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Join a reputable humpback whale and marine conservation program in Puerto Lopez. As a volunteer, you will help collect data about whales and contribute to scientific research. This takes place every year during July - September, when Humpback Whales migrate to the Pacific coast of Ecuador. This program has successfully identified and cataloged over 2200 different whales by photographing their tails and contributed to scientific studies, such as migration routes, feeding areas, and more. Volunteers will also help identify marine birds and dolphins. 


Program Highlights: 
  • Learn about the behavior and conservation of humpback whales from professionals.
  • Learn specific research techniques, such as photo identifications, acoustic data collection, and more.   
  • Join frequent whale watching cruises with researchers in the Pacific Ocean.  
  • Volunteer and make a difference while enjoying one of Ecuador’s most beautiful regions
  • Weekends are a great opportunity to meet new people and practice your Spanish. Discover the wonders of Machalilla National Park like Isla de la Plata (aka Little Galápagos) & other beautiful beaches. 

Your Schedule at a Glance (minimum one-week commitment): 

Arrival in Ecuador: You will be picked up from Guayaquil airport (according to your scheduled flight) and stay one night in town.
 
Day 1, Sun: Transfer by bus to Puerto Lopez (around 4 hours). Our Project Coordinator will meet you and give an orientation about your accommodation and Puerto Lopez village.

Day 2, Mon: On the first Monday between 7:00-9:00am, you will head to the center with a project representative, where the volunteer orientation will occur. 

Day 3-6, Tue - Fri: Meaning volunteer work which includes whale watching on a boat, data collection and analysis. Tasks will conclude between 5:00-6:00pm, then you will have the rest of the evening to yourself! 

Day 7, Sat: Departure Day for volunteers staying for only one week. Please note that you will have 1 free day a week, but it may vary and may not fall on a weekend. Volunteers can stay up to 10 days.


We recommend! 
Join our exciting intro week in Montanita before you volunteer and get the chance to learn Spanish, experience the lively local scene, and learn to surf in one of the hottest surf spots in Ecuador. See more details in "Travel Highlights" below. 

Planning to come for one month or more? Combine this project with our Wild Animal Rescue Shelter in the Amazon for a truly diverse wildlife experience. We will assist you with the transfers. 
 
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Location of the Project:  Puerto Lopez, around a 20 minutes walk from the accommodation
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Project length:  7 days / 6 nights or 10 days / 9 nights Available from mid-June to mid-October
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Arrival Airport:  Guayaquil - José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport
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Volunteer Work:  Whale watching and data collection
Age:  Min 18
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Number of Volunteers:  Max 10

What's Included

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Accommodations:  Shared dorm rooms (same gender) in a hostel assigned before arrival.
Food:  Meals are not included during the program. You can use the kitchen and cook by yourself. There are also a lot of local restaurants in the village where you can eat a local meal for $5.
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Airport Transfers:  Private airport pickup on arrival day and one night-stay in Guayaquil.
Orientation:  Orientation by Project Coordinator in Puerto Lopez (accommodation) and on the project during the first working day.
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Support:  Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

What's not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, personal expenses, food, (budget around $10-15 a day), public bus from Guayaquil to Puerto Lopez (around $10 one way).
Volunteers will stay in Puerto Lopez, a beautiful fishing village on the Pacific coast of Ecuador. This province is one of the most culturally vibrant and historically interesting areas in the country. Sample the delicious typical cuisine or discover the most famous artisanal craft in the province: the Sombrero de Paja Toquilla, also known as the Panama Hat. The main street in Puerto Lopez has a lot of restaurants, bars, and cafeterias. People are friendly, and the food is delicious.

Weekends are free to discover the magical places around Puerto Lopez like the breathtaking beach Los Frailes Natural Reserve, spot humpback whales from June to October, or enjoy the vibrant surf, beach, and party beach village Montañita. From Puerto Lopez, a visit to Isla de la Plata is a must, which is considered the “little Galapagos” on the mainland of Ecuador.

As a volunteer, you will partake in two shifts. The first is whale watching aboard a vessel (2-3 hours), which will require safety training before boarding and training for certain research techniques on behavior, demographics, biopsies, and acoustic data collection, as well as photo identification. After a 1-2 hour lunch and rest period, the second part of the day will take place. This includes data analysis sessions using the pictures and data collected on that day. A typical day starts in the morning between 7-9 am. On the first day, you will head to the center with a project representative, about 20 minutes away (walking distance). Once you arrive at the project, you will have a briefing by the Foundation Director. Tasks will conclude between 5:00-6:00pm, then you will have the rest of the evening to yourself! 

Main volunteer activities: 

  • Introduction to the research team, orientation, and research methods
  • Field research of whales and the Pacific Ocean 
  • Data Analysis: results and conclusions 
  • Lectures on biology and conservation cetaceans
     
Internet
Internet:  Wi-fi for free in the hostel. Consider that the Wi-Fi is not fast. Life in Ecuador is slow and so is the Wi-Fi
Laundry
Laundry:  Not included, but there are a lot of laundry shops around town.
Accommodations
Accommodations:  Volunteers will stay in shared, mixed gender, dorm-style rooms at a local hostel in the center of Puerto Lopez. There are up to four volunteers per room.
Food:  Meals are not included during the program. You can use the kitchen and cook by yourself. There are also a lot of local restaurants in the village where you can eat a local meal for $5.
  • Minimum age of 18 
  • GoEco interview after application
  • Police clearance form
  • Able to join daily cruises abroad whale watching boat
  • Ability to work in a team 
  • Negative PCR test before arriving in Ecuador
Culture week in Montanita
Join our exciting culture week in Montanita before you volunteer and get the chance to learn Spanish, experience the lively local scene, and learn to surf in one of the hottest surf spots in Ecuador. It is the perfect way to prepare yourself for your volunteering project and traveling in Ecuador. Montañita is a very laid-back surfers town on the Pacific coast. You can add the culture week once we accept you to the program. 

Extra fee: US$400 for 7 nights, this includes:
  • Orientation meeting (online)
  • Accommodation in shared cabana close to the beach, with a garden and swimming pool
  • Breakfast
  • 20 hours of Spanish classes with local teacher (4 hours a day)
  • 5 surf lessons

During your volunteer program, you will have ample time to enjoy the many nearby attractions. 
  • Machalilla National Park
  • Los Frailes (breathtaking beach) 
  • Isla de la Plata (Little Galapagos)
  • Humpback whales between June and October 
  • Salango; the Salango community has deep ancestral roots that represent about 5000 years of history and culture. 
  • Agua Blanca
  • Manta, the province’s capital
  • Canoa, a beach village 
  • Amazing local food! 
Our local team is happy to assist with any travel advice and arrangements. 
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