WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
You will spend your first two weeks volunteering at a community project of your choice. Your work programme and schedule will vary depending on the time of your visit and any personal interests or experience, but with a little flexibility and enthusiasm you are sure to have a wonderful experience in the wonderful city of Quito. All volunteers are encouraged to leave their own personal mark on the project work, and the range of activities available to you includes:
Experience the heartbeat of the future generation of Quito, as you bring your own teaching style to the classroom. Make a difference to the lives of the children who will hang on your every word, and make friends for life with the teachers and students alike.
With patience and creativity you will begin to develop bonds with the young children at this wonderful day care centre. Limited only by your imagination, your time with the kids could be spent giving general care and affection or you may be involved in activities like drawing and colouring arts and crafts, teaching, games and sports, reading, teaching basic English and singing and dancing.
Amazon Jungle Adventure
Following your two week volunteer placement, you will then head south on an internal flight from Quito to Lago Agrio (cost not included) with your fellow participants towards the Amazon rainforest for you 5 day jungle expedition.
Your adventure will begin with a 2 hour bus/truck ride to a remote Amazonian village where you will continue your journey onwards by canoe, paddling down the Aguarico River while taking in your impressive surroundings for the first time. Continuing down the Cuyabeno River, approximately 2 ½ hours later you’ll arrive at base camp, which will become your home for the next few days.
You will have time to freshen up before meeting your fellow explorers and the knowledgeable guides who will be showing you around for the next week – this is a great opportunity to talk about your ambitions for the week and get to know the rest of your group!
After dinner you’ll receive a lecture from the guides explaining about the nature reserve, identify species you should look out for and safety procedures. This is bound to get you excited for your trek the following day!
You will rise early for a morning canoe excursion – the brisk morning hours are the best time to see the rainforest’s thriving activity! After returning back to base camp for a hearty breakfast, you will begin your trek into the rainforest, accompanied by guides native to the area. Their experience of the rainforest and its species is extensive, so they will be able to answer all of your questions knowledgably.
Following lunch, you will paddle in a traditional dug-out canoe down the river where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the jungle, from out-of-this-world insects to the fearsome cries of Howler monkeys, rainbow-coloured birds, caimans, peccaries and even jaguars. You will also have the opportunity to fish for piranha from your canoes!
After dinner you will experience the atmosphere of the forest at night, keeping on the lookout for scampering insects, fluorescent frogs and even snakes as you tread carefully through the undergrowth.
Another early morning start will see you enjoying the sounds of the jungle for a spot of bird watching, where you will admire macaws, toucans, parrots and other indigenous species. After a filling breakfast you will again trek into the forest with your guides, this time learning about the practical and medicinal uses of the plants. You will stop for lunch on the way, before manning your canoes again and navigating along the Cuyabeno River appreciating your surroundings. If your energy levels remain high even after the day’s fun, then you may also have the opportunity to go on another night walk to see if you can spot any more species lurking in the dark.
Starting early in the morning you will spend the whole day exploring. You will navigate downstream to observe the enchanting salt lick (an exposed clay bank) where colourful parrots and parakeets feed to draw toxins out of their bodies. You will return to base camp for breakfast, after which you will trek into the pristine rainforest where the guides will continue their teaching on the medicinal and practical uses of forest flora and fauna – knowledge passed down from their ancestors through generations.
In the afternoon you will visit a 30m observation tower where, above the canopy, you will see a breathtaking view of the surrounding rainforest – see how many different species you can spot, keeping your eyes open for toucans, parrots and monkeys native to the rainforest.
You will then take to the water as you try to spot freshwater pink river dolphins in their spectacular natural scenery. After dinner you will venture out on a night excursion in search of caiman and nocturnal birds.
On your final day you will visit the local native Indian community where you will learn about the culture and traditions of their people. You will be welcomed by a local family who will share a part of their lives with you – this experience will undoubtedly be very rewarding for both parties, so it’s worth making the most of the indigenous people’s generosity by asking all you can.
You will then travel by canoe for a final time back down the Cuyabeno and Aguarico Rivers to your original drop off point, where you will take the bus back to Lago Agrio and either continue your travels or make your way back home.