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Ecological Conservation and Restoration Volunteer Program in the Galapagos Islands

Ecological Conservation and Restoration Volunteer Program in the Galapagos Islands

Support the Galapagos National Park in the operation and maintenance of plant nurseries that are located in the Highlands of Isabela Island. Volunteers play a key role in the conservation of Isabela Island’s endemic plant species, threatened by invasive plant species, pollution, and climate change, with key focuses being on research, restoration, and education.

Highlights:
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from AU$2240 for 2 weeks
  • Includes accommodation, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help conserve the Galapagos National Park

  • Discover nature and wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth

  • Stay with other volunteers near the beach in a homestay

'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

Key information

Conserve unique & fragile ecosystems
Based in the Highlands on Isabela Island
Homestay accommodation
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from AU$2240 for 2 weeks
Durations from 2 - 12 weeks
Discover the island's natural wonders
5 - 6 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who have a keen interest in horticulture and restoration within a fragile ecosystem.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

You will have the unique opportunity to assist in horticulture restoration projects within the purpose built nursery, where you can expect to assist National Park Rangers with tasks including, but not limited to:

  • Transplanting of seedlings, pruning, and prepping of nursery beds
  • Maintenance of the irrigation system
  • Assist in the management of plagues and invasive species
  • Answer questions that tourists or locals may have when visiting the plant nursery

Volunteers gain experience in landscaping and ecological restoration through their support of the National Park Rangers through the cultivation of the endemic and threatened Scalesia plant. Additional species you’ll work with include the giant daisy tree (Scalesia pedunculata), rodilla de caballo (Volkmeria mollis), the button mangrove (Conocarpus erectus), and the cats claw (Zanthoxylum fagara).

This project requires a high level of physical fitness and comfort working outdoors with sun and warm temperature exposure.

While Spanish is not required to join this project, you are encouraged to come with a basic to intermediate level to aid in the placement work.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action

Climate change affects everyone, everywhere. 2010 - 2020 was the warmest decade ever recorded and Carbon Dioxide levels have risen to an all-time high. In order to keep global temperatures below the Paris Agreement’s 2 degree Celsius limit, we must take action to educate communities, conserve nature and promote sustainable solutions.

Why do Ecological Conservation and Restoration volunteering in the Galapagos Islands with IVHQ?

As an Ecological Conservation and Restoration volunteer in Galapagos, you’ll be adding value to the environment and local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping protect the Galapagos National Park
  • Gaining conservation and horticulture experience
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Immersing yourself fully in the local culture
  • Discovering the natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands

Volunteer requirements

Volunteers on this project must be 18+ and must speak fluent English. It is recommended that volunteers have a basic to intermediate level of Spanish in order to communicate with fellow workers, the local community and homestay families.

Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply For Free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

JH
Jenny Holm
22 Apr 2024

This was my first time traveling solo internationally. I felt safe the entire time supported by the confidence in having specific people I could call or reach out to at any time, though I never needed to. I was extremely nervous about taking this plunge and am so incredibly happy I did. The local people and fellow volunteers are now some of my closest friends. If you are hesitant, DON'T BE! We never regret the things we try; only the ones we don't. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I am grateful I actually did it - instead of continuing to say "one day".

...
AT
Alexandra Todd
02 Apr 2024

I had the most memorable time. The best way to get to know the Galapagos is through volunteering - I feel that volunteers really make a difference on this program.

...
CP
Carol Pochardt
02 Apr 2024

I was nervous about going to a new isolated place, with limited language skills. The IVHQ and local team made it easy, and I made so many new friends while making a positive impact on an endangered species.

...
AM
Aundy Morton
25 Mar 2024

My hosts were exceptional, and the location to my worksite was close. Meals were tasteful with lots of variety. The fresh fruit was delicious!

...
JS
Jay Studer
01 Feb 2024

I absolutely love wildlife and believe in the conservation of nature. I believe mankind has played a big part in its destruction and decline of wildlife species and should do everything possible to help stop this. The Giant Tortoise Conservation project has made a huge difference and I am thankful for my experience.

...
SP
Shirley Phippen
30 Jan 2024

I loved that the team set up a WhatsApp group for volunteers right before we arrived to receive information and connect with each other. It was clear that they all cared and tried to support us in every way they could. The meals were good and I loved having the opportunity to eat lunch in the different restaurants each day - that was brilliant!

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

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Volunteer Abroad in the Galapagos Islands with IVHQ

Location

The IVHQ Galapagos volunteer program is based in Puerto Villamil, a small port village located on the southeastern edge of Isabela Island in the Galapagos Islands. ​This is where orientation and general administration is carried out by our local team. Volunteer placements are located within walking distance around Puerto Villamil with the exception of the Sustainable Agriculture project, which is a 30 minute bus ride outside the village to the highlands.

Arrival and orientation

The Galapagos volunteer program begins every Monday and you need to arrive on Isabela Island on your Monday chosen start date.

After you have registered for the program, please book your travel into Seymour Galapagos Ecological Airport (GPS) on Baltra Island. From here you can either catch a ferry boat to Isabela Island (this ferry trip is included in your program fee) or take an island hopper plane from Baltra Island to Isabela Island with EMETEBE airlines (this flight is not included in your program fee).

Most volunteers arrive in mainland Ecuador on Sunday and spend this night in either Quito or Guayaquil. On Monday they then travel from mainland to Baltra Island, and then onward to Isabela Island. When you arrive on Isabela Island you will need to walk a few minutes up from the pier to the ABG (Biosecurity Agency) office where you will be met by a member of the local team who will transfer you to your accommodation (also included in your program fee) and then have a small town tour. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and begins from your Monday arrival through the morning of your last Sunday.

On Tuesday, orientation is hosted by our local team in Galapagos and runs for half a day, after which you will be taken to your placement. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Galapagos – Introduction to Galapagos, Galapagos Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Galapagos, Introduction to your Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example

Weekdays

​A volunteer day is subject to change depending on your specific placement and the current needs of your project. ​A typical daily schedule​ might be as follows:

6:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation and walk to the bus stop.
7:00 AM Bus to placement site where volunteers join a local farmer and begin work on your project.
12:00 PM Lunch provided by your host at your placement site.
2:00 PM Return to town via bus, then volunteers have the afternoon free to explore the island, do some local snorkeling or take a surf lesson.
7:30 - 9:00 PM Dinner with your homestay family or at one of the restaurants in town. After dinner you will have the remainder of the evening free to relax and use as you wish.

Weekends

During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Isabela Island and other Galapagos islands such as the nearby Santa Cruz.

There is a dive site with great diving from Isabela, hike active Volcano Sierra Negra, snorkel site Tuneles and see the lava tunnels, visit islet Tintoreras, snorkel local dive spot Concha de Perla with turtles, seals, rays, etc., kayak the bay, rent a bike and visit the ‘Wall of Tears’ along the stunning coastal route passing lagoons, mangroves, and giant tortoises in the wild.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers are accommodated in a homestay with a local family, which is an incredible and unique cultural immersion experience. Volunteers can expect to share a twin room with one other volunteer or have their own private room if there is capacity; each bedroom has its own bathroom.

Isabela Island is very remote and it is important that volunteers are aware that internet reception is very spotty. There is WiFi in the office and in a few restaurants/cafes in town. Visitors cannot purchase a SIM card in Galapagos, only residents. Volunteers can purchase a SIM card on the mainland before traveling to the island, or use an international phone plan that covers them abroad. The Internet is too poor to expect to watch Netflix or have video calls while on the island.

Meals

Volunteers are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Breakfast and dinner are provided at the homestay and volunteers can expect fresh fruit, fried eggs, bread and cooked green plantains. Lunch is provided at local associated restaurants and volunteers will have a variety of menu items to choose from. Lunch and dinner meals will include protein (meat, fish), rice and some veggies (varied depending on the season) and meals often start with a soup and include a natural drink.

There is filtered water available in the local teams office and in homestays, and volunteers are requested to bring a reusable water bottle with them.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know so we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please make a note on your application so arrangements can be made. However, it is important that volunteers should not expect to eat as they normally do at home.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks $1,420 Equivalent to $101/day
3 weeks $1,940 Equivalent to $92/day
4 weeks $2,460 Equivalent to $88/day
5 weeks $2,980 Equivalent to $85/day
6 weeks $3,500 Equivalent to $83/day
8 weeks $4,540 Equivalent to $81/day
10 weeks $5,580 Equivalent to $80/day
12 weeks $6,620 Equivalent to $79/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$519) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Program Fees for the Galapagos Islands program are non-refundable once inside 30 days of the program start date. Any changes or cancellations within 30 days of the program start date are subject to a US$500 late change/cancellation fee.
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Transient visa (for all volunteers aged 18+ - this visa is specific to Galapagos National Park only)
  • Local pickup
  • Return ferry from Santa Cruz to Isabela island
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Transit Control Card
  • Water taxis
  • Bus transfer from airport to ferry dock
  • Return bus from ferry to the airport when your program finishes
  • National Park Entry Fee (only required for volunteers under the age of 18)
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Check what's required to visit the Galapagos Islands

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal
Population 2,500 on Isabela Island and 33,042 across the Galapagos Islands
Languages Spanish
Currency US Dollar (USD)
Time zone UTC-06:00

Weather and climate: Galapagos can be divided into three Climatic regions. The Pannonian Plains in the north have a continental climate of cold winters and hot summers, the mountainous Dinara Region in Central Galapagos has an alpine climate and the Adriatic coast, where our volunteer program is based, enjoys a Mediterranean climate of cool, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.

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How to get started

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Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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