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Volunteer for sea turtle & wildlife conservation with the local community of Las Tunas on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador.

Program Highlights:  
  • Work hands-on with turtle nests and injured turtles. 
  • Help maintain a healthy environment for the wildlife species in the area.
  • Live and volunteer with the local community of Las Tunas
  • Volunteer and make a difference while enjoying one of Ecuador’s most beautiful regions
  • Learn about the method used for monitoring nests of different species of turtles.
  • Weekends are a great opportunity to meet new people, enjoy the relaxing beach village of Ayampe, take surf lessons in Ayampe, or discover the wonders that Machalilla National Park offers, like Isla de la Plata (A.K.A Little Galápagos) & other beautiful beaches like Montanita. 

Program Schedule: 

Arrival in Ecuador on Saturday: You will be picked up from Guayaquil airport (according to your scheduled flight) and stay one night in town.

Day 1, Sunday: Transfer to Las Tunas - Puerto López (around 4 hours). Where our Project Coordinator will wait for you to give you an orientation about your accommodation and explore Las Tunas village. During the afternoon you will have a presentation about the program schedule, sea turtle ecology and environmental programs.

Days 2-6, Monday-Friday: Early in the morning on your first day, the Project Coordinator will take you to the workplace for the first time and give you an orientation on-site for the following activities: Turtle nesting monitoring, beach cleaning, reforestation, community empowerment about making handicrafts made of recycling and natural material. You will work each day around 4 and 5 hours on the project. On Sunday evenings, the project coordinator will make a work plan with you and set the expectations for the first week. In the afternoon you are free to enjoy the beach, surf, play volleyball or soccer with locals or relax. It’s possible to book optional Spanish classes, surf classes, and salsa dance classes for the afternoon.

Day 7-8, Saturday-Sunday: Over the weekend, you’ll enjoy some free time to discover the magical places around Puerto Lopez, like the breathtaking beach Los Frailes Natural Reserve, discover the magic of Isla de la Plata (A.K.A Little Galapagos), spot humpback whales (only from June until October), or enjoy the vibrant surf, and party in the beach village Montañita or Ayampe, hiking around the Ayampe Forest Reserve, horseback ride, bird watching and photography at Ayampe Reserve. Sunday evening the Project Coordinator will plan with you the work for the new week & their expectation. 

Days 9-13, Monday-Friday: Your mornings will monitor the turtle nests, beach cleaning, reforestation, community empowerment about making handicrafts made of recycling and natural material, and cleaning the beach of plastic. If you are lucky, you can see the sea turtle eggs hatching and you can see “the path of life” of the turtles going to the sea. 

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

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.
Location of the Project:  Las Tunas (20 min from Puerto Lopez)
Project length:  Minimum 2 weeks - Maximum 12 weeks
Arrival Airport:  Guayaquil - José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport.
Volunteer Work:  Turtle nesting monitoring and community & environmental empowerment.
Age:  Min 18 (minors accepted with parents’ consent)
Number of Volunteers:  Up to 20 international volunteers
Important Note:  Transfer from Guayaquil to Las Tunas is via public bus. It is possible to upgrade to a private transfer for an extra fee.

What's Included

Accommodations:  Overnight in shared dorm rooms (same gender) in a hostel assigned before arrival.
Food:  Breakfast included
Airport Transfers:  Private airport pickup on arrival day and one night-stay in Guayaquil.
Orientation:  On arrival day, to Las Tunas the local project coordinator welcomes all volunteers and provides orientation.
Support:  Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, English-speaking volunteer coordinator on the spot, donation t-shirt from the project, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

What's not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, personal expenses, lunch & dinner (budget about $50 per week), bus ticket from Guayaquil (about $5 per person).
Las Tunas is a beach located south of Manabí, 11.9 km (7.3 miles) south of Puerto López. It is a small village with around 1600 inhabitants. Las Tunas beach is known for its natural beauty, crystal clear sea waters, gastronomy, and for its community of friendly farmers and fishermen. Manabí province, in Ecuador, is one of the most interesting areas to know in the country. Rich and proud in their culture, you can enjoy delicious typical food, as well as learn about the history of the different places around Puerto López, or even take a weekend to learn about the most famous artisanal craft in the province: The Sombrero de Paja Toquilla, also known as the Panama Hat.
The volunteer program is being managed by Las Tunas community. The community has been working for around 10 years on programs to protect and take care of the environment under the concept “No Nature, no life". Our dream is to set up an international volunteer program to support the local community and its conservation efforts. 

4 species of sea turtles nest on the beaches of Las Tunas: Golfina Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Green Turtle (Chelonya midas), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the biggest  - Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). Each of the species nests at different times of the year. This is a general guideline: 
  • Golfina nests all year round, mainly from June to December. 
  • Green, from December to March
  • Hawksbill, from December to March
  • Leatherback, from March to April, according to this year’s record.

As a volunteer, you will partake in the following projects: 
  • Monitoring the turtle nests (every morning and a few nights) and lookout for wounded turtles.
  • Cleaning Las Tunas beach and the Ayampe river.
  • Reforestation plan of 100 hectares in a reserve in Ayampe.
  • Permaculture and development of recycling systems.
  • Environmental education programs for the local community. 
Internet:  There is free Wifi free at the hostel. Consider that the Wi-Fi is not fast. Life in Ecuador is slow and so is the Wi-Fi.
Laundry:  Not included. There are some local laundry places in the village.
Accommodations:  Shared room (same gender) in a beachfront hostel in Las Tunas - Puerto Lopez. There is a kitchen available, shared bathrooms and common spaces.
Food:  The program includes breakfast and a kitchen is available for self-cooking. There are also a lot of local restaurants in the village where you can eat for around $5,00 a local delicious meal.
Please take note of this project's minimum requirements:
  • Minimum age of 18 (minors can be considered with parental consent) 
  • GoEco interview after application
  • Good understanding of Spanish to communicate with the local community is required (Culture week with lessons is also available at an additional fee)
  • Police clearance
  • Good physical fitness
  • Ability to work in a team 
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 surfer’s 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 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. 
  • Montañita and Ayampe, popular surf & beach village
  • 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 
  • Horseback ride around the Natura Reserve
  • Hiking and bird watching in Ayampe reserve. 
  • Local food is amazing!
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