Galapagos AdventureGalapagos & Ecuador
Travel Adventure & Community Service
Our Galapagos & Ecuador programs are coordinated and run with the community service arm of our organization, GoBeyond Student Travel (formerly Lifeworks International.) We offer two unique journeys to the Galapagos and Ecuador, Islands, Andes & Amazon and Defending Darwin's Discoveries. Each journey is different in terms of itinerary and service, so read on and find the one that's best for you!
Located 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador, the Galapagos Archipelago is made up of over 60 individual islands. They are among the most isolated pieces of land on earth and the wildlife here is in a class of its own.
Swimming with sea lions twisting and turning just inches away from your mask and crouching beside a blue-footed booby as it performs its distinctive courtship dance are samples of the incredible animal encounters waiting for you.
The Galapagos and Ecuador voyages center around adventure travel with an environmental twist. Splitting your time between the mainland's diverse climates and the archipelago's natural wonders, you'll explore everything the region has to offer. You'll have the chance to traverse the rugged terrain of the Andes Mountains, cruise downriver in the Amazon basin, and even head offshore in the Galapagos to get up close and personal with the notorious wildlife! All this while doing your part to give back and preserve this natural wonderland...
|Islands, Andes & Amazon - 40 Service Hours|
When you land in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, you'll realize why some of history's great explorers were infatuated with the region. One of the most diverse geographical locations â€“ from the Andes, to the Amazon and Galapagos Islands â€“ faces an equally wide array of challenges. As a volunteer, you'll assist the Galapagos National Park Service with beach clean ups, ridding the environment of harmful invasive species, planting native trees, and educating local children. Back on the mainland, you'll get to take in the bountiful wildlife and visit indigenous communities.
|Defending Darwin's Discoveries - 100 Service Hours|
In one of the most untouched, yet delicate ecosystems on the planet, living isn't just about oneself, it's about everything around you. For example, you'll be dedicating your time to learning about sensitive biodiversity and how to get fresh, drinkable water to everybody without damaging the environment. As you travel throughout the region, you won't have to look far to find incredible beauty and spirit to admire.
Up close and personal...
And now you know why the Galapagos is a must see destination! Our students learn about the biodiversity in the Galapagos through first hand interaction with this incredible ecosystem.
It's a jungle out there!
The world's largest rainforest to be exact. Our ActionQuest students venture into this natural wonder to make a difference, by working with Sumak Allpa, a non-profit foundation working to preserve and support the Amazon's endangered indigenous peoples and their culture, language, and traditional way of life in the Ecuadorian Amazon region.
Voyage Blog Entry...
Amazon: Day 1
Author: Mallory & Josh
Location: Rio Napo
We woke up in Quito this morning at the sinfully early hour of 6:30 (which wasn't actually that bad since we wake up at 6:30 most days). It was hassle-free to get to the airport and we only had a few minor setbacks checking in due to some computer malfunctions at the airport.
The lovely Merideth took our sandwich orders and made sure we all got fed. Our breakfast was delicious and we were quickly on our way to the Amazon. It was a short hop, about 20 minutes or so, and then we were in the surprisingly humid Amazon heat. The boat ride from the airport in Coca to the eco lodge was incredibly beautiful, reminiscent of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Once we were settled in, we had lunch and our wonderful guide, Hector, gave us the run down of our next couple days here. We were then invited to his home, Sumak Allpa, where we saw a baby - and a baby monkey! We got to go on an adventurous walk through the Amazon rainforest with our new, beloved rain boots, and see first-hand the diversity and wonder of the forest. We were all very tired after our walk and when we got home, Mallory, Elliot, Roman and Josh played euchre. It had been a long, but good day - the food here is delicious!!
Voyage Blog Entry...
Turtle, Sea Lions, & Boobies!
Author: Monty & George
Location: Isla Espanola
Today, after electing to take our walk after breakfast, we woke up at a comparatively late 7 o'clock and traveled to Espanola Island, where we saw many adorable sea lions and two types of Boobies (blue footed and masked).
We also saw a few of the large and plentiful Albatross' that inhabit the unique island. Returning from our wildlife trek, we had a scrumptious lunch of pork and potatoes. With bellies full, we took to the beaches, and what they had to offer left our jaws on the floor. Upon our arrival, we saw dozens of sea lions basking on the beautiful white sand, and it was awesome. This excitement led to hours of us frolicking and swimming, and a few impromptu fashion shoots. It has been a fantastic Tuesday.
Voyage Blog Entry...
Location: Rio Napo
I don't even know where to begin, frankly. We did so much today, and witnessed so much, it's hard to decipher a method of description capable of summing up the day. I shall try my hardest, of course, but no promises.
We woke early (roughly six, on average) so as to catch a hearty breakfast before setting out for the day's most muscle-based work. Hector, our companion, took us downriver on the Napo (a primary tributary of the Amazon) to a small facility where he had gathered over 200 large, spiky palm-fronds. They were spread out through the rainforest quite close to where they had been cut down, and we proceeded to carry them to the canoe we landed in-through a muddy rainforest, which was primarily composed of hilly terrain. Describing the challenge of toting even one palm-frond through that environment to the shoreline is hard without physically showing the labor, especially when you consider a typical frond is roughly fourteen or fifteen feet in length. But for us, one frond was no challenge; two or three quickly became the minimum. Our accomplishments were incredible, especially considering the muddy terrain. Not only did we manage to complete the established task, but there was also a large degree of fortitude present in the connection in between all of us-whenever anyone fell, there seemed to be a hand waiting to help them up immediately. This work lasted a good time, but we still finished with time to spare, and took our load down to Sumak Allpa ('Heaven' in the old-Incan tongue) and began unloading it. At this time, we began the work that would last the remainder of the day...but not before we met the students (14 in total) who went to the school on Sumak Allpa (it doubles as a school and a breeding/rehabilitation center for endangered monkeys). The average age among them was probably about six or seven (regardless, they trounced us in a game of soccer after lunch), and they were already quite proficient in their studies-enough to make the U.S. System consider its methodology. After the introductions, we began to dismantle (if that is the proper word) the fronds. With utilization of a machete, one can cut them to the right dimensions, and then-with peculiar care and softness, considering the nature of the machete itself-cut lines in the leaves of the frond. This loosens them, and allows them to be curved backward into a suitable position for weaving (the reason we were weaving will be fully explained later). It is hard, but satisfying, work; it took up a good deal of time before and after lunch, but seeing its final use was extremely rewarding; the fronds were then woven into a roof for a mess hall in the school. Knowing we'd essentially created this roof, solely by our efforts, was a wonderful feeling Eventually, when our work was done, we returned home, with fond memories of the day's labor (regardless of how hard it was). We were welcomed by rest, and-well, I do not know about the rest of us, but I made the acquaintance of the finest shower I have ever had... Not soon after, we dined on a delicious meal of soup, chicken, cucumber, rice, broccoli, and potatoes. Food here is unthinkably scrumptious.
One of the best ways to travel is to work side-by-side with the communities and environments you’re immersing yourself in. We partner with local organizations that allow us to give back to the locations we visit while learning and growing ourselves. Whether it's combating invasive species, removing garbage from the beach, or simply bringing a smile to a child’s face – service oriented travel allows you to gain a new perspective of the world while having fun at the same time!MORE > >
ActionQuest visits some of the most incredible places on earth - the perfect settings for watersports, cultural expeditions, hiking and exploring. The sights you see on an AQ voyage vary according to the destinations you visit, and all are extraordinary.MORE > >
Presidential Volunteer Service Award
Actionquest and Lifeworks are certifying organizations for the President's Volunteer Service Award. The President's Council on Service and Civic Participation established the award program as a way to thank and honor U.S. citizens who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service. Unique to Lifeworks is that upon completion of a program, most students have earned an impressive 100 hours of community service work and thus achieve the Bronze level of the President's Volunteer Service Award. U.S. citizen-students receive a personalized Certificate of Award, the official President's Volunteer Service Award lapel pin and a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama. NOTE: 1st and 3rd session of The Galapagos and Ecuador Adventures are not eligible for this award
VOYAGE ITINERARYPrevious Next
Day Session 1 - Description 1 Fly Day! - Students fly together from Miami to Quito with the help of GoBeyond's professional staff. Afternoon and evening activities include getting settled into a beautiful hotel, GoBeyond orientation, and check-in. Students enjoy their first of many fantastic Ecuadorian meals, and try to get some sleep after months of anticipation come to an end! 2 Orientation and City Tour - Morning Ecuadorian culture and safety briefing. At a local park, students participate in group building games and initiatives. Afternoon Quito city tour of historic plazas, cathedrals, and markets. 3 Rafting Day! - Class 2, 3, and 4 rapids is unavoidably fun for all! Students have an action packed day full of fun and beautiful scenery through the tropical rainforests of the Rio Toachi. 4 Great Greetings to the Galapagos! - Students fly from Quito to Baltra in the Galapagos Islands. First impressions last forever in this natural wonderland - "magical" sums it up best for most! Transport to the Darwin Research Station to see the endangered Galapagos tortoises and the famed "Lonesome George." Evening embarkation on the Galapagos motor yacht tour. 5 - 8 Galapagos Yacht Tour - Aboard the floating home, students explore the "jewel" islands of the Galapagos, including Plazas, Santa Fe, Espanola, Lobos, and San Cristobal. Students have unforgettable experiences with the wildlife, including close encounters with blue-footed boobies and albatrosses as they perform their intricate mating dances, and snorkeling with sea lions, hammerhead sharks, penguins, and much more. 9 - 10 Now Let's Clean Up This Place! - After undoubtedly developing a love of the islands, students lend a hand on conservation service projects with the Galapagos National Park Service. Projects can include removing invasive species, planting native trees, testing water quality, and educational initiatives for the children of the Galapagos. 11 Return To The Mainland - Morning community service project. Students fly Baltra to Quito for a lively evening salsa lesson in downtown Quito. No experience necessary! 12 - 15 The Amazon Awaits! -Students fly Quito to Coca and begin their journey into the famed Amazon rainforest. Over their stay, students tour the wonders of the Amazon ecological system. Cameras do not stop clicking with the sighting of monkeys, caimans, sloths, parrots, macaws, frogs, snakes, iguanas, insects of all shapes and colors, and much more. Activities includes fishing for piranhas, visiting indigenous communities and markets, exploring markets, and 2 days of community service work with the indigenous project of Sumak Allpa. The closing evening program is a night to remember! 16 Amazon Retreat - Students have their last jungle morning. Afternoon flight back to Quito for a Lifeworks Forum and some well-earned rest. 17 Scenic Mountain Drive and Soccer Extravaganza - Students leave Quito for the high Andes. Afternoon stop at the Zumbahua Market for a "taste of the authentic." Arrival at a beautiful Andean eco-lodge, for some evening soccer games with the local children. 18 Hike Day! - Transport up to Quilotoa Lake, a stunning volcanic crater with emerald waters spanning 2 kilometers. Hike back through the spectacular scenery to the welcoming warmth of an Andean eco-lodge. 19 Horseback Riding Day! - Explore the beautiful Andes and lower elevation cloud forests on horseback from the Andean eco-lodge to a historic cheese factory and back. 20 Farewell To The Andes & Closing Program - Scenic bus transport from Andean eco-lodge back to Quito. Students have a grand feast on their final night, and, perhaps, shed a few tears during our slide show and closing program. 21 So Hard To Say Goodbye - Students say goodbye to their new friends at GoBeyond. Without fail there is a mix of emotions - there is excitement to return home; there is sadness to leave. Students fly together Quito to Miami with the help of GoBeyond's professional staff and continue on to their respective homes and families.
Day Session 2 - Description 1 Fly Day! - Students fly together from Miami to Quito with the help of GoBeyond's professional staff. Afternoon and evening activities include getting settled into a beautiful hotel, GoBeyond orientation, and check-in. Students enjoy their first of many fantastic Ecuadorian meals, and try to get some sleep after months of anticipation come to an end! 2 Orientation and City Tour - Morning Ecuadorian culture and safety briefing. At a local park, students participate in group building games and initiatives, amidst the majestic backdrop of the Andes mountains. Students have an afternoon Quito city tour of historic plazas, cathedrals, and markets. 3 Great Greetings to the Galapagos! - Students fly from Quito to San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands. First impressions last forever in this natural wonderland - "magical" sums it up best for most! Students have an afternoon town tour, a brief swim, and an introduction to Galapagos issues - and settle into their warm and welcoming Galapagos hotel. 4 Floreana Play Day - Students embark on an unforgettable tour to Floreana Island, one of the most photographed and famous islands. A favorite day for all, students swim with the resident penguins, sea lions, marine turtles, reef sharks, tropical fish, and climb to the heights for breathtaking panoramas of the archipelago. 5 - 8 Now Let's Clean Up This Place! - After undoubtedly developing a love of the islands, students lend a hand on conservation service projects with the Galapagos National Park Service and local schools. Projects in the past have included...
• Removing invasive species
• Planting native trees
• Testing water quality
• Beach cleanups
• Recycling and compost initiatives
• Educational mural painting
• School maintenance projects
• Playground construction
Students also spend their time playing games and activities of all kinds with the children of the Galapagos, swimming at some of the most pristine beaches in the world, exploring local towns and fisherman's markets, and much, much more.
9 Kicker Rock - Students have a leisurely day exploring the famous Kicker Rock and Isla Lobos...with some relaxing beach time, hiking, and, of course, more snorkeling! 10 Return To The Mainland - Students pack their bags and head to the San Cristobal airport. Students fly to Quito for a lively evening salsa lesson in downtown Quito. No experience necessary! 11 - 15 The Amazon Awaits! - Students fly Quito to Coca and begin their journey into the famed Amazon rainforest. Over their stay, students tour the wonders of the Amazon ecological system. Cameras do not stop clicking with the sighting of monkeys, caimans, sloths, parrots, macaws, frogs, snakes, iguanas, insects of all shapes and colors, and much more. Activities includes fishing for piranhas, visiting indigenous communities, exploring markets, and several days of community service work with the indigenous project of Sumak Allpa. The closing evening program is a night to remember! 16 - 19 Amazing Andes - Students leave Quito for the high Andes. Student's explore authentic Andean markets, beautiful volcanic craters, and participate in eco-tourism initiatives and construction projects at a breathtaking Andean eco-lodge. 20 Farewell To The Andes & Closing Program - Scenic bus transport from Andean eco-lodge back to Quito. Students have a grand feast on their final night, and, perhaps, shed a few tears during our slide show and closing program. 21 So Hard To Say Goodbye - Students say goodbye to their new friends at GoBeyond. Without fail there is a mix of emotions - there is excitement to return home; there is sadness to leave. Students fly together Quito to Miami with the help of GoBeyond's professional staff and continue on to their respective homes and families.
Islands, Andes & Amazon - Students earn 40 hours of community service with more frequent touring and adventure activities split between mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Students tour all the best this country has to offer, from the Amazon basin to the high Andes to the capital Quito and the Galapagos Islands. Adventure activities include a 4-day motor yacht tour, white water rafting, horseback riding, and hiking.
Defending Darwin's Discoveries - students earn 100 hours of community service and the President's Volunteer Service Award with time spent in the Galapagos, Amazon, and Andes. With this increase in community service time, students leave having more effectively immersed themselves into the culture and ecology of the Galapagos, and with a deeper understanding of some of the complex issues this amazing part of the world faces. Session 2 students work hard, but also play hard with afternoons and weekend spent snorkeling with sea lions, playing soccer with local children, and touring some of the most famous sites in Ecuador and the Galapagos.
In the Galapagos Islands, ocean currents largely determine the weather. Normally during the summer months, the Humboldt Current comes from the South and creates an inversion that traps a cool moist fog, called a Garua, near the ocean. Typically, the air temperature is around 78Â° F and the water a chilly 5Â° F.
Students and families should understand that we restrict cell phone usage to the times designated in the program for phone calls. The environment we strive to create on program relies heavily on each individual remaining focused on the group and our experience. Being tied to the modern world of "instant communications" can, in certain circumstances, be a hindrance to personal and group processes. We feel that we provide ample time for students to reconnect with friends and family back home.
- Please visit the CDC's (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website at www.cdc.gov and navigate to the Travelers' Health pages on Ecuador (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/ecuador.htm)
- Read through the list of "Vaccine-Preventable Diseases" and the section on Malaria carefully, and consider which vaccinations may be appropriate for you. As a reference, our program typically consists of the following destinations: Quito, Galapagos, Coca and the Rio Napo (Amazon), and Andes
FLIGHTS & TRAVEL INFO
How to Book Flights
ActionQuest students come from all over the world, so coordinated travel is of vital importance. For this reason, we strongly suggest that students book flights with our travel coordinator, Leah Hernandez of TRC Travel Center (T: +1.281.528.7727 or 800.329.9000 E: email@example.com). Leah obtains great fares and provides close monitoring and assistance on travel days in case of flight difficulties. Since we have no ability to access or modify flight bookings that are not purchased through Leah, ActionQuest cannot be responsible for the coordination of flights not booked through TRC Travel Center.
Alternate Itineraries - As students come from all over the U.S. and world, it is not required that students book on our preferred itinerary. For non-U.S. based students, those looking to use frequent flier miles, or others who are not booking with TRC Travel Center or on our preferred flight itinerary, please contact our office prior to booking to ensure you are arriving and departing Ecuador at appropriate times.
Internal Flights - Students attending our Ecuador/Galapagos journey should be aware that the in-country flights (our transportation to get to the Galapagos and to the Amazon) are not available through Leah. These flights are best booked with in-country agencies, so ActionQuest organizes and pre-pays for these flights on our families' behalf. Once all arrangements have been made, families are invoiced to reimburse these fees. Typically these additional flight costs are $800 for Ecuador/Galapagos students.
Airport Assistance - Our office team actively monitors and supports our participants on travel days. We suggest that students travel with a cell phone, as this can be useful for communication to and from the program. For certain flight connections, ActionQuest also offers onsite airport assistance...
Preferred Itinerary (Inbound flight, UIO to MIA) - On occasion, particularly for the last session of the summer, a group leader will return to the U.S. on the preferred flight with the students. If a staff member is not able to return with the students, ActionQuest will not typically hire an in-airport representative for MIA. This is due to the lack of an onsite representative's ability to attend to customs/immigration issues and ongoing connection coordination when they do not arrive with the students.
Air transportation to and from the program is not included in the ActionQuest tuition fee. Please contact Leah for sample itineraries. For more information on airport assistance, please contact our office. We will be glad to let you know what type of support we typically offer for your journey (specific plans will only be available nearer the travel date).
|Travel to the program...|
|From:||Miami International, FL (MIA)||Departs:||6:50pm|
|To:||Quito, Ecuador (UIO)||Arrives:||9:48am|
|Flight Time:||3hrs and 58mins||Mileage:||1796|
|Travel from the program...|
|From:||Quito, Ecuador (UIO)||Departs:||6:53am|
|To:||Miami International, FL (MIA)||Arrives:||11:58am|
|Flight Time:||4hrs and 5mins||Mileage:||1796|
* Please Note: This is a SAMPLE itinerary only and not necessarily the definitive itinerary for this summer.
For more information on flight itineraries and travel information, please contact...
TRC Travel Center