Volunteer in Ecuador
Ecuador is a popular destination with international tourists and if you would like to do more than just sightseeing we have some fantastic opportunities where you can integrate into the local culture, work alongside local people, help good causes and also learn or improve your Spanish. Thousands of people every year sign up to help and you can search rewarding community and conservation projects in places like Quito, the Andes and the Amazon.
Volunteer Programs in Ecuador
Search structured, free and low cost placements from leading international and local organisations which can be joined all year round.
Guide to Volunteering in Ecuador
On our website you can find volunteer opportunities and organisations in places like Quito which is located in a spectacular setting in the Andes. Other destinations include Ibarra, Puyo, Cuenca, Otavalo, Mindo, Montanita, Machala, Tera and the Amazon. If you choose a destination away from a big city a lot programs are located in remote locations and living conditions might not be what you are used to - so be aware of this.
Location of Projects
- Galapagos Islands
- Puerto Lopez
- San Cristobal
You can view our South America volunteer programs for more options.
Types of Volunteer Programs in Ecuador
Community Development Programs in Ecuador
With the current economic climate, Ecuador has been affected and there is a need for assistance all year round. Below you can read more information. You can help change the lives of people and disadvantaged youth. By traveling and going to volunteer in Ecuador you might be able to make a real lasting contribution to the lives of people and communities. You could teach English, coach sports or help building and construction efforts. Other projects can include helping at children’s hospital and community centres, where you can improve the lives of children. Example placements include:
You can make a massive difference to people’s lives by becoming a carer. There are huge numbers of vulnerable adults and children who are orphaned, neglected or disabled, in need of love, care and affection. Through the simple act of showing an interest and positive interaction you can make a big impact on their lives and help to improve their self-confidence and self-esteem, whilst giving them some relief from the daily grind of their lives. We work with 2 organisations in Quito who need 3 people at any one time to help with their responsibilities. They are schools but with specific focus on the disabled or the extremely poor who are more in need of care and attention through extra curricular projects then with their A B C’s.
Camp Hope is a small primary school of about 100 pupils, from 5-12 yrs, who accept both special needs and non-special needs children. The school needs volunteers to help those who have acute special needs, assisting them both inside and outside the classroom. There are 4 main lessons per day and the rest of the time will be spent helping with art and craft, music, sport and homework.
Cenit is an educational centre that helps working children who have to divide their time between school and selling goods out on the streets. The centre ideally wants 3 – 4 volunteers at a time to help run extra curricular classes for the pre-school kids, art music etc and help with the older students with homework, lessons on sexual health, dance, music, and other subjects based on the current volunteers’ abilities. Fresh ideas are always welcome so this can be a dynamic internship.
Education Volunteer Projects in Ecuador
On teaching projects in Ecuador you can work with children ranging from 3 to 18 in schools and community centres in places like Quito. You could help lead English, computer science, sports, music and art classes. The projects aim to give children a fun learning environment heping them in daily life and improve future prospects. This is a great way to become immersed in the local community, you may well find it hard to say goodbye as you will become attached. You are encouraged to use your imagination and enthusiasm to make learning fun and interesting for the children, and arts, crafts and games can really stimulate the pupils.
If you have a passion for nature and animals we really recommend a rain forest or wildlife project where you can help protect beauty spots and rescue / rehabilitate exotic animals. Working as a wildlife conservation volunteer in Ecuador you will be able to identify and track wild animals, support important environmental research in an endangered ecosystem and also raise awareness within local communities. On some projects you will support a team of dedicated conservation experts and scientists, as they monitor wildlife, collect data and build a management strategy for the ecosystem. There are Amazon animal rescue centre programs where you can help a unique animal reserve and rehabilitation centre, helping taking care of animals. You can get your hands on feeding and helping caymans and other exotic animals, join a crew in the Tropical region of Ecuador for a memorable experience.
Medical, Healthcare & Hospital Volunteer Programs in Ecuador
Medical placements are available in hospitals in places Quito. Some medical programs last 6 week placements to assist medical staff in hospitals or clinics. Perfectly placed to add a further 3 weeks of volunteering in conservation + community projects to provide a varied and fulfilling overseas experience. Medical projects is ideal for those pre-medical school, who can speak intermediate Spanish. Lessons will be provided for the first 2 weeks to give your accent a quick polish. The amount of responsibility you’ll be given will depend on your skills and experience. Interns usually start by shadowing the doctors and nurses, and will be taught basic skills such as how to take vital signs, changing dressings, taking blood and giving injections. However there will be time when you'll be asked to help with hospital admin, stocking and preparing medical supplies.
We work with 2 hospitals in and around Quito who take 2 volunteers per departure.
A small, private clinic, near Quito’s Historical centre, who provides care to about 14 patients with a staff of about 40. It has rooms for consultation, surgery, a laboratory and specialist doctors in a calm, organised environment. The staff here have the time to teach so an interns here will participate in everything from patient consultations to surgeries.
A midsized and busy clinic, in South Quito where incomes and fees for medical treatments are lower. The clinic offers emergency services, has a laboratory, x-ray, and surgery. The clinic is very busy and can always use a helping hand in emergency care, nursing, and patient prep. It is perfect for interns who enjoy fast paced environments. Those interested in hospital administration will also be put to good use!
Summer Volunteer Programs in Ecuador
International volunteers are required to spend time working alongside locally Ecuadorian staff at summer camps. These are an amazing cultural exchange program opportunity where you can lead educational lessons and get involved in fun sporting activities. Activities include teaching English, trekking, horse riding and being creative by making new classes. You will not need any previous experience but you will need lots of energy and patience. You will be able to help campers with their English skills whilst helping locally employed staff. There will be plenty of free time off from camp to explore the local region and see more of Ecuador.
Volunteer with Help Street Children in Ecuador
Work in the poorest areas of Quito and help to make a difference to the local community; you can get involved with a range of activities such as outreach, community service and school support at one of two projects. Choose from two day care centres. The first provides a safe haven for the children of parents who work at the city dump. As a volunteer you’ll organise educational lessons, plus arts and crafts, music and games, and get involved with feeding and care. The second centre offers education services to underprivileged children from marginalised areas. You’ll play an active role in teaching and homework supervision, with key topics including English reading and writing, music, painting and art. If you choose to stay for 8 weeks or more, you will also have the opportunity to help out at the street children project, working with youngsters who have no one to care for them while their parents go out to work. Working at one of four local markets, you can help out with community service, education, psychology and at the local clinic.
Who Can Apply
Everyone can apply as long as you are eligible for a tourist visa, programs are open to people traveling solo, school groups, couples and you can go with friends. If you choose to volunteer in a group of two or more you might be able to get discounts on trips. You will need to be aged 18 and over and in good health. No previous experience is required but basic Spanish language is desired, we recommend learning on arrival or buying a phrase book which will allow you to communicate better. A positive, flexible and out-going attitude will also be appreciated. Some projects can be really hands on and challenging so don't expect this to be an easy experience.
Placements start every month throughout the year and international participants are always needed. Summer volunteering trips and group projects are popular but you will need to book in advance to secure a spot. Programs can also be booked in advance.
How to Apply
Search organisations like NGO's, sending agencies and local grass roots projects. Some agencies will require you to pay a fee to participate this usually includes placements, training, transfers, meals, accommodation and in-country support. You can stay for as little as a week to over 6 months depending on your availability. Most organisations look for individuals who are able to commit for a minimum period of one month, the longer you volunteer the better though as it takes a while to get used to surroundings. Some people stay for over a year!
How to Volunteer in Ecuador for Free
There are lots of free and cheap volunteer opportunities in Ecuador but you will need to be independent and arrange everything by yourself. Some local charities and NGO's offer no fee placements but you might be required to pay a donation which usually goes towards the running of projects which have little or no funding. Recommended organisations include:
- Fundacion Arte del Mundo offer free volunteer placements to energetic and committed volunteers where you can help children and communities in Baños de Agua Santa. You will need to pay for accommodation for the duration of your stay.
Help / Advice
If you need any help arranging a volunteer placement in Ecuador please get in touch.
Reviews & Testimonials
If you have ever volunteered in Ecuador and would like to write about your experience, review an organisation or share any recommendations please contact us.
Volunteering in Ecuador - A Life Changing Experience
For 4 and a half weeks I worked on 2 volunteering projects in Ecuador working to help local people. The main project I worked for was in the Women’s prison in Quito. I was in the nursery with the babies and toddlers who have to live in the prison while their mothers are serving their sentence. They have no other family or those they do have are also in Prison elsewhere. Over 500 children live in the prisons in Ecuador, of all ages, only some go to school. This project occupied me for the mornings and sometimes I stayed till mid afternoon when we returned the children to their mothers, inside the prison.
The other project I involved myself with was working in the ’Fundacion Jovenes Contra el Cancer’ which is a charitable support organisation for young people with Cancer. I taught/ chatted in English to the young people for 2 hours on both Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. I heard some extremely sad stories but each person in the Fundacion is positive in outlook and extremely cheerful and lively. During my stay I was invited to a hen/stag night and subsequent wedding of one of this group.
I also joined in a ‘March’ outside Quito’s TV studios to raise awareness for the plight of 2 students who desperately need liver transplants. Most weekends I managed to escape the pollution and noise of Quito and explore some of the wonderful places which Ecuador has to offer; the Cloud forest, the Otavalo market, Banos, Cotopaxi and more. There is lots to see. I also went to an international football match and football is certainly not my ’thing’ in England! It was an eye opening experience that I will never forget.
- Margaret, UK