Ecuador is one of the smaller South American countries nestled between Peru (to the south) and Colombia (to the east). For such a small country, its natural landscape is extremely diverse. It contains everything from the lush Amazon Rainforest and the rolling Andes Mountains to a plethora of active and inactive volcanoes and the Galapagos Islands. Remember learning about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution? Well, this is where it all started back in 1838 when Darwin landed on the islands and studied the native birds. The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the highest levels of endemic species on the earth! Over and above Ecuador’s natural environment, are its wonderful people and authentic, not-highly modernized culture. The country has bigger cities such as the capital Quito and Guayaquil, and loads of smaller communities spread throughout. Because of Ecuador’s varied ecosystems and communities, there are many types of volunteer abroad opportunities available. The most popular volunteering opportunities are in the fields of environmental conservation, teaching children and community development. If you like to work with the earth, then choose the path of environmental conservation. In this field, you could help save animal populations such as the famous giant tortoises, perform research in the rainforests to further conservation efforts, or educate nearby communities on proper conservation methods and the like. Many animal lovers choose to work in animal welfare to protect indigenous animals from becoming victims of the unfortunate, but all too common, act of animal trafficking. Volunteering in environmental conservation offers both the chance to work with the ecosystem as well as with the country’s native communities. If you prefer working with children, then teaching is a perfect volunteer project for you. While many volunteers teach English, but if you fancy another subject, communities are usually willing to accommodate your skills and passion to teach or facilitate other subjects. Volunteering in community development projects are also widely available. Volunteers who chose this, are typically stationed in a rural community to build and improve local education and/or health centers. It is important to note, that if you elect a position that requires placement in a rural town, do not expect a western standard of living. Ecuador is a developing country and does not have the same luxuries that are available in first-world countries. This means, be prepared to rough it in a ‘no toilets, no conventional shower, no air conditioning or heater’ type of way. Volunteering abroad in Ecuador is a perfect way to practice your Spanish! Many who reside in the country do not know English, so it is suggested that you have an intermediate speaking level of Spanish when volunteering here. However, if you only have a basic understanding of the language, don’t be intimidated! The Ecuadorian locals are known to speak slowly and clearly; it’s their dialect and just so happens to work perfectly for those who aren’t so well versed in the language. If you have a passion for environmental conservation or working with kids and communities, then volunteering abroad in Ecuador is the ideal placement for you.