Amazonas Explored

Come join us in the Amazon this year and help to provide remote villages with fresh water, restore the local primary schools, teaching English to primary school children and/or building bathrooms for those without access to such basic necessities.

  • Restore the local primary schools,
  • Teach English to primary school children
  • Building bathrooms for those without access to such basic necessities.
  • Trekking and canoeing the pristine Amazon Jungle
  • Visit the majestic Andes Mountains

In the first week you will stay in a picturesque jungle town set at the junction of two rivers and occupied by troops of playful monkeys. You will commute each morning via canoe to an inaccessible indigenous community and will be working with these villagers in providing invaluable infrastructure and helping to teach English to the village children.

In the second week you will be off on an incredible jungle tour. Hiking, canoeing, tubing, visiting an Amazonian animal refuge, meeting with a Shaman (Witch Doctor) and more! To top it off we white water raft our way back to civilization. Then you will be transported high into the Andes Mountains to the famous town of Bańos. See the sights and waterfalls, catch up on that last minute shopping and visit their relaxing hot springs.


Classroom in Equador

You will then be accompanied back to Quito where you can fly back to Australia or continue your incredible South American journey.....

A Volunteer Eco Students Abroad program allows you the opportunity to make a difference and enjoy incredible moments in some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the world.

VESA reserves the right to change this itinerary at any time and for any reason including flight schedules, natural and/or climatic events.

Information about Ecuador

Ecuador is one of South America's best kept secrets. Although the second smallest country on the South American continent, Ecuador offers unparalleled natural diversity within its easily accessible borders.

Where else can you drive from the steamy lush jungle of the Amazon basin, past snow capped Andean volcanoes, through tropical cloud forest and arrive on the warm equatorial Pacific coast – all in a day? Continue further and you reach the world famous Galapagos Islands, site of Charles Darwin's theories of evolution.


Holding a tortise in Equador

Ecuador is Spanish for equator and that's where the country lies. It straddles the equator on the Pacific Coast of South America and is bordered by Colombia to it's north and Peru to the south and east of the country. It is split roughly into four regions, the Galapagos Islands, the Pacific Coast, the Andes and Central Highlands and the Amazon region. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is situated high within the Andes range and, at 2850m is the world's second highest capital city. Spanish is widely spoken within Ecuador, although native languages such as Quichua are also spoken within the some parts of the Andes and Amazon.

Owing to it's unique geography, Ecuador is commonly regarded as one of the world's 'megadiversity hotspots'. For a nation it's size, Ecuador is one of the most species-rich countries in the world. With an amazing array of birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish and plants; nature lovers will not have to wait too long or go too far to see this in evidence.


Volunteer with child in Equador

Ecuador's population is a vibrant melting pot of indigenous, mestizo (mixed descent) and Afro-Ecuadorian people. It is a predominantly Roman Catholic country with strong family values. The people are patient, polite and friendly with visitors to Ecuador likely to make dozens of lifelong friends! Ecuador is one of the safest countries in South America and was listed in 2007 as a safer country to live in than the United States. Women play an important role in Ecuadorian society occupying a large part of the workforce and in 1929, Ecuador became the first Latin American country to grant equal voting rights to women.

Although a fortunate country in many ways, Ecuador is still a developing nation. An estimated 70% of Ecuadorians live below the poverty line with this figure much higher within the indigenous and remote communities. Whilst the government with the help of volunteer and community groups such as VESA are fighting to assist these remote communities, issues such as education and malnutrition that are associated with poverty are still widely prevalent.

With a welcoming and friendly populace, great climate and an incredible natural biodiversity, Ecuador is not likely to remain one of South America's best kept secrets for long!

Amazonas Explored

Itinerary 2017


 Day  Activity
Day 1 Flight to Quito. You will be met at Quito International Airport by our friendly VESA staff member who will be easily recognisable in their VESA t-shirt and will be holding a sign. Please ensure that whatever your flight arrangements, you will be at the international arrivals hall at the time of the group flight arrival. We will be transported by private coach to Misahualli where you will enjoy a light meal.
Day 2 This a day for acclimatisation and a full briefing from our Ecuador staff on your upcoming volunteer work and jungle trek. Enjoy a free day – meet the monkeys, get to know your fellow volunteers and hang out in the town square.
Day 3-7 or
Day 9-13:
You will be broken up into two groups. One will begin their volunteer week and the other will head off into the jungle for the trek. At the end of the week you will swap over.

Volunteering

You will be split into small groups to undertake the following: working with children in the village school teaching English and basic sanitation, renovating and revitalising the facilities with fresh coats of paint, installing new play equipment and the construction and installation of bathrooms and water catchments for the village homes.

8am – Breakfast
9am – Begin Volunteer work
12.30pm – Lunch
1pm – continue volunteer work
4pm – Finish
4.30pm – Free time and activities
7pm – Dinner
8pm – Free time and activities

Jungle Adventure:

Accompanied by our specialist guide and biologist you will begin the jungle trek by motor canoe to the start of the first day’s hike. Discover all the plants and animals that make this part of the world so special.

During your days in the jungle you will visit the plantation of an indigenous family, pan for gold by the river and take a night canoe ride - a Tribal Shaman will demonstrate his traditional skills. Enjoy fishing, swimming, campfires and hiking through some spectacular jungle. Visit Amazoonico animal rescue centre and see some local crafts people at work. Overnights in a jungle lodge. Full day of white water rafting with a picnic lunch.
Day 8 Take the opportunity to rest and relax, spend time with your friends. Have some fun – we have no plans for you today.
Day 13 Check out of Misahualli and take our bus to Banos. Overnight in Banos.
Day 14 Puenting, horseback riding or just relax. This is a free day and no meals are included. Overnight bus to Quito at 11pm.
Day 15 Day tour of Quito or early transfer to the airport (dependent on your flight schedule).
*Beginning of ‘The Road Less Travelled’ Ecuador tour.
*There are no banks/atms or credit card facilities in Misahualli - $US cash only. ATMs are available at Quito airport or Banos.

Inclusions:

  • All meals except Banos free day.
  • All accommodation.
  • All volunteer materials and local builders/assistants.
  • Drinking water where required
  • All in country transportation.
  • All activities except where indicated as optional.

Optional extras (approx prices only)

  • The Road Less Travelled 9 days/8 nights £599 (After program) 
  • Tree house swing US$20 
  • Puenting (bridge jumping) US$20 
  • 1 Hour Massage US$20 

Accommodation:

8 nights Hostel Shaw
Dorm style accommodation separated into male female.
Electricity, full bathrooms, bed linen/pillow, mosquito netting.
Pay phones and internet available in the town. Close to shops and medical clinics. 
All meals.

3 Nights Jungle lodge
No electricity, no showers, toilets available. 
Mosquito netting, linen, pillows and drinking water supplied.
All meals.

1 night Great Hostel, Banos
Linen, full bathrooms, electricity, pool, spa.
No meals.

Amazonas Explored 2017

Please note positions are highly limited for positions in our 2017 programs so submit your application early to secure the best chance of travelling with VESA this season.

   Amazonas Explored  Road Less Travelled

3

Sat June 10th - Sun June 25th 2017

Depart Quito - July 2nd 2017

 4  Sat June 24th - Sun July 9th 2017  Depart Quito - July 16th 2017

How much does the program cost?

To secure your place with VESA a non-refundable deposit of is payable immediately after you have received notification of your acceptance to participate in the program. The balance or final payment of the program costs is due 45 days before departure. The total cost (inclusive of deposit and exclusive of flights) of the VESA program is:


 Program  Deposit  Final payment  Total

Amazonas Explored

£200

£999

£1199

What is included in the cost?

The cost includes:

  • Non refundable deposit to secure your space.
  • All accommodation for the duration of the program.
  • All ground transportation in country.
  • All meals (three meals per day) whilst in Ecuador, except for the free day.
    We can cater to vegetarians and some types of food allergies.
  • Bottled water in Ecuador where required.
  • Some snacks.
  • Building materials needed for volunteer project.
  • Hiring of local skilled trades people to assist in the volunteer projects.
  • A monetary donation to the local host organisation.
  • Guided 5 day jungle tour.
  • All admission fees to local parks and sites.
  • All accompanying VESA staff members.
  • All administration costs.
  • Certification (if requested) of completion of the volunteer program. Great for your resume.

What is not included in the cost?

The cost does not include:

  • International airfares
  • Airfares to the International point of departure (if required)
  • International Departure Taxes
  • Travel insurance
  • Vaccinations
  • Any visas (if required)
  • Passports
  • Meals on one free day

What if I need to cancel?

If you wish to withdraw your enrolment please notify us in writing by post or by email. Please note that if you wish to withdraw your agreement you will be bound by the cancellation fees set out in the VESA Cancellation Policy.

Am I able to fundraise to offset the cost of the program?

Absolutely! In fact, we encourage all our students to actively fundraise to help pay for their program costs. Upon receipt of your deposit and confirmation onto a program, VESA will send out a fundraising package. The fundraising package contains a letter from VESA introducing you to potential donors, a letter from the local host organisation, a list of proven fundraising ideas and a receipt document.

Many of our students have raised all of the funds necessary for their program and flights costs. Join our Facebook group and page Volunteer Eco Students Abroad to see some of their ideas.

Please note, whilst VESA is a volunteer organisation it is not a registered charity so donations will not be tax deductible.

The Road Less Travelled

Itinerary 2017

After your incredible volunteer and adventure project with VESA, come with us and be amazed by the rest of this spectacular country on our new program – ‘The Road Less Travelled’.

You will have made the epic journey from the Amazon, through the famous rugged Andes mountains, hiked two volcanoes and end up on the beautiful Pacific coast where you can experience some of the unique wildlife endemic to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, go whale watching or catch a tan, an evening cocktail or simply hike this pristine coast line.

This is a terrific chance to experience all that South America and Ecuador has to offer. Don’t miss out…


The Road Less Travelled

 Day  Activity
Day 1 Farewell to those leaving for home and then evening and overnight at Backpacker Inn Banos 
Day 2 Departure from Banos in the morning, transfer to Chugchilán, a remote village nested in a beautiful Andean landscape. We settle in our rooms at Hostal Cloudforest, a simple but cozy family-run accommodation, before we go on a short hike to enjoy the stunning views and to acclimatize to the altitude. Dinner and overnight at the hostel.
Day 3 Drive to Quilotoa where we first enjoy the impressive view from the edge of the crater and then hike down to the lake that fills the crater of the extinct volcano. We kayak in the lake. For those who don´t feel like hiking the steep path up again there is the possibility to do it on horse back. After having lunch in the village we go on a scenic hike that leads us through the canyon of the Toachi River and back to Chugchilán where we have dinner at our accommodation.
Day 4 Follow the Panamerican Highway further north to the Cotopaxi area. At lunch time we arrive at our beautiful accommodation, the Secret Garden Cotopaxi, a comfortable lodge located at one of the best spots of this area with amazing views of the Cotopaxi and other extinct volcanoes. Hike up to a waterfall in the mountains where the bravest ones can go for a swim in the cold but crystal clear water. Back at the lodge a warm and cozy fireplace and a delicious dinner awaits us.
Day 5
An early morning to get the best views of the Cotopaxi at sunrise and then for the drive all the way to the volcano to hike up to the refuge at 4800m altitude (volcanic activity permitting). If the conditions are good enough we get the chance to hike further up to the glacier that covers the peak of the Cotopaxi. After this adventure in the high mountains we drive back to the Panamericana and to the northern part of the Andes. At the famous town of Otavalo we stay at the charming Hostel Valle del Amanecer right in the centre of town and explore the indigenous markets, one of South America´s most impressive and famous Otavalo Markets.
Day 6
After breakfast, we visit the fascinating Parque Condor, a rehabilitation centre for South America‘s vast variety of birdlife. See the amazing Condor, one of the largest birds in the world. After lunch back at the hostel, explore more of the northern highlands. From the scenic Mojanda Lakes, hike up to the Fuya Fuya, an extinct volcano of 4275m altitude. After dinner in Otavalo a drive to Quito, Ecuador´s capital, and check in at the Secret Garden hostel.
Day 7 North of the city, at Mitad Del Mundo, we hit the equator line and at the Inti Ñan Museum you will experience standing in two different hemispheres. In the afternoon, walk through the old colonial town of Quito. We visit the cathedral and climb the tower, from where you get a breath-taking view over the huge city stretched out in the Andean valley. After a delicious dinner enjoying the view from the roof top terrace at the Secret Garden we begin the coastal part of the tour with an overnight bus ride to the town of Puerto Lopez.
Day 8
After a relaxed morning at the beach, explore the Machalilla National Park and visit the indigenous community of Agua Blanca, an archaeological site that once was the “capital “of the manta culture. At the Hostaria Itapoa, we get immersed in the easy-going lifestyle of the beach.
Day 9
Take a boat trip to discover the Machalilla Marine Park. And Isla de la Plata, the “Silver Island”, see some of the typical species of the Galapagos Islands like the blue-footed booby. During the northern summer months, you could spot huge humpback whales from the boat. After a visit to the museum, hike through forest that leads to a natural sulphur lake where we take a relaxing bath. Depart for Quito.
Day
10 
 Flight home

Inclusions:

  • All accommodation.
  • Activities and tours (except for last day)
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • All transportation.

Accommodation:

1 Night Backpackers Inn - Banos
2 Night Hostal Cloudforest
1 Night Secret Garden Cotapaxi
1 Night Hostel Valle del Amanecer
1 Night Secret Garden Quito
1 Night Overnight bus ride 
1 Nights Hostaria Itapoa
All meals. 
Dorm accommodation separated into Male/female. Some doubles available.
Electricity, full bathrooms.

Group Flight Information

Group Flights to Quito in Ecuador are arranged by VESA through reputable licensed travel agents and offered to our volunteers.

There are many advantages to travelling with the group:

  • You only have to pay the initial deposit to hold your seat rather than the whole amount leaving loads of time for fundraising.
  • You will be travelling with a big group of fellow volunteers.
  • You will be met by our friendly staff on arrival at your destination

VESA Group Flights: Group flight booking forms will be emailed to all confirmed volunteers

Independent flights: If you wish to book your own flights, refer to the details below to ensure that you can meet the group at the arrival date and time in Quito and depart Quito at the same time or later than the group flight. You must inform VESA of your itinerary so that we can be assured you will be able to meet our schedule.


Group Flights:
Travel Dates Amazonas Explored 2017


The Road Less Travelled
Group Depart London HeathrowDepart Quito
 3
10 June American Airlines flight 6160 (Operated by British Airways) depart Heathrow 1040 arrive Miami 1500
10 June American Airlines flight 939 depart Miami 1836 arrive Quito 9.59pm 10th June
4 June American airlines flight 932 depart Quito 7.00am arrive Miami 1211
24 June American Airlines flight 6159 (Operated by British Airways) depart Miami 1705 arrive Heathrow 0640 + 1 day
 3 + Road Less Travelled
10 June American Airlines flight 6160 (Operated by British Airways) depart Heathrow 1040 arrive Miami 1500
10 June American Airlines flight 939 depart Miami 1836 arrive Quito 9.59pm 10th June
02 July American airlines flight 932 depart Quito 7.00am  arrive Miami 1211
02 July American Airlines flight 6159 (Operated by British Airways) depart Miami 1705 arrive Heathrow 0640 + 1 day
 4 
24 June American Airlines flight 6160 (Operated by British Airways) depart Heathrow 1040 arrive Miami 1500 
24 June American Airlines flight 939 depart Miami 1836 arrive Quito 9.59pm 24th June
08 July American airlines flight 932 depart Quito 7.00am  arrive Miami 1211
08 July American Airlines flight 6159 (Operated by British Airways) depart Miami 1705 arrive Heathrow 0640 + 1 day
 4 + Road Less Travelled
24 June American Airlines flight 6160 (Operated by British Airways) depart Heathrow 1040 arrive Miami 1500
24 June American Airlines flight 939 depart Miami 1836 arrive Quito 9.59pm 24th June
16 July American airlines flight 932 depart Quito 7.00am  arrive Miami 1211
16 July American Airlines flight 6159 (Operated by British Airways) depart Miami 1705 arrive Heathrow 0640 + 1 day

Frequently asked questions

Is Ecuador Safe?

Safety is a good question, and a matter we take very seriously. In our experience Ecuador is one of the most safe and friendly countries in the world visited by VESA.

VESA staff members meet the designated Group Flight at the arrival hall of the airport, where they are accompanied to our hostel. Our VESA staff members are with the volunteers in the village overnight and the whole group stay in the same hostel together.

The students are supervised and accompanied on all volunteer work, activities, overnight accommodation and in country transportation by a VESA rep.

 As with all our programs, safety of our participants is our #1 priority.

We are aware that for some of our participants this may be their first experience abroad or even away from their families. Should you have any queries or need any assistance while on program there will always be someone nearby to help and you should not hesitate to ask any question at all. We are definitely there to make our volunteers have the best possible experience.

VESA closely monitors all political, civil and environmental situations in Ecuador. Should we deem that the area is unsafe for travel we will readjust the program accordingly.

Please visityour government’s travel website for further information on travelling conditions throughout the South Pacific.

Who is leading the program?

Students on the VESA programme will be accompanied at all times by members of our staff who are all qualified Senior First Aid technicians.

In Ecuador, volunteers will at all times be accompanied by VESA staff members and local experts. On tour both staff members as well as a local qualified jungle guide will travel with you.

How is the weather?

The climate in Ecuador is tropical and warm year round. 

I can't speak Spanish, is that a problem?

Not at all. All VESA staff members speak Spanish, and all our guides in Ecuador speak English. It doesn’t hurt to learn a few greetings which will be sure to garner some smiles from the locals!

Can I ring/email home?

During the volunteer week, there is an internet café in Misahualli that you are encouraged to use if you wish to email home. There are pay phones here as well, where you can pick up the phone, call home, and then pay the cashier at the conclusion of your call. There is also Wi-Fi available at the “Juice Bar” in town, but they have to be open for this. They usually are when VESA are in town.

There is no opportunity to use internet or phone for the four days on the jungle trek.

A lot of international providers seem to work in Ecuador however you must set up international roaming for this and it is quite costly to make and receive phone calls and texts.

There is internet and Skype at our accommodations in Banos.

How much money do I need?

All accommodation and food is included in the cost of the program. However if you wish to buy that special necklace for back home, then you will need to bring along some cash.

At Quito International airport on arrival there are ATMs for you to take out local currency, the US Dollar, for drinks, snacks and souvenirs. It is extremely important that you alert your bank and credit card company that you will be travelling overseas so that they do not put a hold on your card. A quick phone call is all it takes.

What is the currency in Ecuador?

The US Dollar is the only currency accepted in Ecuador.

What transport in country will be used?

In Ecuador we travel by coach as well as canoes during the volunteer week!

What do I need to bring?

VESA will be sending all participants detailed travel information approx 45 days prior to departure. This will include information on the Volunteer Project, the village you will be staying in, packing lists, and other valuable tips.

Do I need any vaccinations?

No vaccinations are mandatory except for Australian residents, however VESA strongly recommends that you speak to your medical practitioner about any further immunisations you may need.

Australian residents returning home within 6 days of travelling to Ecuador will require a Yellow Fever vaccination. A Yellow Fever certificate may be asked for at customs on your return home.

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date. Pack a travel health kit, especially as you will be travelling away from major city centres. There is a risk of yellow fever in this country. There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country. Anti malarial medication may be recommended. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Do I need insurance?

Yes. All participants must provide VESA with proof of medical insurance prior to departure. Please visit the"Travel Info" page for a listing of VESA recommended insurers.

Do I need a Visa?

No visa is required for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union or the United States for travel to Ecuador.

For citizens of all countries please check your VISA requirements with your local Ecuadorian consulate.

If you are travelling to Ecuador via the US, an electronic travel authority (‘ESTA’) is now required for all visa waiver countries including Australia and New Zealand for travel to or transit through United States of America.

ESTA applies to travellers to the USA from Visa Waiver countries, including Australia New Zealand and the United Kingdom. For citizens of all countries please check your US VISA requirements with your local US consulate.

Health and Safety – Ecuador


Every aspect of the program, from your departure to your return, has safety as the highest priority.

Ecuador and the Misahualli area were chosen as our destination because of the security of the location and the friendliness of the people.

We are aware that for some of our participants this may be their first experience abroad or even away from their families. Should you have any queries or need any assistance while on program there will always be someone nearby to help and you should not hesitate to ask any question at all. We are definitely there to make our volunteers have the best possible experience.


The Road Less Travelled

  Health and Safety - Ecuador
1If you chose to travel on the group flight you will be travelling with the people who will be your companions on the program.
2Your flight will be met at Quito International Airport and we will have a coach to take you to your accommodation.
3You will be living in a shared, same sex room, in a lovely hostel located in the community of Misahualli. You will have access to all the usual facilities you would expect (including a swimming pool). You will be in a safe and secure environment with facilities to lock up your valuables.
4VESA staff will prepare all your food, and you will have access to unlimited supplies of bottled water where necessary.
5Each day you will be accompanied to and from the worksite by canoe. You will be accompanied at all times by one of our Group Leaders, and any activities you are involved in will be conducted under the supervision of qualified local tradespeople and/or teaching staff.
6All VESA Group Leaders are first aid qualified. There is a medical centre in Misahualli and a major private hospital in Tena – a twenty minute drive away. 
7At the end of the program you will be transferred to the airport and accompanied to your flight. You will travel home with your new friends and a great sense of accomplishment.

Downloads

Videos


Trip Extension


The Road Less Travelled

An epic journey from the Amazon, through to the famous rugged Andes mountain. Hike two volcanoes and end up on the beautiful Pacific coast where you can experience some of the unique wildlife endemic to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

More Information +

Achievements


Season Report NH 2016


  • Achievement

    Construction

    • Eight primary schools fully refurbished including desks.

    [+]
  • Achievement

    Community Assistance

    • Over one hundred full toilet blocks with self composting septic tanks helping to preserve the health of both local villagers and the river system.

    [+]
  • Achievement

    Education

    • Over thirty thousand hours of face to face English education.

    [+]

Go on, step into an adventure that will change your life!

Apply Now

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