Ecuador: The Galápagos Islands & the Andes

Sustainability and the Environment

Explore Ecuador’s natural wonders, from the Andes mountains to the Amazon basin and the Galápagos archipelago. See seals in their natural habitat and snorkel, hike a volcano, and take in the vast biodiversity.

DEPARTURE

July 3, 2018

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PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

Sustainability

Language

Community Service

Wildlife

Water Activity

Outdoor Activity

Homestay

Program Description

You will land in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, to begin your Experiment. There, you will explore the 16th-century gold-inlaid churches and colonial buildings of the Old Town. Your first excursion is to the equator, which is about a 30-minute drive north of Quito. You will also visit the rivers and experience the diverse wildlife of the Mindo Nambillo cloud forest. Then, continue to the Amazon Basin, where you will experience the stunning waterfalls of Baños and get up-close and personal with monkeys and exotic birds as you canoe down the Napo River. Next, you will travel to the Andes (the world’s highest mountain range outside of Asia) for a weeklong homestay in the small city of Riobamba, where you will share daily activities such as sports, movies, and walks through town with your host family. You will develop your Spanish language skills through interactive lessons and conversations with locals, try your hand at preparing a typical dish (such as ceviche or empana­das), and par­ticipate in a three-day community service project. Another adventure awaits as you hike from the first base camp to the second shelter of Chimborazo, an inactive volcano that rises 20,548 feet above sea level, and bike back down through a beautiful Andean landscape.

Your journey ends in the Galápagos Islands, where scientists and nature lovers flock to research and admire some of the most biodiverse islands in the world. You will have the unique opportunity to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, a biological research station and active breeding center. There, you will learn about the conservation efforts that maintain and improve the ecology and biodiversity of these remarkable islands. Activities include island-hopping on a night cruise, snorkeling, swimming in lava grottoes, exploring mangrove forests and flamingo lagoons, and observing the courtship displays of rare tropical birds.

At the conclusion of this program, each participant will earn a community service certificate noting the number of hours of community service completed.

 

 

 

PROGRAM AT A GLANCE

Prerequisite:

Spanish (at least one year)

Dates:

July 3, 2018 - July 31, 2018 (4 weeks)

Program Fee:

$6,590.00

Group Airfare Cost:

TBD

Depart/Return City:

Miami

Orientation:

Quito, 2 days

Homestay:

Riobamba, 8–9 days

Other Accommodations:

Hostels or hotels

Sample Itinerary

  •  
    Days 1–2

    Orientation in Quito

    • Learn about the history and culture of Ecuador
    • Get to know other members of your group during activities and discussions
    • Take interactive Spanish lessons and practice your Spanish language skills

    During the orientation period, you and your group will stay at a mission.

  •  
    Days 3–5

    Thematic Focus in Mindo Cloud Forest

    • Go tubing on the river
    • See waterfalls
    • Visit a butterfly farm
    • Observe flora and fauna within this ecosystem

    During this period, you and your group will stay in an environmental educational facility.

  •  
    Day 6

    Thematic Focus in Quito

    • Hike through one of Quito’s main forests, the metropolitan park Güangüiltagua
  •  
    Days 7–10

    Thematic Focus in the Amazon Jungle (4-day excursion)

    • Visit the Yarina Ecological Reserve
    • Travel by motorized canoe into the rainforest along the Napo River
    • Explore the area around the Napo River, observe monkeys and exotic birds, and go fishing for piranha
    • Meet with an indigenous family and learn about the Ecuadorian Amazon from them

    During this excursion, you and your group will stay in a lodge.

  •  
    Days 11–12

    Thematic Focus in the Baños

    • Visit the waterfalls
    • Go trekking on horseback

    During this period, you and your group will stay in a hostel.

  •  
    Days 13–20

    Homestay

    • Become fully immersed in the daily life of an Ecuadorian family and community
    • Do activities with your host family
    • Participate in community service work
    • Take dancing and cooking lessons
    • Go on excursions to hot springs, a primary forest, and a crater lake
    • Visit nearby villages and learn about activities — such as carpentry, alpaca farming, and pottery making — of the people in those communities

    During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample host communities: Riobamba, Cotacachi, Salcedo

  •  
    Days 21–22

    Thematic Focus in Quito

    • Ride Quito’s cable car
    • Hike Pinchincha Mountain
    • Visit Quito’s Old Town

    During this excursion, you and your group will stay at a mission.

  •  
    Days 23–27

    Thematic Focus in the Galápagos (4-day excursion)

    • Go hiking, snorkeling, and swimming
    • Go on nature walks and participate in discussions with an Ecuadorian naturalist about the fragile ecology of the Galápagos
    • Enjoy panoramic views of the Darwin and Wolf volcanoes
    • Visit the Darwin Station, which is part of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galápagos Islands

    During this excursion, you and your group will stay on a boat.

  •  
    Day 28

    Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Quito

    • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program

    During the reflection period, you and your group will stay at a mission.

  •  
    Day 29

    Departure

    Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

Past Group Leaders

  • Amelia Williams

    Amelia Williams is originally from Olympia, Washington, where her love for the outdoors and sense of adventure was instilled at an early age on family backpacking trips to the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. She graduated from Willamette University in 2002, where she earned a BA in anthropology and a minor in Spanish and spent a semester studying in southern Chile. Since college, Amelia has had the privilege of working, living, and traveling in twelve countries on five continents. Some of her favorite experiences were while working in Costa Rica for the School for Field Studies, where some weeks you might find her working with students doing research on wild palm trees, and other weeks organizing for students’ homestay experiences. Amelia has an MA in teaching from SIT Graduate Institute and currently teaches third grade at a two-way immersion school in the greater Portland, Oregon, area. Her students are constantly teaching her how to look at the world in new ways. When not teaching, Amelia enjoys playing soccer, gardening, laughing, and cooking with family and friends.

  • Melissa Skidelsky

    Melissa Skidelsky was raised in New Rochelle, New York, and attended the State University of New York at New Paltz. She spent her junior year abroad in New Zealand and has been traveling ever since. After graduation, she joined the Peace Corps and served as a rural health volunteer in Belize. Over the last few years, she has taught English at a bilingual school in the Galápagos, studied agriculture in Argentina, and worked at an English language academy in South Korea. In addition, she has traveled to Mexico, Uruguay, Israel, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. When she isn’t traveling, Melissa enjoys painting, hiking, bike riding, and experimenting with new recipes she has learned abroad.

Student Voices

  • The bus ride to Riobamba was tough for the group; none of us wanted to be separated from each other. We were all anxious and super nervous about having to stay with a family of strangers, after having gotten so comfortable with the members of the group.  We reluctantly dispersed into our families. If I had only known what I was in for, I would not have been so reluctant to join my new mom and brother. My family was awesome, plain and simple! My own mother died when I was one years old, and maternal love was something in a way I grew without. My host mom was so cariñosa, so loving, so caring, so motherly. In every way she was the mother I never had. She took me in with open arms and treated me as if I was her actual son. I will never forget when my group leader, Shelley (who was an awesome leader by the way) came over just to check on how everything was going with me and my new family. We sat down in the living room with the pristine couches only sat on when guests came over. My group leader asked a couple questions, and the next thing you knew my mom was pontificating for three hours on motherhood! She cried, she laughed — the speech brought it all. It was a jaw dropping speech that left me to conclude that my mom should write a book on what it’s like being Supermom.

    --Daniel Vazquez, Seton Hall Preparatory School
  • My experience this summer went above and beyond my expectations. I will always remember and cherish the bonds formed with my group members, the time I spent playing with my host sisters.… I value nothing more than these connections; connections that cross cultural barriers, linguistic challenges, connections that I hope will stay strong. I’ve learned how to approach a situation with an open mind, soaking up all that an experience has to offer. Without preconceived expectations, you can learn so much more.

    --Katherine Grasso, Brattleboro Union High School

Pre-departure Documents

Summer 2018

Congratulations on your upcoming Experiment summer on the Ecuador: The Galápagos Islands & The Andes program. Visit our pre-departure page for information about our expectations, communications, and travel planning. In early 2018, our summer international information will be published in a secure page, found in the Parent Portal.

In early spring 2018, the following program-specific documents will be linked to this page:

  • Participant Handbook
  • Parent Handbook
  • Health Guidelines
  • Personal Funds Abroad
  • Packing List

Many questions can be answered by reviewing these materials, but please do not hesitate to contact us if further information is required. To submit or update your domestic travel and emergency contact information, please login in to the Parent Portal.

Important Passport and Medical Information

If you do not yet have a passport, or if you have not applied for one, you should do so immediately.

If you have not had a physical with your doctor since June 2017, make an appointment as quickly as possible, as your health form must be filled out based on a current physical.

Please bookmark this web page for easy use in the future.