Jatun Sacha (JS) is a self-sustaining nonprofit organization that owns and maintains five private nature reserves across Ecuador. Its mission is to “promote the conservation of Ecuador’s biodiversity, through technical training, scientific research, environmental education programs at national and international level, community development, sustainable management of natural resources, and the training of leaders with greater ethnic and gender participation to improve the quality of life of the communities.” Each reserve works carefully with the local community.There is one set of prices for volunteering on the mainland and a second (higher) set for volunteering on the Galapagos.Volunteers work eight-hour days and can choose from sites in the Amazonian or Coastal rainforest, Andean forest, or on the Galapagos Islands. Volunteers should be interested in the areas of biodiversity, conservation, ecology, and nature, and may work on reforestation, removal of invasive species, trail maintenance, or infrastructure repair. However, placements are not limited to scientific research. As JS works closely with local communities to deepen support of its efforts, volunteers can also choose to work in a local clinic or preschool, help plant a community garden or consult on microenterprise training, teach English, or lead a campaign on sexual health or environmental protection. JS has a document that it can email to interested persons that has details about the different volunteer tasks and free-time activities, best seasons to visit, and accommodations at the different reserves.
Activities for after-work hours depend on the duty station but can include Spanish lessons or dance practice, hiking, swimming, and, of course, nature observation.
Quito (Sierra), Ecuador
Application Process: There is a simple online form to complete (it requires your passport number). Families are welcome. If youth under age 18 are travelling without their parents, they must have parental authorization.
Cost: There is one set of prices for volunteering on the mainland and a second (higher) set for volunteering on the Galapagos. On the mainland, rates start at US$310 for one week and increase by US$100-130 for each additional week. In the Galapagos, one week is US$541, and it is roughly US$240 for each additional week. In addition, there is an application fee of US$47 for mainland programs and US$67 to work in the Galapagos. Volunteers should bring about US$20 per week for incidentals.
Placement Length: Minimum of two weeks.
Language Requirements: None.
Housing: There are volunteer houses with electricity at each of the reserves. Accommodations and meals are included with the program fees.
Operating Since: 1985
Number of Volunteers: Almost to 1,000 in 2012.