Cloud Forest Cooperative

Ecuador (E54) | View map
PRICE FROM
£233 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months
MINIMUM DURATION
Flexible

Volunteer in a community cooperative in the cloud forest of Ecuador

  • Volunteer in the stunning setting of the cloud forest of Ecuador
  • Help in organic farming, dairy production and wildlife conservation
  • Especially suitable for those interested in conservation, culture and ecotourism
  • Suitable for gap year students
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Project summary

This is an inspiring community project initiated 20 years ago, whose aim is to demonstrate how rural communities, who previously depended on clearing land, can live in harmony with the environment.

The project is very successful and is seen as a role model for similar initiatives across Ecuador and South America.

The community is made up of 55 families acting as a cooperative and all members of the community contribute through a number of coordinated projects:

  • Cheese production: producing two types of cheese, one soft and one pressed
  • Marmalade/jam production: producing high quality, organic jams from a variety of fruits
  • Handicrafts: producing jewellery and recycled paper products as an educational initiative for the children and visitors
  • Organic market garden: production of a range of fruits and vegetables for both sale and consumption
  • Conservation and reforestation: Collecting seeds for the nursery which is used to preserve rare orchids and grow saplings used to reforest 200 hectares
  • Research: the community supports research projects run by Universities and other institutions, for example setting camera traps on the trails to track the local fauna, including the number of rare spectacled bears (44 at the last count)
  • Tourism & education: the community receive school groups and visitors from Ecuador and abroad, who come to witness the local community initiatives and enjoy the most tranquil and beautiful setting. Visitors can stay in family houses, but there is also a hostel for small groups and a small campsite in a beautiful spot.

Volunteers are able to join in all of the above activities as a participatory and educational experience for all parties.

It is a project suitable for anyone with a passion for the outdoors, conservation, ecotourism, the culture of Ecuador, organic farming, and is suitable for gap year students.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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Volunteers are accepted as part of the community and as such are expected to get involved in all aspects of community living, from milking the cows, to working in the market garden, and joining in the community celebrations.

Each Monday there is a meeting to discuss the volunteer’s weekly agenda, as a volunteer will rotate around all of the projects, from cheese production to managing the trails.

In our last visit (July 2015) it was described that twice a month there are trips to set the camera traps and once a month this involves an overnight camp.

If the volunteer has a particular preference or skill set then this can be included e.g. if someone just wanted to work in the market garden then this would be welcomed.

How you can make a difference

Volunteers are warmly welcomed by this ecotourism project, both to add capacity and skills to the work undertaken by the community, and also to help them in their own cultural exchange.

You will most certainly learn from participating in the sustainable activities of the community and the community benefits from your hard work, and the interest and perspective that an international volunteer brings to their remote community.

You will be able to  help them practice English and gain a better understanding of international visitors who are an important future income stream.

 

What is distinctive about this project:

The cooperative is located in a beautiful, semi-isolated location just 90 minutes from Quito. It is perfect for volunteers who want to immerse themselves in a traditional way of life, living and working as part of a community in Ecuador.

Blue Tiger Features:

This is a wonderful opportunity for a volunteer looking for a more cultural experience. It is likely there will be other volunteers at the cooperative, but your experience will be focused on working and living with the local community, sharing their workload and their social calendar.

You are on a hillside, 90 minutes away from the bustle of Quito, so you will be living a slower pace of life, although there is (limited) internet and mobile access, and a road to the village.

Season:

The project is open all year round

Languages:

The project Director speaks some English, but the community speaks Spanish and volunteers will benefit from a richer experience if they have an intermediate level.

Experience required:

No specific experience is required but volunteers need to be comfortable working in an outdoors, rural environment and be open to learning about, and becoming part of, a different culture. This is an immersion experience. The joy of it is you will be part of a small remote community, which requires a certain disposition of a volunteer.

Good to know:

You may be one of just a few volunteers living on site, in simple rustic family accommodation. If you can drag yourself away, you are 90 minutes from Quito which is served easily by a local bus service.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks6 months
£1,715£2,315£2,795£3,270£3,765£4,230

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support, welcome meal and high quality 121 Spanish tuition.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

Things to see and do

  • Visit the Amazon rainforest
  • Downhill mountain-biking in Cotopaxi
  • Go Wild in Banos
  • Visit the Galapagos
  • Straddle the equator
Monika Montes

Country co-ordinator

Monika Montes

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.

About Ecuador