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Ecuador's diverse landscapes and cultures inspire visitors from around the globe. The small country is tucked into the northwestern corner of South America, straddling the Andes. The mountains run north to south dividing the country into three distinct regions and hundreds of microclimates. Quito, the capital, lies in the heart of the highlands in a valley surrounded by glacier topped peaks. The city was founded by the Spanish conquistadores in 1534, but according to the old legends, Quito had been a capital for centuries before the arrival of the Spanish. To the west of Quito, the Andes drop into coastal forests and plains. About 97% of Ecuador's population lives in the highlands and coastal region. In the East, the Andes fall into the sparsely populated Amazon Basin. 

Ecuador's diverse population is descended from many different groups of indigenous peoples, Spanish and other European colonists, Africans brought to the Americas as slaves, and Asian immigrants. Ecuadorian culture reflects the rich tapestry of customs from all these groups, from the beautifully preserved churches and cathedrals built by Spanish colonists to the traditional dress worn by many indigenous people and the colorful seasonal festivals throughout the country.  ELI partners with dozens of organizations in Ecuador to give volunteers and interns the opportunity to learn about this beautiful country in depth while giving back to the communities in Ecuador.

Volunteer and Internship Programs

  • Youth

    Youth Programs

    Volunteers can work with an children's home or child welfare organization in one of several locations throughout Ecuador. The children come from a variety of situations including loss of one or both parents, physical and sexual abuse, extreme poverty, and more suffering than any child should have to bear. Many of these children have been denied the chance at an education as well as the basics for survival: food and shelter. Volunteers will spend time with the children leading activities and games, helping at meal times, and teaching. The facilities are always in need of upkeep, and volunteers are welcome to assist with projects to improve the facilities as well as daily activities with the children. Questions? Click here

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Public Health
    ELI Abroad works at a medical center operated by the Quito Department of Social Services. The center has many departments as well as an emergency room and outpatient surgeries. It serves people who lack private health insurance or the funds for private care. If you're more focused on Public Health, the center offers many public health services and outreach projects: supporting groups for seniors, families, youth, HIV, gender equality. In addition, the center provides workshops and therapists to help people suffering from domestic violence, sexual abuse, etc. Interns and volunteers may rotate among the different programs, or choose a specific emphasis.
  • Medical


    ELI works with many charitable clinics and public hospitals to create opportunities for medical, nursing, physical therapy, dental, and pre-med students to complete a supervised internship as well as volunteer opportunities for health professionals. Interns will shadow the staff at the clinic or hospital and do not have medical responsibilities. The program is designed to give interns the opportunity to observe and learn from practices in Ecuador. Volunteers assist in the clinic or hospital and are assigned tasks according to what the local staff feel is appropriate. Participants will also gain an understanding of some of the complicated issues the healthcare system in Ecuador is grappling with. Depending on the placement, participants may be able to assist the doctors and nursing staff. Please note that participants in this program must have a high intermediate to advanced level of Spanish proficiency, and knowledge of medical vocabulary will be very helpful. For more information on the day to day life of a medical volunteer Questions? Click here

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Animal Rescue

    Animal Rescue

    Illegally trafficking animals is a billion dollar business in Ecuador. Thousands of birds, monkeys, tortoises, bears, and other animals are caught each year and sold on the black market. The animals that are recovered need to be rehabilitated before they can be reintroduced to the wild. We work with an animal rescue center on the coast of El Oro province near Guayaquil. Participants will assist to clean enclosures, build new enclosures, feed the animals, monitor the animals' behavior, and assist with ongoing reintroduction projects.

    Three species of sea turtles nest on the Ecuadorian coast and all are threatened by traditional fishing methods. Volunteers with the Sea turtle project will monitor sea turtle nesting activities, record census data, and assist with educational projects for area fishermen. Another important part of this project is to pick up litter on the beaches. The baby turtles can become disoriented by reflective pieces of litter or plastic. They can also die after eating small bits of tar or other litter.

    For those interested in veterinary medicine we can also offer a placement with the local university's vet school. Interns are invited to shadow students and doctors at the small animal teaching clinic associated with the school. Questions? Click here

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Teaching


    In recognition of the importance of learning English, the Ecuadorian government requires English to be taught in the schools, but there are not enough qualified teachers. We work with pre-schools, primary schools, middle schools, and high schools throughout Ecuador to link the schools with international volunteers and interns to teach English and assist with other subjects such as math, science, computer skills, extra-curricular activities and sports. Volunteers will provide a much needed service as well as experience the learning opportunity of a lifetime. Working directly with Ecuadorian students will give volunteers the chance to learn about many of the issues Ecuadorians face every day and a deep understanding of Ecuadorian culture. International volunteers also provide Ecuadorian students with the unique experience of getting to know a foreigner and serve as mentors and role models to the students. Teaching opportunities are available in towns throughout the country including Quito, Mindo, Salinas, Puerto Lopez, the Galapagos, Lago Agrio, Puyo, Otavalo, Ambato, and more.

    In the Andes and Amazon, the school year starts in September and runs until the end of May, and on the coast and in the Galapagos, the school year starts in April and runs through December. This program requires a minimum of a one month commitment and works best if interns can stay for a full school term. Questions? Click here

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Community Development

    Community Development

    The economic crisis of the late 1990s affected almost everyone in Ecuador. Today approximately 40% of Ecuadorians still live below the poverty line. We work with several governmental and non-governmental organizations in Ecuador devoted to giving small communities the tools they need to pull themselves from poverty. Possible projects include helping with infrastructure development, urban planning, educational programs, capacity building, and microfinance programs. Participants will work directly with local government office, NGOs and community members.

    Volunteers are particularly needed at on-going construction projects at schools around the country. The aim is to improve the infrastructure and add amenities such as better bathrooms, refurbished lunchrooms and nicer, sturdier classrooms. Volunteers in these projects can work in Quito, in coastal communities near Puerto Lopez, or in the highlands near Ibarra. If you wish you may combine construction with teaching at the same school. Questions? Click here

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Human Rights & Legal

    Human Rights & Legal

    Human Rights is one of the foremost issues in Ecuadorian politics today. ELI works with governmental and non-governmental organizations devoted to promoting human rights for different marginalized groups. Interns in this program can work in the fields of indigenous rights, women's rights, children's rights, legal aid, and immigrant issues. The organizations we work with have both policy oriented placements and fieldwork oriented placements. In a policy oriented placement, interns will work in an office in Quito assisting with tasks such as research, grant writing, helping with web development, and preparing materials for legislators. Legal interns will work with advocates, lawyers and judges that provide assistance to marginalized communities and people that otherwise would not be able to afford legal counsel. The immigrant/refugee program is located in the beautiful indigenous region of Ibarra. In a field work position, participants will assist with capacity building projects in rural areas of Ecuador. Please note that these internships require at least an 8 week commitment because the organizations put a lot of energy into training interns. Download our PDF  Download our PDF

    Questions? Click here

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Special Ed & Therapy

    Volunteers can work in centers for children with disabilities in a variety of locations throughout Ecuador. As in many developing countries, most families in Ecuador with developmentally disabled children have few resources available to them. These centers provide daycare, education, therapy and vocational training so that these special kids can grow to lead productive lives. Placements are available in Quito as well as in rural locations. There is a particular need in the area of Santa Ana which has seen very high rates of children born with Down's Syndrome in recent years. Help is needed to provide these special kids with therapy and education. Questions? Click here

    Volunteers and interns with an interest or background in physical or speech therapy are especially needed.

Ecuador - Programs

Cost & Details

  • Cost - Ecuador

    See our off-season discounts! Click here for a complete list.

    Length of Program All Programs*
    2 Weeks US$1025
    3 Weeks US$1170
    4 Weeks US$1315
    5 Weeks US$1460
    6 Weeks US$1605
    7 Weeks US$1750
    8 Weeks US$1895
    9 Weeks US$2040
    10 Weeks US$2185
    11 Weeks US$2330
    12 weeks US$2475

    *Galapagos Programs add $84 per week

    Application Fee: $200
    The application fee is a separate administrative charge for all programs. It does not apply to the program fee. (Please see our application fee refund policy here)

    Credit card payments: Payment by credit card will be assessed a 3.5% surcharge. This is the fee that we will be charged for the transaction. Contact us about alternative forms of payment.

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • What's Included/What's Not

    Program Includes:

    * Pre-departure information 
    * Pick up from the "Old" airport in Quito
    * Orientation
    * City tour 
    * Volunteer/Internship Position
    * Accommodation 
    * Breakfast and Dinner each day 
    *24/7 emergency service

    Program Does Not Include:

    *Round Trip Airfare
    *Return Trip to Airport
    *Required Travel and Medical Insurance 
    *Travel Within Ecuador

    Apply Now

    After you fill out the Application Form on our website, our Application Advisor will be in touch to help you with the next steps.

  • Accommodations


    Volunteers in Ecuador stay with local host families. ELI truly believes that this is the best way to fully immerse in another culture and get the most from an international experience. All families are carefully screened and are well-respected members of the community. Host families do not speak English, creating a full immersion environment to help participants improve their Spanish language skills. Participants will have either a private or shared bedroom with secure storage (volunteer must provide own padlock). Bathrooms are shared with the host family. Volunteers will be provided with breakfast and dinner daily.

  • Start Dates and Airport Pickup

    Arrival Dates:

    The programs in Ecuador have completely flexible start dates. However, it usually works well if participants can arrive in Quito on a Thursday or Friday. This allows for orientation and getting settled in over the weekend before starting the project on Monday.

    In December, we ask that participants not arrive December 23-29. This allows our coordinator to spend the Christmas holiday with her family.

    Airport Pick-up:

    Most participants will end up flying into Quito’s new airport, Mariscal Sucre International, which is a ways outside of Quito. From there, participates will need to take a shuttle bus found inside the main terminal to the "old" airport. The shuttle bus runs roughly every 30 minutes and costs $8 or so. Our coordinator will have airport pick-up arranged from the "old" airport which is closer to town. The shuttle is much cheaper, and we think, safer then flagging down a taxi to drive you to the old airport or into town. Mariana, the in-country coordinator for Ecuador, will go over this process in more depth about a week before your program start date.

    Note: Most flights tend to arrive later in the evening. Please try to arrive before 7PM if possible.

  • Past Participant Feedback

Ecuador - Cost and Details
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