LOCATION | SIGHTSEEING:
The local town of El Progreso is a 30-minute walk or 10 minutes taxi ride from San
Cristobal or a speedy ride down the mountain on the bikes that are provided for
your use (not so speedy getting home perhaps). You can shop, relax, get on the internet,
or party here! From El Progreso you can catch a bus or taxi (20 minutes) to the
port and either take a plane or a small speed boat to neighbouring islands from
this port town.
You’ll be based on the island of San Cristobal, which is about a 2 hour flight from
the Ecuadorian mainland. It is the 5th largest of the Galapagos Islands and its’
primary industries are fishing, tourism and arable farming. The town has restaurants,
shops and hotels. It is also fast-becoming a surfing hotspot, with a good beach
just a short walk from the volunteer accommodation.
The Galápagos islands lie some 600 miles from the coastline of Ecuador. Formed by
volcanic eruptions into the sea, they contain species found nowhere else on the
planet and are one of the most significant sites in the world; most notably because
this is where Charles Darwin's theories of evolution were inspired and shaped. This
rocky and at first glance inhospitable terrain is home to giant tortoise, swimming
iguanas and fearless blue footed boobies.
The marine reserve here is equally impressive, boasting encounters for divers and
snorkellers with penguins, marine turtles, manta rays and sea lions, amongst others.
Around 90% of the islands are protected areas, with visitor numbers restricted and
some sites off limits altogether to ensure conservation.
Ecuador's capital, Quito, lies in the north of the country, some 15 miles from the
equator and with the Andean Mountains and valleys as a backdrop. It's 10,000ft altitude
keeps it cool, with spring like temperatures year round. It was declared a UNESCO
world heritage site in the 1970's for its preserved historic Latin quarter. The
city also contains a thriving 'new town' popular with younger generations for its
restaurants, shopping and nightlife. There are lots of restaurants and "Patio de
Comidas" where you can pick up an excellent value lunch or dinner.
The Amazon is the worlds largest remaining tropical rainforest, occupying about
one third of Ecuador. To get some idea of its scale, first you need to know that
Ecuador's share of the Amazon represents just 2% of the whole rainforest; most of
it belonging to Brazil (60%) followed by Peru (13%). Important nevertheless as the
Amazon in Ecuador remains relatively untouched, has good infrastructure to make
for easy visitation and is home to numerous indigenous settlements which welcome
One of the greatest mountain ranges in the world, they split Ecuador in two running
from the north of the country down. Indigenous communities have cultivated the land
in the Andean Highlands for thousands of years, selling their produce in bustling
market towns. Catch a glimpse of the abundantly colourful markets, showcasing traditions
of ancient civilizations and Inca descendants.
Mountaineers will love the peaks of the 'Avenue of Volcanoes' an area in the central
highlands with a number of active volcanoes. Whilst each climb is different and
most are incredibly challenging, the rewards along the way are numerous. Dense forest,
waterfalls and spectacular views across the valleys below await the intrepid few.
Other hot pursuits in this region include walking, rafting, biking or camping.
This 2000km coast is fringed with pristine sand beaches, sweeping bays, mangrove
forests, crashing waves and tranquil fishing villages. The ports and fishing villages
are an important part of Ecuador's economy, delivering fresh sea food and imported
goods. At certain times of the year you can see Humpback whales arriving from Antarctic
waters to mate; splashing their fins and exhaling gushes of water. Marine birds
are also in abundance along the pacific coastline, with sightings of the albatross,
one of natures largest birds, being common.
Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.