Wildlife conservation and community volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Volunteer in Ecuador to Conserve Cloud Forests

1-12 Weeks from

16+ for individuals - families no
minimum age

  • Volunteer in Ecuador to conserve cloud forests
  • Learn about sustainable food production, building and farming techniques
  • Gain hands-on forest conservation experience and help to preserve this important ecosystem
  • Opportunities for long term research internships with capuchin monkeys and large mammals
  • Exceptional family volunteering opportunities available

"Our only regret was that our schedule didn't allow for a longer stay."

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Our experience at the Cloud Forest Reserve was an overwhelmingly positive one. Our only regret was that our schedule didn’t allow for a longer stay.

The accommodation was a stunning house with basic facilities that were perfectly adequate. The site of humming birds and monkeys on our balcony in the morning was an absolute privilege.

The volunteers and staff were all very friendly. Of particular note was one of the German volunteers – Emilie – who took us under her wing and showed us the cat project she was running (yes, plenty of puma and oscellot nocturnal activity caught on camera) and helped us generally settle in. We enjoyed mucking in (and out) with the livestock. I miss my goats!

Our lack of Spanish was exposed but another big shout out to Charlie, who works full time there, for his patience and guidance in showing us the work and taking us on our little treks around the reserve and demonstrating his great knowledge. I loved the physical work but my, it was hard work. Working in the humidity was a real challenge. Wrestling sheep to trim their hooves isn’t easy either, nor is swinging a machete for more than 2 minutes when cutting their fodder. Digging fencepost holes blistered my ‘Fairy Liquid hands’ badly, but the pottery fragments I pulled out from a hole made me dream of an Inca find! It is all looked back upon as an amazing time.

The Ecuadorian cooking staff and gardener were all lovely and their children adorable. The flora and fauna we saw was breathtaking. The large group of peccary we stumbled upon while taking an afternoon stroll will take some beating, but it was matched by seeing parrots, toucans, humming birds, monkeys and agouti.

We would love to return one day.
Thank you for for providing the opportunity.

"The forest is the most precious place and I am so very grateful that I was able to spend some time in it and relax in it to."

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I would like to say a big thank you for facilitating my stay at the cloud forest project last month. It meant so much to me to be able to go out to Ecuador and experience the farm and the forest in Pichincha. It was a dream come true for me to look for hummingbirds in the forest in my free time.

Now that I have returned, I am carrying some of the things l learned during my time at the reserve and I have noticed I am doing things slightly differently!

After doing the bamboo fencing with Charlie for example, I staked a tree branch in my own little patch of land behind my house using the same technique as one of the staff, Charlie taught me one day, digging a hole and compressing the soil around. I thought that all the staff were incredibly resourceful when using materials, for example a simple thing as straightening a nail to reuse was a lesson.

I greatly appreciated the zoom call with the host before departing. The organisation of the trip with the packing list, the work schedule from day one and leisure time was superb.

It was also a highlight to meet the American family who were volunteering during my second week, the boys enthusiasm for experimental cooking at the weekend was funny and pleasurable! It reminded me of the importance to connect with like minded people.

The forest is the most precious place and I am so very grateful that I was able to spend some time in it and relax in it to. As soon as I arrived, I felt like I had stepped into a place that belonged to nature and the animals and that I was their guest.

As I told Juan Pablo, I knew I wanted to visit when I saw the interview with Juan Pablo where he said something along the lines of ‘everybody is talking about planting trees’ but ‘we need the land / space to plant them’. So very true. (He elaborated on that and said also that it is important to conserve the ancient forests too).

I hope to come back again on another volunteering project with Working Abroad in 2024.”

"The kids really loved the activities and they could choose what they wanted to do"

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We had an incredible time at Working Abroad projects in Quito.

Our hosts were amazing, so nice, so smart and they really tailored the experience to us for what we wanted.

The food was incredible! Home cooking every day and it was so good.

The kids really loved the activities and they could choose what they wanted to do – put cameras for animals, build fences, learn about wildlife, harvest cocoa and coffee and banana leaves.

The staff was so nice – especially loved Charlie who organized a soccer game for the kids with people from the community and went on hikes with us.

The only opportunity for improvement would be the water as we had cold showers most of the time we were there.

Would highly recommend this opportunity to anyone interested.

"What a unique and wonderful experience"

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Muchas gracias! We had such a wonderful time with all of you a the reserve. What a unique and wonderful experience. We are very grateful to you, Juan Pablo, Alejandro, Charlie, Elsa, Nancy and Erika (que linda!) for sharing your beautiful reserve with us.

We look forward to staying in touch… y que todos sigamos protegiendo nuestro precioso clima, juntos!

Debi, Shaughn, Ellie & Gabriel

"There is definitely a piece of Ecuador in my heart now"

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Thank you to you and Juan Paolo, for allowing me to spend time at your wonderful reserve. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Cloud Forest project and Ecuador and hope that in small way, I made a positive contribution to the future of the reserve.

I loved working and spending time with your team, Charlie, Nancy and Elsa, they were so kind, hospitable and patient, please pass on my thanks to them.

My outlook on life had been changed and a result of my experiences at the Cloud Forest project. I have a changed approach to life, simplifying my life and stepping off the consumerist hamster wheel. I will be converting my garden to grow more veg and looking at other more sustainable ways of living.

There is definitely a piece of Ecuador in my heart now. I will be back to spend time in the Galápagos and maybe some other parts of South America.I wish you success and happiness at the Cloud Forest project in the future.

"I spent an incredible month at the Cloud Forest project!"

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I spent an incredible month at the Cloud Forest project! I volunteered there at the beginning of the year just for a holiday and it was a perfect getaway from city life. The place was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been with the lush cloud forest nature. The tasks we did varied from taking care of the animals to trail maintenance and brewing coffee. A lot of different and fun things! The people in the reserve are very friendly and I made new friends with other volunteers. Thank you so much for this experience!

"I cannot recommend the Cloud Forest project more highly to volunteers"

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I will always look back on my stay at the nature reserve with warmth, satisfaction and a smile on my face. It’s clear to me that the friendly, wonderful family (who own the reserve and live on site) are highly ecologically and socially minded, and have been entrepreneurial over many generations to nurture this very special place.

I was truly amazed to have accomplished so many things in such a short space of time! In only two weeks I felt I made a measurable difference: I planted 18 endangered trees, built a vegetable patch, made chocolate and coffee from the beans gathered at the ranch, fed and watered animals (goats, sheep, and a lovable lama), collected seeds from the cloud forest to assist the reforestation effort, made musical instruments from the forest, learnt how to use a machete to create paths and weed plantations, assisted in scientific data collection, and was welcomed warmly to participate in the family/staff Christmas party. I also took care of a tiny lamb who needed supplementary nurturing and feeding, which was a truly beautiful experience.

Alexandra was interested in what I wanted to gain from my stay and provided regular engaging educational presentations to help us to appreciate and understand more about our placement and the importance of the local ecology.

Whilst speaking mostly Spanish, the staff were all warm and full of laughter and made efforts to joke and communicate even though we may not share a verbal language. Elsa and Monica provided a varied and delicious menu for us and went out of their way to provide some special extras and comforts like a birthday cake and campfire chocolate bread that we cooked using bamboo sticks.

As a female traveling on my own, it is important to feel safe and I can reassure any women travellers that they can be confident travelling in Ecuador (with usual precautions), and especially at this project where there is much tranquility and volunteers are made to feel part of the extended family.

The working schedule worked really well for me, and provided just the right balance between work and leisure time, which also enabled me to see some of the terrific places nearby over the weekends. I found the place not only inspiring but can also see how for many the peace, being surrounded by such an abundance of biodiversity and gentle contribution would also be therapeutic and highly restful.

I cannot recommend the Cloud Forest project more highly to volunteers, individuals or groups of any age. I only wish I could stay longer, and whilst I got a lot from two weeks, I would personally recommend a month or more to get the best from the experience.

"The diversity of life in the hills at the equator is something you must experience to appreciate"

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When I first pictured a cloud forest, I figured it might look like a forest with clouds, like in BC? The reserve you work and live at looks more like a rainforest. The diversity of life in the hills at the equator is something you must experience to appreciate. The perfect weather was a nice bonus, and most days settle at a comfy, but not too hot temperature (in the low 20s Celsius). Also, expect daily storms during the rainy season, some very exciting! Ecuador is beautiful: in its landscapes, people and culture. The cities are worth seeing, but can very dangerous for tourists lacking the proper precautions. I was luckily never robbed, but it was common story among people I ran into. Protect your valuables! Also, use the recommended hostel while staying in Quito: very cool and safe. Still, being out in the country is much safer, and it’s where you will spend most of your time.

From the city, La Hesperia is about a 3-hour bus ride across the amazing Andean countryside, and a 1-hour hike up from the road. You’re far from civilization, but the cell reception is still not too bad! The reserve is altogether a protected area, a (mostly) self-sustaining farm, a local school, and a great learning experience for aspiring international conservationists like you or I! The volunteer house was very comfortable and open, with views of pure nature that I still miss. After a hard working day and a cold refreshing shower, you will be overwhelmed by the sounds of the forest at night that leads to some intense and vivid dreaming.

The daytime work was varied and sometimes challenging. My tasks over the course of a month ranged from tree planting to trail maintenance and basic farm work including planting/harvesting crops (such as bananas, oranges, sugar cane, yucca, chocolate, coffee, etc.), weeding, and working with animals. Regardless of the job, a machete is the only tool you need! Also, at one point you have to take the daily milk down the mountain with the most stubborn donkey ever. There is electricity, but you hand wash your own clothes. Also, safe drinking water and meals are prepared by the staff (luxury!) Expect staples and fresh food that couldn’t be any more local.

That’s what volunteering and living are like, but of course, there’s plenty of time for fun and meeting people. The reserve itself is full of things to do including Spanish lessons, soccer games, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, and a communal chill area of the volunteer house with books, a guitar, games, etc. Still, weekends are better spent exploring more of the country. There’s lots to see, and you can get recommendations from other volunteers and locals. Me and a buddy I met on our first day spent one weekend biking down volcanoes through Inca ruins and indigenous villages, one living it up in an awesome adventure/party town called Banos, one taking in the history of Quito, and I made an excursion to the Galapagos for my final leg. All were great experiences that I still tell stories about. Produced some breathtaking pictures too!

I couldn’t recommend this volunteer experience more, even if Ecuador is not near the top of your list. It’s simply a better way to travel while contributing a little back to this amazing country you’re visiting. The work is satisfying and makes you feel like a part of the community rather than just a tourist. Plus, you can still have as much fun as you want. Meeting people comes naturally, and a trip like this is a great way to take a person out of their comfort zone in front of a screen or whatever, at least for enough time to appreciate what you have at home, and perhaps what’s missing. You may not “discover yourself”, but I can guarantee you will grow from it.

"I learned more about myself than I would have ever thought possible"

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I have arrived back safe and sound in the UK after my 9-week adventure. My time at La Hesperia was a joy. I learned more about myself than I would have ever thought possible in such a relatively short period of time. I now sound like one of those testimonials, which before I thought could only have been inflated by their authors or conjured by the organisation. I now know that in fact neither were the case.

Alexandra is doing amazing things against the odds and she is an inspiration to me. I hope that you and Working Abroad can keep supporting her to your full, as I understand you already do (unlike certain other organisations), especially during this difficult economic period, which is only just beginning to affect that part of the world, and will I fear have as of yet have unseen and far-reaching effects there.

I think the biggest thing I have taken away with me is how difficult tackling social development, economic & environmental sustainability really is from a grassroots level. Even when the people involved are willing or even pioneering these changes. It has made me want to look into working towards things from a level back here at home that could influence things more widely.

Volunteer in Ecuador to Conserve Cloud Forests

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