Ecuador – Giant Tortoise and Sea Turtle Conservation in the Galápagos

This program is now open and accepting international volunteers!

Join GoEco in the Galápagos and help care for ancient, giant tortoises and sea turtle nest conservation!


Program Highlights:

  • Directly impact wildlife conservation efforts in the Galápagos
  • Volunteers will be assigned to work with giant tortoises or sea turtle nest monitoring based on the active seasons, project availability and volunteer preference
  • Gain experience in wildlife care
  • Ethical wildlife volunteer tasks and interactions
  • Visit other nearby islands during free time


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum two-week commitment):

Arrival Day, Monday: Arrive at Baltra Airport (GPS) no later than 10:30 AM in order to catch the ferry to the island, where the local team will meet you upon arrival. You will be transferred to your accommodations, where you will settle in and meet fellow volunteers.

Days 1-4, Tuesday-Friday: Volunteers will work from 7:30 – 11:30 AM, but volunteers can choose to work for eight hours per day instead. Specific hours may vary depending on the tasks at hand. Volunteers will choose between either working with giant tortoises or for sea turtle nest conservation (during the season). Specific tasks for each placement can be viewed under the “Volunteer Work” section of this page.

Days 5-6, Saturday-Sunday: Weekends are free for volunteers to relax, or explore the island and nearby islands.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow the schedule of volunteering Monday-Friday and having weekends free to spend how you wish (check out “Travel Highlights” below for suggestions!) Departures are on Sundays.


Location icon Location of the Project: Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Project length Project length: Min 2 weeks – Max 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Baltra Airport (GPS)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Feeding and caring for tortoises and their enclosures. Sea turtle nest monitoring that encourages turtle and habitat conservation.

Age Age:  18 – 60

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 6 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: Volunteers participating during the months of December to May must choose to work at either the tortoise breeding center or with sea turtles. Volunteers should apply at least 4 weeks in advance to have enough time to apply for the visa.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Private room in a volunteer house or homestay

Food Food: Two meals a day, unless you select the homestay

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Volunteers make their own way. Boat ticket to the island is included

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, visa (if required), travel health insurance, transfer to and from the airport, personal expenses, optional island hopper plane from Baltra to project (additional cost of approximately $200 each way).

The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of mainland Ecuador and is considered one of the world’s leading locations for wildlife viewing. Its isolated landscape is home to a wide range of animal and plant species, many that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1835, and his observation of Galápagos’ species later inspired his theory of evolution.


This project has been instrumental in the conservation of these ancient animals that were very close to extinction. At one time, a quarter million of these giants roamed these South American islands, but over time, that number diminished to around 3,000. Several factors were responsible for the decline, beginning with sailors and settlers hunting them for food.

As a volunteer on this project, you will be working closely with the Galápagos National Park in their efforts to continue to conserve this indigenous species! During your time at the tortoise center, you will be a full-time member of the center’s staff aiding in the conservation and care of these fascinating ancient creatures. Volunteers participating during the months of December to May will be assigned to work at either the tortoise breeding center (as described above) or with sea turtles depending on the placement availability and the season. We will consider your preference when determining your placement, however availability will be the deciding factor. Sea turtle nest monitoring tasks include walking the beach while looking for nests, turtles and hatchlings. Actual sightings may be rare.

Tortoise center tasks may include:

  • Feeding and caring for the tortoises
  • Cleaning and maintaining enclosures
  • Explaining the rules and regulations of the center to tourists.
  • Additional assignments as needed


Sea turtle conservation tasks may include:

  • Searching for sea turtle nests
  • Searching for sea turtle hatchlings


A typical day: Your schedule is based on 20 hrs/week and can be extended to a regular 40 hr work week. You will work from Monday – Friday, from 7.30AM – 11.30AM. This may change depending on the tasks at hand.

Internet icon Internet: WiFi is available.

Laundry icon Laundry: Laundry facilities are available.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: You will stay in a private room, either in a shared volunteer house or nearby host family. This will be assigned based first on availability and then on your preference and in some cases, it could be both. Both accommodations have western – style flush toilets and shared common areas, including a kitchen and dining room. Volunteers can also choose to stay with a host family. At your homestay you will also stay in a private room with western – style flush toilets.

Food icon Food: At the volunteer house: Lunch and dinner is provided at your choice of various restaurants in town. Breakfast is not included, but you have the use of an equipped kitchen for cooking. Homestay: You will have breakfast and dinner with your host family. Lunch is provided at your choice of various restaurants in town.


Volunteers are required to apply for a volunteer visa before their trip at the closest Ecuadorian Embassy. This could take 4 weeks to process depending on the embassy, so if you’re planning to travel soon please apply ASAP and we can help you with the process immediately.


COVID-19 Entry Guidelines for Ecuador. Updated on April 10, 2022 and subject to change:

All passengers entering the country and Galapagos Islands, over 16 years of age, must present:

  • COVID-19 vaccination card or certificate with complete vaccination schedule valid for at least 14 days prior to the flight.
  • Fully covid vaccinated with 2 doses within the last 12 months. If older than 12 months, then a booster shot within the last 12 months is required.
  • Negative PCR test performed at least 72 hours before boarding the flight to Ecuador mainland and Galapagos islands.
  • Children between 2 and 15 years old must present a negative PCR test performed at least 72 hours before boarding the flight to Ecuador mainland and Galapagos islands.

Anyone who enters Continental Ecuador by international air must present the digital “Traveler’s Health Declaration” when boarding the plane.


Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • CV
  • Basic level of Spanish
  • A genuine passion for wildlife conservation
  • Volunteers must be flexible and interested to work either with the sea turtles or the tortoises depending on the season and placement availability.
  • Volunteers may be placed in a volunteer dorm or a local host family based on preference and availability.
  • An ability to openly communicate rules and regulations to tourists and follow instructions
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a team
  • Flexibility in work schedules and tasks to accommodate day-to-day needs of a local institution
  • Physical ability to work outdoors with potentially high allergens, sun and temperature exposure

The Galápagos Islands are one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations for wildlife viewing. Made famous by the scientist Charles Darwin, these South American islands are home to species that many people are familiar with, such as the blue-footed booby birds and giant tortoises. There is much to be seen on a trip to these islands, and a few suggestions are listed below.

Darwin Lake
Also located on the island, Darwin Lake is a saltwater lagoon that has twice the amount of salt of the surrounding ocean.

Tagus Cove
From the cliffs surrounding Darwin Lake, volunteers can take a panga ride to Tagus Cove where there is the opportunity to see, and even snorkel with, indigenous marine life such as Galapagos penguins!

Tortuga Bay
For volunteers who wish to island hop, Isla Santa Cruz, to the right of the island, is an excellent choice. Tortuga Bay is one of the most popular and beautiful beach destinations in all of the Galápagos Islands and is located in southern Isla Santa Cruz. There are sharks, marine iguanas and occasionally flamingos in the Bay.

Volunteer Experiences

Amidst a desolate Calgary winter of sub-zero temperatures and the always-fun process of university applications, I boarded a 6 A.M. connecting flight…

Want to join this program?