Volunteer in Ecuador
A Comprehensive Guide to Volunteer in Ecuador Opportunities
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Getting started - volunteer in Ecuador
Welcome to Ecuador
Why you should volunteer in Ecuador
What are some popular volunteer projects available in Ecuador?
Where are some popular places to volunteer in Ecuador?
Which is the best season to volunteer in Ecuador?
Chapter 2: Choosing your Ecuador volunteer program
Which organizations offer the best volunteer opportunities in Ecuador?
How you can select the best organization to volunteer with
Chapter 3: Getting ready to volunteer in Ecuador
Suggested books to read
Packing advice and tips
Gifts for projects
Chapter 4: Information you must know about the project
What to expect when volunteering in Ecuador
Learn about your host family
Make the final call
Chapter 5: Arriving and Volunteering in Ecuador
How to make your volunteer in Ecuador experience rewarding
Safety while volunteering in Ecuador
Do’s and don’t in Ecuador
Things to do in Ecuador
Chapter 6: Completion of project & follow up
Chapter 7: Most frequently asked questions from volunteers
CHAPTER 1: Getting Started – Volunteer in Ecuador
Welcome to Ecuador
If you have ever met an Ecuadorian you will
know that they are very proud of their country
and its culture, and once you get there you will
see why. Ecuador may be a small country, but
from the heights of the Andes to the depths
of the amazon jungle and the UNESCO Herit-
age Site of Galapagos, Ecuador has something
for everyone. It’s a country rich in history and
natural resources, activities and adventures,
cultures and traditions and warm welcoming
locals. It’s a country ready and waiting for you
Volunteering in Ecuador will be a journey full
of adventure, discovery and learning opportuni-
ties. Ecuador is a developing country, in need
of volunteers help. A Volunteering experience
in Ecuador will open your eyes, heart and soul
to sights, senses and atmosphere of the country
and the Ecuadorian communities who will wel-
come you like part of their family. Whether you
are have skills in conservation, construction,
medicine, education or human services your
helping hand and compassion will be welcomed
and greatly appreciated in Ecuador.
Photo Credit: Volunteering Solutions
Why you should volunteer in ECUADOR
Volunteering in Ecuador will provide you with
many life long memories and experiences. Not
only will you get to experience the beauty of
the countries landscapes, immerse yourself in
the culture and make lifelong friends, but you
will be assisting in the sustainability and devel-
opment of a country in need.
Here are a few reasons why you should volun-
teer in Ecuador.
Whether you are looking for a city, beach,
mountain, jungle or nature and wildlife adven-
ture you will find it in Ecuador. As a volunteer
you will have the chance to explore everything
from the highlands of the Andes and unique and
rare wildlife of the Galapagos, to the beauti-
ful beaches and coastal towns, World Cultural
Heritage Sites and vibrant cities.
Experience Ecuadorian Hospitality: With friend-
ly, honest and welcoming locals you will find it
hard not to enjoy the warmth and genuine hos-
pitality of the Ecuadorian people. Ecuadorians
will go out of their way to look after you and
ensure you enjoy your stay.
Create your Adventure:
Ecuador offers great landscapes and weather
plus many adventure activities to be enjoyed
year round. Whether it is hiking volcanoes, trek-
king jungles, rafting, horseback riding, snorke-
ling and swimming, chilling at a beach, enjoying
the food, absorbing yourself in the rich history
or exploring the city; Ecuador has something for
Impact other’s lives:
Ecuador is a country with an unstable economic
structure, and around fifty percent of the popu-
lation is affected by poverty, poor living condi-
tions, unemployment, plus low education and
health standards. Your time volunteering in
Ecuador will have a positive impact on the lives
of many Ecuadorian people and communities
Cultural experiences: There is something very
satisfying in learning about the cultures and
traditions of another country. Ecuador is rich in
cultural heritage, with over 20 different ethnic
groups co-existing together and staying with a
host family and working with locals during your
volunteer work in Ecuador will provide endless
opportunities for immersing yourself into the
Ecuadorian lifestyle. In some parts of the Andes
and Amazon areas you will find communities
that continue to live their lives like their ances-
tors did. Working in those areas, so far removed
from the modern world provides you a rich and
life changing cultural experience.
While volunteering in Ecuador you will have
many opportunities to learn Spanish or practice
your speaking skills. Learning another language
will not only enrich your volunteer placement,
but will also help you get to know the real es-
sence of Ecuador, and be useful for future South
What are some popular volunteer projects avail-
able in ECUADOR?
Ecuador is a popular country for volunteering
abroad. Ranges from children to nature con-
servation, variety of volunteer experiences are
available in Ecuador. Here are few project very
popular among volunteers.
The Orphanage project aims to provide support
the lives of children living in orphanages, mak-
ing sure they receive genuine care and assis-
tance while helping them develop skills for them
to realize their potential in life. As a volunteer
in Ecuador orphanage project you will be re-
sponsible for providing general care and sup-
port to the children, helping with daily chores,
and assisting the children in their learning and
Teaching English project in Ecuador provides
English language skills to both primary, high
school and university students and adults across
Ecuador, through community classes. Volunteers
will help with the preparation and presentation
of lessons and offer classroom support.
Medical project in Ecuador aims to provide
quality medical assistance and patient. In this
project, volunteers will have the opportunity to
assist doctors and nurses in tasks like monitor-
ing patients and undertaking general check-ups,
taking temperatures and blood pressure read-
ings and helping with the general care of all
patients. Some more advanced medical tasks
may be undertaken dependent on your experi-
ence. Volunteers with a good command of the
Spanish language may be responsible for provid-
ing presentations or talks on areas of health and
The conservation volunteer project in Ecuador is
dedicated to the protection and conservation of
the ecosystems and natural resources of Ecua-
dor. A range of different projects are offered in
rural areas, focusing on: reforestation, commu-
nity development, education based on environ-
mental issues, research assignments based on
flora, fauna and wildlife and the protection and
sustainability of the environment. Volunteers
will undertake a range of activities including,
education, research and data collection, con-
struction, planting trees and general mainte-
nance and community assistance.
Coastal and Marine Conservation
The Coastal and Marine conservation program
cares for the diverse marine life and ecosystem
of Ecuador through projects focused on: tur-
tles, marine birds and environmental education.
Volunteers will be involved in contributing hands
on and research based assistance in the protec-
tion, monitoring and development of marine life
conservation in Ecuador.
Galapagos Conservation Project
The Galapagos Conservation project aims to pro-
tect the natural habit and indigenous species of
Ecuador, and to identify and minimize any issues
or threats from new species which could put
these in danger. Volunteers can undertake work
in the areas of reforestation, maintenance or
construction and agriculture.
Where are popular places to volunteer in
Volunteer projects are available in several re-
gions of Ecuador, but some of the most destina-
Quito: the capital of Ecuador, located high up in
the Andean highlands, this city is home to two
million inhabitants Volunteering in Quito will
give you a chance to experience a life of a mod-
ern city with a vibrant and bustling atmosphere,
great food and nightlife, lively markets and
shopping opportunities, which exist comfortably
alongside the Old Town - a UNESCO World Herit-
age Site home to colonial monuments and 17th-
century façades and architecture.
Popular volunteer placements in Quito are in the
fields of: teaching and education, childcare and
assistance, health and medicine, construction
and environmental protection.
Galapagos: A UNESCO World Heritage Site,
Galapagos is an island off the mainland of Ec-
uador and is home to a diverse, incredible and
rare species of wildlife. Volunteer in Galapagos
and experience the wonder of the landscapes
and wildlife. Learn of the history and geol-
ogy which has created the island, snorkel with
marine iguanas, green sea turtles and sea-lions,
climb a volcano, get up close to rare species and
experience a volunteer placement like no other.
Popular volunteer placements in Galapagos are:
environmental protection, conservation and
Cuenca: Located in the highlands of Ecuador,
the city of Cuenca has the feel of a European
city with its beautiful architecture and parks.
Cuenca is a great base for exploring the natural
beauty of the surrounding rivers and mountains.
Popular volunteer placements in Cuenca are in
the areas of: education, working with at risk
children and families and environmental pro-
Guayaquil: The largest city in Ecuador and
home to the largest sea port, Guayaquil is a city
home to historic monuments and museums, a
vibrant nightlife, the River Guayas and modern
waterfront promenades featuring shopping com-
plexes, restaurants and bars. Take time out to
explore the city and its neighborhoods.
Popular volunteer placements in Guayaquil are:
community management, conservation, health-
care, teaching and childcare.
Which is the best season to volunteer in
Ecuador’s weather varies throughout the country
as it has four different climatic zones, (Andes,
Pacific, Oriente, and Galapagos). The best time
to volunteer in Ecuador is likely to depend on
the region and type of project you will be par-
ticipating in. June –August and December to
January are the months when most tourists visit
For more information on seasons and the cli-
mates of the different regions please see the
CHAPTER 2 : Choosing Your Ecuador Volunteer Program
Photo Credit: Projects-abroad.org
Whether it is working in conservation, childcare,
construction or health and medicine, Ecua-
dor needs your help in protecting its natural
resources and developing its living standards,
healthcare and education systems. A volunteer
placement in Ecuador is bound to be an exciting
experience, but with so many different projects
to choose from it can be hard to make a deci-
sion. Work out what skills and attributes you
can contribute, what you want to get out of the
placement, and where in Ecuador you can see
yourself working, and use these as a guideline
for finding your ideal Ecuadorian volunteer pro-
Who are some of the best volunteer or-
ganizations in ECUADOR
Many volunteer abroad organizations run volun-
teer program in Ecuador. However, all volunteer
organizations running Ecuador program are not
equally ethical, affordable, and popular. There-
fore, we have selected few organizations based
on their price, reputation, history, program
quality. Here are few best and inexpensive vol-
Since being established in 2006, US based com-
pany IFRE Volunteers has placed 17,000 vol-
unteers on projects in18 countries around the
world. In Ecuador IFRE Volunteers offer orphan-
age, street children and English teaching place-
ments in Quito, and conservation projects in San
Cristobal, Galapagos and Los Cedros Biological
Reserve. Prices for the Quito and Los Cedros
projects start from $595 for a one week place-
ment, while fees for the Galapagos project
starts from $835 for a one week project.
Established in 2009 in the USA, Ubelong are
committed to designing meaningful programs for
both the communities involved and their vol-
unteers. In Ecuador they offer projects in gen-
eral care, construction, education and health
projects in Quito, environment conservation in
Napo Province and the Galapagos conservation
project in San Cristobal. Program fees start from
$505 for a one week placement.
Established in 2010, Cross Continental are de-
voted to creating volunteer opportunities and
projects which encourage and support cross
cultural programs which have a positive impact
on the global community. In Ecuador they offer
community development, healthcare, teaching
and care giving projects in Quito, and conserva-
tion projects in the Galapagos. Program fees for
a one week volunteer placement start at $470.
International Volunteer HQ – (IVHQ)
Since being established in 2007 in New Zealand,
International Volunteers have served 42,000
volunteers and have worked with community
projects in 30 countries around the globe that
are in need of development and support. In
Ecuador they offer kindergarten, school support
and administration support projects in the city
of Quito. Prices for a one week placement start
Geo Vision is a USA based company who began in
2001. They are committed to designing authen-
tic experiences for their volunteers where they
can not only give their support to a community
but they can also grow professionally and per-
sonally. Geo Vison offer a 4 week teaching Eng-
lish placement in Quito, Ecuador. Program fees
start at $1,529.
COINED is a Latin American based company
which has been sending volunteers to the re-
gion since 1971. They are committed to provid-
ing culturally rich immersion programs to their
volunteers while supporting the development of
delivery quality of life in Latin America. Their
Ecuador projects are based in Quito in the areas
of: childcare, elderly care, disabled care and
education. Project fees start from $775 for a
one week placement.
Photo Credit: Ubelong.org
Dedicated to supporting and developing the
lives of communities in low income areas and
having an impact on minimizing environmental
issues, Frontier has been in the volunteering
industry since 1989. In Ecuador they provide
projects in sustainable agriculture, teaching and
childcare in Quito, where a two week placement
starts from $1,290. They also offer a two week
community building project in the Andes Region,
and a two Week Amazon sanctuary project. Pro-
gram fees for these projects start from $1,295.
A 4 week Galapagos Conservation Project is also
offered, with fees starting at $2,095.
A UK based company established in 1994, Trav-
ellers Worldwide now offer 300 projects in 20
countries around the world. They are committed
to providing volunteers with invaluable experi-
ences while supporting local communities in
need. Some of the projects that they offer in
Ecuador are: childcare (Quito), a wildlife rescue
project in the Ecuadorian Rainforest (Puyo) and
a Galapagos conservation project. Program fees
for a one week placement start from $982 for
the Quito program, $1,351 for the Rainforest
and $1,880 for Galapagos.
Established in 1992 in the UK, Projects Abroad
has worked with 60,000 volunteers in 28 coun-
tries across the globe. They are dedicated to
creating a community of volunteers who are
passionate about sustaining the environment fa-
cilitating the growth of individuals and commu-
nities in need. In Ecuador they offer a range of
programs throughout San Cristobal, Galapagos.
Projects include teaching English, after school
sports, and creative arts. Program fees for a
2 week placement in these areas start from
$2,215, while the Galapagos Island conservation
project starts from $3,090 for a 2 week place-
ment. A 4 week General Care project is also
available, and prices for this start from $2,705.
Eco Volunteer UP Foundation
Established in 2006, Eco Volunteer Up is a non-
profit organization based in Ecuador, which spe-
cializes in working with communities and fami-
lies in rural areas across Ecuador. They provide
volunteers with a full immersion experience
on projects which improve living conditions of
people in need. Projects are available in several
categories, including: childcare, health, teach-
ing and working with special needs children, (all
in Quito). A one week volunteer placement in
starts from just $140. Plus, teaching English and
reforestation projects are available in Galapa-
gos, and these start from $200 for a one week
How can I select the best organization
Your volunteering experience may be a once in a
life time opportunity, which makes it really im-
portant that you choose the best organization to
Photo Credit: travellersworldwide.com
book your Ecuador volunteer program through.
With so many companies offering placements it
is not always easy to work out which is the best;
however there are some features that a good or-
ganization will definitely offer.
Here are some things to look for and consider
when choosing the best organization.
Reasonable and affordable program fees: the
cost of volunteer programs vary greatly, so
rather than focusing on the total dollar cost look
instead at what the fees include, (say - accom-
modation, food, local transportation between
your room and the project, insurance, training
and support), and whether you think this equals
value for money. You may also wish to find out
how much of your program fee is allocated for
your project and host family.
Financially honest: Many companies only distrib-
ute a small portion of your program fee to your
host family. It is important to know that your
host family is being looked after and supported
financially, after all they are providing a service
to you, so look for a company that allows di-
rect payment of fees to your host family and/or
Committed to helping communities: If you are
thinking about embarking on a volunteer place-
ment than it is normally because you have a
desire to have an impact on the lives of those in
need. This makes it important to find a company
that is dedicated and passionate about support-
ing the local communities in which they work,
rather than just being interested in the money
making side of the business. Look for a not-for-
profit organization, or one that obviously cares
about supporting communities.
Positive Reviews: A good company will have
worked with many volunteers so positive feed-
back, experiences and reviews from previous
participants should not be hard to find. Read
Photo Credit: IFREvolunteers.org
these carefully and use them as a guide when
choosing an organization.
Professional Website: First impressions are
important. Look for a website which is easy to
navigate. Check the information and details are
up to date, and that company logos and contact
details are visible. Project information should
be clear and concise, with fees –and what they
include - clearly stated. Finally, there should be
photos. reviews and testimonials for you to look
Quality Customer Service: Knowing that your
company will be there to support you from the
beginning right through to the completion of
your project it essential. Call the organization
or send them an email to check how willing they
are to assist you with any questions and con-
cerns regarding the way they work, the destina-
tion you have chosen and the project you are
interested in. If they provide late or inadequate
answers you may experience the same thing in
an emergency situation.
Filling out application: Once you have decided
on your project and you are ready to apply for a
volunteering position in Ecuador than it is im-
portant that you know the process involved is
clear and straightforward. Most websites have
online application forms, but is there any online
help or a phone number available to help or
answer any queries you may have? Is the content
of the application form relevant to the posi-
CHAPTER 3 : Getting Ready to Volunteer in Ecuador
Once you have been accepted onto your vol-
unteer placement in Ecuador it’s time to think
about the important things you need to organize
and get together before you leave. Here are a
few tips to help you out.
Be aware that Ecuador’s visa rules change quite
often, e fore it is vital that you contact the
embassy or consulate in your home country for
details of the current situation.
All visitors to Ecuador must hold a valid passport
with at least six months left to run on it from
date of entry and at least one empty page. Ad-
ditionally, they need to show proof of a return
or onward ticket and proof of funds to support
themselves for a 90 day period.
When travelling abroad it’s wise to protect your-
self against potential (avoidable) health risks.
Before travelling to Ecuador it is recommended
you have any required vaccinations at least four
weeks prior to departure. Consult your health
care provider for advice, as you may already
have antibodies against some diseases and only
need boosters for some others. Tetanus, polio,
mumps/measles and rubella shots are standard,
along with yellow fever if you intend to visit
the Amazon, coastal or rural areas, and malaria
tablets, typhoid and hepatitis A and B vaccina-
tions may also be recommended to help protect
you against unwanted infections, illnesses and
Photo Credit: Performingartsabroad.com
disease while in Ecuador.
For more information on health, vaccinations
and medications recommended when visiting
Ecuador check out the site below.
When you have been accepted into your volun-
teer placement in Ecuador it is time to purchase
your airfare, however searching for one with a
bargain price ticket attached is never easy. Here
are a few tips to help you find the best deal pos-
▪▪ Talk to some travel agents. They may be con-
sidered a little old fashioned these days as so
much of the travel industry operates online,
but this makes those still in business quite
competitive. Register your details with them
and ask to be notified if any deals come up.
▪▪ Check booking engine sites such as skyscan-
ner.com that do multiple airline searches and
make it easy for you to compare fares.
▪▪ Check if there are any promotional codes
available. Sometimes airline release specials
where you can input a code to receive a dis-
count on a fare.
▪▪ If your placement is on the mainland of Ec-
uador check which of the two international
airports is closest to your project, as prices
may vary between them.
▪▪ Allow time to get settled in Ecuador before
starting your volunteer work. This lets you
be flexible with your travel dates, which may
lead to a cheaper flight.
Funding your Ecuador volunteer experience
doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Many
volunteers these days pay all or part of their
fees by receiving donations via an online cam-
paign for support. This is an effective way for
you to tell your friends, family and local com-
munity about the project you will be embarking
on, and receive financial support from those
who believe in what you are doing and are inter-
ested in helping you help people in need.
Online campaigns are relatively easy to set up,
promote, maintain and monitor. Check out these
sites for more details on how to go about setting
up your campaign and get those funds rolling in.
Suggested books to read
Before travelling to Ecuador it is a good idea
to get to know the country a little, and a good
guide book will definitely come in useful when
you are in country too.
Some suggested guide books for Ecuador are:
Insight Guides – Ecuador & Galapagos
Rough Guide – The Rough Guide to Ecuador
Moon Hardbooks – Ecuador and Galapagos Islands
Some other suggested reading is:
Cultureshock Ecuador - A Survival Guide to Cus-
toms & Etiquette by Nicholas Crowder (2009)
This is a useful guide to the customs and culture
of Ecuador. The book gives an insightful view of
the people of Ecuador and provides useful infor-
mation, etiquette, dos & don’ts and language
Packing for a volunteer based trip is really
pretty similar to packing for a regular vacation
– you need to consider the length of your stay,
access to laundry facilities while away, airline
ticket weight restrictions, any cultural or reli-
gious considerations, the destination’s climate
and what you plan to do while away.
Here are a few handy tips for helping you pack
for your Ecuador volunteer placement.
▪▪ Check with your airline about their baggage
policy, including weight restrictions and how
many pieces of luggage you may take.
▪▪ Try to pack clothes you can layer rather than
bulky single items.
▪▪ Check out the typical weather conditions for
the season and region(s) you plan to volun-
teer in or visit while there.
▪▪ Pack a swimsuit and a lightweight jacket that
will protect you from the wind if you plan to
visit the Galapagos.
▪▪ If heading to the Amazon you will need light
weight, fast drying clothes and a rain jacket.
It is also worth packing a couple of sweaters
as the evening temperatures in the jungle
can drop rapidly.
▪▪ Temperatures in the Andes region can also be
quite cool, so be sure to pack some winter
woollies - especially for the evenings.
▪▪ Coastal areas tend to be hot all year, but you
may need a light jacket for the evenings.
If Other things to pack:
▪▪ Travel documents: passport, itinerary, tick-
ets, travel insurance information,
▪▪ Vaccination card: (with proof of yellow fever
vaccination - this may be needed upon entry
back into your home country, especially if
you have been in areas like the Amazon jun-
gle or coastal areas where yellow fever can
▪▪ Medication: bring a supply of any you need
or use regularly; along with anti-malaria
meds f you plan to visit coastal areas or the
▪▪ Credit cards and cash: Ecuador uses the US
dollar so there’s no need to change money
at the airport, but be sure to have plenty
of (clean) dollar bills, as higher denomina-
tions can be harder to change and use. Apart
from Euros it is difficult or near impossible to
change foreign currency in Ecuador so stock
upon US dollars, regardless of your national-
▪▪ Chargers and cables for any electrical de-
▪▪ Torch or head lamp.
▪▪ Towel and any toiletries you need. (Remem-
ber to take insect repellant too.)
▪▪ Camera and any accessories.
▪▪ Day pack and waterproof sack or cover for
Check out Ecuador Explorer for more handy tips
and hints for packing – especially for differing
regions and climates in Ecuador.
Gifts for projects:
Packing a small gift for your project and your
host family is always a nice thing to do, and
Ecuadorian people will appreciate your kind ges-
ture. If you are working with children then small
gifts such as toys, games, stationery or learning
resources will be especially welcome.
CHAPTER 4 : Information you must know about your project
So you have signed up for your placement and
are eager to head off on your exciting jour-
ney, but before you go it is important to make
sure you know exactly what will be required of
you, and that you have all the vital information
needed to get off to a good start.
Here you will find some helpful hints to help you
be fully prepared for your volunteer placement
Find out key information about your project
placement. You should know what’s included in
your fee, project location, about any rules and
expectations, who you will be working with,
hours of work, how to get from your accommo-
dation to your volunteer project and if there is
anything in particular you should bring.
What to expect when volunteering in Ecuador:
Read reviews written by previous volunteers on
relevant networking sites for first hand experi-
ences, and talk to your organization about what
you can expect from your particular volunteer
project and host family. Blogs and travel guides
are also useful sources of general information
Learn about your host family:
Ecuadorians are warm welcoming people and
it is likely that they will embrace you as part
Photo Credit: ecuaswissexchange.org
of their family. Before you go find out as much
as you can about them so you have a sense of
familiarity when you arrive. See if you can get
photos, find out who you will be living with,
their names and ages, what they do and their
interests. Also check if there are any house rules
you need to abide by, to avoid any unintended
It’s reassuring to know that there’s support
available just in case you have any problems or
issues with your volunteer project or host fam-
ily, or you need some advice and guidance. Be-
fore you go contact your organization to get the
contact details (phone numbers/emails) for any
local support and get in touch before you leave.
Establishing a connection will give you peace of
mind that they will be there to help if you need
Make the final call:
Before embarking on your exciting Ecuador
volunteer placement it is important that you
make a final call to your organization to ensure
everything is in place for a positive volunteer-
ing experience. Make sure you have notified
the organization of all your contact details, and
confirmed that they have all your correct flight
details. There is nothing worse than arriving at
an international airport and not knowing where
you have to go, so ask your organization to con-
firm your meeting location and the name of the
person that will be greeting you at the airport.
This final call is also a great opportunity to ask
any questions that you still feel need answering.
CHAPTER 5 : Arriving and Volunteering in Ecuador
Photo Credit: Ciaobambino.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com
When you arrive in Ecuador you will experi-
ence a range of different feelings, senses and
emotions. Alongside beautiful landscapes and
vibrant cities complemented by the warm hospi-
tality of the Ecuadorian people you will also be
faced with poverty. You will see city slums, and
homeless people of all ages, disabled citizens,
low health and hygiene standards and people
and communities that are in desperate need of
love, care, support, facilities and resources.
Whether you are working with people, animals,
the environment or developing facilities and
structures for the community your volunteer
work and time in Ecuador will have a great
impact on the Ecuadorian people you meet and
How to make your volunteer Ecuador
Caring for, protecting and supporting those in
need, and knowing that you are having a posi-
tive impact on the world can be a gratifying
experience, especially when you can see the
positive impact that it is having on others.
Here are a few tips to help make your time as a
volunteer as rewarding an experience as possi-
Believe in project: If you truly believe in the
benefits and goals your volunteer project offers
then even the smallest achievements pr positive
changes that you see will make it worthwhile.
Stay positive and appreciate the experience:
With an unstable economic situation, poor
housing conditions, low education and health
standards and a completely different way of liv-
ing than you are accustomed to; it’s inevitable
you’ll have periods of feeling homesick, or that
your help and experience are not as beneficial
to the people and communities as you expected
they would be.
At these times it is important to remain posi-
tive and know that although significant devel-
opments from your help may not be obvious, it
is the small things that matter and you should
learn to appreciate and embrace these. Provid-
ing love and support for an orphaned child or
elderly citizen, teaching someone a new skill,
providing medical assistance, or providing a nu-
tritious meal for the homeless, helping maintain
the environment or planting a tree are things
you may regard as only a small gestures of help,
but the impact they have on the people of Ecua-
dor is huge
Embrace the culture: Living in a foreign country
is often hard, especially when you are exposed
to new traditions, languages, cuisines and living
conditions, but learning to adapt and embrace
a new culture can be a rewarding experience.
Spend time getting to know your host family and
local project staff, and learn as much as you can
from them about all things Ecuador while prac-
ticing your Spanish language skills. Ecuadorians
are friendly, welcoming to visitors and proud
of their country, and will find great pleasure in
sharing their knowledge and stories with you.
Discover the country: With its varied land-
scapes, rich history, unique culture and action
and adventure opportunities, whether you are
volunteering in the city or the countryside you
will find something to do. Get out and explore
your surrounding area and other regions, cities
and towns to really appreciate all that Ecuador
has to offer.
Set your goals: Before you leave, write a list
of goals for yourself that you hope to achieve
through both your volunteer project and your
general experience in Ecuador. These could be
things like: make new friends, make a child
smile, teach someone a new skill, try new
foods, participate in a new activity, enhance
your Spanish skills, learn and embrace a new
culture, or have a positive impact on your pro-
Safety while volunteering in ECUADOR
Although generally speaking Ecuadorians are
kind and hospitable people, petty theft, credit
card fraud and violent crimes do exist through-
out the country. It is a poor country and some
people are looking for money or valuable items
to sell so they can survive. Like traveling to any
other country, it is vitally important to be aware
of the potential dangers and threats which may
occur in Ecuador so you can take steps and pre-
caution to help minimize the risk of something
happening to you.
• Read up on current news events, safety is-
sues and concerns in Ecuador
• Make sure you have purchased a good travel
insurance policy before you leave your home
• Do not carry your original passport around
with you. Make a photocopy of your photo
page and Ecuador arrival stamp page and
carry these with you at all times.
• Make a note of how to contact local emer-
• Register your travel details with your em-
bassy and inform family and friends of your
• Don’t take any unnecessary valuable items
• Always be conscious and aware of your sur-
rounding and who might be watching you,
especially when using ATMS, taking out your
wallet or using your phone.
• Respect the culture and dress appropriately
to avoid unwanted attention.
• Always carry your wallet and bags at the
front of you, keep an eye on them at all
times and never leave them unattended in
To keep up to date with safety issues when
traveling to Ecuador be sure to check this U.S
Passport and International Travel site before you
Do’s and don’ts in ECUADOR
• Talk to and get to know the Ecuadorian peo-
• Try Ecuadorian cuisines and beverages
• Embrace and respect their culture
• Explore the natural surroundings
• Jump on opportunities to practice your Span-
• Be respectful and polite, acknowledge the
people and shake hands at your first meeting
• Take a small gift of appreciation if invited to
an Ecuadorians home, and dress well as this
is a sign of respect
• Always eat your food with utensils and leave
a small amount of food on your plate as a
sign of respect
• Be aware of crossing the road at all times.
Pedestrians do not have right of way
• Expect to find everything that you would find
at home (foods, toiletries, supplies)
• Bring unwanted attention to yourself – con-
ceal valuables and dress appropriately
• Use unregistered taxis and always negotiate
the fare before getting in
• Drink tap water, and only drink juices which
are 100% fruit juice
• Show any disrespect for the hospitality or
service of the Ecuadorian people
• Miss any opportunities to embrace the cul-
ture of Ecuador.
• Miss out on the cheap shopping and fiesta
atmosphere of the markets.
New environments, sights and sensations will
all be part of volunteering in Ecuador. What you
see, hear and encounter can all be contributing
factors to experiencing culture shock.
Here are a few things to consider to help you
minimize any negative effects that culture
shock may have on your placement.
Research: Before you go do enough research
on the country to give you an idea of the things
that you may experience while in Ecuador.
Familiarize yourself with its customs, history,
economic situation and laws. Understand the
living conditions, education and health systems
and environment in which you will be living.
Although you can never be fully prepared you
will gain useful insights which will help you un-
derstand the country and its people before you
Embrace you Host Family: Your Ecuadorian host
family is not only there to provide you with food
and accommodation - they offer an excellent
support network too. Spend time with them,
get to know them and learn as much as you can
from them about Ecuador, the way of living and
of course the Spanish language.
Observe: Part of integrating into a new country
involves becoming familiar with what is around
you. Obviously be careful not to wander into
any dangerous areas, but it is recommended
that you take time to explore your town or city
and get to know it and its residents. Observe all
your surroundings, look at the houses, visit the
stores, find local hangouts, participate in local
activities, people watch and observe their at-
titudes, behaviors and ways in which they inter-
act with others, and open your mind to a differ-
ent way of living.
Network: When you are away from home and
in a country that is very different from the one
you come from, there will probably be times
when you feel lost or lonely. The majority of
other volunteers on your project will experience
(or have experienced) similar feelings at some
point, so taking the time to get to know them,
and spending time with them both inside and
outside of your placement will help you create a
strong support network.. They will provide some
essential sense of familiarity, especially if they
are from the same country or speak the same
language as you.
Things to do in Ecuador
Whether you are looking for good food, shop-
ping, history, cultural immersion, action, adven-
ture or relaxation you will not need to look far
to find it in Ecuador. From vibrant cities to the
high peaks of the mountains, the depths of the
jungle and the beauty of the beaches, as well
as diverse wildlife, rich cultures and history and
UNESCO World Heritage sites, Ecuador has some-
thing to offer everyone. During your volunteer
work in Ecuador make sure you take the time to
discover the many wonders of Ecuador.
Here are a few places in Ecuador which you
should definitely add to your list of things to see
Galapagos: Declared as an UNESCO World Herit-
age site, the Galapagos archipelago is made up
of a volcanic chain of islands with an incredible
biodiversity and geological history. It is a place
like no other – one where you can encounter
rare species of wildlife up close and snorkel
with playful sea lions and turtles.
Otavalo Market: 3 hours north of Quito you will
find the bustling market of Otavalo which has
been running for hundreds of years and is now
one of the largest markets in all of South Ameri-
ca. Here you will find traditional arts and crafts,
souvenirs, trinkets, clothes, produce and more.
You may also see many Ecuadorians in tradi-
tional dress and experience the vibrant colours,
culture and customs of Ecuador.
Banos: If you are looking for action and adven-
ture then you must visit Banos. Located in the
central highlands and surrounded by mountains,
waterfalls, lush jungles and thermal springs, Ba-
nos offers adventure for everyone. While there
hike Tungurahua Volcano, go cannoning, rafting,
mountain biking or paragliding, or for something
lower key visit the magnificent waterfalls or
relax and take it easy in the thermal springs.
Devil’s Nose Train Ride: If you are looking for
a hair raising rollercoaster road through natural
scenery than a visit to the town of Riobamba
and a ride on the Devils Nose Train will not dis-
appoint. The train ride runs between Riobamba
and Sibambe and works its way around a zig-
zagging cliff face.
Mitad del Mundo: (Middle of the World). Lo-
cated just outside the city of Quito you will find
the equatorial line, and what is believed to be
the centre of the earth. Here you can stand with
one foot on either side of the equator, or visit a
museum and planetarium.
Amazon: If you love nature, creepy crawlies,
bird watching, and all types of wildlife then a
visit to the Amazon should be high on your list.
Here you will find a diverse range of wildlife,
flora and fauna which is not found anywhere
else in the world. This is a real adventure expe-
rience and you may even encounter indigenous
communities that live deep in the jungle and
who continue to live life, like they have done
for centuries, away from any modern influences.
CHAPTER 6 : Completion of project & follow up
Photo Credit: Boldearth.com
Your Ecuador volunteer placement will be an
experience that you will never forget. Try to
take lots of photos of the places you visit, your
host family and people you work with so you
can show them to friends and family when you
return. You will also find keeping in touch with
people you met as a volunteer is a great way to
reminisce on your shared experience and the
impact it had on your life
Taking the time to write an honest review of
your program and volunteer organization is im-
portant to both your provider and future volun-
teers. Nothing can beat first-hand insights into
an experience, while any constructive feedback
you may have will help your provider create an
even better program in the future.
When you return from Ecuador why not continue
to support your cause and project? Discuss ways
you could do this with your volunteer organiza-
tion or directly with program staff.
CHAPTER 7 : Most Frequently Asked Questions From Volunteers
How will I get from the airport to my host family/volunteer house?
Your organization will arrange meet and greet and transportation to your accommodation in Ecua-
dor for you. Be sure to inform them of your flight times, and find out where you will meet.
Will there be support from staff in country?
Yes, in most instances in-country support is available for you once in Ecuador. Double check this
with your organization and obtain all contact details for them.
How many other volunteers will be participating with me?
Numbers of volunteers vary from project to project and the season you volunteer in, although in
general programs running over the summer months are the most popular. For more information
check with your organization or project.
If I volunteer with my friend can we be placed in the project and housed together?
Photo Credit: Ciaobambino.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com
In most circumstance there should be no problem for you and your friend to be placed in the same
project and accommodation facilities. If you are wanting to share with a friend than it is recom-
mend that you advise your organization well in advance so that appropriate arrangements can be
Are meals and housing provided?
Most volunteer program fees for Ecuador will include accommodation and 3 meals a day, although
some may only provide 2 meals a day. Check with your program to see exactly what is provided.
I am a vegetarian will that be a problem?
Your host family in Ecuador will want to look after you as best they can and will usually be more
than happy to work around dietary requirements. It is best however to advise your organization
and host family before arriving so they are aware of the situation and can prepare accordingly.
Will my host family be able to speak English?
Most host families in Ecuador will speak some English, however you are visiting their country and
living with them so it is the perfect opportunity for you to try and communicate as much as possi-
ble in Spanish.
Can I travel to other cities during my days off?
Yes, while volunteering in Ecuador it is recommended that you visit and explore as many destina-
tions as you can.
Do I have to bring my own bedding and mosquito nets?
If placed in a host family than bedding will be provided for you. If volunteering in areas which
experience high humidity, such as the coast or Amazon region, than it is recommended you take a
mosquito net just in case. Those mosquitoes can be quite annoying during the night!
What if I don’t speak the native language?
If you don’t speak the native language than you should still be able to get by. It is however recom-
mended that you learn at least some common phrases before you go, or enroll in some lessons.
However be sure to check with your organization and project before you go as some placements
will require you to have a certain level of proficiency in Spanish.
How will I get to my project every day?
How you get to and from your project will depend on the placement you have chosen. For some
you may be able to walk, while on others you may need to use public transport. Check with your
project to see if they offer any transportation help, and if not find out the best way to get there.
Can I speak with a volunteer who has gone?
Check your organization’s website or call them to see if they have any networking opportunities for
This free eBook is just written to help volunteers. So please use this book just as a general reference or source
of information. We cannot guarantee the validity of information as changes in the field can be sudden. As it is
impossible to provide a definite or authoritative guide it is vital you verify information directly with a relevant
and up to date source. We cannot be held liable in any way for damages caused should you choose to overlook
previous and potential volunteers. If you are unable to make contact with any then use volunteer
reviews as a useful guide.
Where will I be working?
This will depend on the type of project that you have signed up to do. In Ecuador there are volun-
teer opportunities all over the country, from rural villages and jungles to beach towns and cities.
Check with your organization and project for your possible options in each region.
What kind of food will I eat while I’m there?
When staying with a host family you will most likely be offered traditional dishes from Ecuador.
Dishes vary from region to region so it’s best to ask your organization for more information when
you know where you will be going.
How many hours per day will I be volunteering?
The exact hours expected will vary from placement to placement, however most will require you to
work between 4-6 hours during the day. Some placements may involve early mornings or late nights
instead, so be sure to check with your organization for the exact details of your project.
How much money do I need to bring?
This depends on how you want to experience Ecuador. If you like to eat out, or are planning on
doing a lot of traveling within the country, trying some adventure activities, visiting museums or
doing a lot of shopping than you will need to take this into consideration when budgeting for your
trip. While volunteering your accommodation and meals will be provided, so you should only have
to worry about any personal expenses.