Volunteering in Ecuador

Real traveling and real adventure, just as imagined when viewing a National Geographic style documentary. Join us in volunteering with  Bosque Medicinal to protect and care for the rainforest. Be active in helping our planet and look after the El Paraiso nature reserve and forest refugio along with us.

Volunteer Service Trip Dates

We are happy to announce that we will be hosting 4 Volunteer Service Trips this year, and hope you will be able to join us on one.

  • March 25th – April 13th
  • May 27th – June 15th
  • October 14th – November 2nd
  • November 25th – December 14th

To join in, please fill out the following form. Read the description below first, to be sure you are up to the tasks required!

APPLICATION FORM

Forest.ink’s First Volunteer Service Trip

March 25 – April 13, 2019

In addition to protecting and caring for the El Paraiso nature reserve, we will learn about the rain forest and Shuar beliefs while visiting a Shuar community, the indigenous population, as guests in their homes. This will be a 20 day volunteer trip, starting March 25th, and ending April 13th.

Program Overview

Our volunteer program takes place in El Paraíso,  part of the Runahuarco nature reserve.  Much of this area is a cloudforest, a rare type of rainforest found at higher elevations. We will help clear trails, mark perimeters, and monitor camera traps throughout the nature reserve, grow plants in the nursery and botanical gardens, and help build the forest Refugio. While doing all of this, we will also have to take care of cooking, washing dishes, fetching water, and other daily chores.

Beyond the work, we will go on organized trips into the rainforest to observe the flora and fauna of the region, as well as learning about the local edible and medicinal plants. During leisure time, we offer yoga, qi gong and meditation. While with the Shuar we will learn from them regarding their lifestyle, beliefs, and shamanic practices.

Warning!

This is not a vacation! It is an opportunity to volunteer and actively help protect and care for rainforest. Manual labour is expected, within the extent of your physical abilities, and full participation in all volunteer tasks is required. We will wake up at 6 in the morning and work from 8:30 until 17:00, with an hour for lunch around noon. To some extent the weather will dictate the type of work required on any given day.

The rainforest is a demanding teacher. We recommend being alert and conscious at all times while there, as the rainforest also offers many painful lessons to those not paying attention. Try to interact with it directly as little as possible, in other words: Don’t touch it if you don’t have to! This is for your own safety.

If you would like to go on your own into the rainforest without being accompanied by a member of our local team, please let us know prior to leaving so we can ship your remaining possessions back to your family along with our condolences 😉. Seriously, do not go alone, it can be incredibly dangerous.

Food while there

Food will be provided, with cooking and maintaining our rainforest kitchen as one of the tasks handled by our team of volunteers. Experienced cooks will lead and teach, so that eventually we can all handle cooking duties. Additional duties for the kitchen include washing dishes and bringing in drinking water. The food will be predominantly vegetarian and vegan made from locally sourced ingredients. If you take vitamins or dietary supplements, please bring these for yourself. Energy bars are also recommended.

Health & Safety

Ecuador is a relatively safe country by regional standards, however be careful and alert, as you would be anywhere else. Do keep an eye on your passport, cell phone, camera, and other valuables. It is also common for foreigners to pay higher prices than locals, although other discrimination is rare.

The El Paraiso nature reserve is quite safe, despite being filled with wild animals, snakes, and spiders. Take their existence into account, as misunderstandings with them are uncomfortable, although rare. Bring all essential medication that you require, including antibiotics and eye drops. If you are allergic to insect stings, be sure to bring your own medication for that as well. If you are prone to severe allergic reactions, for example suffocation, we do not recommend that you join us for this voluntary program, as professional medical assistance is not immediately on-hand.

Ecuador is a safe country from a health perspective as well. Vaccines are not required in order to visit Ecuador, however refer to whichever health authority you trust for specifics. We will be exposed to many mosquitoes while there, so use of insect repellent and long-sleeved shirts and pants helps. A mosquito net is also recommended. While there, we will also share traditional and natural ways of deterring mosquitos. Mosquitos do carry a very low risk of yellow fever, malaria, and dengue, however focusing on preventing bites alleviates much of this risk.

Animals are very curious creatures, and enjoy hiding in many different places. Tarantulas, scorpions, conga ants, and snakes tend to show up in gear, backpacks, shoes, and the like, so be sure to check carefully before handling or putting on your stuff.

Getting to El Paraiso Nature Reserve

We will meet and start our adventure together in Gualaquiza, Ecuador. We will be booking 1 night at El Paraiso Hotel in Gualaquiza on March 23rd for the entire team, and then take a bus together to the rainforest the following day. We will do the same on April 13th, at the end of the program for when we leave the rainforest.

In order to travel to Ecuador your passport should have at least 6 months validity remaining. Please double-check your own visa requirements, although most likely you will not need a visa for visits lasting up to 90 days. This includes Czech passport holders.

Flights to Ecuador

We recommend booking a flight in to Guayaquil, as it is closer to El Paraiso, and navigating it’s bus terminal is easier than the terminal in Quito. Large airline carriers such as Iberia or KLM fly into Ecuador, and in our past experience prices tend to be around 17,000 CZK for a roundtrip ticket. Ultimately, how you make it to Ecuador is up to you, but we have bad luck with stand-by tickets, so do not recommend them.

Please ensure that you will be in Ecuador the day before the start of the program, and schedule flights to leave one day after the end of the program, ideally in the evening. It is also useful to factor in the bus travel times before booking tickets, to make sure that you arrive in Gualaquiza in time.

Please arrive in Gualaquiza by March 23rd at the absolute latest, and schedule flights out of Ecuador from April 14th at the earliest.

Busses to Gualaquiza, the closest town to our rainforest base in El Paraiso.

From Quito, the bus will take roughly 12 hours, whereas the trip from Guayaquil should take between 6 – 8 hours.

If you would like help in arranging your travel, let us know, and we will try to answer your questions or put you in touch with the other volunteers booking travel.

What to bring with you

We recommend a few items, but try to pack light, and keep in mind that once in the rainforest, not much will dry out completely. Additionally, we recommend sealing everything in waterproof bags prior to use, as everything gets soaked in the rainforest.

Recommended items:

  • Something to sleep in, so a light sleeping bag or thin blankets
  • Mats or something to sleep on top of
  • Mosquito Nets
  • Headlamp / flashlight, preferably with a low light or red light option
  • Folding Knife
  • Work Gloves
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Small backpack for day-trips
  • Small personal first aid kit (including some antibiotics and something for diarrhea)
  • Eco-friendly personal hygiene products
  • Eco-friendly laundry soap
  • Mosquito repellent (although these can be bought in town as well)
  • Clothing (Please be sure everything is a natural color (brown, black, dark grey, dark green, etc…))
  • Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are recommended for both the day as well as while you sleep.
  • In the rainforest, long pants, a t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt, bandannas and socks are recommended.
  • A set of hiking shoes or sandals and rubber boots (Wellington’s or gumboots)

Electricity

The electrical sockets in Ecuador are similar to those used in much of the Americas, meaning you will need an adapter for European style plugs. There is also no electricity in the nature reserve, so bring enough power-banks to last you a week. Likely, you will not need to use your electronic devices much at all, particularly as there is almost no phone coverage where we are going. This is more than made up for with a fantastic connection to nature.

Price

We estimate the trip to cost no more than $700 USD or 15.000 CZK, based on our previous experience in bringing groups through the rainforest. However, as this will be our first volunteer program, we are planning a bit for the unexpected, and have priced it higher than we anticipate. The final price will be calculated after including all expenses generated during the trip, and the remaining money will be returned to the volunteers. We are not interested in making money with this program, instead we hope to have volunteers willing to help Bosque Medicinal and Forest.ink in caring for nature.

This Includes:

  • Food during the program
  • Hotel Accommodation in Gualaquiza on Mar. 23rd and Apr. 13th
  • Group transport to and from Gualaquiza to the rainforest
  • Two 3-Day stays with a Shuar community.

It does NOT include:

  • Your flight to and from Ecuador
  • Transportation within Ecuador to Gualaquiza
  • Travel Insurance (we do recommend that you purchase this for yourself)

How can I sign-up?

If you would like to join us in a our pilot volunteer program in Ecuador, please fill-out this form. We will let you know if you have been accepted into the program soon.

We hope to expand our program based off of the success of this pilot, so if you are not accepted this time, do not fret! Hopefully we will be providing more opportunities like this soon.

There will be some overlap in questions if you have also filled out our general volunteering form – we simply are not that digitally savvy, so everything behind the scenes is still done manually.