Ecuador – Rainforest Monkey Sanctuary

Please Note: This program is temporarily unavailable. Check out our alternative programs in South America or schedule a one-on-one call with one of our expert volunteer advisors.

Volunteer at a monkey sanctuary in the middle of the Ecuadorian rainforest! Immerse yourself in the colorful culture with Spanish classes and traditional activities as you enjoy living in the picturesque city of Quito in the Andean foothills, during your first week in Ecuador.

Program Highlights:

  • Live in part of the Ecuadorian rainforest
  • Volunteer in a place that is well off the beaten track – no tourists!
  • Go on daily hikes to harvest foods such as sugar cane and cocoa
  • Learn to catch insects for the animals as well as pick fresh fruits
  • Be a part of a team that rescues vulnerable animals, before releasing them back into the wild after rehabilitation
  • Enjoy a mountain bike trip to Cotopaxi, one of Ecuador’s most active volcanoes


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

Arrival day, Saturday: Arrive at Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO). You will be picked up at the airport and taken to the volunteer house in Quito. Take your time to relax and become adjusted to the Ecuadorian way of life.

Day 1, Sunday: Sunday will be a free day to explore Quito. Visit world famous churches in the Old Town, browse through Quito’s oldest indoor market or get a cleansing from a curandera, a traditional healer.

Days 2-6, Monday-Friday: During your introduction week, you will spend the mornings attending Spanish classes for four hours, and the rest of the day exploring and doing fun organized activities. These will include welcome cocktails, salsa classes and a full-day tour of Quito’s popular sites with your teacher to practice using your new Spanish skills.

Day 7, Saturday: Today you will go on a mountain bike tour of Cotopaxi. Take a hike in the National Park and enjoy breathtaking views of the Andean landscape, during your time on the highest active volcano in the world.

Day 8, Sunday: Make your way to the town of Puyo and then onto the project site in Arajuno. Take the time to rest after your journey and get used to living in the rainforest.

Day 9-13, Monday-Friday: Your days will be spent taking care of the animals, doing maintenance work at the site and helping with the cleaning. You are also encouraged to use your initiative and nominate tasks that you would like to work on such as working with the vet or helping out with the local environmental education program. Evenings are free for you to rest or take a trip to Puyo where you will be able to interact with the locals and enjoy the Ecuadorian nightlife.

Day 14-15, Saturday-Sunday: Weekends are mostly free, apart from a few morning chores on Saturday. Take the opportunity to explore the nearby town of Baños, where you can go white water rafting and zip lining, if you’re up for it!

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow a similar schedule of volunteering Monday-Friday and having Saturday-Sunday mostly free. Departure is on Saturday.

Interested in volunteering abroad in South America? Thinking of gaining some volunteer experience in your travels to Latin America? Don’t miss GoEco’s Volunteer in South America page.


Location icon Location of the Project: Arajuno & Quito, Ecuador

Project length Project length: Min 2 weeks – Max 4 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Animal care

Age Age:  Min age of 18 (Age exception: Volunteers under the age of 18 may apply with parental consent.)

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 24 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: Volunteers must have an intermediate level of Spanish (The sanctuary is run by a family that does not speak much English). Volunteers must also have the ability to be independent (Volunteers will work according to their own initiative, there will not be a lot of instruction given).


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared rooms at the student house during orientation week and shared rooms in a volunteer cabin while on the project

Food Food: Three meals per day are provided Monday-Friday during project work weeks

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Airport pickup is provided on arrival day

Orientation Orientation: The first week of this project consists of 20 hours of Spanish lessons, a visit to Cotopaxi National Park and its volcano and more! *Some small fees apply for excursions.

Support 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, meals during orientation week, some weekend meals, bus ticket from Quito to Puyo (approx. $6 USD) and from Puyo to project (approx. $1.50 USD), transfer to airport on departure day, personal expenses.

This project takes place in two main locations – first, embrace Ecuadorian culture in the capital city of Quito and then head to the secluded rainforest area of Arajuno to volunteer with rescued monkeys and other animals.

Quito is located in the Andes Mountains, which provides beautiful, scenic views of the majestic landscape. Six hours to the south lies Arajuno, in a secluded area of the rainforest. The nearest town, Puyo, is one hour away, allowing volunteers to live peacefully in the middle of the serene, enchanting rainforest.


This sanctuary was established in 2006 and currently provides a safe haven for over 60 animals, mostly tropical rainforest monkeys but also other native animals that have been injured. Many of these animals were abused or abandoned by those in the local community who kept them as pets. The sanctuary is family-run and sits on over 75 hectares of land. In addition to caring for injured animals, the sanctuary also works with the local community to promote conservation and wildlife education. Whenever possible, animals are released from the sanctuary back into the wild.

During your first week of this volunteer program, you will improve your Spanish skills with 20 hours of lessons, as well enjoy an introduction to the culture and local landscape of Ecuador. Fun activities during this week could include a private salsa lesson, a city tour of Quito and a visit to the Equator.

Starting with your second week, you will make your way to the monkey sanctuary where you will be involved in a variety of tasks. Day-to-day tasks include cutting fruit and preparing other food for the animals, feeding the animals and participating in general maintenance around the sanctuary.

Some of your tasks may include:

  • Preparing food for the monkeys and other animals
  • Making enrichment toys for the animals
  • General maintenance and cleaning around the sanctuary
  • Fruit picking and insect catching
  • Harvesting yucca, sugar cane, corn and/or cocoa as part of the animals’ diets
  • Day-to-day care of the animals


A typical day: Volunteers will work Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM -12:00 PM and have a break before returning to work from 2:30 – 5:30 PM. On Saturdays volunteers feed the animals and clean the volunteer house before having the rest of the weekend free.

Holidays: Holidays will not affect the animal project, but they will affect the first week of Spanish classes. Volunteers will receive all 20 hours as promised, but may have to make up hours on non-holidays.

The holidays for 2020 are as follows:

  • January 1
  • February 21-25
  • April 9-12
  • May 1-3 and 22-25
  • August 7-10
  • October 8-11
  • October 20 – November 3
  • December 24-27


The holidays for 2021 are as follows:

  • February 15 & 16
  • November 1 & 2
  • December 24 & 25


Internet icon Internet: During orientation week, WiFi will be available at an additional cost near to the student house. During the project, WiFi is not available at the project site, but is available in the nearby town of Triunfo (20 minutes away.)

Laundry icon Laundry: During orientation week, laundry facilities are available nearby for a small fee. While at the project, laundry facilities are not available and volunteers should expect to wash clothes by hand.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: During orientation week volunteers will stay in same-gender, double rooms in the student house with communal bathrooms and a shared, fully equipped kitchen. At the project volunteers will be in shared, single-gender rooms in a cabin with up to 7 others. There is a dining cabin with a kitchen which volunteers can use to prepare meals. Please note there is no electricity at the project accommodations. There is just a power generator which is switched on at night normally from 18:30 until 20:30 so that people can charge cameras.

Food icon Food: During orientation week, volunteers will need to purchase and prepare their own meals.There is a fully equipped kitchen in the student house and markets nearby. At the project three meals are provided: breakfast will be prepared by volunteers individually, lunches will be prepared for them and volunteers prepare dinner for the group on a rotating basis. On weekends volunteers prepare their own meals in the self-catering kitchen.


Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • Intermediate level of Spanish (The sanctuary is run by a family that does not speak much English)
  • Ability to be independent (Volunteers will work according to their own initiative, there will not be a lot of instruction given)
  • Love for animals
  • A good attitude
  • Desire to help

Aside from the travel highlights enjoyed during orientation, volunteers can participate in other activities during their free time for an additional fee. Listed below are a few suggested activities that are located in two of the closest towns.

Travel Highlights in Puyo:

Botanical Gardens Las Orquideas is a beautiful botanical garden with 6.75 hectares. This garden focuses on the education and preservation of Ecuadorian flora and fauna.

The Ethnic and Archaeological Museum is an excellent choice for history-lovers; this museum has artifacts that date back to around 2,000 BC.


Travel Highlights in Baños:

Rafting Baños Ecuador is for the thrill-seeking volunteers! Guests here have the option to white water raft down either the Patate or Pasta Rivers.

Ziplining: For the adrenaline junkie, Baños is home to a ziplining tour company that features over 2,000 meters of zipline fun.

Volunteer Experiences

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