Not many places on earth have influenced the course of human history as strongly as the Galapagos Islands, which is quite bizarre considering these islands were completely uninhabited by humans until just two centuries ago. Yet, this geographical isolation and unique biodiversity are what gave life to Darwin’s theory of evolution, and today the islands remain a fascinating place to visit, and even more so, an incredible place for internships abroad. You don’t need to be a naturalist to find the perfect internship in the Galapagos Islands, all you need is ambition, curiosity, and courage to take the leap.
Internships in the Galapagos Islands
The primary and most obvious types of internships in the Galapagos are placements in wildlife science and environmental studies. All of the Galapagos Islands are both a national park and biological marine reserve, providing a flourishing environment for students or recent graduates who are interested in conservation, sustainability, and animal science. The huge number of endemic species makes the Galapagos Islands a haven for natural scientists of all kinds.
The Galapagos Islands are also host to a population of nearly 30,000 people, making them a great destination for interns who are interested in community development. Ecuador is a developing country, and many locals living in small towns lack access to basic resources and social services, which are otherwise widely available on the mainland. Internships in the Galapagos islands in education, social work, and medicine are all examples of additional placements in the realm of community development that are widely available.
Internships in the Galapagos Islands can last anywhere from two to six months, depending on the time of year and each intern’s availability. Although Spanish is the national language of Ecuador, and therefore the most common language spoken throughout the islands, it is also possible to intern in the Galapagos Islands in English-friendly placements. Not to mention, if you aren’t adept in the Spanish language just yet, the Galapagos Islands can be an exceedingly pleasant destination to learn Spanish.
Life in the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands were first stumbled upon in the 16th century, and in 1832 became an official province of Ecuador. Beginning in the early 20th century, the islands have gradually become inhabited by humans more and more. Today, the Galapagos Islands are an extremely popular tourist destination, attracting some of the highest numbers of tourists annually in all of South America.
Of the 18 main islands, only five are currently populated by humans: Baltra, Floreana, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela. The two largest towns within these jurisdictions are Puerto Aroya, with a population of roughly 15,000, and Puerto Baquerino Moreno, with a population of roughly 8,000.
Despite a lack of human inhabitants, great care is still taken to retain the local biodiversity; for example, nearly 98 percent of the land is protected as a biosphere reserve. Still, local endemic species remain under constant threat from non-native species and human exploitation. Hence, many interns will find themselves in the field doing research and working to curb the effects of these harmful influences.
The Galapagos region has quite a unique climate, which may shape the experience of internships on the islands. From June to November is the garua, which is marked by a steady cold wind, frequent drizzling, and a dense layer of fog which enshrouds the islands. During the warm season, from December to May, there are no winds and the sun is usually shining, yet there are erratic intense bouts of rain as well.
Salary & Costs
Since the Galapagos islands are a very popular tourist destination and most goods have to be imported, life in the Galapagos is markedly more expensive than in mainland Ecuador. Still, it is likely that many internships in Galapagos Islands will include a good portion of the costs of housing and food as payment for your placement work. It is possible to find paid internships in the Galapagos Islands, although not common.
Accommodation & Visas
Living conditions will vary depending on whether you are stationed in a populated area of the islands or not. In the smaller towns, homestays are most popular form of accommodation provided to interns, and these arrangements can be an incredible way to immerse yourself in the unique local culture. Since the islands are largely isolated from the rest of South America, you may have to deal without certain luxuries, such as hot water and electrical power (in some places). However, do not fear; you’ll still have it easier than Darwin did!
The type of visa you will need to obtain to intern in the Galapagos Islands depends on many factors, such as your home country, duration of stay, and whether or not you will be paid. In many cases, you will be able to obtain the proper visa documentation upon arrival in Ecuador, but it is still important to plan ahead by consulting with your internship program provider. You can check out GoAbroad’s Ecuadorian Embassy Directory to locate a consulate or embassy in your home country so you can begin gathering information as soon as possible.
Benefits & Challenges
Unique Environment. Not many people ever have the privilege to visit the Galapagos Islands in their lifetime, let alone live there for an extended period of time. Internships in the Galapagos Island are your key to immersion and adventure in one of the most distinctive ecosystems on the planet.
Global Work Experience. Whatever your internship in the Galapagos Islands, your international work experience will stand out as a gold star on your resume and provide you with the practical experience to succeed in future jobs. The Galapagos Islands are a challenging environment that will teach you lessons, strategies, and skills that have the ability to promote a very promising global career path.
Great Escape. Life on the Galapagos Islands can feel very far away from the fast paced buzz of life on the mainland. Instead of reacting negatively to this, use it as an opportunity to get to know your surroundings. If you learn to enjoy the escape from modern life, you will return with an invaluable perspective on life.