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Ecuador & the Galápagos

Service & Spanish Immersion in the Andean Cloud Forest

June 30 — July 27
$7,390 + airfare

Ecuador & the Galápagos

Service & Spanish Immersion in the Andean Cloud Forest

June 30 — July 27
$7,390 + airfare

Practice your Spanish daily on this high school language immersion and service program in Ecuador, as you work hand-in-hand with local friends in a small host community. Undertake meaningful service projects this summer and spend a week with a homestay family. Volunteer to construct a community center, shadow farmers as they harvest crops, and cook meals alongside your host parents. Explore the Andean páramo, and snorkel, hike, and kayak in the incredible Galápagos Islands to cap off your program.

• Develop your Spanish skills while working alongside locals
• Learn to make empanadas with your homestay family
• Ride horseback in the shadow of Cotopaxi Volcano
• Snorkel with playful sea lions in the Galápagos Islands
“Realizing how much my Spanish improved was incredibly rewarding. I learned some vocabulary and some grammar, but what improved most was my ability to speak without being afraid. I know that when I return to school I will no longer be afraid to speak in front of my class in Spanish.”
—Li A., Stuyvesant High School, Brooklyn, NY

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 of your leaders in Miami, and fly together to Quito, Ecuador. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Quito — 2 days

Explore Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, and get to know your leaders and fellow students. Explore the streets of 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 to discuss life in Ecuador, your language goals, and group dynamics.

Host Community — 7 days

Travel by bus to your small host community a few hours outside of Quito. Volunteer with community members to complete a series of construction, environmental, and agricultural projects, while participating in Spanish language lessons and activities to complement your experiential learning. Construct a community center, plant seedlings to bring native plant species back to the area, clear forest trails, or visit a local farm and learn how to milk a cow. In the afternoons and evenings, play pick-up soccer with Ecuadorian friends, learn to make artisanal crafts, or hike into the hills surrounding the community.

Andean Cloud Forest — 3 days

During your time in your host community, take overnight excursions to explore the surrounding area. Hike to a mirador to spot some of Ecuador’s 1,500 bird species, hike to nearby waterfalls, and visit a coffee farm to learn about coffee production from bean to cup.

Homestay — 8 days

Return to your host community and join a welcoming local family for full immersion into Ecuadorian life and the Spanish language. During the day, continue your work on service projects, participate in a scavenger hunt organized by your leaders, help out around the family farm, and trade stories around the dinner table.

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 the Rumiñahui volcano or up to the Cotopaxi refugio for breathtaking views, and ride horseback across the surrounding páramo. At night, savor traditional meals and recount your adventures with your group by the fireplace.

Quito — 1 day

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

Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands — 1 day

Language learning continues in your final days of the program as you fly from Quito to Baltra Island, and then travel by boat to the island of Santa Cruz. Meet one of the Galápagos’ most famous residents, a 100-year-old tortoise named Diego, who has helped repopulate an entire species of giant tortoises. Visit Diego along with other tortoises and rarely seen land iguanas at the Charles Darwin Research Station and learn what scientists 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

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 through the highlands to the coast. Snorkel through the passage of Kicker Rock, the remains of an underwater volcano, and scout for manta rays, sea turtles, harmless Galápagos sharks, and an impressive array of colorful tropical fish. Swim at Isla de Lobos and hang out with blue-footed boobies and playful sea lions.

Return — Travel Day

Fly with the group from the Galápagos back 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 of your leaders in Miami, and fly together to Quito, Ecuador. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Quito — 2 days

Explore Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, and get to know your leaders and fellow students. Explore the streets of 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 to discuss life in Ecuador, your language goals, and group dynamics.

Host Community — 7 days

Travel by bus to your small host community a few hours outside of Quito. Volunteer with community members to complete a series of construction, environmental, and agricultural projects, while participating in Spanish language lessons and activities to complement your experiential learning. Construct a community center, plant seedlings to bring native plant species back to the area, clear forest trails, or visit a local farm and learn how to milk a cow. In the afternoons and evenings, play pick-up soccer with Ecuadorian friends, learn to make artisanal crafts, or hike into the hills surrounding the community.

Andean Cloud Forest — 3 days

During your time in your host community, take overnight excursions to explore the surrounding area. Hike to a mirador to spot some of Ecuador’s 1,500 bird species, hike to nearby waterfalls, and visit a coffee farm to learn about coffee production from bean to cup.

Homestay — 8 days

Return to your host community and join a welcoming local family for full immersion into Ecuadorian life and the Spanish language. During the day, continue your work on service projects, participate in a scavenger hunt organized by your leaders, help out around the family farm, and trade stories around the dinner table.

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 the Rumiñahui volcano or up to the Cotopaxi refugio for breathtaking views, and ride horseback across the surrounding páramo. At night, savor traditional meals and recount your adventures with your group by the fireplace.

Quito — 1 day

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

Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands — 1 day

Language learning continues in your final days of the program as you fly from Quito to Baltra Island, and then travel by boat to the island of Santa Cruz. Meet one of the Galápagos’ most famous residents, a 100-year-old tortoise named Diego, who has helped repopulate an entire species of giant tortoises. Visit Diego along with other tortoises and rarely seen land iguanas at the Charles Darwin Research Station and learn what scientists 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

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 through the highlands to the coast. Snorkel through the passage of Kicker Rock, the remains of an underwater volcano, and scout for manta rays, sea turtles, harmless Galápagos sharks, and an impressive array of colorful tropical fish. Swim at Isla de Lobos and hang out with blue-footed boobies and playful sea lions.

Return — Travel Day

Fly with the group from the Galápagos back 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_leca_isaac-riddle
Isaac Riddle
View Bio
2023_leca_margarita-cancino
Margarita Cancino
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_leca_isaac-riddle
Isaac Riddle
View Bio
2023_leca_margarita-cancino
Margarita Cancino
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 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 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:

Language Learning

The goals of this high school language immersion program are to improve your fluency in Spanish by building vocabulary and confidence in speaking, while exploring Ecuador’s culture through community service work and interactions with local friends. Expand your vocabulary as you bargain for food at a local mercado, interview a community elder about her family history, or teach a nursery rhyme to local primary school students. Each day, leaders hold dynamic conversational language lessons designed to help you let go of your inhibitions and communicate more easily. Language lessons are fun, interactive, and incorporate hands-on elements such as scavenger hunts, games, and informal interviews.

Language Pledge

Two years of language study are required for this summer program. Each student signs a language pledge to speak only in Spanish during the program, not only with the many local people you meet, but also with your leaders and within your group. To learn more about our Language programs click here.

Service

During your time in Ecuador this summer, you can expect to participate in several different service experiences—construction projects where you learn to mix cement or paint a community building, environmental projects such as planting seedlings or shadowing local farmers, and educational projects such as teaching English to local children. 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 approach to 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 your homestay 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.

Physical Activity

This is a very active summer program. The volunteer work, as well as afternoon and weekend activities, can be strenuous, and you can expect to spend most of each day outside. You can expect to participate in community service work, soccer, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, biking, and snorkeling. 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

Quito (~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

Our living accommodations in Ecuador are very simple. We stay in a group house or community space in our host community with sleeping bags and sleeping pads on the floor, and simple bathrooms. During the homestay, students will be paired together and matched with a trusted local family. Accommodations are simple and comfortable. In Quito, during excursions, and in the Galápagos, we stay in simple eco-lodges, bungalows, and family-run inns where you sleep in beds. Leaders reside with students throughout the program.

Meals

In our host community we eat food prepared by local cooks in the community, and students help cook and clean up. During homestays, students share meals with their homestay families. On excursions and in the Galápagos, we eat in restaurants.

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Language Learning

The goals of this high school language immersion program are to improve your fluency in Spanish by building vocabulary and confidence in speaking, while exploring Ecuador’s culture through community service work and interactions with local friends. Expand your vocabulary as you bargain for food at a local mercado, interview a community elder about her family history, or teach a nursery rhyme to local primary school students. Each day, leaders hold dynamic conversational language lessons designed to help you let go of your inhibitions and communicate more easily. Language lessons are fun, interactive, and incorporate hands-on elements such as scavenger hunts, games, and informal interviews.

Language Pledge

Two years of language study are required for this summer program. Each student signs a language pledge to speak only in Spanish during the program, not only with the many local people you meet, but also with your leaders and within your group. To learn more about our Language programs click here.

Service

During your time in Ecuador this summer, you can expect to participate in several different service experiences—construction projects where you learn to mix cement or paint a community building, environmental projects such as planting seedlings or shadowing local farmers, and educational projects such as teaching English to local children. 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 approach to 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 your homestay 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.

Physical Activity

This is a very active summer program. The volunteer work, as well as afternoon and weekend activities, can be strenuous, and you can expect to spend most of each day outside. You can expect to participate in community service work, soccer, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, biking, and snorkeling. 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

Quito (~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

Our living accommodations in Ecuador are very simple. We stay in a group house or community space in our host community with sleeping bags and sleeping pads on the floor, and simple bathrooms. During the homestay, students will be paired together and matched with a trusted local family. Accommodations are simple and comfortable. In Quito, during excursions, and in the Galápagos, we stay in simple eco-lodges, bungalows, and family-run inns where you sleep in beds. Leaders reside with students throughout the program.

Meals

In our host community we eat food prepared by local cooks in the community, and students help cook and clean up. During homestays, students share meals with their homestay families. On excursions and in the Galápagos, we eat in restaurants.

A Day in the Life: Homestay

Due to the traveling nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day during your homestay in our host community.
7:00am
Prepare breakfast with your host family, and help milk the family cow
8:00am
Join your group at the worksite to lay bricks for a community center
12:00pm
Have lunch with your host family and share a cafecito
2:00pm
Meet your group at the town nursery and plant seedlings of native species
4:00pm
Gather your host brothers and sisters for a pick-up game of fútbol
6:00pm
Help cook dinner with your host family
8:00pm
Spend quality time with your family and group playing music around a bonfire
10:00pm
Group meeting to recount the day and discuss the upcoming schedule

A Day in the Life:
Homestay

Due to the traveling nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day during your homestay in our host community.
7:00am
Prepare breakfast with your host family, and help milk the family cow
8:00am
Join your group at the worksite to lay bricks for a community center
12:00pm
Have lunch with your host family and share a cafecito
2:00pm
Meet your group at the town nursery and plant seedlings of native species
4:00pm
Gather your host brothers and sisters for a pick-up game of fútbol
6:00pm
Help cook dinner with your host family
8:00pm
Spend quality time with your family and group playing music around a bonfire
10:00pm
Group meeting to recount the day and discuss the upcoming schedule
“The program was a perfect mix of work, adventure, and play.”
—Gitu Ramani, Brooklyn, NY
sylvie-littledale

This Program is Directed by

Sylvie Littledale

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

sylvie-littledale

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
Service & Spanish Immersion in the Andean Cloud Forest

2024 Dates
June 30 — July 27

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 30 — July 27

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

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