The Galápagos Islands & The Andes

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

  • Language

  • Outdoor Activity

  • Sustainability

  • Wildlife


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, where you can stand on the spot where the Northern and Southern Hemispheres meet. Experience the diverse wildlife of the Mindo Nambillo cloud forest, then 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.

Continue on to the Amazon Basin to see the stunning waterfalls of Baños and get up close and personal with monkeys and exotic birds. Then, you’ll travel through the Galápagos Islands, the famous site of Charles Darwin’s research, where scientists and nature lovers flock to research and admire some of the most biodiverse islands in the world. You will have the incredible opportunity to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, a biological research facility 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, visiting turtle hatching sites, exploring mangrove forests and flamingo lagoons, and observing the courtship displays of rare tropical birds.

Throughout your Experiment, you’ll develop your Spanish language skills through interactive lessons with local teachers and conversations with locals and try your hand at preparing a typical Ecuadorian dish (such as ceviche or empanadas). You will participate in a community service project to support environmental efforts or the local community. 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.


The Experiment’s programs are designed to build skills that will help you succeed. In Ecuador, you will learn: 


  • Spanish language
  • Community service certificate  


  • Resourcefulness
  • Intercultural communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Adaptability
  • Relationship-building  


  • This is a very active program involving outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. Water activities include boating, snorkeling, and lots of boat rides. The program moves throughout the country including 2- to 4-hour bus trips and a flight to Galápagos. Be prepared to carry your luggage up and down stairs and to lift it into overhead storage compartments.
  • Ecuador has four distinct geographical and climatic zones: the coastal plain with a tropical climate; the Andean highlands at about 8,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level; the eastern jungle in the upper reaches of the Amazon; and the Galápagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast. Rainfall varies from constant rain to severe drought; weather is very unpredictable.
  • Dairy/egg products are a staple so following a vegan or kosher diet may be challenging. Vegetarians should be aware that ”vegetarian” may mean the avoidance of red meat; fish or chicken may still be served.
  • Access to the internet is limited and internet speeds and connectivity vary.
  • The diverse personal and social identities of participants may, in part, shape their experience abroad. In-country partners will discuss cultural norms and the local context during orientation. Please read our approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for further information. All students will have a safe space within the program spaces and with the local staff and group leaders.
  • The Experiment program structure is rooted in experiential learning and cohort-based learning. The participant group experience is a major source of learning for Experimenters and is facilitated by trained Experiment group leaders.


Program Availability

Filling Fast

Program Date

Jul 3 - Jul 31


Spanish (at least one year)

Program Fee*


(does not include airfare)
Group Airfare Cost


Departure City

Miami, FL

*Program fees may increase by
$500 -$1000 to account for changes
to lodging accommodations.

  • Certificate of completion
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • All program activities
  • In-country transportation
  • Health insurance
  • Experienced group leaders

Families or partner organizations are also responsible for arranging and paying for participants' domestic travel to the international departure/return airport in the U.S., whether flying, driving or by other means. By its nature, domestic airfare varies by airline, timing, destination, and availability.

The environment and ecosystems in Ecuador are so incredibly unique and unlike anything I have ever experienced before and it was all amplified tenfold by the amazing job The Experiment did!

Sample Itinerary

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 below.

View Itinerary Details

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 3–6

Thematic Focus in Mindo Cloud Forest

  • Go rafting on the river.
  • Learn the process of chocolate making.
  • Visit a butterfly farm to learn about the butterfly life cycle and observe different butterfly species.
  • Observe flora and fauna within this ecosystem.

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

Days 7-14

Homestay in Riobamba

  • Become fully immersed in the daily life of an Ecuadorian family and community.
  • Do activities with your host family.
  • Engage in the community and participate in service volunteer work, such as mural painting and neighborhood clean-up. 
  • Take dancing and cooking lessons.
  • Visit a local market.
  • Visit the Chimborazo mountain, the closest point to the sun.
  • Go biking and hiking.

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

Days 15-16

Thematic Focus in the Baños

  • Visit the waterfall.
  • Explore volcanic hot springs.

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

Days 17-19

Thematic Focus in the Amazon Jungle

  • Travel to Tena Puerto Ahuano and stay at Gaia Eco Lodge.
  • Take a motorized canoe into the rainforest along the Napo River.
  • Explore the area around the Napo River, observe monkeys and exotic birds.
  • Go artisan fishing or search for gold in the river.
  • Meet with an indigenous family and learn about the Ecuadorian Amazon from them.
  • Visit the animal rescue center “Amazoonico”

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

Days 20-25

Thematic Focus in the Galápagos

  • Go hiking, snorkeling, and swimming.
  • Go on nature walks and learn about the fragile ecology of the Galápagos.
  • 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 at a hotel and travel frequently by boat.

Days 26-28

Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Quito

  • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program.
  • Visit the Quito historical center.
  • Explore a handicraft market.

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

Day 29


Past Group Leader

The Experiment’s group leaders go through a rigorous selection process and have extensive experience with youth education, local expertise in the country or region of their program, language abilities, knowledge in their program theme, travel logistics and management know-how, and experience with health, safety and risk management.

Vanessa Wyns

Vanessa Wyns is a returning leader who has twice led the Spanish Language and Culture program in 2022 and 2019. She studied abroad in Peru in high school and later spent a semester in Madrid while earning her dual B.A. in Spanish Language and Studio Art from Baylor’s University Scholars Program. After graduating, she spent two years teaching art and science at a bilingual primary school in Granada and later returned to Spain to be an instructor at a youth eco-camp in the northern Basque Country. Now an Education Director for an urban forestry nonprofit, Vanessa has spent the past decade trying to increase equitable access to, knowledge about, and respect for the world’s environmental gifts and cultural diversity. Her deep interest in how people relate to the environment led her to obtain an M.S. in Ethnobotany, an interdisciplinary study rooted in anthropology that focuses on the traditional knowledge of regional plants and their uses. Traveling is one of Vanessa’s great joys, and she’s had the great fortune to visit, work, or study in over 40 countries.

Program experts

The Experiment's programs are led by accomplished and experienced faculty and staff who typically live in the country of study. Program leaders are responsible for instructional content, classroom and field experiences, and daily program operations.

Edison Baldeón

Edison Baldeón (Edy) is a national tourism guide and part of the Biking Spirit company specializing in hiking and cycling tours. Edy loves the outdoors; cycling has been part of lifestyle since 1996.

For 16 years he has been a mentor for the highest cross-country mountain bike race in Ecuador, the 42-kilometer Chimborazo Extremo, in which competitors finish at 4,850 meters above sea level (15,900 feet).

Edy is based on Riobamba, close to Chimborazo, the highest snowy mountain in Ecuador, which he calls his second home.

Edy is in charge of hiking and mountain biking during the Chimborazo excursion.