PMGY volunteer in Ecuador participants are based in Quito, the country’s capital located in the Andes Mountains. This major city is home to nearly 3 million people, but with its quaint atmosphere resting in the mountain tops you will find yourself in the majestic views of city life, wilderness and history.
Quito is a unique centralised location. In this famous city, you can find yourself at a prime spot to visit the earth’s equator, hike to Cotopaxi Volcano, enjoy panoramic views from the Teleférico, buy souvenirs at the Artesian Market, board the train to the Amazon or take a flight to the Galapagos Islands for a long weekend.
Participants generally volunteer on a Monday-Friday basis and the weekends are free to relax or travel further afield. As our volunteers will testify, the wider travel opportunities are extremely important to the whole experience and it is something we certainly recommend. Our local team are able to arrange activities, transport and accommodation but please note this is usually an independent experience outside of the core program.
This city is the perfect introduction to Latin culture with its mixture of Indigenous and European traditions. Art and nature clearly play a large part in the beliefs of this beautiful location; wait until you walk the streets and encounter the murals, statues and artwork waiting for purchase in shop after shop. This Spanish destination pours history into the hearts of every visitor with its colonial buildings, checkerboard patterned streets and churches. The surrounding snow-capped mountain tops and starry nights will leave you breathlessly in love!
Nearby the Andean Mountains, there is an emerald color lagoon, located inside a volcano crater with a height of 3800m above sea level. This beauty is called Quilotoa lake. About 14km north of Zumbahua, the famous volcanic-crater lake is a gasp-inducing sight. A lookout on the crater rim offers stunning views of the lake 400m below, snowcapped peaks of Cotopaxi and Iliniza Sur in the distance. When you ask the locals how deep it is, they say it has no bottom, which seems entirely plausible given its awesomeness (the geologists say 250m).
MINDO CLOUD FOREST
The thrill of a 100m cloud forest will leave you wishing you never left as you glide through the treetops and tube down the waters in the mountains. Trek the Rio Nambillo through brightly coloured flowers and exotic wildlife. A favourite is the canopy zipline through Mindo Forest where you can witness spider monkeys jumping and sloths chilling. After that, satisfy your sweet tooth with the Mindo Chocolate tour. Chocolate makers in El Quetzal will show you how to create this delightful treat from its original form starting as the cocoa bean.
OTAVALO, CUICOCHA & COTACACHI
The most interesting indigenous cultures from the Ecuadorian Andes are found within Otavalo, Cuicocha & Cotacachi. In Otavalo market, the locals create beautiful dolls, weave clothes and paint with forest resources. Nearby lies Cuicocha lake located in the crater of Cotacachi volcano. This lake is a sparkling blue crater lake formed nearly 3,000 years ago. While visiting Cotacachi you have a chance to walk through leather markets or hike to an incredible viewpoint to witness a panoramic view of the surrounding villages and volcanoes afar.