Conservation volunteering on the Galapagos Islands
Help to promote conservation and biodiversity in the Galapagos, the jewel in the crown of the stunning equatorial country of Ecuador. Get back to nature volunteering to improve the habitats for native creatures, from incredible bird life to giant tortoises. If that isn’t enough of a draw, enjoy your free time swimming in the crystal clear waters, diving with amazing marine life and spending a day at the beach with a crowd of sea lions.
The Galapagos is known as one of the most enchantingly beautiful places on this planet. With incredible biodiversity, craggy beauty and protected landscapes, it has gone down in legend as the world’s premier wildlife destination. The animals that call this place home have become renowned for their fearlessness, leading to encounters that cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world.
Despite this amazing biodiversity, the wildlife population has been in danger since the arrival of humans in the 1500s. The presence of people has meant that the seas have been severely over-fished, the land has been over-farmed, and imported non-native animals and plants have completely taken over many native species. Because of this, almost 60% of native vegetation is considered to be under threat.
Volunteers join an important conservation project based on San Cristobal island. The conservation project is a combined project between locals, the National Park authority and local government, with the aim of preserving and promoting biodiversity on the island.
What will I be doing?
You will be rising early each day to cheat the heat and really get into the islanders’ way of life. Your project will usually last from 8.00 – 13.00 each day, however this can change depending on the tasks at hand.
Tasks are varied and depend on the need, however some examples of things that you might be doing include:
- Chopping down invasive vegetation such as blackberry, guava and elder
- Nurturing, growing and replanting seedlings to restore native and endemic species
- Clearing areas of weeds so that the seedlings do not become suffocated by other plants
- Beach clean ups and litter picks
- Painting, construction and maintenance work in the community
- Identifying and logging native flora and fauna, including the majestic giant tortoise and amazing birds
- Collecting data on water levels, in conjunction with the local government
- Education programmes in local schools, with the aim to teach children the importance of conservation
In addition to the tasks at the project, there may be other things for you to get involved with. If you want to contribute anything further, just share your ideas with the volunteer coordinator. People involved in the project may be too shy to tell you what to do, therefore your volunteer period will be more worthwhile if you show initiative and ask how you can help, or come up with your own ideas. Those involved in the project are always open to new ways of doing things.
Accommodation and food
- Located in the main town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno just minutes from the centre and the beach
- Self catered accommodation with fully equipped kitchen and dining area
- Shared dorm accommodation with shared bathroom and shower facilities
- Wifi available – but it is not the fastest!
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Become part of an important conservation project dedicated to protecting the incredible wildlife of these beautiful islands.
- Carry out varied and engaging tasks as you make a genuine contribution to locally directed conservation initiatives.
- Enjoy working surrounded by stunning scenery and unique wildlife species.
- See the giant tortoise – one of the most ancient creatures in the world.
- Live in one of the most spectacular and unusual locations that you will ever experience.
- Try snorkelling in the crystal clear waters, and join the sea lions on the beach to catch some sun in your free time.
Whyshould I do this?
This project is varied and engaging, and is perfect for those who want to help make a genuine contribution to conserving this beautiful area. Wherever you work, you will look up and your breath will be taken away by the beauty of what you see, from the glittering sea to the lush greenery. This is a unique opportunity for those on a holiday with a difference or taking a gap year, ready to get off the beaten track and immerse themselves in the Galapagos way of life. You will certainly find that some knowledge of Spanish is a bonus here so that you can become as engaged as possible in the project and your surroundings.
The Galapagos is one of our most important and impressive environments on the planet, and as such requires as much protection as possible. You can make a great contribution here, as every weed that you clear or every tree that you plant opens up the possibility for native vegetation to flourish, and with that for the island’s biodiversity to improve dramatically.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and a great way to leave a positive mark on this glorious archipelago.
Fly to the Galapagos to San Cristobal (SCY) to arrive on a Sunday. You will be collected from the airport and taken up to your accommodation.
What is provided
- Dedicated time with your Destination Manager to discuss the project, ask any questions that you might have and tell us more about yourself
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Pre-departure advice covering medical, safety and project advice
- Help and advice from our UK office 24/7 whilst in Ecuador
- Advice on obtaining a visa
- Full orientation and induction to project before you begin
- Airport collection on the Galapagos and transfer to the accommodation
- Project transfers
- Shared self-catering accommodation
- Donation to the project
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A full passport valid for 6 months from the date of entry into Ecuador
- If you will be flying through the USA you need to comply with US regulations- make sure you have an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) at least 72 hours before you leave
- Insurance covering your project time and any planned independent travel – we can introduce you to a policy
- Return flights to San Cristobal (SCY)
- Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to
- Independent travel costs
- Return transport to the airport / port for onward travel (approx 10USD)
- Food (allow about £30 per week)
- Any additional costs such as trips, snacks, entertainment (allow maybe £30 per week depending on lifestyle)
- No visa is necessary for under 90 days from UK and most western European countries
- Entry fee to the Galapagos Islands (100USD)
- Migration Control Card for the Galapagos Islands (20USD)
- No compulsory inoculations are necessary although do check with your doctor to make sure polio, typhoid and Hep A&B jabs are up to date