Located on the Rio Guayas, volunteers can find Ecuador’s largest city and beating heart. The vibrant city of Guayaquil features contrasting high-rises and hill towns, big city vibes and indigenous populations. Although it is the commercial center of Ecuador, there are endless opportunities for improvement both downtown and in its smaller communities. In the midst of a thriving riverfront and colonial city lies a land that aches to be revitalized through urban-renewal projects. Dive into the center of the world’s most diverse country for your next opportunity to volunteer abroad!
How to Volunteer in Guayaquil
Guayaquil’s riverfront defines the city, featuring lively bars, large universities, and a growing arts scene, but there is more to the city than what you see on the main thoroughfare. In the city’s outskirts, you’ll find one of the largest populations of street children in Ecuador. Venture further and you’ll find plentiful rainforests and wildlife sanctuaries. Such diversity creates the perfect environment for volunteering abroad, with endless opportunities for making a difference.
Popular causes and projects. Whether you want to work with people or dive into nature, volunteers will find many diverse placement options while volunteering abroad in Guayaquil. The most popular placements range from environmental conservation and sustainable living to childcare and education. You may find yourself teaching English to kids and running after-school activities, or caring for injured sea turtles. Others can lend a hand to one of the many community development projects.
Short-term volunteer programs in Guayaquil. While a long-term placement is always encouraged in order to make the biggest positive impact, it is not always a possibility for volunteers. Some may only have the ability to travel abroad for a week or two, but every little bit helps! For those seeking short-term programs, try looking for a placement in wildlife conservation, as opportunities are available on a weekly basis.
Long-term volunteer programs in Guayaquil. If you’re ready to embrace true Ecuadorian living, why not volunteer abroad in Guayaquil for a semester or a year? Long-term programs typically combine volunteer work with studies, so you can balance your volunteer experience with classes about Ecuadorian history and culture, or Spanish lessons with your host family. Not only will you broaden your perspective, but you’ll also enhance your volunteer experience by better understanding the community.
Life in Guayaquil for Volunteers
Volunteers cannot live in Guayaquil without getting to know Malecón, the riverfront that defines the city. It was created through one of the city’s biggest community development projects in 2000, during which parks and botanic gardens popped up overnight, and colorful coffee shops, bakeries, and museums spread upwards into the hills. Today it is the center of tourism in Guayaquil, but it’s island eco-sanctuary in the middle of the river has also become home to the indigenous population in the city.
Typically, volunteers live in homestays spread throughout the city, where they learn Spanish and eat traditional Ecuadorian meals. Put your Spanish skills to the test as you explore the main avenue by the river, soaking in the tropical climate, chatting with locals, and treating your taste buds with mouthwatering street food. For a happy belly, follow the long lines that will take you to delicious ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice), llapingacho (fried, cheesy potato patties), or arroz con menestra y carne asada (rice with lentils and grilled beef). Then end your nights dancing with new friends at the local discotecas!
GoAbroad Insider Tips
For those wanting to volunteer abroad in South America, Guayaquil is your city. It is one of the cheapest destinations in South America. It is common for locals to take advantage of foreigners, however, so volunteers must keep their wits about them and beware of “gringo rates.” Learn how to haggle. Even if the prices seems cheap already, haggling can earn you a good reputation amongst locals.
Guayaquil is also the perfect destination for travel lovers. If you want to balance your volunteer experience with weekend adventures, there is no better place to call home than the gateway to the Galapagos! Take a short flight to heavenly Amazonian rainforests and tropical beaches while spending your volunteer days in a city that is never overcrowded with tourists.
Ecuador is truly a nation of “wows,” and Guayaquil is its heart. Volunteers can explore the colorful streets and riverfront, or dive deep into the rainforest for an adventure of a lifetime, lending a helping hand in the city that is constantly seeking renewal. Most importantly, you will be welcomed into an immersive culture that leaves you with lasting friendships and a forever-opened mind.
Don’t forget to read our comprehensive guide on volunteering abroad in Ecuador!