Ecuador

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.

  • Community Service

  • Language

  • Sustainability

  • Wildlife

WHY STUDY SUSTAINABILITY IN ECUADOR?

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 by boat and sleep aboard as you make your way 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.

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

LEARN BY DOING

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

TECHNICAL SKILLS

  • Spanish language
  • Community service certificate  

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

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

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • This is a very active program involving outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. Water activities include boating, snorkeling, and a boat stay. 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.

AT A GLANCE

Program Availability

Filling

Program Date

Jul 2 - Jul 30

Prerequisite

Spanish (at least one year)

Program Fee

TBD

Group Airfare Cost

TBD

WHAT'S INCLUDED
  • Certificate of completion
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • All program activities
  • In-country transportation
  • Health insurance
  • Experienced group leaders
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 3–4

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 an environmental educational facility.

Days 5-11

Homestay in Riobamba

  • 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.
  • 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 12-13

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 14-16

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 17-20

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 on a boat.

Days 21-22

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 22

Departure

Experienced Group Leaders

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.

LEADER HIGHLIGHT

Natalia Figueredo

Hometown: La Paz, Bolivia
Education: Barnard College of Columbia University
Experience in: Ecuador

View Full Bio

Natalia Figueredo was born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia, moved to the United States when she was 9 years old and began her journey towards becoming the first one in her family to pursue higher education. She grew up in a small neighborhood in Queens, New York, and with the support of her parents and mentors, she was able to attend Barnard College of Columbia University. While pursuing a degree in environmental science, Natalia participated in the SIT Study Abroad International Honors Program. She traveled to Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia and researched the impact of climate change and the politics behind it. She has conducted scientific research on the effect of climate change on minority communities and different ecosystems in Costa Rica, various places within the United States, and Bolivia. She has also done extensive work with youth in order to increase the knowledge on the human impact on the environment, and increase awareness of the importance of diversity. She is currently pursuing graduate school and will continue to educate herself and others on how to create a better environment and communities.

Program experts

Experiment 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.

Carola Flor

Carola Flor is the international programs director at EIL Ecuador. She has been involved in exchange activity for almost 30 years, leading groups from different countries, ages, and programs.

She has studied Andean medicine and Cosmovision, climate change, and feminism theories.

Carola serves on the Standards Certification Committee of the Federation EIL, Inc., and was part of the team who works on accreditation for this program.

She loves spending time with and learning from young people.