a far more conservative, church backed city than the liberal, social Guayaquil. Though volatility remained through practically the entire 20th century, there was never as much bloodshed in Ecuador as in many of its neighbouring countries.
  • 70s: Though Ecuador was very much a ‘banana republic’, the discovery of oil in 1967 caused a shift in export, with oil accounting for half of total export earnings by 1973. With the discovery of oil, Ecuador began to borrow money for investment purposes, only to find themselves in extreme debt when oil prices slumped in 1986 and a disastrous earthquake in 1987 wiped out approximately 40 km of pipe line. To this day Ecuador relies heavily on oil exports, though reserves are much diminished now.
  • 80s & 90s: The 80s and 90s saw more struggles between the liberals and conservatives with leaders coming and going at a swift rate. Corruption scandals, lack of stability due to constant shifts of power, devastation caused by the ‘el Niño’ hurricane, sagging oil prices and the eventual devaluation of the currency led president Mahuad to dump the national currency in order to introduce the stable US dollar. Though initially met with mass protests and the eventual resignation of Mahuad, the dollar was eventually introduced at the turn of the 20th century by then president Gustavo Noboa.
  • Since Noboa, president Lucio Gutiérez primarily introduced austerity measures to control Ecuador’s debt, losing popularity and finally being ousted. He was followed by Alfredo Palacio, who focused more on social and health welfare, as well as the redirecting of oil profits to pay off national debt.
  • Today: Under the rule of Rafael Correa since 2007, Ecuador has seen relative stability. He has strong ties with the business community and has presided over a period of economic growth and a drop in unemployment and poverty. Though the U.S.A is Ecuador’s main trading partner and the source of most of its tourism, Correa has a very confrontational stance against the U.S.A. He declared that he would not run for another term…but this remains to be seen.

Canoa

Volunteer in Ecuador | Organic Farm program in Canoa

Brief Description

Volunteer in Ecuador Canoa Organic farm program
  • Named one of the thirteen best examples of responsible tourism on planet earth, the organic farm is one of only two on the coast of Ecuador, just a 20 minute drive from the beach town of Canoa.
  • Consisting of 11 hectares, the farm is a learning center based on agro ecology / permaculture principles.The farm has chickens, ducks, pigs, composting worms, cows, horses and guinea pigs. It also rotates over a hundred crops throughout the year.
  • Volunteers assist with a large variety of tasks, including feeding and cleaning the animals, harvesting, irrigation, planting, weeding, compost-making and more. Volunteers can also be involved in a variety of other tasks either with the local community, or simply working in other areas whereby their specific skills can be of use.
  • Tasks can vary daily though the schedule is quite routine (from approximately 6:30 a.m until 4 p.m with breaks for breakfast and lunch). Wednesday afternoon is free time for “cultural afternoon” with activities such as crafts, hiking or chocolate making etc!
  • Though volunteers are asked to work, they also have the opportunity to learn a vast amount about organic farming principles from the owners of the farm, who have been working in and studying organic farming for over two decades.

Apply

Canoa program info

Accommodation

  • The farm is located on the mid coast of Ecuador, 10 km north of the beach town of Canoa. Volunteers stay in shared ‘cabañas’ with another volunteer, or, could possibly have the cabaña to themselves, depending on the amount of volunteers on-site (a maximum of 50 people can stay on the farm; these generally can be local and international volunteers and permaculture students).

Volunteer in Ecuador Canoa Organic farm program accommodation

  • Amenities include composting toilets, showers (some with hot, some with cold water), a common area (there are a variety of spaces to socialize and relax), hammocks and an open kitchen. Being in a slight valley within the Ecuadorian transitional forest, there is no internet, and volunteers tend to go to internet cafes on weekends (or sometimes during the week) when they go to the seaside town of Canoa.

Volunteer in Ecuador Canoa Organic farm program house

Volunteer in Ecuador Canoa Organic farm program bathroom

 

 Food

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the price and are of superb quality: obviously everything produced on the farm is organic, and practically all the food is directly from the farm, apart from some ingredients that are bought locally.

What to see & do:

(In and nearby Canoa)

  • Many volunteers go to the nearby beach town of Canoa on weekends. A laid-back fisher’s village which is quite popular amongst travellers, yet not over-crowded, it’s a great place to relax, do a variety of water sports, go paragliding, horse-riding, biking and more…

Volunteer in Ecuador Canoa Organic farm program nearby Canoa

Isla Corazón

 

  • Isla Corazón is another great weekend option, as it is just 25 km South of Canoa. It’s a 50 hectare mangrove island that’s shape resembles a heart. It is a community ecotourism project that involves canoe/walking tours of the island in the Río Chone estuary.

Punta Prieta

 

  • Punta Prieta is a comfortable guest house about one hour further north. The beach is very clean and private – a real treat!

Bahía de Caráquez

  • The nearest ‘large’ city to Canoa is Bahía de Caraquez. With approximately 21,000 inhabitants, it has become a beautiful spot for international sailing ships, seeking security and tranquility. Due to its calm waters, it is also an ideal spot to practice all types of water sports.

 

Schedule

Organic Farm Program in Canoa

  • Working hours are typically seven hours a day, from Monday to Friday, with Wednesday afternoons off for “cultural afternoon”. Long term volunteers sometimes rotate weekends.
  • A typical day begins with routines at 6:30 am, which could be harvesting, irrigation, helping prepare breakfast, or animal feeding and cleaning of some of the animals. This changes each week so that you get experience in each area. Routines take an hour or so, until breakfast at 7:30.
  • In the mornings everyone works in agriculture in the garden (unless you are helping at the school), from 8:30 am until 12:00 noon.
  • Lunch is served at 12:00, with some free time afterward.
  • In the afternoons from 13:30 until 16:00 volunteers work on individual projects. Projects are assigned based on skills and the necessities of the farm. These are typically easier tasks, not as physical as agriculture, and can include a number of things, such as computer work, painting, construction, seed sowing, public relations, canning jams and sauces etc.
  • From 16:00 onwards is free time, with dinner served at 18:00.:
  • Some after 16:00 pm activities are yoga or a splash/swim in the shallow river. There is also a ping pong table, volleyball court, hammocks and a book exchange. Movies, presentations, or evening cultural activities are sometimes offered around 19:30.

Location

  • The farm is located on the mid coast of Ecuador, about 10 km north of Canoa. Its surroundings are Ecuadorian transitional forest.
  • Nearby ‘big’ cities are Bahía de Caráquez (21,000), about 1 hour to reach when considering the car drive to Canoa and the bus ride to Bahía. Manta (220,000) is about an hour further South.
  • Guayaquil (Ecuador’s largest city) and Quito (Ecuador’s capital city) are about a 6 hour and 7 hour bus ride away respectively.

Volunteer in Ecuador Canoa Organic farm program Ecuador map

Volunteers

  • Minimum 18 years old
  • Some knowledge of Spanish is very handy, but not necessary as the farm owners speak English. The other employees that you would have to work with however do not.
  • Deep interest for permaculture / agro ecology, and skills or interest in the following: English teaching, ecotourism, marketing and communications, art and crafts, social media, alternative energy, public relations and hospitality, cooking, media or computers.
  • Patient, tolerant and hardworking, enthusiastic and must have the ability to work alone or as part of a team.
  • Minimum time. One month is preferred and some programs eg. English teaching may require a longer stay.

 

What’s offered?

  • Accommodation in shared accommodation on the farm.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Training/orientation.
  • On-going support and supervision during the program.

 

What’s NOT included?

  • Air fares.
  • Travel/Medical insurance.
  • Vaccinations.
  • Police Check form.
  • Visas.
  • Transportation to and from the farm, or within Ecuador.
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, etc.
  • (Intvs and at times our partners advise on all of the above, and all are generally obligatory, but Intvs does not cover these costs).

Volunteer period Shared Room Cost (US$)
2 weeks US$ 175
3 weeks US$ 245
4 weeks US$ 300
5 weeks US$ 370
6 weeks US$ 440
7 weeks  US$ 495
8 weeks US$ 550
13 weeks(3 months) US$ 750
26 weeks(6 months) US$ 1050
39 weeks(9 months) US$ 1350
52 weeks(12 months) US$ 1650
 Extra day US$ 10

 

Please click here to convert the prices to your local currency.

INTVS charges its own fee of 185€, regardless of the time that a volunteer stays abroad. This fee covers;

  • Volunteer support prior to, during and after the volunteer experience (in English, French & Spanish)
  • All necessary preparatory information including;
    • Visas
    • Vaccinations
    • Travel/Medical Insurance
    • Police Check form
    • The program (the site, schedule, role…)
    • Local contacts & important numbers

And also…

  • History, demographics & local norms
  • What to bring
  • Do’s and don’ts
  • And much more.
  • It also covers work and travel costs that INTVS staff incur to check up on and document the programs on a regular basis.
  • The payments to the local organizations and INTVS are completely separate. We do NOT charge them a commission and 100% of the program cost goes to them.

Volunteer in Vietnam Hanoi

“I’ve seen three weeks of my seven month stay so far at the farm, and it has already exceded my expectations and more. The tranquility at the farm has allowed me to open my mind to new experiences, ideas and cultures, not to mention, my ‘español’ is coming right along!

I’ve gained so much knowledge here and feel very connected to the environment around me. Even though it’s been only a short while so far, I have no doubt that this has and will remain to be an experience I will never forget.”.

Gentry (USA)

Demographics

  • Population: 15,7 million (2014)
  • Currency: US Dollar (US$)
  • Capital City: Quito
  • Land area: 105,000 square miles / 283,500 square kilometers (about the size of New Zealand)
  • People living below poverty line: Approximately 25% of the population. (Nearly 4 million)
  • Language: Official: Spanish. Other languages are about 9 varieties of Quechua (Kichwa) and Suar.

volunteer-in-ecuador-puerto-lopez-conservation-program-map-ecuador

Culture

  • Diversity: Ecuador is country with a vast number or racial backgrounds. The majority of Ecuador’s population is mestizo, a mixture of both European and Amerindian ancestry. The remaining 10% are from European descent, above all from Spain, Italy, Lebanon, France and Germany. Around the Chota and Esmeraldas region, there is a strong African influence.
  • Religion: Approximately 82% of Ecuador is catholic, 14% believe in another form of religion and approximately 4% has no religious affiliation. Though most indigenous Ecuadorians are catholic, they generally blend Catholicism with their traditional beliefs. The church has a lot of influence in the government and most holidays are based on Christian festivals.
  • Regionalism: There are four main regions in Ecuador; the coast, the highland Andes, the Amazon rain forest, and the Galapagos Archipelago. Each region’s differences are manifested in their physical appearance, their dress and their language and family name. There is a fair amount of dislike between the sierra (highlands) and the coastal region. This general dislike finds its history traced back to prehistoric times.
  • Machismo: There is still a strong sense of what is the man’s role and the woman’s role inside the family unit in Ecuador. The wife should look after the home and children while the husband goes out to work.
  • The people: Ecuadorians are positive, warm people that have an indirect, but very friendly way of communicating. They speak diplomatically and with courtesy. They view blunt communication as extremely rude. They are quite tactile, in the sense that men generally give hugs when greeting friends and women give kisses on the cheek.
  • Family: Family is very important to Ecuadorians and, more often than not, grandparents will live with their son or daughter as opposed to going to a facility for the elderly.
  • Food: The most basic, common food is soup, which has many variation according to region. Coastal regions will incorporate fish, sierra regions will incorporate more potato and in the Amazon region there will be combinations with peppers, chicken comsommé and other meats or vegetables. Rice is also very common and is served with everything. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are based upon the European model and hence tend to be at around 8, 9 a.m (breakfast), 13:00 p.m (lunch) and approximately 19:00 p.m (dinner).

 

volunteer-in-ecuador-puerto-lopez-conservation-program-port

History

  • It is generally accepted that Ecuador was initially populated by people that emigrated from Brazil, who were drawn by the habitable coastline landscape. Its first sedentary culture was the Valdivia (approximately 5,500 years ago), a people that were well known for their fine pottery.
  • During the so-called “Formative period” however, the most popular culture was the Chorrera. This culture, along with the Machalilla culture was known for its practice of skull deformation, whereby elongated and flattened craniums were signs of status.
  • 600 BC: Around 600BC, an elite caste of shamans and merchants started to gain influence, starting a long-distance trade. Amongst others these included the Bahía, Jama-Coaque, Guangala and La Tolita cultures.
  • 800 AD: More hierarchical societies started to appear around 800AD with the coming of the Manteños, the Huancavilcas and the Caras on the coast; the Quitus of the northern highlands; the Puruhá of the central highlands; and the Cañari of the area around present-day Cuenca.
  • When the ‘caras’ expanded into Quitus region in the highlands, they formed a joint culture known as the Quitu-caras or ‘Shyris’. They would be the dominant power in Ecuador until approximately 1300 AD, which is when the ‘Puruha’ gained power in the highlands and the Cañari further south.
  • Inca rule: When, during the early 15th century the Inca Empire began to expand, they spread north and were met by fierce opposition from the Cañari. The cañari were eventually overcome, and the Incan king Yupanqui eventually had an empire that stretched from today’s Southern Colombia, through Ecuador and Peru, all the way to Western Bolivia, Northern Chile and a small part of Northern Argentina. Yupanqui’s son Huayna Capac, grew up in Ecuador and, throughout his reign, travelled his empire, strengthening his position by marriage. He fathered two sons: Atahualpa and Huascar…who would eventually be at the base of the downfall of the Incan empire.
  • As in other modern day South American countries, the Spanish conquistadores benefitted from the turmoil of the Incan civil war started by the brothers Atahualpa and Huascar, and the conquering of modern day Ecuador did not take too long. The incan war general Rumiñahui however, did resist fiercely upon hearing that his incan king Atahualpa’s execution by the Spaniards, and preferred to burn the city of Quito to the ground rather than to leave it in the hands of the conquistadores. Rumiñahui was eventually captured and killed in 1535 and Quito was refounded.
  • Incan influence: Though the Inca rule lasted for only one century, its influence in Ecuador is omnipresent, and the Inca language (Quechua) is still spoken today by about a quarter of the population.
  • The colonial era: The early colonial era was a period of relative peace. Agriculture and arts flourished, and new products such as bananas and cattle were imported from Europe. Churches and monasteries were bult on top of indigenous sites, and Spanish and indigenous styles blended. The indigenous (and later ´mestizos´; people that were of Spanish and indigenous decent) were however harshly repressed, whereas the ruling colonialists lived a comfortable life. This eventually led to uprisings against the Spanish ruling class in the 18th century, which prompted the ruling class to start importing African slaves.
  • Independence of Ecuador: As was the case of many other modern-day South American countries, Ecuador was eventually liberated by Simón Bolivar (a Venezuelan freedom fighter). Bolívar supported the people of Guayaquil when they claimed their independence on October 9th, 1820, and the Spanish were finally defeated two years later at the Battle of Pichincha. Thuogh Bolivar´s initial idea was to form a united South America, Ecuador finally became fully independent in 1830.
  • The following decades were packed with volatility in Ecuador, in which political warfare between liberals and conservatives marked the trend. Today Quito remains a far more conservative, church backed city than the liberal, social Guayaquil. Though volatility remained through practically the entire 20th century, there was never as much bloodshed in Ecuador as in many of its neighbouring countries.
  • 70s: Though Ecuador was very much a ‘banana republic’, the discovery of oil in 1967 caused a shift in export, with oil accounting for half of total export earnings by 1973. With the discovery of oil, Ecuador began to borrow money for investment purposes, only to find themselves in extreme debt when oil prices slumped in 1986 and a disastrous earthquake in 1987 wiped out approximately 40 km of pipe line. To this day Ecuador relies heavily on oil exports, though reserves are much diminished now.
  • 80s & 90s: The 80s and 90s saw more struggles between the liberals and conservatives with leaders coming and going at a swift rate. Corruption scandals, lack of stability due to constant shifts of power, devastation caused by the ‘el Niño’ hurricane, sagging oil prices and the eventual devaluation of the currency led president Mahuad to dump the national currency in order to introduce the stable US dollar. Though initially met with mass protests and the eventual resignation of Mahuad, the dollar was eventually introduced at the turn of the 20th century by then president Gustavo Noboa.
  • Since Noboa, president Lucio Gutiérez primarily introduced austerity measures to control Ecuador’s debt, losing popularity and finally being ousted. He was followed by Alfredo Palacio, who focused more on social and health welfare, as well as the redirecting of oil profits to pay off national debt.
  • Today: Under the rule of Rafael Correa since 2007, Ecuador has seen relative stability. He has strong ties with the business community and has presided over a period of economic growth and a drop in unemployment and poverty. Though the U.S.A is Ecuador’s main trading partner and the source of most of its tourism, Correa has a very confrontational stance against the U.S.A. He declared that he would not run for another term…but this remains to be seen.