Ecuador: The Galapagos Islands & The Andes

The Experiment in International Living



Jul 3 - Jul 31




Land in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, to begin your Experiment. There, you will explore the 16th-century gold-inlaid churches and colonial buildings of the Old Town. Your first excursion is to the equator, where you can stand on the spot where the Northern and Southern Hemispheres meet. Experience the diverse wildlife of the Mindo Nambillo cloud forest, then travel to the Andes (the world’s highest mountain range outside of Asia) for a weeklong homestay in the small city of Riobamba, where you will share daily activities such as sports, movies, and walks through town with your host family.

Continue on to the Amazon Basin to see the stunning waterfalls of Baños and get up close and personal with monkeys and exotic birds. Then, you’ll travel by boat and sleep aboard as you make your way through the Galápagos Islands, the famous site of Charles Darwin’s research, where scientists and nature lovers flock to research and admire some of the most biodiverse islands in the world. You will have the incredible opportunity to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, a biological research facility and active breeding center. There, you will learn about the conservation efforts that maintain and improve the ecology and biodiversity of these remarkable islands. Activities include island-hopping on a night cruise, snorkeling, swimming in lava grottoes, visiting turtle hatching sites, exploring mangrove forests and flamingo lagoons, and observing the courtship displays of rare tropical birds.

Throughout your Experiment, you’ll develop your Spanish language skills through interactive lessons with local teachers and conversations with locals and try your hand at preparing a typical Ecuadorian dish (such as ceviche or empanadas). You will participate in a community service project to support environmental efforts or the local community. Another adventure awaits as you hike from the first base camp to the second shelter of Chimborazo, an inactive volcano that rises 20,548 feet above sea level, and bike back down through a beautiful Andean landscape.

Things to Know Beforehand

  • This is a very active program involving outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. Water activities include boating, snorkeling, and a boat stay. The program moves throughout the country including 2- to 4-hour bus trips and a flight to Galápagos. Be prepared to carry your luggage up and down stairs and to lift it into overhead storage compartments.
  • Ecuador has four distinct geographical and climatic zones: the coastal plain with a tropical climate; the Andean highlands at about 8,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level; the eastern jungle in the upper reaches of the Amazon; and the Galápagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast. Rainfall varies from constant rain to severe drought; weather is very unpredictable.
  • Dairy/egg products are a staple so following a vegan or kosher diet may be challenging. Vegetarians should be aware that ”vegetarian” may mean the avoidance of red meat; fish or chicken may still be served.
  • Access to the internet is limited and internet speeds and connectivity vary.
  • The diverse personal and social identities of participants may, in part, shape their experience abroad. In-country partners will discuss cultural norms and the local context during orientation. Please read our approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for further information. All students will have a safe space within the program spaces and with the local staff and group leaders.
  • The Experiment program structure is rooted in experiential learning and cohort-based learning. The participant group experience is a major source of learning for Experimenters and is facilitated by trained Experiment group leaders.
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What people are saying

An extraordinary adventure

When people ask me how my trip to Ecuador was, it's always so hard for me to answer because words cannot describe how amazing my experience was in every way. It was truly one of the most memorable, fun, educational, and inspiration months of my life. On the EIL's Ecuador program, you get the chance to travel all over the beautiful country of Ecuador. In just four weeks, I visited the capital of Ecuador (Quito), the Amazon Rainforest, The Andes Mountains, The Galapagos Islands and so many more places. The variety in activities you have the chance to do is absolutely incredible! From horseback riding, to snorkeling, to hiking, to dancing Salsa! The opportunities are endless!

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An amazing way to spend my summer

When I first signed up for this trip, my biggest fear was missing out on my summer because of this four week long trip with people I didn’t know. Now, when I look back on that fear, I am glad that it didn’t stop me. This trip has been the highlight of my summer and if I had the option to go back, I would. From playing Uno with my host family to snorkeling with sharks, penguins, and sea lions I enjoyed every second. I was able to do things I never imagined myself doing and that made for a memorable trip. The Experiment did an amazing job picking activities for us to do. One of those activities was traveling to the Galapagos Islands and living on a boat.

The Ecuadorian experience

I never expected to fall in love on this trip, but I did. Ecuador took my heart and I don't think I will ever get it back. The environment and ecosystems there are so incredibly unique and unlike anything I have ever experienced before, and it was all amplified tenfold by the amazing job The Experiment did. I had amazing group leaders along with wondrous activities The Experiment planned for us. I made new friends, a new family, and experiences that will last a lifetime. I know that I will travel back in the future because of the huge impact it had on me this summer.

Amazing cultural immersion

When I first found out that I was accepted for the Experiment’s Ecuador trip, I was absolutely overjoyed. However, I don’t believe it actually hit me that I was going away for an entire month without anyone that I knew. It certainly was a bit overwhelming and daunting when I came to that realization. Now, after having experienced what I did, I should have never been even a little apprehensive about going. Being spoken to and forced to speak Spanish every day was at first annoying and made me nervous, but I quickly realized that it was extremely beneficial for my Spanish skills. I was forced to understand Spanish and speak it constantly, as opposed to learning Spanish in school, where you have to understand and speak it very little.

I had an amazing time

It was very interesting but in a good way. I enjoyed every second and would do it again if I had the chance to. In the Galapagos, snorkeling with sharks, fishes and penguin was something I wasn’t able to do in Missouri. I can happily check off my buck list a lot of activities that I wasn’t able to complete in Missouri.

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