Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America yet it has an enormous biodiversity. Many people believe it is one of the easiest and most pleasant countries to travel in. The Andes form the backbone of the country whose borders are Colombia to the north, Peru on the south and east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The country has a fabulous coast line but also has tropical jungle, snow capped mountains and volcanoes; quite a feast for volunteers keen on outdoor opportunities!
The essence of our projects is that they are community based. You will live and work with local people. The ability to contribute something to a relatively poor community is very satisfying. However, as with all MondoChallenge projects, you will feel that you gain far more yourself, just by appreciating the simplicity of the life and values of the people.
Our projects are at an early stage and there is therefore plenty of scope for individual initiatives. You will be briefed before you leave and will be met by our Project Manager on arrival in either Quito or Guayaquil. You will live in family accommodation. The mornings tend to be spent teaching at the schools after which, there are a variety of other development opportunities to involve yourself in such as eco-tourism, conservation, horticulture and wildlife.
Specific programmes currently being developed are:
El Pital Village School: 30 minutes by road inland from Puerto Lopez in jungle terrain. Apart from the school, local tourist guides need English tuition and physical help is welcome at an organic farm.
Machalilla: A primary school near the coast. This is a small fishing town, 20 minutes north of Puerto Lopez. The National Park (similar biodiversity to the Galapagos) needs help in many eco-projects.
Vilcabamba: Located in the south, this is known as the ‘valley of longevity’ due to its healthy location and climate! Two different schools plus adult teaching will be the main activity.
As little English is spoken at the schools, this is a great chance to learn Spanish! However, a basic knowledge is a must. There are opportunities to take courses in Quito and other main centres.