What sort of projects do you work with?
The projects we are associated are quite varied. They focus on environmental conservation, reforestation, organic agriculture, English teaching, early child care, environmental education, recycling, special needs care, social work, community development, care for rescued animals, indigenous traditional medicine, general medicine, women’s health, and tourism. Please refer to the project descriptions to find one or more that interest you. Let us know which ones you prefer and we will advise you.
Can I conduct research or an internship for credit while volunteering?
Yes you can, but please consult us with very specific information about your research goals or internship requirements, along with a CV and cover letter. We have had many interns work with us so we know where they can be best placed. We also expect you to share your research with us once it is finished.
How do I apply to volunteer?
After reading the FAQ, please refer to the project descriptions and write to us in the box below to let us know which projects interest you. Please include any relevant experience and Spanish proficiency. The volunteer coordinator will then send you any relevant advice and a link to our registration form, where you can fill out all your information.
To volunteer there is a onetime registration fee which covers our administration costs and costs that the Yanapuma coordinators incur when they accompany volunteers to their projects on the first day. The fee is $85 for projects in Quito and $185 for projects outside of Quito. We give discounts to groups of 2 people or more who sign up together for the same project. This fee does not include accommodation, food, or transport.
How long in advance do I need to register with Yanapuma?
Typical time to register is one to two months beforehand but we are quite flexible. Keep in mind that some projects are popular and spaces fill up quickly.
Is there a start date for volunteer projects or can I start whenever I want?
Most projects do not have particular start dates, but you should be strategic about maximizing your time here. Nearly all of the projects operate Monday through Friday, so they do prefer if volunteers arrive on a Monday or Tuesday to get the week started on the right foot. Arriving on weekends and holidays causes hassle. If interested in volunteer teaching or working with children, keep in mind when school is in session. In the Sierra and Amazon regions, school is in session from September to June. On the coast, school is in session from April to January. Don’t forget important holidays like Christmas and Easter. Other projects that only operate during particular times of year have details in the project descriptions.
What is the minimum time I have to commit to a project?
It is recommended to spend at least one month or more at a project to really be involved and help out. This is the typical minimum time for most projects. The projects that will accept volunteers for one week are: Parque Itchimbia, Camp Hope, Hacienda Tranquila, Brethren y Unida, Finca Sarita, and Niñez y Vida. CENIT and Pacific Whale foundation have a two month requirement.
Do I need to Speak Spanish?
This varies by project. To maximize the positive impact of your work and to offer you the best possible volunteer experience, we strongly recommend an intermediate level of Spanish before beginning most projects. Although each project requires a different level of Spanish, you will find the better your Spanish is upon arrival, the more comfortable you will feel and the more useful you will be. A greater ability will enable you to interact with community members, to understand more easily what is going on around you, and to be more involved in your project. This is a point we really cannot stress enough! One of the main comments we hear from volunteers is that they really wish they knew more Spanish before their arrival.
The Yanapuma Spanish School (www.yanapumaspanish.org) can offer you intensive one-on-one or group Spanish classes in Quito to help improve your ability prior to the start of your project, as well as the opportunity to stay with a homestay family to increase your immersion. However, we still highly encourage you to take classes and practice speaking before your arrival in Ecuador.
You can avoid a lot of frustration by participating in a project that matches your Spanish comprehension. The projects with the least need for Spanish proficiency are: Hacienda Tranquila, Maquipucuna, Ugshapamba, Yanacocha, and Planet Drum, because they have staff who speak English. Other projects require higher levels of Spanish, especially medical projects.
How dangerous is Ecuador?
Generally Ecuador is quite safe as long as you are smart. Simple actions like taking a taxi at night instead of walking and leaving valuables in a safe place can make a world of difference.
What is the accommodation like?
This depends on the volunteer project. Projects in Quito do not provide accommodation but Yanapuma can arrange for a hostal, apartment, or homestay. These are located between 15 – 60 minutes away from the projects. Descriptions of accommodation options in Quito can be found at http://www.yanapumaspanish.org/accommodations.htm
Most projects outside of Quito provide accommodation in on site shared volunteer housing, and the prices vary. Descriptions of accommodations can be found with the project descriptions. Price lists can be sent upon request.
What is transport like?
Public transport in Ecuador is efficient and cost effective. City bus fare is $0.25 and interprovincial bus fare averages to about $1.00 per hour of travel time. Taxis are also very reliable and cost effective. When the coordinator escorts you to the project on the first day, you will take public transport.
Do you offer Airport pickup?
Of course, this costs an additional $10 for volunteers. We will need your flight information at least one week prior to arrival.
Are there any other costs I should be aware of?
Please note in the accommodation descriptions whether food is provided and included in the price. Food can be bought for very reasonable prices in Ecuador. Those going to Galapagos have to pay entry fees up to $110. In general prices in Galapagos are much higher than on the mainland. Those needing a visa (see visa question below) have to pay the application and processing fees.
Do I need a Visa to enter and stay in Ecuador?
Since June 2008, all foreign nationals have been allowed to visit Ecuador without a visa for a period of 90 days or less. A free 90 day tourist visa is automatically granted upon your arrival in Ecuador – your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival and you may be asked to show proof of a return flight ticket – please check the rules applicable to your country before departure. You are no longer permitted to cross the border into Columbia or Peru to come back and receive another tourist visa – if your initial 90 days are up, you will not be allowed back into the country.
If you already know that you want to stay in Ecuador for more than 90 days, once you register to volunteer with us you can request that we send the visa documents for you to apply in your home country at the Ecuadorian consulate. This is much easier than applying in Ecuador. The price to apply at a consulate is $180. You will be responsible for producing certain documents. If you are even considering staying more than 90 days, we highly recommend you obtain the relevant visa BEFORE you come to Ecuador. We cannot guarantee that you will be granted a visa, but will advise you as best we can.
Please check your entry stamp carefully before leaving immigration – you will be responsible for any mistakes, including date, year, or duration of stay misprints.
What is the appropriate dress for volunteering?
If working with a reforestation, organic agriculture, or any outdoor project, wear clothes that are comfortable, can get dirty, and will protect you from the powerful Ecuadorian sun. Shorts and flip flops are normally considered only for beach wear. If working in a school setting, you will find the teachers dress in business casual, so try to dress similarly, but comfortably. In a medical setting, it is very important to dress in scrubs and/or a white coat, and also bring disposable gloves and a stethoscope.
What else do I need to bring?
Click here for a list of things to consider bringing.
All these items can be bought in Quito, so there is no need to panic if you do not have everything.
Am I at risk for Malaria or other diseases while volunteering in Ecuador?
Quito and the Ecuadorian Sierra is not a risk zone for malaria or dengue fever. The coast an Amazon regions are risk zones, but this risk can be decreased dramatically if you take anti-malarial pills. Vaccinations such as typhoid and yellow fever are also recommended before entry.
We are not medical professionals so PLEASE consult a trusted travel doctor before arrival for more detailed information.
Will there be other volunteers working with me at the project I want to volunteer for?
It is likely that yes, there will be other volunteers at these projects, but it is very difficult for us to predict numbers in advance, as the projects we work with receive long term and short term volunteers from other organizations, as well.
Who do I ask if I have additional questions about volunteering?
You can contact our volunteer and intern coordinators, by submitting your questions via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the page. We will get back to you asap. This is where you can request the price list, as well.