The Culture and Ecology of Ecuador trip is one of our most challenging and rewarding student programs. Venture high into the Andes Mountains, learn about the colonial Spanish as well as native Quichua cultures, improve your Spanish language abilities, study conservation and sustainability both in the Andes as well as the Amazon Rainforest, and participate in a variety of reforestation projects. This trip is one of the most multi-faceted summer abroad programs for highschoolers.
During your first few days in the Andean capital city of Quito (elevation 9,350 ft) you will be introduced to Ecuadorian culture and ecology and given language instruction from native Spanish speakers. Then travel to the cloud forests of Tandayapa and Mindo Valley to learn about a region which holds some of the highest biodiversity in the world.
Hike in the forest, go tubing down a river or ride the “teleférico” sky lift up to the forest canopy. Participate in a reforestation project to protect the highly diverse, yet fragile cloud forest ecosystem.
Travel by bus to the indigenous community of Runatupari in the Northern Highlands, stopping at the world famous Otavalo market. Stay with an indigenous host family and participate in activities created by the community where all the funds go to improve community life. Participate in a community service learning project, such as painting a school.
Travel by bus along the Avenue of Volcanoes, stopping at Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano, and then down through Baños into the hot, tropical Amazon Rainforest. Conclude your Ecuadorian adventure in the heart of the rainforest, with hikes into the forest and canoe rides down the Napo River. On your return, make one last stop at the Papallacta hot springs, to rest, debrief, and enjoy the incredible beauty of the Andes.
“This has been one of the most amazing experiences I could ever dream of.”
-Autumn Wells, Cleveland, OH
Throughout the journey, part of each day will be spent in Spanish conversation, focusing on survival skills needed to communicate with native Quichua families. You will shop at open-air markets, stand on the line that marks the actual Equator, and gain a deep appreciation of the diversity which Ecuador has to offer.
This trip emphasizes the personal transformations that can come about through deep exposure to another culture and terrain. Summer abroad programs for highschoolers can be more than just seeing new places; with SAGE, they are opportunities to be active participants in communities around the world!
Students and Trip Leaders meet and depart from either Miami or Houston airport, then fly on to Quito, returning the same way.