No Discounts Can be given on this program, even for returning volunteers

Galápagos Islands Conservation: Every Explorer and Naturalist’s Dream!

This is a two-week program.
The sea turtle nesting season doesn’t begin until January and lasts through May.

Program location

Formerly a fisheries-based economy with very few locals living mostly for subsistence, the Galápagos evolved to be a Wild West for sea cucumber and lobster trading before turning into one of the foremost Ecotourism destinations on the planet. While being one of the best preserved places in the world, with 95% of its pre-human, original biodiversity still intact, pressures from tourism are increasing. IOI and its volunteer programs help the Galápagos to continue on their path to sustainable development where both quality of life is ensured and the unique environment is preserved, today and for future generations. You will be stationed in a community on the south coast of Isabela Island in the Galápagos, seven hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador. Isabela is one of the four inhabited islands of the famous Galápagos, and is the largest island in the archipelago and is home to only 4000 people. The majority of its residents live in the port town, and a small minority live permanently in the highlands on Sierra Negra Volcano as full-time farmers. It is a beautiful island, boasting beaches that stretch miles along rocky, rugged coastlines, and teem with exotic wildlife. In the last fifteen years, Isabela’s economy has converted from one driven exclusively by its fisheries, to one that is sustained mostly completely by a nascent eco-tourism. We work directly with a local NGO to provide volunteer opportunities around conservation and education efforts designed to protect the area’s still thriving but threatened natural habitats.

Work Projects

The core science-related projects that are run require a special work visa issued only to ages 18 and over. 

There are limited spots for each project, so volunteers may be placed on separate projects.

At our project headquarters, you will be introduced to our ongoing projects, from working on tortoise and sea turtle conservation to feeding and caring for the tortoises, assisting park rangers with zoo-keeping-related activities, and cataloging nesting patterns and nest size. Sea turtle projects are available from January to May. Tortoise projects are year-round. 

If you are coming with a family to volunteer, the projects you are allowed to work on are English teaching, Social Media, and Agriculture.

Marine Turtle Nesting Monitoring:

  • Cleaning beach nesting areas, patrolling for nests and turtles.
  • Determining nesting patterns, observation & data collection, monitoring registered nests, possibly relocating nests, and excavation of nests.
  • Kikuyo removal- dedicate 3 hours weekly to removing this invasive plant from the turtle nesting area.
  • Beach profiling- On the 15th of each month, you will measure beach erosion and collect data.
  • 4 hours a day, 6 AM-8 AM and anywhere between 8 PM to 1 AM.

English Teaching:

As the Community English Education Volunteer, you will have the opportunity to work with students, teachers, government workers, and community members. In this program, you will have the choice between formal and applied teaching opportunities that include:

  • Assisting classroom English teachers with classroom management, lesson planning, and leading activities.
  • Teaching job-related language skills to naturalist guides, English teachers, and biodiversity protection officers in their work setting.
  • Helping to design and run continuing education programs for community members to practice conversational English.

Social Media:

As a social media volunteer, you will be in charge of generating footage (photo and video) as well as text that accurately and meaningfully captures the nature of the project's international presence and impact. This will include:

  • Collaborating with local staff in various departments to pull out and highlight the pieces of the work that most thoroughly demonstrate and illuminate its lasting, positive effects.
  • Working with, based on experience, the Galapagos National Park to develop environmental education material that educates tourists, as well as the local population, about the surrounding habitats.


  • Experience in Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • An understanding of camera equipment and Mac or PC.
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a team.
  • Be a great verbal and written communicator.
  • An understanding of social media platforms and blogging, Photoshop, and design is a plus.


The farms of Isabela Island are starting work in greenhouses to optimize production year-round in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Volunteers will learn local techniques for sustainable tropical agriculture and will help to create food sovereignty, lower the carbon footprint of island life, lower waste from shipping materials, lowers the cost to local consumers, increase local income, and increase the nutritional content of the food available in Isabela.


  • A genuine passion for the outdoors and conservation of nature.
  • Physical ability to work laborious construction and gardening-type jobs outdoors with potential allergens, sun, and temperature exposure.
  • Basic knowledge of non-motorized tools and their safe usage.
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a team.

Important: The ability to speak and understand Spanish is beneficial as it will increase your ability to communicate and integrate with community members. Project staff members are English speakers but community members generally speak basic English thus we highly recommend that you brush up on your Spanish skills to make the most of your experience. If you would like to add a 1 or 2-week-long Spanish course to the start of your program, please let us know so we can help you arrange this.

Sample itinerary

Your day will begin with breakfast from 7:00 to 8:00 am, work will take place from 8:00 am to 1:30 pm each work day, followed by lunch from 1:30-3:00 pm, then free time to enjoy the area before an early dinner. Our country director and a staff of three do the training, and onboarding. Everything is within walking distance, and bicycles are provided for those who want to use them. You will be walking or cycling to our headquarters every day.

This is a two-week program.



As a volunteer, depending on availability, you will have the option to stay at our volunteer house, or with a host family. In both cases you will have a private bedroom and bathroom with a fan or air conditioning, hot water, dresser, desk and chair, and potable water. In our volunteer house you will share apartment-style living spaces including a kitchen for breakfast, living room, and porch, hot water and AC. Each room has one double or queen bed. In our 3/2 and 2/2 apartments you will have a private bathroom in most cases, or share the bath with max one other person. There are up to 6 people in one volunteer house or homestay, either way is same cost. Staying in a host family, you will have your own bathroom and your bedroom will lock; you will have the chance to learn how local people live, try local dishes, and practice or learn some Spanish. This unique opportunity facilitates the interchange of culture, language and tradition with the aim to provide a memorable experience and deepened understanding for both parties. Often deep and long-lasting relationships evolve. On occasion, there are long-term university research volunteers that will be using the volunteer housing. Placements are first-come, first serve.

This is a two-week program.


You will organize your own breakfast in our fully equipped kitchens. Both lunch and dinner are provided at your choice f 12 specified restaurants in town. At conclusion of your meal, you sign, and we pick up the bill at the end of the stay. If staying at a homestay, your host family will provide lunch and dinner daily.

Leisure/Culture activities

Your coordination team will provide you with a list of culture and leisure activities you can do in your free time, such as beach time, surfing, nature hikes, sunset watching, cycling, practice Spanish, getting to know the locals. Cabo Rosa Tunnels, kayak in Tintoreras, rapel in Los Trillizos volcano, scuba dive at Tortuga islet, Concha Perla, Sierra Negra Volcano, sulfer mines, marshlands, Poza de los flamencos and more!

Cost: $2,489 (two week program)

Cost covers meals described, accommodation, work permits, local coordination and training, local transport, access to all our facilities, medical insurance. You will be required to pay a $100 entry fee to Galápagos in cash at the airport.

This program operates in partnership with a number of entities, including the Ecuador federal government park service, a local grassroots organization that helps coordinate all the entities and Globe Aware. $1700 of your program funds go direct to the local project fees, whereas additional funds in your overall contribution fee are collected to cover medical, liability insurance and remaining operating costs. There may be volunteers on site staying for varying lengths of time (some for many weeks or months) that you may encounter on the program that come from different countries or even placement organizations that do not have the same coverages and who have paid different contribution fees. After registration, we will help you get registered with all the local organizations necessary. Because the federal park service requires a work visa issued only to 18 and over, not all age volunteers are allowed to work on the same projects. We appreciate your understanding of the complexities involved in order to make this program function.

Arranging your airfare

For arranging your airfare,you will be needing to get to Isabela Island.

First, arrange airfare to Baltra airport (GPS) on San Cristobal Island. (You will likely be routed through Quito or Guayaquil on the way there, either is fine). Then to continue on to program location on Isabela Island, you have 2 choices: ferry or plane.

  1. Inter-island flights to Isla Isabela: Two airlines operate between the islands from Santa Cruz or San Cristobal to Isabela Island: Emetebe and FlyGalápagos. The flight is 20 to 30 minutes and provides great scenery.
  2. Inter-island ferries to Isabela Island: takes about 2 hours. https://www.ferryticketsgalapagos.com Generally leave twice a day

We can help you arrange puddle jumper flights rather than ferry on the last leg to Isabela, usually around $400 round trip, through a very small agency. The ferry is much less expensive. After you have registered, just let us know if you are interested.


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