Our South American Gap Year volunteer programme offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to work and make a difference in some of the most striking and unforgettable locations on the planet.
Nowhere else in South America can you do and see so much in such a short amount of time.
Every South America gap year programme includes time in the Andes as well as the chance to learn (or brush up on your) Spanish. If you stay with us for longer than a month, you will also get the chance to work on the stunning Pacific coast and visit the Amazon.
Our main camp is based in tropical cloud forest and all our locations offer you the perfect mix of community, wildlife, environment, culture and adventure, all within a day’s drive of the capital. There are unlimited optional activities for the adventurous, from trekking through volcanic foothills, exploring the Amazon by canoe to surfing the waves, or scuba diving.
- Work on a wide range of important projects and initiatives to improve the standard of living for rural indigenous communities in the Andean highlands
- Learn to speak Spanish or build on your existing knowledge
- Participate in vital conservation initiatives to protect Andean and Amazonian wildlife and the environment, including spectacled bear conservation
- Work alongside a coastal community to improve facilities and help us develop a ground-breaking marine conservation initiative (2-3 month programmes only)
- Regular weekend excursions
- Opportunities to scuba dive, mountain trek or explore the Amazon.
Ecuador is Latin America’s best-kept secret. It may be the continent’s second smallest country but its offerings are astounding. Nowhere on Earth can you experience so much natural diversity – and all the excitement that comes with it – in such a small place. Ecuador offers its visitors startling contrasts of scenery, from misty tropical cloud forests and windswept highlands to snow-capped volcanoes and palm-fringed beaches. This microcosm of Latin America really is guaranteed to have something for everyone!
The country is divided into 4 main regions: Andes (Sierra), Amazon (Oriente), Pacific coast (Costa) and Galapagos Islands:
- Andes: The majestic Andes mountain range runs the length of the country and comprises grassy highlands (paramo), misty cloud forests home to spectacled bears, turquoise lagoons nestled in volcanic craters, thermal baths and brightly coloured mountain villages with their markets selling hand-woven clothing and hammocks. The capital, Quito is the second highest capital city in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a maze of steep cobbled streets complete with cobbled plazas and lavishly decorated cathedrals.
- Amazon: The Ecuadorian Amazon basin is without doubt one of nature’s greatest achievements and makes Ecuador the most mega diverse country, with more plant and animal species per square km than anywhere else in the world! Home to indigenous tribes, jaguars, monkeys, exotic birds, neon-coloured butterflies and other strange insects, the Amazon offers unlimited opportunities for unforgettable adventure and exploration.
- Coast: The warm and sunny Pacific coast of Ecuador is a little slice of paradise, offering miles of empty palm fringed beaches, small islands to explore by boat, amazing diving, snorkelling and surfing opportunities and warm tropical waters filled with brightly coloured fish, rays, seahorses, turtles, sea lions and even humpback whales (June-September). The lively people frequenting the thatch roof bars and restaurants here all contribute to its famous nightlife.
- Galapagos: The Galapagos Islands are arguably the world’s most prestigious wildlife destination whose extraordinary wildlife played a pivotal role in shaping Charles Darwin’s theories on evolution.
Ecuador is a multi-cultural wonder, with 17 distinct indigenous groups and 27 ethnic groups, many of which preserve their languages, traditions and dress to a remarkable degree. The people of Ecuador are descendants of the Inca Empire and later Spanish conquests. The Indian descendants, known as Quichuas, inhabit the highlands in Central Ecuador and the jungles of Eastern and Southern part of the country. The European descendants, or ‘mestizo’ (mixed Amerindian and white) populate most of the larger northern cities. Spanish is the official language and Amerindian languages are also spoken, especially Quechua.
- Meals, drinking water and accommodation
- Airport transfers to/from Quito International Airport (within set times)
- Orientation of local area
- Spanish lessons
- Community, wildlife and environmental project work
- Cultural visit
- Regular trips to the local towns
- Wide range of additional optional activities
- Fully staffed camps and local guides
- Scheduled project transfers
- Project costs and coordination
- Emergency management plan and 24-hour emergency support
- Flights including internal flights
- Some in-country transfers
- Travel insurance
- Arrival and departure fees (if applicable)
- Visa (free)
- Personal equipment, spending money, tips or gratuities
- Personal laundry
- Extra activities