Volunteering Abroad Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Sea Turtle and Rainforest Conservation Program Ecuador



Our organization was born in 2019 with the hope of contributing to conserve the diverse and fragile ecosystems of the Galera San Francisco peninsula, in northern coast of Ecuador. Our main goal is to work in direct conservation actions to protect the surrounding rainforests and beaches at the marine reserve. We believe, in order to achieve this, it's crucial involving local children and youth, as well as national/international volunteers, through workshops and activities that raise awareness about the importance of respecting all beings of Nature.

Volunteers will:

This program includes 2 main projects.

Sea Turtle Conservation and Rainforest Conservation

Volunteers will participate in each project depending on the time of the year they arrive, as well as on their interests and our needs. It is guaranteed that volunteers will participate at least 30% of their time in the project that deserves less attention in that season. If you are interested in participating only in one of the projects, please contact us to let you know when it would be the best time of the year for you to arrive.


Rainforest Conservation & Tropical Permaculture Activities:

General activities

For turtle conservation work, schedule and dynamics vary greatly depending on the month of the year. From mid June, nesting season begins, reaching its peak from August to December. During these months, nesting beach monitoring will be carried out between 6.30am and 10am, and may last until the afternoon depending on the turtle activity, nests to protect, exhume or relocate. The days where less turtle activity is found we will clean the beach from plastics and do some work on regenerative farms, veggie garden and/or nursery. After lunch, activities will be organized according to available energies after morning work. In total, 5-6h of work per day is expected from volunteers, ending between 12pm and 3pm depending on starting time. All interns, students and volunteers will spend an important part of their time doing fieldwork. However, all biological work requires data entry and data analysis. This is an important part of our work, so not all the time will be spent in the field. Additionally, volunteers will be asked to help out in chores to clean or prepare for field work. Furthermore, volunteers will help to clean the facilities of the volunteer house and the research station. Volunteers must understand that field work is dependent on many factors that we don’t control. These include weather, availability of gasoline for transportation, etc. We ask volunteers to be patient and understand that working in the field and working in a small town with limited resources, sometimes makes it hard to have things always go along as planned. Students may be involved in more than one project depending on availability. We eagerly try to make Ecuadorian and international students work together as the best way to learn from each other and as a way to promote cultural exchange. Weekends are free time but volunteers, if interested, have the option get involved in the educational project that we are running on local communities. In this case, one day of the week will be off. (5 working days per week in total).


Fundación Cusumbí

Quingue, Muisne, Esmeraldas

Good physical condition.

Dates of program:
Year round

Duration of program:
1 week minimum

Age requirement:
Adults of both sexes 18+

US$190 average per week depending on the total amount of weeks you spend at our project, the more time you stay the cheaper it gets per week. This cost includes: training on environmental conservation, accommodation (shared dorms/private room), food, 24/7WiFi access, 24/7 support, 24/7 emergency phone, orientation, activities, tools, organization administrative costs.

Other information:
Accommodation: most of the time will be on a private/shared room with other volunteers. If the volunteer's stay is longer than 3 months, option to live with a local host family available. Unlimited Wi-Fi access included. Three meals: we will eat very healthy local food from the organic farms, also sustainable fish/chickens/eggs available. Training on marine turtle conservation and/or tropical Permaculture.


Life changing experience
"I stayed a month with Andrea and Diego. Lots of respect for just 2 people working full time for such a big project. The have a big dream and certainly need more help from likeminded people. I applied for the sea turtle conservation program initially. It’s very meaningful to see the direct impact of our daily work. It could be exhausting for some people but surely rewarding for everyone. During my time there, I also took part in cacao harvest and make my own cocoa nibs. I was lucky enough to see a sea turtle mama at my first night petrol and some humpback whales on a boat trip. Also, I got to meet Andrea’s family and had a taste of the local community life. All in all, it’s a very interesting cultural experience on top of the volunteer work. As I have mentioned, there are always so many you can do to help. If you’d like to contribute to help an NGO to grow further and to reach more goals, here is definitely your place to make use of your talents. For example, I took quite some of my free time to redesign the website and work on Facebook & Instagram. It’s not super professional due to my limited graphic design and online marketing skills. But every single help matters and this is how Cusumbi can develop into something bigger in the long run. It’d be great if future volunteers can help with social media posts plus many other things that Diego’d like to do, e.g. fundraising and creating professional YouTube videos. My tips for anyone who’d like to join this project: flexibility and Spanish proficiency will certainly level up your whole experience."- Lai Lin Thomala
Awesome time with Diego and Andrea in Ecuador
"We spent the most wonderful week in the Fundacíon Cusumbi with Diego, Andrea and their lovely 7 dogs. The volunteering teached us a lot about the conservation of sea turtles (how to detect and secure nests on the beach, how to protect the hatch of baby turtles, etc.), but also made us more conscious of the risks to this ecosystem: plastic pollution, deforestation, mono-agriculture, urbanization, etc. Beyond all that it brought to us, we felt our help was useful to the Fundacíon Cusumbi as it involves a lot of groundwork, and that the scope and ambition of the project is growing day after day. We cannot thank enough our hosts, Diego and Andrea, who welcomed us so warmly into their home and made us feel part of the project. They taught us so much about the conservation of sea turtles, but also brought us along to discovering the coast of Galera, its jungles, beaches, fauna and local inhabitants! Thanks to them we even managed to see various Toucans during our stay. Diego and Andrea welcomed us in their lovely wood house in the middle of the jungle (surrounded by hummingbirds!), close to the beach of Galera where turtles usually nest. We had our own cabaña with a nice bed with mosquito net, bathroom with hot shower and dry toilets, and wifi! I strongly recommend you to join them on their mission to protect the coast of Galera, you will not regret it!"- Lucas Bettarel

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Web links / Other ways to help

If you visit and apply via the website please mention that you saw this project on volunteerlatinamerica.com.