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Volunteer in Ecuador

Volunteer in Ecuador and discover a country in South America with more biodiversity per square kilometer than any other country in the world...

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Volunteer Opportunities in Ecuador

Are you considering traveling to a place that has awesome nature, great people, and delicious food? Are you also interested in international volunteering? Well, then you’ll want to volunteer in Ecuador. Or, as it is officially called: República del Ecuador! Volunteer in this amazing country and support the community and its precious environment. We’re here to help you find the right volunteer program and prepare you for an unforgettable experience!

Before we continue with the different volunteer opportunities available in Ecuador, let’s get to know this South American gem a little better:

  • Ecuador is named after the equator which runs right through the country.
  • Ecuador is also home to the Amazon Rainforest, the Andes Mountains, active and inactive volcanoes to the Galapagos Islands.
  • It even has one of the greatest volcanoes densities in the world!
  • Situated in the North-west of South America, Ecuador shares borders with Colombia, Peru, and the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Galápagos Islands are also part of Ecuador; and about 1,000 km (621miles) off the coast.

Although Ecuador is one of the smaller South American countries, its beauty and diversity are definitely as impressive as that of its larger neighbors.

Volunteering in Ecuador will be a great experience for you and we want you to be prepared for your trip. This guide will give you an overview of the volunteer projects in Ecuador along with practical tips on traveling abroad.

🇪🇨 ️ Why Volunteer in Ecuador?

Like most countries in South America, Ecuador has great biodiversity and the variation in altitude leads to different climates. This is what allows a great variety of wildlife species to coexist in the country.

If you’re interested in working for environmental conservation projects in Ecuador or want to cooperate with organizations that protect animals, you’ll find plenty of volunteer opportunities in Ecuador. Ecuador even added the rights of nature to its constitution! A great example for other countries to prioritize the protection of biodiversity.

Ecuador's commitment to the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity is demonstrated by its 11 national parks, 10 wildlife refuges, and 9 ecological reserves. Volunteers are always needed to support local efforts.

If you want to support the people of Ecuador, you can volunteer for one of the social projects:

  • Teaching English in Ecuador
  • Working for a child care program
  • Doing a medical mission trip

Let’s take a look at the different categories of volunteer programs in Ecuador.

🦥 How to Volunteer for Wildlife Conservation in Ecuador

Ecuador is home to approximately 1,600 bird species which already accounts for 15% of the world's known bird population. Ecuador also hosts over 300 mammals species: from monkeys in the Amazon to the rare Andean spectacled bear. It’s also home to 38 endemic species in the Galápagos Islands. Moreover, you can find jaguars and great green macaw among other wildlife species in Ecuador!

If you want to volunteer with wildlife in Ecuador, you can witness these animals in their natural habitat and get involved in a project with animals like:

Many animal shelters and rescue stations need volunteers so don’t hesitate to volunteer in Ecuador with animals! Both injured animals and those in the wild need your help. Volunteers who prefer a hands-on experience can volunteer for an animal shelter while those who want to admire Ecuador’s wildlife from a safe distance can join a conservation project.

🐢 How to Volunteer with Sea Turtles in Ecuador

Sea turtles are one of the most endangered marine animals in the world. They’re extremely vulnerable because their eggs are either poached or eaten by predators. To increase their chances of survival, conservation efforts are necessary. As a sea turtle conservation volunteer, you’ll be:

  • Patrolling the beaches of Ecuador for sea turtle eggs
  • Waiting for them to hatch
  • Letting them go so they can return to the sea
  • Taking care of baby sea turtles
  • Raising awareness on the importance of sea turtle conservation among locals and tourists

Volunteers who love the beach but also want to contribute, join a volunteer program in Ecuador with sea turtles. This is a great opportunity to connect with other volunteers that share your passion for marine life conservation!

🌳 How to Volunteer for Environmental Conservation in Ecuador

There are over 25,000 species of plants in Ecuador. There are more plant species in this tiny country than in all of North America.

Plants in Ecuador are unique to their habitat. Ecuador has tropical cloud forests at higher altitudes. They get their name because they create clouds. The weather conditions are ideal for delicate plant species and the dense vegetation throughout the forest gives it a fairy-tale appearance. Volunteer for an environmental conservation project and help protect Ecuador’s unique eco-system.

👩🏽‍🌾 How to Volunteer in the Amazon Rainforest

Ecuador is home to a small part of the Amazon. The Amazon rainforest is the greatest rainforest habitat in the world with unique vegetation ranging from lianas that will make you want to swing like Tarzan to giant waxy leaves. Ecuador's forests are not only worth a visit but are also in urgent need of protection. The 3 most important environmental challenges Ecuador is facing are the following:

  1. deforestation
  2. water pollution
  3. industrial pollution

Volunteering in Ecuador’s rainforest will also bring awareness to locals. As a conservation volunteer in Ecuador you will participate in:

  • Trail work
  • Research activities
  • Sustainable living projects
  • Collecting field data
  • Reforestation work
  • Helping with environmental education efforts
  • Plant conservation
  • Agroforestry
  • Documenting different plants for investigative purposes

🩺 How to Volunteer for a Medical Mission in Ecuador

Ecuador has three climate regions: tropical, Highland (known also as "Sierra"), and the Amazon rainforest. Health problems in Ecuador vary according to its regional conditions. For example, mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever cannot survive at altitudes over 2,300 meters which is why cities in the Sierras (such as Quito or Cuenca) aren’t affected by this disease.

Even though a lot still needs to change, Ecuador offers free medical care to all citizens. An extensive system of hospitals and regional health clinics are available to all residents. Becoming a medical volunteer in Ecuador is a very rewarding project where you’ll be helping the community by supporting their health. Healthcare is less accessible in remote areas. This is where you can make the greatest difference.

Take this opportunity to gain international volunteer and work experience. Not only will you learn a lot about medicine, but you’ll also brush up on your Spanish skills. Medical students considering a gap year in Ecuador can do meaningful work as a medical volunteer and assist with tasks like:

  • Giving injections.
  • Following up on patients’ medical files and medical prescriptions.
  • General checkup of patients’ vitals: (blood pressure, measuring body temperature, check of the weight)
  • Help with cleaning and suturing minor surgeries
  • Support medical brigades and support children and families suffering from malnutrition.
  • Support vaccination campaigns against hepatitis, measles, and chickenpox

Take into consideration that medical volunteers may need to speak an intermediate level of Spanish to be able to interact with the local population.

👩🏽‍🏫 How to Volunteer for Education in Ecuador

The Ecuadorian education system is rather good. The country counts over 100 secondary schools, and grades 7 to 9 are free. Basic education is mandatory for all kids, which is about 9 years. Although the primary school enrolment rate exceeds 95%, around 25% of the children will drop out by the end of the 5th grade.

Volunteer teaching in Ecuador is a great way to support the community because schools are understaffed and children living in remote areas don’t always attend class. As a teaching volunteer in Ecuador, you will increase the future opportunities for these children and improve their quality of life in the long run.

Volunteering as a teacher or mentor to these kids isn’t only rewarding, it will also help you grow as a person. Volunteers working in teaching volunteer programs in Ecuador need to be:

  • open-minded
  • creative
  • flexible
  • prepared to face challenges

👨🏽‍🏫 How to Teach English in Ecuador

Volunteer teaching English in Ecuador and teach the youth a very important skill. English remains a problem in South America. Not everyone speaks it which decreases their job opportunities. Because Ecuador has a strong tourism industry, English skills can be very helpful. Familiarize the youth of Ecuador with English so they have a better future!

As a teaching volunteer in Ecuador, you will play an active part in creating learning environments. Join an education program and support the community by helping them improve their skills. There’s no better way to support a community than by teaching them something they can use for the rest of their lives.

Volunteering in education programs may require an intermediate level of Spanish skills. Some volunteer programs in Ecuador will offer courses to learn or improve your Spanish.

👶🏽 How to Volunteer for Child Care in Ecuador

Become a childcare volunteer in Ecuador and support the local community. Take care of children in daycare centers while parents work. This is an opportunity to give children the attention they deserve and teach them important skills. Help take care of young children and support the local caretakers. These are a few of the tasks you’ll be involved in:

  • Feeding the children
  • Cleaning up
  • Creating fun activities for the children
  • Giving them as much attention as possible

This is an excellent volunteer opportunity for volunteers with experience working with children.

🌎 Where to Volunteer in Ecuador

Volunteer opportunities are spread across Ecuador but you will find that the highest number of programs are centered around the capital city, Quito. You’ll also find volunteer projects in Puyo and the Galapagos Islands. Take this opportunity to travel to this beautiful country and experience its culture and natural beauty.

Volunteer in Quito

Volunteer opportunities in Quito will focus on community development work. Quito is the capital city of Ecuador. Social volunteers will find plenty of volunteer projects where they can contribute to a medical program, teach, join a childcare project, or even work with animals.

Quito is a vibrant city with a rich cultural scene. Planted amid the Andes mountains, it’s also just a stone's throw away from spectacular nature.

Volunteer in the Galapagos Islands

This archipelago is located off the coast of Ecuador and home to the largest tortoise in the world. Turtle lovers will find plenty of volunteer opportunities to protect this island native. Even if turtles aren’t your thing, there are other programs that focus on conservation work on this island group. Get ready for some amazing landscapes and unique wildlife. Volunteers who want to join community projects can also do so on the Galapagos islands!

Puyo

Volunteer in Puyo Ecuador if you’re excited about doing volunteer work in the Amazon rainforest. Help with reforestation efforts or wildlife rescue. A dream come true for nature-loving volunteers. Volunteer in Puyo to get the true rainforest experience!

🤑 How Much Does it Cost to Volunteer in Ecuador?

The suggested daily budget for volunteering abroad in Ecuador is between US$ 17 and US$ 40. This is an estimate made considering the average price of some of the goods and services volunteers may want to buy. It gives you a general overview so you can prepare and save the money you will need to volunteer and travel in Ecuador.

Additional costs you may have when volunteering in Ecuador:

An exemplary overview of living costs for Ecuador (in US $, for one person) is:

💲 Can I volunteer in Ecuador for Free?

Most volunteer programs abroad require a fee to be paid. This fee is mainly used to cover your accommodation. Some charity organizations also rely on these funds to support their cause. Although there are free volunteer programs, this often means you need to take care of your own accommodation.

There aren’t any free volunteer programs in Ecuador but you can search for programs that fit your budget by using the filter option on our program page. Please contact our live chat team if you have any questions about this -- they are very happy to assist you.

💡 Good to Know Before Volunteering in Ecuador

When you travel abroad for voluntary work abroad, it’s important to know a little about the culture. This helps you to settle in quickly and avoid misunderstandings. Here are some tips that you may find helpful while preparing for your volunteer project abroad in Ecuador

Culture & Religion

  • Ecuadorians are hospitable people and they warmly welcome visitors! They respect authority figures and elders, but like most Latin American countries, they are socially and racially segregated.
  • People shake hands when they meet for the first time, but don’t be surprised if they kiss you on the cheek. Men may embrace each other if they are good friends. If you are already acquainted with someone, expect to be kissed on the cheek once.
  • Latin Americans are "touchy" people; expect a great deal of touching, and hugging among friends and family. But be aware, it is considered very impolite to point at someone!
  • Ecuadorians are not punctual so don’t get annoyed by this. If you are invited to dinner or to a party, arrive 30 minutes to 1 hour late. And there is never a party without dancing!

🦺 Is it Safe to Volunteer in Ecuador?

All international travel requires common sense. This also applies to international volunteering. Muggings and pickpocketing are common in most touristy places in Ecuador. Please keep the following tips in mind during your volunteering journey:

  • Only carry the money that you will need for the day in your wallet.
  • Leave the rest in a safe in your hotel/hostel room together with credit/debit cards, air tickets, and your passport.
  • Bring attested photocopies of important documents (in case you lose them).
  • Don't wear expensive jewelry when walking around.
  • Watch where you leave your bags on public transportation (Tip for ladies: don't put your bags on the floor!)

Health Advice

While nobody wants to fall ill while volunteering overseas, there are a few things that will help you stay healthy during your volunteer work in Ecuador:

  • Eat and drink safely: Don't eat undercooked food, avoid eating street food and don't drink water from the tap!
  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating.
  • Plan for how you will get health care during your stay. Get travel insurance and bring your medication with you.
  • If you are going to volunteer with animals, the US-based health protection agency CDC recommends an anti-rabies vaccination.
  • Prevent bug bites: Cover your skin, use an insect repellent and use a bed net.
  • Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccinations before every trip. These vaccines include MMR, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and your yearly flu shot.

🕵🏽‍♀️ Who Can Volunteer in Ecuador?

You may notice that each volunteer program in Ecuador requires different skills of their international volunteers. You can find the specific requirements for each project on their profile page. Here are some general requirements that apply to most volunteer opportunities in Ecuador:

  • Volunteers need to be at least 18 years old for most volunteer work in Ecuador. When in doubt, we advise you to get in touch with the local project manager. Some projects will accept volunteers that are younger.
  • You should have an intermediate level of English knowledge; some teaching projects may even require advanced English skills.
  • Spanish skills can really come in handy for certain projects.
  • Depending on the project you're interested in, you might need to provide a criminal background check and a health declaration before volunteering.

🛂 Do I Need a Visa to Volunteer in Ecuador?

Please take into account that the following information is based on a best practice approach and made in cooperation with several volunteer organizations. That’s why you should discuss your visa requirements with your contact person at Volunteer World. If in doubt, we also recommend you to get in touch with the Ecuadorian embassy or consulate in your country.

General Entry Information

There are some general requirements you need to fulfill upon arrival in Ecuador:

  • Your passport should be valid for at least another 6-months rom the date of arrival in Ecuador.
  • Make sure your passport has at least two blank visa pages. Ecuador requires an adequate number of unused pages in your passport, allowing for any necessary stamps upon arrival and departure.
  • Please check if a transit visa is required for any connections.
  • Make sure to be in possession of a valid return ticket.

Best Practice for Short-Term Volunteers

If you are a resident in Canada, the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, or the European Union, you can work as a volunteer on a tourist visa for up to 90 days. This tourist visa can be obtained at the airport of arrival. To receive the stamp, you can state tourism as your reason for traveling, and immigration will stamp your passport.

Best Practice for Long-Term volunteers

If you are planning to volunteer in Ecuador for over 90 days, you have to apply for a volunteer visa. Make sure to apply for this visa at your closest Ecuadorian Embassy or Consulate, before traveling to Ecuador.

To start your application process, you will need supporting documents from your volunteer organization. The checklist of required documents can be found on the Consular Service of the Government of Ecuador . If you visit the Ecuadorian Embassy or Consulate, they will provide you with all further information.

Please keep in mind that the application process requires a lot of paperwork and can take a long time. That’s why we advise you to start early.

Volunteering for a program in Ecuador is a great opportunity to explore this versatile country. The volunteer projects are as diverse as its landscapes and wildlife which makes Ecuador an enticing volunteer destination. If you’re finding it difficult to choose between the many options, our live chat team is at your service to help you find the right volunteer program.