Volunteer in Galapagos. The place that time forgot. An island adventure that allows you to get close to nature while living among a welcoming island community.
The Galapagos comprises an amazing archipelago of 13 main islands, six smaller islands and many further islets, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Some 25,000 humans inhabit five of the islands (San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana and Baltra) and 97% of the islands’ total area is designated as National Park.
Animals and plants once migrated across the sea. Over the course of time they adapted themselves to Galapagos conditions and came to differ from their ancestors on the mainland. Many of them are found nowhere else in the world.
Remarkably, there are no predators on the Galapagos Islands, so the animals are fearless. This makes close encounters with them a daily occurrence. Charles Darwin recognised this in 1835 and his observations played a substantial part in his formulation of the paper Origin of the Species. The Galapagos have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The convergence of three major oceanic currents brings an incredible mix of marine life to Galapagos. They offer some of the most interesting places in the world for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Visitors can expect to swim with sea lions, turtles, penguins and sharks, walk among nests of frigate birds and blue-footed Boobies, and study both marine and land-based iguanas up close.
Yet the impression you get as a hosted tourist is deceptive. Most of the locals still live with very basic facilities and low income. The significant income generated from tourism does not trickle down to the majority of island residents. According to the 2010 census, just over half the population of Galapagos (52%) is in poverty, compared to about 60% on the Ecuadorian mainland.
We offer Galapagos volunteer opportunities in the three islands of San Christobal, Isabela and Santa Cruz. Volunteers can help teach English, a priority for the islanders as they try and break the cycle poverty. Volunteers can work with young children in the kindergartens or help coach sport in the secondary school.
For those interested in nature and conservation, volunteering in Galapagos is a dream come true, with projects reliant on international volunteers to help preserve the local flora and fauna.
Galapagos is a remarkable destination suitable for students, under 18s, gap year volunteers, nature enthusiasts and those wanting to volunteer as part of a holiday.
Julio is a qualified teacher working in one of the schools Outreach International supports and he coordinates our volunteer activities on a particular island. Julio lived and trained in Guayaquil before moving to Galapagos 10 years ago.
Paulina qualified as special needs teacher and language therapist from the University of Guayaquil. She has lived in San Cristobal on the Galapagos all her life and has been supporting our volunteers since 2006. She is a well known island character, recognised locally for her brightly painted wall murals. She lives with her husband in Baquerizo, the town on San Cristobal.
Monika is superbly connected throughout Ecuador and has been working with Outreach International since 2003. She lives with her two teenage children in central Quito and plays host to many of our volunteers who work in the city. Monika’s passion for volunteering is reflected in her commitment and level of support that she provides. She speaks fluent English and is a qualified Spanish tutor.
My fondest memory will be just being in such a beautiful place surrounded by so many amazing people, my family, other volunteers, tourists and locals! To be honest there are too many amazing memories to recount!Teaching in Galapagos
The islands have different characteristics due to their location in the ocean currents (resulting in different temperatures and foodstuffs) and their topography. Take your time to visit different islands and experience the full variety of wildlife.
The abundance of wildlife means you have a unique opportunity to swim with a diverse range of marine wildlife; from turtles to sharks, and from penguins to great shoals of tropical fish. Whether with a tank on your back or just with a snorkel and mask, the Galapagos are one of the best locations for swimming with nature.
All the 3 main islands have beaches, some large some small, but all with a unique charm and with wildlife close at hand. For a special treat on San Christobel, take a swim with sea lions off the beach before breakfast.
Darwin’s paper ‘Origin of the Species’ remains the foundation of the theory of evolution. Visit the Darwin centre on Santa Cruz to get up to date on the research and conservation activities continuing on Galapagos.