Volunteer Abroad in Ecuador
- Ecuador Program General Information
- Working&Living Agenda of Ecuador Programs
- Other Useful Information
Ecuador Program General Information
Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. From tropical rain forests to snow on the equator, spectacular scenery and villages untouched by time. There are over 2500 species of birds including the Andean condor and over 3000 varieties of orchid, 1000 year old pyramids and legends of massacres by the Incas. Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands are where Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was formed, the great Amazon River begins here, and its capital of Quito is divided in half by the equator.
According to Ecuador’s National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), the base salary for most Ecuadorians is only US$160 and more than half of Ecuador’s poor live on only US$1 a day. As an international volunteer, you can make a difference in Ecuador. Our programs also offer great opportunities to learn the culture and practice Spanish.
Locations of Ecuador Volunteer& Intern Programs
We have volunteer work placements in both urban and rural Ecuador. Available program locations in Ecuador include but not limited to: Quito, Ambato, Otavalo, San Clemente, Tabacundo, Ibarra, Rio Verde, Puerto Lopez, Santa Elena, and Galapagos Islands. Please note that not all works are available at all locations.
Start Dates and Durations
We pride ourselves for our flexibility. You can arrive any week of the month, any month of the year. The regular dates for arrival are Fridays. However, if you need to arrive on a different date (either because of a personal reason or because of a discount promotional flight that you want to take advantage of), we can arrange for you as long as we are given enough advanced notice before arrival.
You can volunteer for periods of 1 week to 6 months. In the end of your program, if you wish to extend your stay, we can arrange for you.
Ecuador Volunteer Work Placements
There are volunteer work placements available in both urban and rural Ecuador. Our volunteer/intern work placements include the following projects:
- Orphanage Work ((Minimum 4 weeks)
- Street Children Work (Minimum 4 weeks)
- Agriculture and Community Work (Minimum 1 week)
- Medical Work (Minimum 4 weeks)
- HIV Orphanage Work (Minimum 8 weeks)
- Teaching (Minimum 1 week)
- Event Program in Quito (Minimum 8 weeks)
- Journalism (Minimum 4 weeks)
- Laboratory Work (Minimum 5 weeks)
- Marketing (Minimum 8 weeks)
- Social and Psychology Work (Minimum 8 weeks)
- Tourism in Quito and Amazon (Minimum 6 weeks)
- Conservation and Eco-tourism in San Cristobal (Galapagos Islands)
- Daycare in San Cristobal (Galapagos Islands)
(2) COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
(4) HIV/AIDS WORK
(6) OTHER WORKS
Ecuador Volunteer/Intern Requirements
- Age Requirement: You can apply on your own if you are 18 years or over at the start of the program. For participants who are 15-17 years old at the start of the program, it is possible to enroll if the legal guardian gives permission and signs our waiver form to waive our liability.
- Language Requirement: You must be able to speak English. Also, it is strongly recommended for participants to be able to speak some Spanish since many local people don’t speak English.
- Cooperation and Adaptability: You should be able to work well with others, including people who are quite different from yourself. Also, you should be able to adapt to foreign environments, other cultures, and new situations. There is a need for international volunteers to be cooperative and flexible. The success of doing a project abroad also depends on you.
- Some positions may require volunteers/interns have relevant training or certification.
Ecuador Program Prices
Our fees are the lowest in North America and extremely affordable. Our program fee starts as little as USD$180. Program fees mainly help us cover the variable costs, such as meals, accommodation, and orientation, etc. Program fees vary according to the length of your program.
|Program Length||Program Fee USD$|
|1 Month (4 Weeks)||580|
|2 Months (8 Weeks)||980|
To see an estimate of these prices in your local currency click here.
Note: There is an additional fee of USD$290 (enrollment fee) on top of the program fee for all the programs. This enrollment fee helps us cover mainly the fixed costs, such as program inspection, staff salary, marketing cost, etc. Also, certain work placements and certain locations may require a surcharge since they are harder or more costly to arrange. Participants are fully responsible for any surcharges and transaction costs.
Total Price = Program Fee + Enrolment Fee (plus transaction costs and any surcharge)
What is included?
- Arrival Welcome
- Accommodation and Meals
- Program Orientation
- Volunteer Work Placement
- Hotline for Local Support
- Regular Cultural/Recreational Activities (Personal spending not included) are Provided by Most Hosts
What is not included?
- International and Local Transportation Costs (One way local bus tickets cost around $0.5.)
- Medical/Travel Insurance (Optional buy recommended)
- Visa Application Costs and Personal Spending
Regarding the 24/7 hotline for in-country support in Ecuador, please be aware:
- When travelling across the Andean mountains, our partner staff may loss cell phone signal for a moment. In this case, a text or voice message can be left and our partner staff will call back as soon as they get the message.
Working & Living Agenda of Ecuador Programs
Accommodation and Meals
Accommodation and meals are included. Volunteers live with a local home-stay family or guest house or orphanage home.
Most of our home-stay families in urban locations can provide the following features:
- Running Water
- Bedroom with basic furniture (either private or shared with another volunteer of the same gender)
In the rural areas, the resources are very limited and the living condition can be very basic.
Three meals a day are provided by the home-stay families.
Lunch is usually packed by your host family in a lunch box so that you can eat at your project if you wish.
If you are a vegetarian or if you have other special eating needs, you can indicate that while applying. Even though special eating needs are not something we can guarantee, we will do our best to meet your needs.
It is exciting to live with a local family. This way, you can easily learn the local way of life, meet local people, and feel more like a part of Ecuador rather than just a tourist. We strongly encourage you to try the local flavors and experience the local culture and traditions as much as possible. Keep in mind that it is important to be open-minded and to be flexible. You shouldn’t expect that you would eat the same food or have the same lifestyle as you do at home. Actually, one of the most important things you will learn abroad is how their way of living is just as correct as ours.
Arrival and Orientation
Day 1 (Arrival Day)
You can arrive any day, but please be aware that orientation will only take place on Saturdays (and some projects may have orientation on Sundays). We recommend that you arrive on Fridays so that you can start working on the following Monday.
On Arrival Day,
- 1) You can either take a taxi independently or ask us to arrange airport pick-up in order to get to your host family
(The address of your host family in Quito will be given before your trip starts. The new airport is located outside of the city. Arranged airport pickup costs more than taxi since it is a round way trip. If you take a taxi but the taxi driver is uncertain about the address, you may call the local coordinators for support using a public phone or borrowing the taxi driver’s phone. When necessary, the local coordinators can explain to the taxi driver how to get to your host family.)
2) Then your home-stay family in Quito will welcome you.
Orientation Day (Saturdays or Sundays)
The orientation is very important for ensuring a safe and pleasant stay.
- You will be introduced to the expectations of the institution and the host project.
- We will show you how to take bus from home to some important places (such as town center, the supermarket, the ATM, etc.
- (Usually it costs around US$0.5 or $1 for a one way bus ticket in town.)
- Travel Opportunities
- After the Introduction to Ecuador, you will be given some time to exchange contact information with other volunteers. After getting connected, you may want to socialize or plan your weekend trip together.
1) Introduction to Work Program
2) Introduction to Your Environment
3) Introduction to Ecuador
4) Getting Connected
These (who work at non-Quito locations) can leave Quito for another location on Saturday afternoon/night or Sunday morning.
Workweek and Workdays
Our volunteer work projects run from Monday to Friday. You can either do full time or part time work depending on your preference. (Some projects are less flexible than others.) Some volunteers would like to work a lot, while others like to have more free time to travel, socialize, and relax.
The amount of work will be customized for you. Certain work placements do require full time volunteers or have a fixed schedule, but many works can be very flexible.
- If you think it is more important to get your favourite placement rather than your preferred work schedule, please indicate that while applying so that we can put more weight on work type when we customize the program for you. If you don’t indicate anything, we may give your preferred work schedule more consideration while we customize the program for you.
- Workweek option 1: (Regular) Work from Mon. to Fri.
- Workweek option 2: (Long weekend) Work from Mon. to Thursday.
- Workweek option 3: (Work and Rest) Work only on Mon., Wed. & Friday.
- Workweek option 4: (As Much As Possible) Work 6-7 days per week if possible.
- Workday option 1: (Full day) Approximately 8 hours from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
- Workday option 2: (Part time early bird) Approximately 4 hours from 9am to 1pm.
- Workday option 3: (Part time afternoon) Approximately 4 hours from 12pm to 4pm.
Leisure Time (Enjoyment and Friendship)
Our volunteers usually form life-long friendships with their host family, workplace co-workers, and other volunteers.
We aim to fulfill your leisure time with enjoyment. Many host families will get the volunteers involved in their recreational activities. You can join weekend tours or add a tour after your volunteer program for an additional cost. We recommend that you compare prices before you purchase any tour.
Other Useful Information
Ecuador Entry Requirements (Visa Information)
Most people coming to Ecuador can get their tourist visa upon arrival. You can also get your visa pre-arrival from a Ecuadorian embassy in your home country, but it is generally less time-consuming to get it upon arrival.
The issue of a tourist visa is very straight forward. For a trouble-free entry, we recommend that you write the purpose of your entry as tourism or vacation, which is true since our volunteers are classified as volunteer tourists.
Upon arrival in the airport, you can get a 90 day tourism visa. This tourism visa can be extended for another 90 days. (For these who want to extend their tourism visa, please don’t forget to register your visa in Quito within 30 days after initial arrival.)
Travel Services (Tours and Flights)
Whenever our volunteers need, we provide travel services/advices. If you are going to buy flight and book tours on your own, we strongly recommend that you get price quotes from different sources and compare them before you make your purchase.
Ecuador Country Profile and Pictures
Ecuador Capital: Quito
Official Language: Spanish
Time Zone: ECT, GALT (UTC−5, −6)
Equador straddles the equator from which it takes its name and records an annual average temperature of 25C. The climate in Ecuador is tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands.
There is great variety in the climate, largely determined by altitude. It is mild year-round in the mountain valleys; humid subtropical climate incoastal and rain forests in lowlands. The Pacific coastal area has a tropical climate, with a severe rainy season. The climate in the Andean highlands is temperate and relatively dry; and the Amazon basin on the eastern side of the mountains shares the climate of other rain forest zones.
Because of its location at the equator, Ecuador experiences little variation in daylight hours during the course of a year. Both sunrise and sunset occur each day at the two six o’clock hours.
The Local Currency
The local currency is USD. We strongly recommend that you bring a debit or a credit card for ATM cash withdraws. ATMs are easily accessible in Ecuador and most of them accept international debit and credit cards. It is probably the safest and easiest way for you to access your cash.
Personal Expense in Ecuador
As food and accommodation are both included, you don’t need to expect to spend much money at all. You will probably find that $20 is enough for your weekly personal expense, but this figure can vary largely due to personal spending habit.
Going global can be an exciting experience and nervous at the same time. Regardless of where you are in the world, safety can never be guaranteed. However, Ecuador is considered to be a relatively safe country to travel to comparing to many other Latin American countries. However, for your own safety, we recommend that you take the following precautions while living there:
- If you must carry a handbag, try to keep your handbag in front of you.
- Try to keep in groups at night and never walk alone dark streets.
- Try to leave your valuables behind.
- Be careful when crossing the streets.
- We recommend that you bring two bank/credit cards when you travel but keep them in different places. You can probably keep one in your wallet with you for daily use and keep the other card in a very safe place for back-up purpose. In this case, if anything happens, at least you won’t loss both cards at the same time.
While it is unlikely for something to happen to you, we do recommend that you take these precautions.
Communications infrastructure is reasonably good in Ecuador. It is easy to call and to send emails. Internet cyber is also affordable (around US$0.8 per hour). The country code of Ecuador is +593.
Vaccinations for Ecuador
The following are recommended:
- Hepatitis A
- Yellow Fever
- Hepatitis B
Things to Bring
- You should at least bring your own sleeping bag, a lunch box, a water bottle, and other personal necessities.
- A plug adapter is strongly recommended as you will probably need to charge your electronics.
- Electrical Plug/Outlet and Voltage Information for Ecuador:
- Primary Socket Type: North American Non-Grounded, North American Grounded
- Voltage: 110-120 Volts
- For Multi-voltage electronics/appliances (laptops, etc.), you only need a plug adapter.
- For 220-240V appliances, you will need Plug adapter + step-up transformer.
- Electrical Plug/Outlet and Voltage Information for Ecuador:
- A digital camera is recommended.
- Laptop is not necessary, however many volunteers like to bring their own personal computer.
- If you forget to bring some things (such as basic shampoo or basic water bottle), it is easy to buy them in Ecuador. Other things (such as electronics or a special brand of body wash) can be hard or more expensive to get in Ecuador.