Andes + Jungle + Galapagos
- Explore and conserve diverse environments
- Live with indigenous tribes
- Learn Spanish
Up until 31st August 2013
Hold onto your Panama's and lasso yourself that llama for the ultimate South American experience, as we take you on an epic adventure through the breathtaking heights of the Andes down into the steamy Jungle and onto the white sands of the Galapagos and Pacific Coast. Not for the faint hearted this team placement will get you off the backpacker trail and into traditional, indigenous Ecuadorian communities in each environment to live and work alongside some of the world's most remote cultures and wildlife.
The team adventure begin's in the Andes, brushing up your Spanish skills with the help of our expert teachers and getting plenty of practice whilst volunteering in a local village. Hosted by the Morales family, possibly the friendliest people in the the Andes (their son Tupac can be a bit of a cheeky monkey). Experience living in Otovalo, a famous indigeous market town surrounded by volcanoes and beautiful scenery 3 hours drive from the capital Quito. For the next 2 weeks your mornings will be spent in nearby Chilcabamba, a wonderful community of traditional Kayambi people where volunteer projects include development of the community school, expansion of an artisan market built by previous Leap groups, creation of a playground, and assisting families with their livestock. In afternoons it's back to Otovalo for your language tuition.
Experience true high-altitude living at nearly 14,000 feet, surrounded by spectacular rolling hills and snow capped volcanoes, such as Cayambe, which you will have the chance to climb at the weekends. The area is well known for its traditional crafts and markets and locals famous for their colourful ponchos and distinctive panama hats adorned with peacock feathers.
At weekends indulge your inner intrepid explorer and trek to spectacular waterfalls and crater lakes or zipping through the canopy of a cloud forest, or for those running low on adrenalin Otovalo is shoppers mecca, where you can contend with some hummingbird or condor spotting and dare we say it, karaoke. You have been warned!
Next it's time to crack out the antiperspirant and 'rough it in the Jungle' to spend approximately 2 weeks living amongst one of the last indigenous Tsachila communities in the country, in a fascinating and stunning environment with ancient trees and meandering rivers. Live among an indigenous shaman community learning about their traditions and customs and helping the local community improve their standard of living. You'll work on various construction projects in the community buildings and local school, assisting chocolate farmers (yes that's chocolate production) and living like a true local! At weekends swim in rivers, challenge kids to soccer matches, white water raft or trek in the jungle.
This is followed by a week of adventure and expedition, taking the famous “Ruta de los Volcanes” (Volcanic Route). You will travel from Quito to the Quilotoa crater lake to soak up spectacular scenery and explore the waters by kayak. From here it’s off to Baños, where you’ll bike to waterfalls and white-water raft some of Ecuador’s best rapids. Next it’s off to the mighty Chimborazo volcano to see equatorial life above the snowline (how many people can say they’ve done that?!) and mountain bike back down the volcano. The final week finishes in the town of Riobamba where you can relax, shop and enjoy the sights and sounds of a traditional mountain town.
In week 7 you’ll choose between two different options - either volunteering in the Galapagos, or the remote Andean community of Chilcapamba.
Calling all animal lovers! Those choosing this option will spend 3 weeks at the Hacienda Tranquila on San Cristobal, the eastern most island in the famous archipelago. An island characterised by it’s charming local culture, beautiful white sandy bays and turquoise seas (not to mention the obligatory curious sea lions, marine iguanas, pelicans and crabs!). Hot on the heels of Mr Charles Darwin, this is a fantastic base to experience the unique environment of the Galapagos. Help us to restore the land back to it's natural state so that the endangered Galapagos tortoises can be reintroduced. You will also work with local children and disabled adults leading hikes, horseback rides and playing games whilst teaching about environmental issues.
OR Pacific Coast
Volunteers that choose this option will spend 2 weeks living outside of Bahía de Caráquez, near Bellavista Community, in Cerro Seco Biological Reserve. Cerro Seco is a dry forest biological reserve in the Manabí district of Ecuador offering activities such as bird-watching, trails though the dry tropical forest, paradisiacal beaches and amazing landscapes. It boasts more than 100 different species of bird, 23 types of mammal and numerous reptile and amphibious species!
The reserve contains one of the best examples of rare tropical dry forest on the coast of Ecuador (only 2% of Ecuador original dry forest remains intact). Volunteers will get a chance to help maintain the beautiful reserve, rooting out invasive species and keeping the path clear for Cerro Seco´s many visitors. Other activities might include building and painting trail markers, working in the organic garden, teaching English in the nearby School or helping teach environmental lessons to the children at the “EcoCLub”.
Weekends activities: volunteers can enjoy the relaxing beaches with warm ocean currents, surfing, fishing with local fishers, kayaking and a lot more!
After this (yes there is more!) you’ll get to enjoy a few days R&R on the beaches of the Pacific Coast surfing paradise - Montanita. Learn to surf Ecuador’s best breaks, experience a legendary full moon party and soak up the famously laid back ‘hammock-culture’ of the beach.
Projects are sustainable giving long-term benefits to both the community and environment. All development initiatives are chosen and led by local people ensuring that The Leap’s projects are well managed needed by the community.
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