Ecuador Andean Service Learning Experience
Community Service Programming:
- Homestay with a local Pulinqui community living at the base of Chimborazo Volcano
- Community project; revitilizing public spaces
- Reforestation efforts with a tree planting project
- Paint/Repair a local school
- Quito City Walking Tour: visit historic and modern Quito
- Stand on the Equatorial line!
- Otavalo Market
- Hike around the base of Chimborazo Volcano
- Hike up Cubilche Crater Lake Volcano
- Lake Cuicocha
- Cultural evening of dance and music
- Lessons on Andean cosmo-vision lead by local community leaders
- Embroidery workshop
- Harvest and prepare local foods
- Work with local local farm animals
- Soccer game with local students
Get a fully immersive cultural experience by volunteering in several highland communities. Help sheer alpaca with a Quichua community living in the shadows of 6,000 meter mountain, get to know the locals by participating in community work, hike the Andean mountains for spectacular views!
Working with National Geographic rated eco-lodges and indigenous Quichua communities, Evolve Ecuador will seamlessly immerse your group in all that is Ecuador.
Student trip itineraries are completely customizable for your groups desires and needs.
Day 1 - Travel to Ecuador
Travel to Quito, Ecuador!
Your Evolve leader will meet you at Quito airport, excited to spend the upcoming days together. Transfer to our Quito hotel via private bus.
Day 2 - Quito
After breakfast enjoy a walking tour of Quito’s historical district. Here students will visit some bustling markets, view some of the most impressive churches and plazas in Latin America and see Ecuador’s parliament and government buildings. After lunch the group will visit the Equator line at Mitad del Mundo, where they learn about the the gravitational pull of the earth’s poles through fun experiments. They will also learn about the different indigenous groups of Ecuador. In the evening your group will be treated to a traditional dinner. Accommodations will be in Quito.
Day 3 - Casa Condor/Chimborazo Volcano
After an early breakfast we will board our bus and drive through the Andes for stunning mountain scenery before arriving to our final destination with our hosts of the Pulinqui community. The community is located at 3,820 metres above sea level, just at the base of the Chimborazo Volcano, Ecuador’s highest point. The homestay lodge is a multi-purpose structure that has dormitories, bathrooms, and hot showers. It is here where the group will participate in different events, like local fiestas or daily activities that facilitate sharing cultures and knowledge.
Day 4 - Casa Condor/ Chimborazo Volcano
This morning will be based at a community service project where the goal is to provide a centre for the preservation and promotion of local Pulinqui culture, which includes plant use, customs, history, daily practices and mythology. Activities may include: planting indigenous trees and plants to improve soil quality and prevent erosion, improving community foot trails in the mountains or participating in a seasonal harvest.
The afternoon will be spent on a challenging yet rewarding hike to the Black Rock at the base of Chimborazo Volcano. Enjoy spectacular views of this remote landscape. The evening will be filled with a night of dancing and cultural learning.
Day 5 - Morning Cultural Activity/Overnight in Quito
Today we will learn about animal husbrandry and the process of local clothing production. This is a very hands-on experience where we start right from the Alpaca coral, sheppherding the heard to the field where they will be sheered, right down to learning how to weave thread out of alpaca fibre! Afterwards, we will enjoy our final lunch with the community before heading back to Quito for the evening.
Day 6 - Transfer to Imbabura Province/ Local homestay
After breakfast, we will check out and depart north on the Pan-American Highway towards the district of Ibarra. On our way we will make a stop at San Pablo lake for spectacular views of the volcano. Continue along to our final destination, the community of San Clemente. After lunch and a warm welcome from our host families, we will be invited to take part in some cultural activites which may include a medicinal plant knowledge hike lead by one of the local community members or a lesson about the significance of the “Chacana”, the Andean Cross and how it ties in to local beliefs and interractions with nature.
This volunteer program will include private accommodation, all meals and full training for the service work.
Day 7 - Imbabura Homestay/ Community Service Project
This morning we will have breakfasts with our host families, and then meet together as a group for an introduction to the service projects we will be dedicating our next week towards. Our group will be participating in a traditional “Minga”, a practice where the whole community works together towards achieving a goal or addressing a local problem. In fact, “Minga” is a Quechua phrase which translates to “collective work done for the community”. This tradition dates back to pre-Colombian cultures and is still relevant today in Ecuador as well as other Latin America countries such as Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile and Paraguay. The goal of these community endeavors can range from agricultural, environmental or construction efforts in the broad community to helping alleviate a specific family’s issues. Other potential fields of work include education, conservation, fair trade and sustainable tourism. Our specific work will be helping one of a number of communities in the Ibarra Province in northern Ecuador and exact projects will depend on what issues the community is currently facing, as well as the tour group’s interests and skills.
In the afternoon we will participate an embroidery activity with the local women. Embroidery is a cultural tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation and is in danger of being lost as modern technology overtakes tradition. This afternoon we will challenge our minds and coordination as the women work to teach us some of their traditions!
Day 8 - Imbabura Homestay/Local School Project
Visit a rural based school in the area. Oftentimes, these schools do not have the budget or supplies necessary to maintain their classrooms. We’ll work with the children and other community members to help brighten the building with a new paint job or murals. These efforts will ensure a creative, inspiring and happy place for students to learn.
What we’ll be doing: cleaning walls, preparing paints, designing the paintings and drawings, painting the school, interacting with school children. Enjoy another cultural lesson on the Andean cosmo-vision and how it relate to agriculture by examining beliefs surrounding the moon cycles.
Day 9 - Imbabura Homestay/Reforestation Project
For the last two days of service work we will focus on combating an important environmental problem that affects the local area, as well as much of the Andes region (not to mention much of the developing world). The forests of the Andeas serve as an important source of freshwater and other resources for the area. Unfortunately, these important ecosystems have been damaged by deforestation and other unsustainable practices. For example, some misguided reforestation efforts have used “introduced” tree species that have higher water consumption, such as Eucalyptus and Monterey Pine, and have led to less freshwater available to local communities. What we’ll be doing: volunteer work at a native tree nursery, soil preparation work at a reforestation site, planting of native tree species.
In the afternoon enjoy a Pambamesa for lunch, a tradition related to the minga, and the Ecuadorian version of a pot luck! Much like a picnic, the pambamesa is practiced after a big community project is completed; each family brings their own dish and sits on the grass to eat communally. This is an amazing opportunity to mingle with local community members and try many Ecuadorian delights from fresh salads and juices to home cooked specialties.
Day 10 - Imbabura Homestay/Hike and Mountainside clean up
Today embark on our first high altitude hike, as we take on the challenging and scenic trek up to the Cubilche Lagoon. Hike up an extinct volcano through pine forests and highland landscape for stunning views of Imbabura Volcano. Cubilche Lake historically has been an important water source for the people of Imbabura province in times times of drought. There is one permanent lagoon and 3 other smaller lagoons with water only after rainy season.
Afterwards reaching the summit we will enjoy a picnic lunch and clean up garbage around this precious natural landscape before making our way down the steep descent. The afternoon will be spent relaxing and playing games. The evening will be filled with a musical event hosted by the community.
Day 11 - Imbabura Homestay/Reforestation/ Farm work
We will continue with the reforestation project we started the day before, followed by an afternoon activity working in the field with farm animals. With the assistance of local community members we will have the opportunity to prepare farmland with oxen!
Enjoy a special final dinner as a group, with members of the local community. Celebrate the work we’ve done together and take part in an evening of cultural exchange, learning more about the traditions and daily life of the local indigenous communities. Receive a certificate of participation in the volunteer program.
Day 12 - Otavalo Market/Overnight in Quito
This morning we will head into Otavalo to visit its famous Mercado Artesanal (Artisan Market) at the Plaza de Ponchos in the heart of town. It’s here that people travel from all over the surrounding region and come together to sell their locally produced and handmade goods. The origin of this market dates back hundreds of years, even predating Incan times. We’ll enjoy browsing the hundreds of market stalls, bartering with locals and practicing our Spanish. Some of the souvenirs and gifts to purchase for friends back home include clothes, colorful weaved goods, jewelry, carvings, indigenous artwork and more.
We’ll travel to nearby Cuicocha Lake at the base of Cotacachi Mountain. The lake’s name originates from a pre-Incan language and translates to “Lagoon of the Gods”. Cuicocha Lake is actually a deep volcanic crater and in the center of it are two islands formed of volcanic rock. Enjoy a boat tour around the area.
Later we will continue on to Quito to enjoy our final nights’ dinner in the capital!
Day 13 - Return Home.
Depart for the airport and return home after a fantastic trip to Ecuador!
AirfareRoundtrip group airfare to Quito, Ecuador, and to the Galapagos Islands
BusPrivate bus transportation as needed for duration of trip
FerryHigh speed ferry transportation between islands
Eco LodgeEvolve works with eco-lodges which promote sustainable living practices
HotelsCentrally located, student friendly, 3 * minimum, acclaimed hotels
Three meals a day included in tour. Meals at locally owned and run restaurants and accommodations serving authentic cuisine sufficient for all appetites.
Since the Earth bulges at the Equator, the peak of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furthest point from the center of the Earth and the closest point to the sun.
Places You’ll Visit
The highest point from earth's center, and near or Quichua community interaction.
Biggest city near where we will be based in the highlands.
Have a day to explore the capital city of the country.
Quick layover city on our way out to the Galapagos!.
Home to our eco hacienda home in the Galapagos.
Bike & explore lava tubes on our second Galapagos island.