Experience an inspiring summer as you snorkel in The Galapagos Islands, spot wildlife and kayak across crystal clear waters.
This summer program in the Galapagos Islands will take your breath away! It is impossible not to be in awe of this incredible country. It has so much diversity for its size, which makes it truly amazing to explore – fascinating indigenous cultures, volcanoes, stunning wildlife, beaches and astounding marine environments.
Our one-month summer program in the Galapagos Islands combines 3 separate volunteer projects with exciting adventure travel. Follow in Darwin’s footsteps with a nature-focused 4 weeks island-hopping through the Galapagos where you’ll learn about environmental sustainability, conservation and work alongside local scientists and national park rangers. Have incredible, up-close wildlife encounters, hike the local volcanoes, kayak the turquoise ocean waters and watch for turtles. Immerse yourself in Ecuadorian culture and gain insight into the lives of indigenous communities. You’ll return from this summer program inspired by all you’ve experienced and learned…and most likely planning your return!
This summer program is perfect for high school graduates, college graduates, and gap year students, ideally 18 to 22 years old. Optional transferable academic credit is available to all participants.
It’s time to say ‘Hola!’ to South America and the Galapagos Islands. You’ll be met by your awesome Program Instructors and transferred to our group’s private accommodation for an in-depth 3-day program orientation to focus on getting to know each other and create a positive and reflective group culture to support us all. We’ll spend our first few days taking a look around our new home base, learning about the rich culture of the area, and getting to know one another and our program goals for the next 30 days.
After orientation we will travel to the highlands where we get stuck in to our first project. This project focusses on reforestation and we will help get rid of invasive plants. We will stay here for a couple of days and really start understanding the processes that go hand in hand with this project.
After completing our first project on the island, we take some time out to explore the area, go snorkeling in the magical waters that surround these islands. After all Galapagos is known for its incredible marine life! These days will be nothing short of magical while we submerge ourselves in the local beauty of the landscape and the diverse wildlife that inhabits it.
Our next volunteer project starts as we take time to understand the problems faced by these islands. We will start with a microplastic collection which immediately helps the local environment. During these days cleaning up beaches we are joined by local scientists who will help us identify which plastics we are collecting and what effect they have on the environment and marine life.
We will have such a better understanding of pollution here in the Galapagos after the microplastic collection project and can reward ourselves with an incredible tour out to Kicker Rock.
One of the best spots for snorkeling, Kicker Rock or Leon Dormido is an amazing rock formation near San Cristobal Island. This amazing landmark, Kicker Rock / Leon Dormido is a remnant of a vertical tuff cone formation, rising almost 153 meters (500 feet) from the ocean. The erosion has given the rock its characteristic shape, which some see as a shoe, hence the name Kicker Rock. Others see it as a sleeping sea lion or Leon Dormido in Spanish.
While we snorkel around Kicker Rock we can spot sea turtles, marine iguanas, rays, Galapagos sharks, tropical fish and if luck is on our side we can even see hammerhead sharks. Besides enjoying the underwater view, we can usually see blue-footed boobies, masked boobies and frigatebirds on the cliffs as well as sea lions along the shore.
After an awesome day out we are heading to Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos, and help the national park staff clean the beaches there. While here we will have time to explore and take in all that this magnificent island has to offer. On one of the afternoons, we will head out on mountain bikes to the wetlands on the island.
The last week will see us taking adventure to the next level.
We start with treks up to two of the Galapagos' volcanoes, Sierra Negra and Chico. Sierra Negra has erupted 6 times since 1948 and rises to an altitude of 1124m. Next up is kayaking in beautiful secluded coves, watching the wildlife and snorkelling again to make sure you don't miss out on turtle spotting!
We transfer to Santa Cruz halfway through the week and head to the best swimming spot in all of the Galapagos, the Grietas. Three crystal clear pools in an idyllic setting make this a highlight of the program! After a day exploring here we jump back on the kayaks and spend some time on the water again before heading to the Charles Darwin research centre. A research facility that houses a huge collection of Galápagos plant life. Time to get those green fingers out and put that newfound knowledge to the test! Can you name any of the species of flora or fauna? Another of the programs many highlights!
We can't leave without stopping at a turtle ranch before starting program wrap here in the Galapagos!
Sadly, the time has come to begin processing the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that the last 29 days have taken us on. Our lives are all somewhat chaotic right now, so we are sure that you will reflect on how amazing it was to have a chance to take a break from everything, learn about ourselves, but also prioritize time to experience and have gratitude for our own beautiful and historic culture and environment.
*Each week there will be some designated free time so that you can catch up on email, laundry, rest, and explore independently with others in the group.
**Pacific Discovery reserves the right to alter and/or change the order of the itinerary, the focus of the projects or the activities themselves due to dates, availability, and safety precautions.
This gap year program is perfect for high school graduates, college students and graduates, and non-students, ideally 18-22 years old. You don’t need to previous experience with travel or any of the activities offered, but it is important you have a positive attitude and to be prepared for some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program. You need to be interested in engaging with local people, pursuing new experiences and pushing personal boundaries.
The program is a shared group experience. Join this program with an open mind and a willingness to work together with your group mates to make the program an amazing experience for the whole group. Additionally, the program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey. We expect you to be open to learning and challenging your ideas and assumptions.
Our accommodation will vary from welcoming homestays, lodges and camping with shared facilities, to hotels and guesthouses with private bathrooms. Laundry and Wi-Fi will be available frequently, except while at our volunteering projects, trekking trips and community stays. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.
Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the program cost. Any snacks are at an additional cost, which we recommend budgeting around $10 per day for.
Meals are a mixture of eating out at restaurants and food preparation shared by students. An average day on program would consist of the following:
Camping meals will be adjusted to the cooking equipment at hand
*Note: Free visas-on-arrival are issued for Ecuador