International Volunteer HQ offers volunteer programs in the pioneering ‘World Cultural Heritage Site’ of Quito. Participants can make the highly cultural location their temporary home while working on Street and Market Children programs, School Support projects, Teaching English placements, or Summer Projects.
HOW TO VOLUNTEER ABROAD in ECUADOR
Straddle The EquatorREAD ARTICLE
343 Volunteer Abroad Programs in Ecuador
With a number of Performing Arts Abroad programs to choose from, volunteers will make a difference in the lives of locals, by sharing their commitment to theater, music, and dance. In addition to contributing their own capabilities, volunteers will also experience Ecuador's culture and develop an understanding of the Ecuadorian way of life.
Work with various Amazonian animals and communities with Love Volunteers in Ecuador. Volunteers from all over the world can live in Quito or rural areas of Ecuador for up to twelve months. Participants gain priceless international experience helping others and learning about the local culture.
Work with special needs children or on community and urban development projects in Ecuador with ELI - Experiential Learning International. Ecological conservation programs in the Galapagos Islands, in Mindo, Puyo, and Puerto Lopez are also available for volunteers interested in devoting time to reforestation, animal rescue, and wildlife repopulation. Programs include excursions and accommodatio...
Explore the Galapagos Islands and many other areas of Ecuador through volunteer programs organized by the Global Volunteer Network. Get involved in programs focused on daycare, conservation, and teaching English, which help the local community enhance their skills and standard of living. Volunteers can participate for two weeks to six months.
Volunteer with International Student Volunteers in Ecuador and join a scientific team gathering information to assist in the monitoring of migrating endangered humpback whales. The project, based on the coast of Ecuador near Puerto Lopez, concentrates efforts on community development and environmental education. Other ISV volunteer projects in Ecuador include school and playground construction ...
Become a Red Cross volunteer in Ecuador with GeoVisions and learn how to perform basic medical procedures. Volunteers must have some medical experience and proficiency in the Spanish language. Participants may be asked to assist with first aid procedures like treating wounds, doing tests, and work in the rehabilitation clinic. The program includes a walking tour of the capital city of Quito, ho...
Uncover the splendor of Ecuador and make a real impact with UBELONG. Opportunities exist in Conservation, Teaching English, Childcare, Medical Work and more. Volunteer in the Amazon, Galapagos or Quito for 1 week to 6 months. Become part of the legendary UBELONG volunteer community.
With over 15 programs offered by EcuaExplora in Ecuador, participants have multiple opportunities to have a meaningful volunteer experience. Volunteers can opt to partake in programs concerning youth mentoring, agroforestry with farmers, or health and daycare services. Programs are offered throughout the year.
Spend time helping locals in Ecuador through volunteer programs offered by the Ecuador Volunteer Foundation. Volunteers will learn organic farming techniques, work in wildlife rescue, or explore the Amazon rain forest, while learning the local way of life. Programs are available in many cities, including Cayambe, Galapagos Islands, and Puyo.
Spend time engaging in volunteering projects on the island of San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands with Projects Abroad in Ecuador. International participants can experience both the unique natural landscape of the country as well as the welcoming local people. This program offers a wide array of volunteer options, including Environmental Studies, Teaching English, and Sports.
Gain a deeper comprehension of the culture, people, and history of Ecuador by taking part in one of eight volunteer placements provided by Volunteering Solutions. Volunteers may decide to engage in a health care program, work in an animal rescue center, or immerse themselves in a teaching placement.
Live in rural Peru, join a volunteer program provided by Kaya Responsible Travel. Volunteer projects focus on multiple fields, including Wildlife Conservation, Childcare Assistance, and Education. Participants can work on Peruvian mangroves, teach English, or work at orphanges. Programs run from two to four weeks and are open to individuals, families, and groups.
Experience life in Ecuador while volunteering with Gapforce. With two program choices, participants can work with the International Red Cross in the city of Quito or spend weeks in a coastal lodge participating in a meaningful conservation project. Both programs usually last for two weeks to one month.
Pacific Discovery offers inspiring educational travel programs to the most amazing places on earth. Our summer, semester and gap year programs combine cultural immersion, volunteer projects in conservation and community development, sustainable adventure travel, personal and leadership development, and tons of fun. Join us on a life-changing adventure!
Straddle The Equator
Ecuador is a country of multi-faceted landscape and vibrant culture. The country provides volunteers with an unusually resonant immersive experience.
The unique country straddles the equator, so it is in both the northern and southern hemispheres, bordering Colombia, Peru and the Pacific Ocean. Explore a little of everything with its three main geographical regions: coast, highlands (dominated by the Andes), and the Amazon, all of which have volunteer opportunities.
The large majority, 80% of Ecuadorians, are Roman Catholic. Most Ecuadorians are a mix of European and American Indian descent, with 98% of the population speaking Spanish.
Ecuadorian cuisine varies depending on the region, but most meals start off with soup and are followed by pork, chicken, or even cuy, which means Guinea pig and is a local favorite. Expect a lot of rice and bread no matter where you are and seafood is very popular on the coast.
Although there is definitely a lot of American media influence, expect a culture that is relatively socially conservative, when compared to North America. Locals almost always receive foreigners very well but be prepared for some ogling and the occasional cat-call to females. There is still a very visible indigenous population, particularly in marketplaces, who speak Quechua and dress in the traditional bright clothing so volunteers won’t have to travel far to see the roots of Ecuador’s people. Depending on when you go, expect to enjoy frequent festivals such as Carnival and Semana Santa, that combine religious tradition with local indigenous customs. Plus, witness an intense passion for their favorite sport, soccer.
Spanish is an extremely useful language to learn and lessons are widely available and highly affordable. Ecuadorian Spanish is relatively slow compared to other countries in South America and it has few irregularities, making it a great place to learn (although it does get faster on the coast). If you’re a complete beginner in Spanish, sticking to major cities where most people speak a bit of English can make your stay and transition easier. It is still a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in Spanish before your arrival.
Ecuador is very affordable overall, except for major tourism hot-spots like the Galapagos Islands. Public transportation, taxis, and non-American products are all relatively inexpensive, but foreigners are often charged higher rates. Be prepared to ask cabs for the fee before you get in the car, and to bargain down the price for clothes and any souvenirs you want to buy. Hanging out with Ecuadorians is also a great way to avoid paying more than you should.
On time off, Ecuador provides endless possibilities for travel to varying landscapes. Travel by public transport is very inexpensive and, especially in Quito, relatively well-organized. It is possible to go from the Andes Mountains, to the Amazon Rainforest, to the sunny coast in only a matter of hours. Volunteers in Ecuador spend their free time ziplining through the jungle, hiking around the capital city of Quito, or enjoying themselves in the sand and waves of the Pacific Ocean.
For those with a limited budget, there are bargain options everywhere, including islands off the coast, which have been dubbed “The Poor Man’s Galapagos.” They have most of the animals that the actual Galapagos Islands have but with a much lower price tag.
There is a huge variety of volunteer work available, depending on the type of desired experience; and because there are ample volunteering opportunities in Ecuador, if after starting in one placement you truly feel you are not contributing anything to your project or it just isn’t a good fit, it is typically easy to change to a new area.
If it’s your first time volunteering abroad, it might be smart to work through an English-speaking organization with offices around the world that provide support to independent and local projects. This will give you a placement that is accustomed to taking in large numbers of international volunteers, as well as an idea of the scope of opportunities available. If you choose to arrange your international volunteer experience through a provider it will make your fees higher but also provides a great support system which can be priceless if you are a first timer.
The experience you have as a volunteer will vary greatly depending on where you choose to work and what your interests are. If you are looking for an experience that will surround you with people from all over the globe, look into the volunteer communities that exist in major cities; providing basic medical care on the coast, teaching English in the Andes, or working with street kids in the poorest neighborhoods of Quito are just some of the many volunteer opportunities typically available. Organizations that work with kids are very understaffed so it easy to find a program in this area. One perk is that positions that involve working with children typically allow a lot of room for creativity to tailor the program to your skills. Most allow volunteers to suggest ideas for improvements and new activities such as martial arts or art classes.
International non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, in Quito need support from English speakers, and quiet wildlife reserves in the Amazon need volunteers to feed monkeys and parrots. NGOs often allow volunteers to undertake their own individual projects for in their free time as well to help the organization develop. Volunteers can also choose to live and work at a hacienda, or farm, in the countryside herding llamas, and rural areas are particularly affordable with many haciendas offering room and board in exchange for work. Working at a hacienda (typically at a countryside hotel and restaurant) or for an NGO in Quito, will be more of an immersive, solo experience, definitely something best pursued by those who speak at least intermediate Spanish. Especially because, many animal reserves are eager for volunteers, and particularly from November-March, when there are fewer travelers.
Housing in Ecuador is very inexpensive. Staying in a homestay with a local family is an excellent way to work on your Spanish, have traditional Ecuadorian meals provided, and gain a more immersive cultural experience. The majority of volunteer programs have a homestay option. If you would rather live with other international students, some programs provide housing for volunteers. This allows you to live with your co workers, regardless if you’re living in downtown Quito or a village in the Amazon. If neither of these options sound like what you are looking for, it is possible organize housing separately from your volunteer position. Some volunteers set up accommodations through organizations such as Couch Surfers and the South American Explorer Club. They are straightforward, easy to arrange, and a great way to meet new people.
Like any other endeavor, it’s important to have reasonable expectations. Unless you are a trained professional working in your field, your contribution may seem modest but that is not the case. The personal nature of the work and diversity from which you can choose a project are priceless. Many volunteers have undergraduate degrees or are in pursuit of one but spend your days working construction. Don’t underestimate your importance! Volunteerism is needed everywhere for all types of projects.