Food, Lodging and Travel
Accommodation is provided for all volunteers. Volunteers have the choice of either staying in our fully-equipped shared volunteer house, or with a carefully selected host family.
In our volunteer housing, breakfast is not included, but you have access to our fully equipped kitchen facilities to cover your needs. Lunch and dinner are provided at your choice of various restaurants in town. You simply sign for your meal and we’ll pick up the bill at the end of the month. All participants will have a private bedroom and private bathroom. Those living in the volunteer house can use one of the many laundry places in town. You will also have wifi access but please bear in mind speeds can be slow.
For our homestay accommodation, you will be placed with families who have experience with outside cultures and international living through cultural exchange with our students and volunteers. As well as providing extra income to the family for housing our volunteers, we train families to be ambassadors in the community in areas such as English, domestic well-being, and nutrition.
Living with a host family allows you to gain valuable Spanish language skills whilst truly immersing you in the culture. All host families are required to go through an extensive application process to help ensure the safety of our volunteers. Each volunteer is provided with a private bedroom and bathroom. Remember that your host family is not providing a hotel – living with them is an opportunity to become immersed in the culture and language of the region.
Volunteers eat breakfast and dinner with their host families, all of whom respect dietary restrictions. Breakfast is continental and will differ based on the individual and family. Breakfast could consist of eggs, bread, yogurt, granola, and traditional Ecuadorian foods. Please inform us if you have any food allergies or a special diet, and we will pick your host family accordingly. Lunch is provided for via a chartering system with various restaurants in town. Lunch is based on the special of the day at each restaurant and is usually a set menu, which consists of a drink, a soup, and a main dish. You will simply sign for your lunch, and we will pick up the tab at the end of your stay. Project staff are also available to call 24/7 to help you with any problems with your host family and to ensure your security and well-being. Please note that for the sustainable agriculture programme, the farms are minimum 30 minutes away from town and there are no restaurants in the highlands. Therefore, volunteers are given containers to take to any of our restaurants to get a meal to go. We typically organize this for your first day and then volunteers can decide what they eat each day after that. Volunteers will do this the night before because they have to be at the bus stop at 6:45 am.
Travel in the Galapagos
You will need to arrange to fly into Baltra, Galapagos (airport code GPS). Most flights require an overnight stay in Guayaquil or Quito (on the Ecuador mainland). We recommend you fly into Guayaquil, where we can provide you with hotel recommendations for your stay. We will also provide you with detailed instructions on getting from Ecuador to the Galapagos and then to the project itself. Once you arrive at Baltra airport, all of your subsequent travel to the project office (and back) is covered in your project costs.
After you are confirmed as a volunteer on the project, we will advise you on how to acquire the necessary Galapagos “working with an NGO visa” in order to participate. Just to be aware that you will need to get a background/police check done for your visa, and the cost is usually around 80 USD. Ecuador allows citizens of most countries to enter up to 90 days as a tourist without a visa. Galapagos has separate immigration procedures. Therefore participants will need the Galapagos NGO working visa, which we explain how to obtain. For this, you will need to fill out some paperwork, provide a colour scan of your passport, police/background check, an official bank statement and your round-trip flight itinerary to process the visa. You should allow 4-6 weeks for the process.
We also welcome families volunteering on our programmes with children aged 10 yrs and upwards. Please note that for the Tortoise programme, the rules require people to be over 18 yrs even with parents, but for the other programmes, children above 10 yrs old are warmly welcomed.