The Youth International Ecuador & Galapagos Islands program is a one-month experiential learning travel program in Ecuador, beginning with a 1-day orientation in Miami, Florida.  The Spring 2024 program will run from April 30 to May 29.

The tunnels in the Galapagos Islands

Detailed Itinerary: April 30 to May 29

April 30 to May 1: Miami:  Team members meet up in Miami and begin a series of orientation workshops on topics including health, safety, cultural sensitivity, and team building, in preparation for their Ecuador adventure.

On May 1, the team flies together from Miami to Ecuador, arriving in the city of Cuenca on the evening of May 1.

May 1 to 6: Cuenca: During this week, the team will live with middle class home stay families. Days will be spent engaging in a combination of Spanish language and cultural lessons, time with host families to learn about their lives first-hand, and completing workshops started in Miami.  There will also be several group outings and plenty of free time to explore the many museums, busy markets, and bustling streets and squares of this beautiful and culturally rich colonial city, of which the entire historic center has been honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On May 6 the team will say goodbye to their Cuenca host families, and travel overland through the picturesque “volcano alley” of central Ecuador, to the where they will begin their Andes Mountain hike.  Along the way they will stop and explore “Ingapirca”, the most important Inca ruins in Ecuador.

May 7 to 9: Andes Mountain Trek:  Three-day trek in the Andes Mountains, through the spectacular “volcano alley” of central Ecuador.  Continuing by bus to Baños on May 9.

May 9 to 11: Baños: Time to explore this pretty little town set in lush surroundings at the base of a volcano. There will also be a white-water rafting trip, and time for a fun and relaxing dip in the local hot springs.

On May 11, the team will continue by bus, following the “Route of the Waterfalls”, from Baños down to the Amazon Basin, and into the Ecuadorian rainforest.

May 11 to 16: Village Homestay: During this week, the team lives with host families, in very simple conditions, in a small village on the edge of the rainforest. Team members learn about village life in the rainforest by living it themselves. Days are spent helping host families with regular daily work and chores, as well as running educational workshops and activities for village children.

On May 16, the team will bid farewell to their village host families and will travel upriver by boat into a rainforest reserve.  Along the way they will visit an animal rescue center.

May 16 to 20: Rainforest Reserve: The team will live in small cabins in the middle of the Ecuadorian rainforest.  Here they will work on one or more volunteer projects with a foundation dedicated to rainforest conservation. Recreational and educational outings will also be taken into the rainforest and along the river.

On May 20, travel by bus to the capital city of Quito.

May 20 to 22: Quito: The team will have time to explore the colorful and culturally rich old quarter of Ecuador’s beautiful capital city.  They will also trek part way up the side of a sacred volcano perched over top of Quito.

On the morning of May 22, the team flies from Quito to the Galapagos Islands.

May 22 to 28: Galapagos Islands: For a full week, the team will visit multiple islands within Ecuador’s unique and incredible Galapagos Archipelago, where Charles Darwin discovered critical evidence to support his theory of evolution. During this time team members will go on several different safaris around the islands, boating, snorkeling, trekking, cycling, swimming, and on horseback to observe and learn about an astonishing array of mammals, birds, and marine life, as well as the islands themselves. There will also be ample time to enjoy the area’s spectacular beaches and to begin reflecting on the entire trip in preparation for the return home.

On May 28, fly from the Galapagos Islands back to Quito.

May 28 to 29: Quito:  One last night back in Quito for final program wrap-up and celebrations.

On May 29, the team flies together from Quito back to Miami and then onward individually to each team member’s final home destination.

*Although unlikely, it is possible that the starting and ending point in the USA could change due to flight schedules and availability.