How does the popularity of superfoods impact resources, water, and food sovereignty in Andean communities? Travel to the highlands of Ecuador to explore food security and justice in rural indigenous farming communities. Meet local leaders, food producers, and youth making an impact on food systems in the region.
Length Training
Dates
In-Country
Dates
Ages Application
Deadline
Price
Session A 3 weeks

Online training on COVID-19, health and safety, mental health, travel, and AMIGOS history before departure. Leadership and orientation training take place in-country.

June 15–July 5

15–19 Financial Assistance and Local Chapter Deadline: January 17, 2023
Final Deadline: April 18, 2023

$4,375 – Local Chapter (Find out more about joining AMIGOS through a local chapter here)

$5,875 – National Chapter

Fees include all in-country expenses.

Financial assistance is available! Click here for more information.

Session B 3 Weeks

Online training on COVID-19, health and safety, mental health, travel, and AMIGOS history before departure. Leadership and orientation training take place in-country.

July 13–August 2

15–19 Financial Assistance and Local Chapter Deadline: January 17, 2023
Final Deadline: May 9, 2023

$4,375 – Local Chapter (Find out more about joining AMIGOS through a local chapter here)

$5,875 – National Chapter

Fees include all in-country expenses.

Financial assistance is available! Click here for more information.

  • Session A
  • Length
    3 weeks
  • Training Dates

    Online training on COVID-19, health and safety, mental health, travel, and AMIGOS history before departure. Leadership and orientation training take place in-country.

  • In-Country Dates

    June 15–July 5

  • Ages
    15–19
  • Application Deadline
    Financial Assistance and Local Chapter Deadline: January 17, 2023
    Final Deadline: April 18, 2023
  • Price

    $4,375 – Local Chapter (Find out more about joining AMIGOS through a local chapter here)

    $5,875 – National Chapter

    Fees include all in-country expenses.

    Financial assistance is available! Click here for more information.

  • Session B
  • Length
    3 Weeks
  • Training Dates

    Online training on COVID-19, health and safety, mental health, travel, and AMIGOS history before departure. Leadership and orientation training take place in-country.

  • In-Country Dates

    July 13–August 2

  • Ages
    15–19
  • Application Deadline
    Financial Assistance and Local Chapter Deadline: January 17, 2023
    Final Deadline: May 9, 2023
  • Price

    $4,375 – Local Chapter (Find out more about joining AMIGOS through a local chapter here)

    $5,875 – National Chapter

    Fees include all in-country expenses.

    Financial assistance is available! Click here for more information.

About the Project

Project Type

Group living, including 12 days with a host family. Maximum enrollment is 18, with two spots reserved for students from Ecuador.

Climate

Cool and dry. The terrain is mountainous. You’ll definitely need a jacket at night!

College Credit

Get two college credits for this project! Find out more here.

Slang

achachai = how cold!

Service Hours

Earn 36 service hours!

Food

Potatoes, cuy (guinea pig), choclo con queso (corn with fresh cheese)

Terrain

High altitude in the Andes mountains

Crops

Potatoes, Andean tubers, quinoa, Andean corn, barley, and onions.

Citizens

Ecuatorianos

Cosmovisión

Learn about the way indigenous Andean cultures understand the world.

Cajas National Park, Azuay, Ecuador
students standing in the mountains and some are jumping

Andean Culture

Cañar and Azuay Provinces

Through visits to farms, communities, and national parks, experience Ecuadorian agricultural practices and learn about the connection between rural and urban areas via food production. Understand the impact of agriculture on indigenous communities, ancestral cultures, and traditional medicine. Hear from community members and learn about cosmovisión, the way in which the indigenous culture understands the world. 

 

Partner Agencies

We have three main partner agencies on the La Sierra Project: 

The first is located on Cerro Cabogana, an expansive farm where vegetables are grown according to the cycles of the plants and their seasons using the lunar calendar. They also produce dairy products while taking care of the animals responsibly. You can enjoy horseback riding, beautiful views of the city and the countryside, and hikes to waterfalls and mountains. 

While living with host families, volunteer will support the work of the municipal government in their host community. Volunteers may work on reforestation projects, at a seed bank, on rural tourism initiatives, or with women-led artisan or agricultural cooperatives.  

Our third partner is an organization led by three indigenous women who have built an enterprise focused on community-based tourism. Unlike other forms of community tourism in the province and the country, this organization focuses on the correlation of the four natural elements of earth, air, water, and fire while weaving in Andean wisdom and its influence on agriculture, gastronomy, medicine, language, music, architecture, and spirituality. 

Earn 36 service hours while volunteering!

 

Example Activities

  • Volunteer with a group of organic family farms
  • Hike to sacred indigenous sites and learn about Andean agroecology, food, medicine, and spirituality
  • Meet llamas at Cajas National Park
  • Explore the historic center of Cuenca
  • Take part in a pampa mesa, or communal meal

A Day in the Life

Days 1–4

  • Wake up and have breakfast (typically eggs, bread, fruit, juice, and coffee)
  • Morning: Rotating schedule of activities, including Spanish classes, orientation, explore topics like indigenous history and Andean culture
  • Visit the Cuenca Botanic Gardens
  • Lunch together, typically soup, salad, rice, and meat
  • Volunteer on the farm doing activities like planting tress, picking crops, raking leaves, and making cheese
  • Free time to explore the grounds, hike to waterfalls and mountains
  • Dinner (typically small plates of rice, potatoes, or arepas) and then free time and fun group activities

DAYS 5–16

  • Morning: Wake up and help your host family collect eggs from their chickens and/or help feed the family’s cuy. Have breakfast with your host family. Meet up with the other volunteers in your community and go to Cajas National Park to support a reforestation initiative. 
  • Afternoon: Return to your host family’s house for lunch. 
  • Free time to play fútbol with your host siblings and other peers in the community. 
  • Have dinner with your host family and then play a local card game like cuarenta before heading to bed.

Day 17–End of Project

  • Wake up and eat breakfast as a group 
  • Volunteer on a community service project, listen to a lecture about cosmovisión indígena, take part in fun intercultural and leadership activities
  • Take a Kichwa class! 
  • Lunch outside 
  • Afternoon: travel to a lagoon worshiped by the Incas, participate in a cooking class, and volunteer on an organic farm. Interact with local community members and take part in fun activities led by the group! 
  • Visit Laguna Culebrillas, considered a sacred lagoon worshiped by the Incas
  • Take a day trip to Ingapirca
  • Dinner, typically a soup like caldo de gallina
  • After Dinner: fun group bonding, free time to relax 

Program Pillars

Ethical Service

Learn how to create ethical service initiatives by working with–not for–a community, engaging local organizations and partners, and evaluating the impact of your work. AMIGOS works with trusted local partners that are passionate and committed to working with our volunteers on community service projects.

Cultural Humility

Cultural humility is a process of both self-reflection about your own culture as well as learning about other cultures. You will examine your own beliefs and cultural identity and gain an understanding of how structural racism has impacted societies and the roles that communities can take to lead systemic change.

Leadership

Learn, grow, and discover your leadership potential! Explore your sense of purpose and start to establish your personal goals and values through introspection and inquiry.

Ready to apply?

Click Here

Why Choose AMIGOS?

Practice Spanish

AMIGOS programs provide a unique opportunity to experience a new culture. Volunteers report increased fluency in Spanish after completing our program. Activities go far beyond the classroom — you’ll lead activities in Spanish, learn local slang, and increase your confidence with real-world practice. You will not believe how fast your Spanish improves when you use it in conversation every day!

Have an Adventure

Travel to must-see spots in your host country! You’ll travel as a group to experience unique destinations like volcanoes, ancient ruins, national parks, and historical sites. You’ll get to see these places from the distinct perspective of someone who has spent time in that country and learned about the culture firsthand. Plus, you’ll bond with their fellow volunteers and have fun!

Travel with Trust

AMIGOS is the industry leader in health and safety management. Our staff is prepared to help you with any situation that may arise. Each volunteer receives a personalized emergency plan, as well as support from local staff teams and a professional 24-hour On-Call Safety Team of travel specialists, doctors, and mental health specialists. A Health and Wellness Coordinator is on staff with the group throughout the duration of their stay. AMIGOS also has an established network of vetted medical clinics and hospitals throughout the region.

Find out more about AMIGOS programs

Join an online info session!

RSVP HERE

I learned a lot about different cultures, different ways of life, and different peoples’ experiences. It was amazing to see how people on the farms depended on the land and cared so deeply about the environment, and I really enjoyed talking to them about their experiences.

-Madeline, Ecuador Volunteer, 2022

Program Requirements
Apply Now

Field Notes

As an alternative to meeting locals, volunteers had been organizing several youth events. This day, a movie was watched and discussed among the people. Thanks Huma for the space! @huma.colab ...

Happy thanksgiving! Gap volunteers shared a nice dinner tonight ❤️ ...

Vamos Ecuador!! 🇪🇨 ...

Encuentro juvenil 🇪🇨🇺🇸 ...

Let's talk about culture 🇪🇨🇺🇸 ...

Happy photo of a gap year volunteer, her coworkers and supervisors! ...

Con este video le deseamos felices 202 años a la ciudad de Cuenca, sede del programa Gap Year | With this video we wish happy 202 years to the city of Cuenca, the site for the Gap Year program. ...

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