Details & Itinerary

Visit the Andean region of Ecuador and experience the rich history, culture, and community that this part of the world has to offer! Live with a local family and immerse yourself in a language and cultural exchange experience, all while taking part in worthwhile indigenous community-initiated service projects. Transfer to the Galapagos Islands where you will view and interact with wildlife. Visit several landmarks on this island archipelago, all while considering the implications of climate change on places such as this.

Itinerary

DAY 1: QUITO ARRIVAL & ORIENTATION

Group flight arrival to Quito. Transfer via private bus to our Quito accommodation, selected specifically for its comfort and group-coherent space. Safety briefing, snacks, and settle into bed.

DAY 2: QUITO HISTORIC DISTRICT

Begin the day with group orientation and language activities as we situate ourselves in this exciting new setting. Spend the day visiting the famous Plaza de Independencia and El Panecillo to take in breathtaking views of this sprawling metropolis. After a delicious traditional lunch, we visit the Quito Teleferico before returning to the hotel for dinner. Evening group reflection and homestay orientation/role playing takes place along with some language activities.

DAYS 3-7: COTACACHI HOMESTAYS & COMMUNITY SERVICE

We rise early to transfer via private bus to Lago Cuicocha for a hike around the spectacular crater lake. Learn about the geological and cultural histories of the area as we take in amazing views and stretch our legs! We meet our homestay families in the nearby town of Cotacachi and settle into our new homes (at least two students per household). 

Over the next five days, we engage in community service projects with local  schools, indigenous partners, and community organizers. Past projects have included construction, maintenance, and general upkeep of the local school that hosts all elementary students under one teacher. There is also an indigenous kindergarten next door where we can interact with students, paint, or do other crafts. We balance our hard work with meaningful exchange and language opportunities alongside the locals. 

On our final full day in the community, we will hold a Pambamesa Lunch where different members of the community bring their land products to share as a way to thank you for all the work done during this week. We will also hold a final celebratory dinner with our new friends. 

Adventure activities during our time in Cotacachi include an excursion to Otavalo to explore the largest artisan and indigenous market in Latin America! We will also visit a local tannery to see how locals process leather- try your hand at shoe or wallet making! Other workshops include organic jam and jewelry making. We will visit an Alpaca farm to learn about the wool-making process. 

DAY 8: QUITO RETURN & MITAD DEL MUNDO

Transfer via private bus back to Quito to check out Mitad del Mundo (equator). We have a special lunch in Calacali hosted by a famous local chef who specializes in organic local foods. We return to our hotel for Galapagos orientation and a good night of rest before jetting off to the islands in the morning!

DAYS 9-12: GALAPAGOS ISLANDS: ISLA SANTA CRUZ & ISLA BALTRA

After a short flight to Galapagos, our island archipelago home for the next week, we transfer from Isla Baltra to Isla Santa Cruz. Our guide will provide us with an overview of the region including historical and scientific context to the archipelago. We learn about the coastal and marine ecosystem. We visit a non-populated island via boat tour. We check out Tortuga Bay, so named for the black sea turtles that nest there.

We visit Lava Tunnels, Twin Craters, and the Giant Turtles Ranch during this portion of the trip- all world-famous Galapagos landmarks! We will spend a morning at the Charles Darwin Research Station to receive an unforgettable lesson about the island’s history and significance among current environmental challenges.

DAYS 13-15: GALAPAGOS ISLANDS: ISLA ISABELLA

For this next portion of our Galapagos adventure, we take a boat ride across to Isabela. We partner with a local tortoise breeding program for service projects- past projects have included general maintenance of the breeding ground and repairing fences. We learn from an expert about conservation efforts on Galápagos and see the development of coastal ecosystems; we examine plant adaptations to different environments we visit. 

Adventure activities during this time include traveling inland to explore the Sierra Negra Volcano, the world’s second largest volcanic crater! We will also visit and learn the complex history behind the Wall of Tears. We will visit Los Tuneles, an amazing snorkeling site where penguins, turtles, manta rays, sharks, and sea lions are almost always present in crystalline waters surrounding an intricate complex of lava tunnels. This is one of the best snorkeling sites in Galápagos both aesthetically and for viewing sea life. We will also visit the Tintoreras islet for additional wildlife viewing. 

Service and adventure activities are punctuated by group reflection activities throughout our Galapagos stay. On the final night of the program, we hold a celebratory dinner on the island and hold a program closure activity to consider the interesting and impactful experience of the last two weeks. Flight out of Baltra back to Quito.

DAYS 16-17: PROGRAM DEPARTURE

Fly back to Quito from Galapagos and celebrate our adventures with a last night dinner and reflection. Depart for home the next morning. We are sad to leave, but excited to share our stories with our family and friends. ¡Adios, Ecuador!

Global Works will arrange a chaperoned group flight for this program. Airfare is not included in the tuition. When flights become available, please contact us for the latest airfare pricing or visit our Flight & Travel Arrangements page for more information about travel days.

Please note that this itinerary is subject to change.

Participants may be subject to additional expenses related to entry requirements to your destination and/or re-entry to your home country. Global Works does not cover these expenses. Additional costs may include, but are not limited to, COVID tests, insurance, or other. See our Covid-19 FAQ’s for more information.   The most up to date requirements can be found via links on your login page on the Flight and Travel Day Instruction form after enrollment.

Service Projects

Educational Volunteering

Projects and exchange in local indigenous school

Ecology & Tree Planting

Partner with a local nonprofit to learn and engage

Wildlife Care & Conservation

Visit and volunteer at a tortoise rehabilitation center

Adventure & Cultural Activities

Historic Quito landmarks and history

Lago Cuicocha Hike

Otavalo Market exploration

Reflect on Darwin's Theory of Evolution

World class snorkeling with abundant wildlife

Delve into the challenges of conserving Galapagos

Gallery

Accommodations

QUITO

Our Quito accommodations are just outside the bustling Simon Bolivar neighborhood near Quito’s Centro Historico. The locally owned and operated hostel-style hotel was specifically selected for its comfort and group-coherent space. Students are in shared bunk-style rooms, and the hotel has hot water and home-cooked breakfasts.

COTACACHI HOMESTAYS

Global Works has longstanding relationships with the communities where we place students and complete our service projects. All homes where students are housed are within walking distance of one another and close to the project work site. Homes are humble in nature, typically constructed of concrete blocks; they are clean and inviting. Students will have a private room within the home and the room is shared between two Global Works students. All homes have bathrooms complete with a flush toilet and a shower. Meals are prepared by the homestay families and families are trained in proper food preparation and food handling.

GALAPAGOS

As we bounce around the Archipelago and on to Isabella and Santa Cruz, we stay at locally owned and operated hotels. At the end of a long day snorkeling with sea lions, you’ll look forward to quiet and comfortable rooms for two to four students and a hot shower. (Note: While we take boats from island to island, we do not sleep on boats. Rather, each night is in a different hotel on land.)