Our volunteers in Ecuador enjoy a rich diversity of landscapes and experiences. You might be volunteering in the capital Quito, or in the Amazon rainforest, volunteering in Galapagos or the high Andes. In Ecuador can get involved on a wide range of projects from conservation, helping on a medical placement, to teaching and working with children with special needs. That means we have volunteering opportunities in Ecuador available for under 18s, mid-career and career break volunteers, through to post-career or retired volunteers. There really is a project here for all ages and abilities.
Ecuador straddles the equator on South America’s west coast. Its rich and varied landscape encompasses Amazon rainforest, snow-capped volcanoes, Andean highlands and the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands.
Despite being one of the smallest countries in South America, Ecuador is one of the most diverse, with a rich geographical landscape supporting one of the world’s highest rates of biodiversity.
The country is split into four regions; the pacific coastal region that includes the most populous city of Guayaquil, the high Andes that run down the centre, and the Amazonia, where the Amazon jungle still supports a number of indigenous tribes, despite the continuing exploitation of oil reserves. Finally of course there are the Galapagos Islands, one of the great natural wonders of the world.
The capital city, Quito serves as the base for our volunteers in Ecuador. It is a cosmopolitan city, drawing together the country’s different cultures and indigenous people in a city of over 2 million people. At an elevation of 2,850m you might feel the attitude at first and the weather will offer four seasons in one day, with a delightful and generally tropical climate.
Nestled in the Andean foothills, Quito is a World Heritage site known for its historic Spanish colonial centre, with decorated 16th- and 17th-century palaces and churches, including the ornate Compañía de Jesús cathedral.
It is easy to travel around the country and Quito makes an excellent base from which to explore the many things Ecuador can offer, from the rainforest to the beach, with a range of adventurous activities from rafting to climbing.
The striking beauty of the country and vibrant, friendly culture of the Ecuadorian people mask a reality that is only apparent to those who look below the surface. In Quito there are approximately 24,000 street children, 60% of the population are illiterate, huge areas of the rainforest are felled each day by commercial logging companies and the vast Amazon oil reserves are attracting companies wishing to exploit the pristine forest reserves.
Volunteering abroad in Ecuador provides a wealth of opportunity, both in terms of the projects you can participate in and the recreational activities that exist. It is a destination suitable for gap year students, under 18s and part-qualified or fully qualified professionals alike, and is often used as a great launch pad for a wider tour of South America.
Volunteer opportunities in Ecuador include rare opportunities to get medical volunteer experience in a central hospital, plus a range of other healthcare work in the areas of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and nursing.
For those interested in working with children, there are a number of carefully selected opportunities to volunteer with street children, in orphanages or in more developed kindergartens and schools.
Finally, a range of projects in the Amazon rainforest, Andean cloud forest and the highlands of Galapagos offer volunteers in Ecuador the chance to get involved in hands-on conservation.
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.
I got a real insight into South American culture, both the indigenous and non-indigenous communities.Student, Ecuador
Everyone must visit the Amazon rainforest once and Ecuador provides one of the most accessible routes to it. Enjoy the biodiversity it offers and understand more about the wildlife, conservation projects and indigenous peoples who live there.
If climbing up a volcano doesn’t seem to be a good idea, then perhaps cycling down one is a better plan. At 5,897m Cotopaxi is a snow-capped wonder that dominates Quito and invites you for an adrenaline ride down it.
Banos is the self-proclaimed adventure capital of Ecuador, easily accessed from Quito. It offers volunteers the opportunity for rafting, zip-wiring, hiking, canyoning and biking. You can climb near the local Tungurahua volcano, sometimes seen spitting molten lava, or visit waterfalls and hot-springs for a more tranquil setting.
If you have made it to Ecuador, then it is worth allowing the extra time (and money) to visit these incredible islands. Made famous by Darwin, they retain their original character, allowing humans to walk and swim with an astounding variety of wildlife in this unique and beautiful eco-system.
Ecuador was named after its position on the centre line of the earth, so its worth taking the trip to investigate the phenomena, visiting the education centre where a number of experiments can guide you through the physics of your location.