Conservation/Eco Lodge on Isabela Island in The Galapagos.

12 adult giant tortoises, reared in the National Park’s Breeding Centre, are now taken care of by this family, who run an organic farm and restaurant. The perfect environment for the tortoises; they can graze on the fallen fruit and local grasses and live as they would in the wild.

There are many different aspects to this project for volunteers to get involved with:

– The growing of fruit and vegetables, and planting of new plants and trees.

– The maintenance of the grounds and tortoise enclosure.

– The running of the restaurant and bar – a popular destination for tourists coming to see this Garden of Eden

– Construction of buildings and greenhouse (carpentry, building skills)

 

Why Volunteers are needed

Volunteer help is much appreciated and can make a huge difference. In 2011, volunteers helped enlarge the tortoise enclosure, and now there are plans to build an Information Centre on the site which will attract many visitors (and therefore help increase income). Volunteer help would be much appreciated to help build this simple building with locally resourced materials.

The centre will provide information about the history of the island, local fauna and flora, people and customs.  They would also like to construct a building where they could demonstrate how they produce and make Galapagos coffee and where locals can display and sell their handicrafts.  There are also plans to build another green house when funds become available, to show locals how to produce organic vegetables.

Other help would also be appreciated; help advertise the Centre on the net and increasing the number of visitors that come and admire the gardens, fruit trees, restaurant and, of course, the star attraction – the giant tortoises.

Where you will stay

Volunteers stay in the main town Puerto Villamil and take a daily bus leaving at 7am up the hill to the Project, which takes about 20 minutes.  The bus returns at about 3pm which leaves some time to enjoy the beach, surf or just relax.  Puerto Villamil is refreshingly simple, friendly and calm.  It has the air of the town that time has forgotten.

The accommodation is with a local family in shared rooms with their own bathrooms.  Food is home cooked and of a very good standard. Free Wi-fi available.

 

What to do whilst there

You can walk from your accommodation to the beautiful white sandy beach for swimming, and there is a surfers’ beach also within walking distance.  There is a walking trail to the National Parks’ Tortoise Breeding Centre, past some pretty lagoons where you will see marine iguanas, flamingos and many birds.  The National Park is also within walking or cycling distance and just beyond is the famous Wall of Tears built by prisoners when the island was a penal colony.  Bikes are available for hire and there are guided tours such as walking half way round the volcano crater in the Sierra Negra where you can see the recent volcanic lava that has half filled the crater.

Another good trip is to the small island on the other side of the harbour called  Los Tintoreras where you can see an abundance of marine iguanas as well as the white tip reef sharks that come to sleep in the fissures during the day.  You also get the opportunity to snorkel on that trip in a shallow lagoon where it is possible to see turtles, rays, sea lions and other marine life

Take plenty of books as laying in a hammock reading a book is the perfect way to relax after a day’s volunteering!

 

For some background information on The Galapagos, El Nino and what’s going on,  check out The Galapagos Trust

Prices Whats included Whats not included
4 weeks minimum £1,210 Airport pick up by taxi Flights to Ecuador and the Galapagos
Comprehensive orientation on arrival Travel Insurance
Price per extra week £150 First week at Spanish School in Quito National Parks Entrance fee US$100
Accommodation and meals in Quito for 1 week Immigration Fee US$10
Accommodation and meals in Galapagos for 3 weeks Boat fees between islands US$30
24 hour contact with in country co-ordinator Harbour fee on Isabela Island US5; Water taxis in harbours US$1
Placement local bus fares to placement
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