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Ecuador Andean Adventure

Community + Adventure

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Looking for something more flexible? Get in touch and we'll chat through options more suited to you.

Discover the Andes of Ecuador

High up in the mountains

Join a team of leapers for an epic adventure to explore the Andes of Ecuador. This adventurous program will steer you off the regular backpacker trail enabling you to meet and work alongside traditional indigenous communities, helping with development initiatives before being taken on an adventure week down the famous Ruta de los Volcanes.

The community projects are co-ordinated by Yanapuma - a charitable foundation who aims to improve the quality of life for a number of communities across Ecuador through sustainable projects and volunteer tourism which provide the funds and labour required to bring about change.

A small program where you can make a large impact.

Venture out to Ecuador on a journey across the Andes getting stuck into a mix of community development and adventure activities along the way.


Program Itinerary

This program is all about getting off the tourist trail in the Andes, by living with a local community and helping with their development projects, before embracing the adventure activities this area is famous for.

The following is a sample itinerary.

Overview

Andes

Welcome to the Andes

Your adventure will start in Quito, where you will spend a couple of days acclimatising to the altitude before heading out to the more rural regions. You have time to wander about this stunning historic capital city seeing all the sights and straddling the equator!

Leaving the city behind, you’ll step into a fairy-tale land of traditional villages surrounded by rivers, waterfalls and snow-capped volcanoes. It is a stunning place to spend time - a playground for the adventurous and bartering heaven for those who love a local market.

Accommodation

In Quito, you’ll be staying at the Hostal La Guayunga, right in the heart of Quito's historic centre. Expect shared bedrooms and bathrooms with hot water.

Food

3 meals a day will be provided: breakfast will be in the hostel, lunch and supper will be out in a restaurant close by.

Wks 1- 2

Agato Community + Spanish

Two way exchange

Your Andean destination is a rural community called Agato, close to Otavalo - a town famous for its artisan market selling traditional crafts and clothes, so make sure you have space in your backpack. In this area you will be surrounded by snow capped volcanos, crater lakes and spectacular waterfalls - it is utterly stunning.

The community of Agato struggle to maintain a sustainable living through farming or handicrafts production and as a result have opened their doors to our volunteers who will provide the additional manpower needed to refurbish their village infrastructure and to help with their harvest and crop preparation. Whilst living here you will gain a real insight into their ancient culture - this is cultural exchange its very best.

Spanish Lessons Included
English is not widely spoken across the Andes, so we have built in time for you to have Spanish lessons to help you communicate with your host family.

Accommodation

You’ll live in a traditional house with one of our host families. 2 volunteers per family.

Food

3 meals a day will be provided.

Expect: locally produced food, lots of rice, served in each host house.

Wk 3

Ruta de los Volcanes Adventure Week

From volcanoes to white-water

Just because it would be rude not to explore the adventure right on your door step, we have arranged for you to have a week of adrenaline bursts, along the famous Ruta de los Volcanes.

Starting at the Quilotoa Crater Lake, you'll wander around the enormous lagoon nestled in the crater of the extinct volcano, before testing your kayaking skills.

Then it's off to Baños, (the adventure capital of Ecuador) to awe at the Tungurahua volcano before white-water rafting down the Pastaza river, and mountain biking down the side of mighty Chimborazo Volcano. Exhilarating stuff.

Accommodation

Different hostels along the way. Expect dorm style rooms.

Food

Only breakfast provided.
Lunch and dinner will be extra at one of the restaurants along the way.

Program Details & Costs

We have three departures to the Andes of Ecuador throughout the year: January, April and September for 3 weeks. You will be joining a team of leapers who are already out there, on our 10 week program, so easy to slot in and flexible to extend if you want to stay to also experience the Amazon and Galapagos.

Just get in touch to start exploring your options.

Jan, Apr & Sept programs start on:

2019: 4 Jan, 4 Apr, 6 Sep

2020: 7 Jan, 3 Apr, 4 Sep

Costs

3 weeks
2 weeks Andes + Adventure week
2019: £14132020: £1413

Social Life

Guaranteed. You will be part of a tight team of like minded volunteers, who will be on your journey from start to finish.

Spanish

You will have lessons to help you learn the basics (or take you to the next level) so you can communicate better with your host family.

Adrenaline Sports

White-water rafting, mountain biking and kayaking will be all part of the adventure week.

Cultural Exchange

Through living and working beside indigenous communities you will experience real life and make extraordinary friendships.

Monday to Friday

As a rule of thumb you’ll be kept busy for about 6-8 hours per day, Monday to Friday. Please note: the volunteer work is very heavily manual labour based – so be prepared.

Weekends

The weekends are yours to do with as you please. You’re welcome to stay and chill with the community, but volunteers usually prefer a change of scene. Most teams stick together at the weekends and your project leader will offer advice on where and what to do.

Backpacker favourites:

  • The TeleferiQo cable car that flies you up Rucu Pichincha to an observation point overlooking Quito.
  • Trek up to find the Lago Cuicocha (Otavalo) in the crater of an ancient volcanic crater.
  • Dip in the thermal springs in Baños.
  • Explore the local markets.

Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America, roughly equal in size to Colorado or the UK, but home to a huge diversity of climates, flora and fauna and indigenous cultures. Snow-capped volcanoes rub shoulders with the Amazon rainforest and Pacific beaches, and are a short hop from the unforgettable Galapagos Archipelago. Simply stunning but amoungst all of this are over 17 different cultures who have had to adapt to these ecological and at times harsh environments, living alongside a myriad of unique bird, animal and plant species. However life is never easy and some of these communities are struggling to cope with the fast changing pace of life and this is where we come in ....

Yanapuma Foundation

We have partnered up with a Local NGO called the Yanapuma Foundation who collaborates with local grass-roots projects and communities to help preserve their history, culture and very existence. Our Leap volunteers provide the very resource needed to get projects completed, but more importantly it is through the side by side interaction, cultural exchange in its simplest form that will help reinforce a pride back into their culture and therefore a determination not to give up.

For example the number of Tsachila communities, in the lowland jungle, has now dwindled to just seven remote settlements, all of which are at risk of losing their traditional culture, due to the expanding influence of the mestizo culture and loss of the young who are pulled to the bright lights of the cities. By working side by side the community on simple projects the young will see an interest in their history and learn that life in the city is not as simple as they might think.

It is with these principles in mind you will travel across the country to combine adventure with sustainable development and conservation on the Galapagos Islands.

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our Leapers have been up to...

Thank you Ecuador... you'll be missed Nicole Barry

As we dreaded, our last week has just about gone by. After a six-hour bus ride from Quito, we got to our absolutely stunning and secluded home in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, Gaia Lodge.

The staff here have been great by providing us with so many opportunities to submerge ourselves into the rainforest. Only a few minutes after arriving, we were already off on our first adventure of floating down the Napo River on a bird/monkey watching tour. On Friday, we were woken up bright and early for a two-hour hike through the rainforest. Unfortunately, a massive rainstorm decided to take place at the same exact time, so our hike turned more into a mud slide. Despite being absolutely drenched from head to toe, it was still an incredible experience– when else will we get to say we hiked through the Amazon Rainforest in the middle of a thunderstorm?!

Aside from the hike, we’ve spent the past few days doing lots of different activities. To list a few: meeting an indigenous family, crocodile watching, visiting a butterfly farm and animal rehabilitation centre, chocolate making, and a traditional Shaman presentation.

Spending ten weeks traveling through an amazing country has left us with memories that we will remember for the rest of our lives. It’s hard to choose one moment that was better than another, but I think if I had to pick, it would be a toss-up between snorkelling at Kicker Rock and getting to live with a host family in Agato.

Chilling in Chilcapamba Ginny Burton

After a rather long (and tiring) journey from Quito we got to Chilcapamba where we were met by Alfonso, who is the head of the Morales family (the family looking after us whilst we volunteered).

During the week we worked for a few hours in the morning (work varied from digging trenches, to planting trees and carrying building equipment for a well up a hill) before heading home for food. After lunch, we had some time off to sort washing, chill, or practice Spanish before our much-needed lessons in the afternoon, as many of us had never spoken Spanish before arriving in Ecuador!

After Spanish, we sometimes headed into nearby Cotocatchi to organise washing, pick up some snacks or to chill in one of the restaurants. Dinner was much the same as lunch and was traditional Ecuadorian fare which comprised of soup, rice, vegetables, beans and meat. After dinner, many of us would play cards, I’m surprised no wars started over Uno.

We had our weekends off and we were lucky enough to visit some incredible places! Our first weekend was spent in the nearby town of Otovalo, where we browsed the local market. It was the perfect opportunity to pick up gifts for friends and family as well as select a few souvenirs for ourselves. We decided that, as it was Saturday night we should check out some Ecuadorian nightlife, which was extremely entertaining with many of us learning how to salsa!

The Sunday was far more laid back with a trip to Laguna de Cuicocha. Some of us went for a hike around the crater whilst those of us who were still rather tired had a more sedate visit and took a boat trip around the lake before having a chat over some chips and a climb to a viewing place.

Our second weekend was spent in an incredible town called Banos but that trip needs a blog post of its own, which I promise to put up soon!

Our time in the Andes ended with an evening of live music and us cooking for the Morales family, which was an interesting experience and good practice for the Galapagos! We ended up making hamburgers with fried potatoes and salad which appeared to have all gone down well!
Once dinner was all finished the whole community thanked us by playing some traditional Ecuadorian music which we all had to dance to! We were also given bracelets which Alfonso’s daughter had made for us as a memento of our time there.

Gringos gone wild Hope Mayhew

After arriving in Quito and attempting to acclimatise to the altitude for a couple of days the two groups went their separate ways off and into Ecuadorean wilderness. Group B have headed off and up to the Andes to the chilcabamba community in search of even less oxygen.

Having been told methods to aid the adjustment to high altitude, one being to not do strenuous exercise we were ready to rumble. With that in mind we spent our first morning being sent off with spades and wellies galore to rid the canal of all its sand.

Having succeeded at the canal we made our way back down the path towards the exposed water pipes. Our next task would be to dig up turf and carry it up the hill, repeatedly, until the water pipes were covered. Some of us were able to work the hoe better than others. For most of us this is where the strenuous exercise took its toll, but again we managed to complete the work, and just in time for lunch. All meals have been thoroughly appreciated so far, so a huge thanks to Francisca and Olympia for keeping the groups belly satisfied.

In free time, we have taken to the basketball court for an aggressive version of the game with no rules. Claudine putting up an almighty fight in defence. Despite proclaiming she doesn’t care about the game.

Spanish lessons have been a bundle of fun, with all but two of us attending the complete beginners class. We’ve left our first couple of Spanish lessons leaving the poor teacher a little bewildered. To quote Harry our attempts have been “A Beautiful Failure”.

Harry has been able to most accurately describe the scenic Andes so far. It’s just so “causally dramatic”.

This weekend we’re hoping to head to the colourful market, so family make your present requests now. On Sunday, we may go for a hike around the Cuicocha Lake.

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