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High School
For students currently in grades 9–12

Ecuador & the Galápagos

Highlands, Kichwa Culture, & Island Biodiversity

June 24 — July 21
July 2 — July 29
$7,390 + airfare

Ecuador & the Galápagos

Highlands, Kichwa Culture, & Island Biodiversity

June 24 — July 21
July 2 — July 29
$7,390 + airfare

Live in Ecuador’s Andean highlands on this summer service program. During your student travel program in Ecuador, join members of a local Kichwa community in meaningful service projects—lend a hand with light construction work, participate in water access initiatives, teach schoolchildren, or help with the local harvest. Then, explore the otherworldly landscapes and extraordinary wildlife of the Galápagos Islands, home to giant tortoises, lava tunnels, equatorial penguins, marine iguanas, and blue-footed boobies.

• Join a community-wide minga to refurbish a town building
• Ride horseback at the base of Cotopaxi Volcano
• Join local contacts during the annual Inti Raymi celebration
• Snorkel with sea lions in a sheltered Galápagos bay
“I now step into life with a ‘go for it!’ mentality that I gained from this trip.”
—Yara A., Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, Pittsburgh, PA

Itinerary

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

Departure — Travel Day

Meet your fellow high school student travelers and one or more of your leaders in Miami and fly together to Quito, Ecuador. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Quito — 2 days

Spend the first days of this summer program exploring Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. Get to know your leaders and fellow students, take a guided walk around the Old City, ride the teleférico up the Pichincha Volcano, savor rich Ecuadorian coffee in an outdoor café, and participate in an in-depth orientation.

Host Community — 15 days

Travel by bus to our host community, home to about 500–1,000 people, located in the central Andean highlands north of Quito. Experience local culture and everyday life as you work with local contacts to complete several community-determined volunteer projects. Lend a hand constructing a community center, harvest crops, teach English classes, or organize a summer camp for local children. In the afternoons and evenings, play pick-up soccer with Ecuadorian friends, practice your Spanish, hike into the hills surrounding your community, or take part in an Inti Raymi celebration. Putney Student Travel groups live and partner with different host communities and do not meet during the program.

Otavalo & the Cloud Forest — 3 days

During your time in your host community, take overnight excursions to explore the surrounding area. Hike around the rim of Laguna de Cuicocha, a crater lake with spiritual significance to the Kichwa people. Explore Otavalo’s renowned outdoor market featuring embroidered textiles, handwoven alpaca blankets, art, jewelry, and more. Hike to a mirador to spot some of Ecuador’s 1,500 bird species, soak in geothermal hot springs, and visit a coffee farm to learn about coffee production from bean to cup.

Cotopaxi — 2 days

After saying goodbye to your host community, visit snowcapped Cotopaxi, one of the world’s largest volcanoes. Stay at a cozy Andean hacienda, hike to the mountain refugio on Cotopaxi Volcano for breathtaking views, and ride horseback across the surrounding Andean páramo. At night, savor traditional meals and tell stories by the fireplace with gaucho guides.

Quito — 1 day

Return to Quito for one night before a morning flight to the Galápagos Islands.

Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands — 1 day

Fly from Quito and arrive on the island of Santa Cruz. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, formerly the home of one of the Galápagos’ most famous residents, a 100-year-old tortoise named Diego, who helped repopulate an entire species of giant tortoises. Meet tortoises and rarely seen land iguanas, and talk with scientists to learn what they are doing to reintroduce them into the wild. Go for a hike in the highlands and check out the cavernous lava tubes. Head to Tortuga Bay, a stunning beach with fine white sand to see marine iguanas.

San Cristóbal, Galápagos Islands — 4 days

Next, board a boat bound for San Cristóbal. Visit the Interpretation Center on San Cristóbal for an introduction to the biology, geology, and history of human impact on the islands. Then, jump on bikes for an exhilarating downhill ride from the highlands to the coast. Snorkel through the passage of Kicker Rock, the remains of an underwater volcano, and spot manta rays, sea turtles, harmless Galápagos sharks, and an impressive array of colorful tropical fish.

Return — Travel Day

Fly with the group from the Galápagos to Quito for a final evening at our airport guesthouse. The next morning, fly from Quito to Miami with your group and a leader, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Itinerary

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

Departure — Travel Day

Meet your fellow high school student travelers and one or more of your leaders in Miami and fly together to Quito, Ecuador. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Quito — 2 days

Spend the first days of this summer program exploring Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. Get to know your leaders and fellow students, take a guided walk around the Old City, ride the teleférico up the Pichincha Volcano, savor rich Ecuadorian coffee in an outdoor café, and participate in an in-depth orientation.

Host Community — 15 days

Travel by bus to our host community, home to about 500–1,000 people, located in the central Andean highlands north of Quito. Experience local culture and everyday life as you work with local contacts to complete several community-determined volunteer projects. Lend a hand constructing a community center, harvest crops, teach English classes, or organize a summer camp for local children. In the afternoons and evenings, play pick-up soccer with Ecuadorian friends, practice your Spanish, hike into the hills surrounding your community, or take part in an Inti Raymi celebration. Putney Student Travel groups live and partner with different host communities and do not meet during the program.

Otavalo & the Cloud Forest — 3 days

During your time in your host community, take overnight excursions to explore the surrounding area. Hike around the rim of Laguna de Cuicocha, a crater lake with spiritual significance to the Kichwa people. Explore Otavalo’s renowned outdoor market featuring embroidered textiles, handwoven alpaca blankets, art, jewelry, and more. Hike to a mirador to spot some of Ecuador’s 1,500 bird species, soak in geothermal hot springs, and visit a coffee farm to learn about coffee production from bean to cup.

Cotopaxi — 2 days

After saying goodbye to your host community, visit snowcapped Cotopaxi, one of the world’s largest volcanoes. Stay at a cozy Andean hacienda, hike to the mountain refugio on Cotopaxi Volcano for breathtaking views, and ride horseback across the surrounding Andean páramo. At night, savor traditional meals and tell stories by the fireplace with gaucho guides.

Quito — 1 day

Return to Quito for one night before a morning flight to the Galápagos Islands.

Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands — 1 day

Fly from Quito and arrive on the island of Santa Cruz. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, formerly the home of one of the Galápagos’ most famous residents, a 100-year-old tortoise named Diego, who helped repopulate an entire species of giant tortoises. Meet tortoises and rarely seen land iguanas, and talk with scientists to learn what they are doing to reintroduce them into the wild. Go for a hike in the highlands and check out the cavernous lava tubes. Head to Tortuga Bay, a stunning beach with fine white sand to see marine iguanas.

San Cristóbal, Galápagos Islands — 4 days

Next, board a boat bound for San Cristóbal. Visit the Interpretation Center on San Cristóbal for an introduction to the biology, geology, and history of human impact on the islands. Then, jump on bikes for an exhilarating downhill ride from the highlands to the coast. Snorkel through the passage of Kicker Rock, the remains of an underwater volcano, and spot manta rays, sea turtles, harmless Galápagos sharks, and an impressive array of colorful tropical fish.

Return — Travel Day

Fly with the group from the Galápagos to Quito for a final evening at our airport guesthouse. The next morning, fly from Quito to Miami with your group and a leader, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Featured

Leaders

Meet some of our featured leaders. Please note that these may not be your leaders for the program. 

2023_SECB_Adam Pawlikiewicz
Adam Pawlikiewicz
View Bio
cevallos
Maria Cevallos Arguello
View Bio
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Featured

Leaders

Meet some of our featured leaders. Please note that these may not be your leaders for the program. 

2023_SECB_Adam Pawlikiewicz
Adam Pawlikiewicz
View Bio
cevallos
Maria Cevallos Arguello
View Bio
Loading...
About the Destination

Ecuador is widely considered one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. The Galápagos archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts unparalleled diversity in endemic species and is one of the world’s most unique biological environments. On the mainland, snow-covered peaks of the Andean highlands descend into lush Amazon rainforests. Ecuadorian culture is as diverse as the country’s landscapes, from ranching communities in the Andean páramo to agropasotoralists in the cloud forest, urban businesses to fishing villages on the coast. Kichwa is the largest indigenous population in the country, and in much of South America. With regional variations, Kichwa language and traditions are an integral part of Ecuadorian communities across the country.

Language

Spanish is Ecuador’s official language and ten Indigenous languages are also spoken throughout the country. Kichwa is the most widely spoken Indigenous language in Ecuador.

Climate

Summer temperatures in Ecuador are moderate, reaching 60–70°F (16-21°C) when the sun is out, and cooling off substantially at night. Although the Galápagos Islands are located on the Equator, the cool Humboldt Current makes the ocean water quite chilly year round.

Cuisine

Ecuador is known for its variety of exotic fruits and fresh juices, seemingly endless culinary permutations of the potato and other root vegetables, delicious seafood, hearty meals of rice and other grains, and flavorful soups. Seafood is a popular staple on the Galápagos Islands.

About the Destination

Ecuador is widely considered one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. The Galápagos archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts unparalleled diversity in endemic species and is one of the world’s most unique biological environments. On the mainland, snow-covered peaks of the Andean highlands descend into lush Amazon rainforests. Ecuadorian culture is as diverse as the country’s landscapes, from ranching communities in the Andean páramo to agropasotoralists in the cloud forest, urban businesses to fishing villages on the coast. Kichwa is the largest indigenous population in the country, and in much of South America. With regional variations, Kichwa language and traditions are an integral part of Ecuadorian communities across the country.

Language

Spanish is Ecuador’s official language and ten Indigenous languages are also spoken throughout the country. Kichwa is the most widely spoken Indigenous language in Ecuador.

Climate

Summer temperatures in Ecuador are moderate, reaching 60–70°F (16-21°C) when the sun is out, and cooling off substantially at night. Although the Galápagos Islands are located on the Equator, the cool Humboldt Current makes the ocean water quite chilly year round.

Cuisine

Ecuador is known for its variety of exotic fruits and fresh juices, seemingly endless culinary permutations of the potato and other root vegetables, delicious seafood, hearty meals of rice and other grains, and flavorful soups. Seafood is a popular staple on the Galápagos Islands.

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Service

During your travel in Ecuador, you can expect to participate in several different service experiences—construction projects such as mixing cement and laying blocks for a community building, environmental projects like water access initiatives or shadowing local farmers, and educational projects such as teaching English to local children and adults. The focus of this summer abroad program in Ecuador is learning about another culture by forming meaningful relationships with local people and undertaking a shared service experience together. You should come to the summer with an open mind, eager to participate in new experiences and interested in exploring another culture and way of life. All students participate in each of the group’s projects on a rotating basis, and everyone lends a hand in meal preparation and cleanup. To learn more about our Service programs click here.

Independent Project

Choose an independent project and pursue an aspect of Ecuadorian culture of particular interest to you—learn to make empanadas with a local family, try milking a cow, learn a traditional dance, or organize an opportunity for you and your friends to lend a hand in reforestation efforts.

Language Practice

Proficiency in Spanish is not required; however, students who study Spanish in school will have opportunities to practice while communicating with local people. Students who do not speak the local language will have the opportunity to learn some basic language skills.

Physical Activity

This is a very active summer travel program. The service work, as well as activities and excursions, can be strenuous, and you can expect to spend most of each day outside. You can expect to work on projects, play soccer, hike, horseback ride, swim, kayak, bike, and snorkel. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

Altitude

This program visits high altitude destinations—Quito and the region around our host community (~9,000 feet/2,743 meters), our hacienda in Cotopaxi National Park (11,800 feet/3,597 meters), and a hike to the base camp of Cotopaxi Volcano (15,750+ feet/4,800+ meters).

Accommodations

Living accommodations in Ecuador are very simple. The group lives in a community building, or albergue—we use sleeping bags and sleeping pads on the floor with simple bathrooms, running water, flushing toilets, and a shower. During overnight excursions and in the Galápagos, we stay in simple, clean ecolodges, bungalows, and family-run inns where students sleep in beds, have hot showers, and share a room with other students in your group. Leaders reside together with the students throughout the program.

Meals

In the host community, we eat delicious home-cooked meals prepared by local cooks. Each day several students from the group form cooking crews and help the cooks prepare meals. Students learn about shopping at the market and preparing food, Ecuadorian style. During excursions and in the Galápagos, the group eats most meals in restaurants and occasionally visits markets to shop for a picnic lunch.

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Service

During your travel in Ecuador, you can expect to participate in several different service experiences—construction projects such as mixing cement and laying blocks for a community building, environmental projects like water access initiatives or shadowing local farmers, and educational projects such as teaching English to local children and adults. The focus of this summer abroad program in Ecuador is learning about another culture by forming meaningful relationships with local people and undertaking a shared service experience together. You should come to the summer with an open mind, eager to participate in new experiences and interested in exploring another culture and way of life. All students participate in each of the group’s projects on a rotating basis, and everyone lends a hand in meal preparation and cleanup. To learn more about our Service programs click here.

Independent Project

Choose an independent project and pursue an aspect of Ecuadorian culture of particular interest to you—learn to make empanadas with a local family, try milking a cow, learn a traditional dance, or organize an opportunity for you and your friends to lend a hand in reforestation efforts.

Language Practice

Proficiency in Spanish is not required; however, students who study Spanish in school will have opportunities to practice while communicating with local people. Students who do not speak the local language will have the opportunity to learn some basic language skills.

Physical Activity

This is a very active summer travel program. The service work, as well as activities and excursions, can be strenuous, and you can expect to spend most of each day outside. You can expect to work on projects, play soccer, hike, horseback ride, swim, kayak, bike, and snorkel. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

Altitude

This program visits high altitude destinations—Quito and the region around our host community (~9,000 feet/2,743 meters), our hacienda in Cotopaxi National Park (11,800 feet/3,597 meters), and a hike to the base camp of Cotopaxi Volcano (15,750+ feet/4,800+ meters).

Accommodations

Living accommodations in Ecuador are very simple. The group lives in a community building, or albergue—we use sleeping bags and sleeping pads on the floor with simple bathrooms, running water, flushing toilets, and a shower. During overnight excursions and in the Galápagos, we stay in simple, clean ecolodges, bungalows, and family-run inns where students sleep in beds, have hot showers, and share a room with other students in your group. Leaders reside together with the students throughout the program.

Meals

In the host community, we eat delicious home-cooked meals prepared by local cooks. Each day several students from the group form cooking crews and help the cooks prepare meals. Students learn about shopping at the market and preparing food, Ecuadorian style. During excursions and in the Galápagos, the group eats most meals in restaurants and occasionally visits markets to shop for a picnic lunch.

A Day in the Life: Host Community​

Due to the traveling nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in our host community.
7:00am
Prepare breakfast with women from the community
8:00am
Lay blocks for the construction of a community kitchen
12:00pm
Eat a homemade lunch and relax
2:00pm
Teach an English class to local schoolchildren or work on your independent project
4:00pm
Hike into the hills surrounding the community to prepare for your Cotopaxi hike
6:00pm
Enjoy a communal dinner as a group
8:00pm
Group meeting to discuss the day and the progress of work projects

A Day in the Life:
Host Community​

Due to the traveling nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in our host community.
7:00am
Prepare breakfast with women from the community
8:00am
Lay blocks for the construction of a community kitchen
12:00pm
Eat a homemade lunch and relax
2:00pm
Teach an English class to local schoolchildren or work on your independent project
4:00pm
Hike into the hills surrounding the community to prepare for your Cotopaxi hike
6:00pm
Enjoy a communal dinner as a group
8:00pm
Group meeting to discuss the day and the progress of work projects
“We expected a combination of challenge, inspiration, and wonder. All achieved. An outstanding, engaging, and very deep experience for Zach.”
—Molly Stern & Jay Mandel, Brooklyn, NY

This Program is Directed by

Sylvie Littledale

If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

This Program is Directed by

Sylvie Littledale

If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

Enroll in two programs & save $1,000!

$800 tuition discount + no application fee

Ecuador & the Galápagos
Highlands, Kichwa Culture, & Island Biodiversity

2024 Dates
June 24 — July 21
July 2 — July 29

Duration
28 days

Tuition
$7,390 + airfare

Eligibility
Currently* in grades 9–12
*Your grade as of the day you apply

Typical Group
14–16 students, 2 leaders

Group Flight
Departs from Miami

Service Hours
60–80 

Additional Info

Questions? Visit our FAQ or call us at (802) 387-5000

 

2024 Dates
June 24 — July 21
July 2 — July 29

Duration
28 days

Tuition
$7,390 + airfare

Service Hours
60–80 

Eligibility
Currently* in grades 9–12
*Your grade as of the day you apply

Typical Group
14–16 students, 2 leaders

Group Flight
Departs from Miami

 

Questions? Visit our FAQ or call us at (802) 387-5000

Share this program:

Request More Info

Alaska
Baja & the Gulf of California
Barcelona
Belize
Chile & Peru
Germany & Sweden
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Montana
Peru
Switzerland
Australia, New Zealand, & Fiji
Croatia & Slovenia
Cuba
Faroe Islands & Iceland
Italy & Greece
Japan
Kilimanjaro
Panama & Colombia
Patagonia: Skiing
Spain, France, & Portugal
Switzerland, Italy, France, & Holland
Spain
France
Ecuador & the Galápagos
Tuscany
Barcelona
Tokyo
Argentina
Costa Rica
Ecuador & the Galápagos
Fiji
Hawai'i
Morocco
Nepal
Peru
Puerto Rico
Tanzania
Thailand
Vietnam
Iceland
France & Holland
Italy & Greece
Spain
France
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador & the Galápagos
Hawai'i

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