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Details and Itinerary
Arrive at the Quito airport and meet your Global Works Leader. Transfer via private bus to our Quito accommodation, selected specifically for its comfort and group-coherent space. Safety briefing, snacks, and settle into bed.
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 and a continuation of orientation activities.
We rise early to transfer via private bus to Lago Cuicocha (2.5 hrs) 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 settle into our new accommodations for the next three days in the nearby town of Cotacachi (homestays are an option). Evening group reflection and community service orientation takes place along with some language activities.
Over the next three days, we engage in community service projects with local nonprofits and schools. Past projects have included general maintenance around the local indigenous school, building, and painting. The small school building hosts all local students under one teacher; there is a lot of work to do! There is also a nearby indigenous kindergarten where we can engage with children and carry out painting or other arts and crafts.
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 this time in Cuicocha include a trip to Lake Quilotoa and an excursion to Otavalo to explore the largest artisan and indigenous market in Latin America!
Transfer via private bus back to Quito to begin our Galápagos adventure! After a short flight to the island archipelago, 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 and enjoy a snorkel in the Concha Perla with an opportunity to see turtles, manta rays, sharks, and sea lions. We also visit a non-populated island via boat tour. We check out Tortuga Bay, so named for the black sea turtles that nest there.
For this next portion of our Galápagos 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.
Service and adventure activities are punctuated by group reflection activities facilitated by your Global Works Leader. 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 10 days. Flight out of Baltra back to Quito.
The group catches its connecting flight in Quito back home. We are sad to leave, but excited to share our stories with our family and friends. ¡Adios, Ecuador!