Volunteer in Galapagos Islands
Keen to visit somewhere spectacular and relatively uncoutched by tourism? Apply to volunteer in the Galapagos Islands where you can help animals, the environment and communities. You can join a short or long term program and get to learn about the culture and history of the destination.
Volunteer Programs in Galapagos Islands
Guide to Volunteering in the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are located around 600 miles off the West Coast of Ecuador and when you arrive here you will be struck just by how beautiful it is.
There are over 50 islands which make up the Galapagos with 5 being inhabited by around 28,000 people. What you might not know about the Galapagos is that some of the people who live here are extrmeley poor, around 40% of the native population live in poverty. This region is receiving more and more tourist and this potentially could have a negative long term effort on the islands.
Around 200,000 people visited the region last year and there needs to be a carefully balancing act between preservation and tourism. You could go in search of exotic wildlife, climb volcanoes, see stunning white sandy beaches or get pictures of some of the best sunsets in the world. A lot of people combine experiences and volunteer in Ecuador too.
Expect pristine beaches while also get your hands dirty by joining active experiences and programs which combine tourism with volunteerism. Find rewarding community and conservation programs where you can make a big difference whilst experience life in a spectacular destination. These cultural exchanges also allow you to live and enjoy the culture of a different part of the world which is still unspoiled by tourism.
Top Reasons to Apply
- Experience living and helping in one of the most spectacular areas of the world
- See exotic animals like giant tortoises
- Make a difference and do something challenging and rewarding
- Meet local conservationists and make friends with other internationals
- Be more than just a tourist
Willdife & Conservation Projects
The Galapagos Islands are one of the best places in the world in terms of biodiversity, with over 200 animal species and over 500 plants species. If you like the idea of giving something back then consider working to help the environment and nature, the Galapagos is a very special and unique destination and should be kept in pristine condition even with tourism.
There are lots of environmental and marine based volunteer opportunities in the Galapagos you could work with animals or help nature by working with local NGO's. Research teams are working all year round helping plant species and eco systems, tasks can include planting native vegetation and hacking down the rampant growth of blackberries - Galapagos most invasive foreign plant that is destroying natural plant life on the islands.
When visiting the islands you will get to see animals like tortoises, sea lions, penguins and sharks. There are lots of environmental programs both on land and at sea where you can help rehabilitating animals and helping to improve their surrounds. Some of the activities on the field might include:
- Planting native and endemic trees
- Removal of invasive plants or weeds
- Clear out the trails and paths for visitors and keep it clean
- Work in the plant nursery, grow new plants and plant them in specified locations in the park
- Work in the tortoise preservation centre
- Help with their breeding and more
Community Development Programs
Programs can include helping villages on building and construction programs or leading English educational lessons. Education and teaching programs are popular, you can even paid to teach here. Working as an assistant to teachers in schools in this region of the world will be a memorable experience. Tasks can include leading English lessons or instructing sports. These are really fun volunteer placements where you can help local teachers and live in a beautiful destination. You will get to improve aspects of education on the islands and your efforts will be appreciated by local staff and children. It will be relly rewarding seeing the benefits you will have. Participants are welcomed all year round and you can also search all of our South America volunteer programs for more options.
What to Expect / Sample Itinerary
Take a trip to the amazing spectrum of biodiversity that is the Galapagos Islands and meet rare and endangered species. Take in incredible scenery, wonders of the natural world and get involved with conservation work on one of our featured volunteer island hopping tours.
Here is a sample itinerary of a 4 week trip:
Prepare to meet the most famous residents of the Galapagos; the Giant Tortoise, on the beautiful island of Santa Cruz! You’ll watch these amazing creatures wander in the wild before you visit the Charles Darwin station and breeding centre. Journey on to Tortuga Bay Beach and see if you can spot marine turtles, white tipped reef sharks or manta rays. Round the week off in Pto Ayora where you will take part in conservation volunteer work, your work will vary according to the needs of the project but you’ll be guaranteed a memorable outdoors experience!
Next it’s on to San Cristobel where you’ll get involved with environmental, community and social volunteer projects at the Biological station. Activities will differ depending on where help is needed and may include reforestation, restoring native forests and endemic plants, and educating the local community about planting vegetation. The rest of your week will be yours to spend exploring San Cristobel!
Home to more wild tortoises than any other island, Isabela is teeming with animal, bird and marine life – a haven for animal lovers! Visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre, glimpse penguins, sharks, blue-legged piqueros, pelicans, iguanas and sea lions on the Tintoreras Islet Tour and marvel at the landscapes and lava formations of Volcan Sierra Negra and Volcan Chico. Your last day is free to chill out on the beach, spot wildlife or book extra tours.
What to Expect
- Accommodation: Shared accommodation with other participants is usually provided, if you apply through an agency this is included in the program fee. Homestays are also available which are perfect if you want full cultural immersion, you will live with a local family eating their food, practising English and also learning Spanish. You might also like to view our guide to studying Spanish in South America.
- Requirements: Volunteers must be 18 years or older on the volunteer program start date unless participating with a family or school group. A mandatory criminal background check (for all children related programs). Travel insurance will also usually be needed.
- Language: Although not a compulsion; volunteers are required to learn a basic level of Spanish, especially in teaching programs. You might like to book a Spanish course in Ecuador
How to Apply
This is a very remote region and to join you might need to pay a fee which will cover your accommodation and transport for the duration of a trip. Be sure to get your application in early as places fill up quick - this is one of the most up and coming volunteer destinations in the world. A lot of programs are flexible and you will have lots of time to travel and see more of this special region or have time to go back to mainland exploring Ecuador. If this sounds interesting to you browse our featured trips and programs today, you can also search our featured organisations to find free and low cost opportunities. Nowhere else the world to nature’s untouched beauty of these islands.