Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Live with a host family, become part of a new community, intern with a local organization, and become a cuencano!

Fall 2020 Gap Programs in Ecuador have been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more here.

Example Itinerary

*This is an example itinerary based on last year’s project. Dates, topics, and activities may be subject to change.

Fall Semester

End of August

Gap volunteers arrive in Ecuador. AMIGOS staff meet them at the airport, and the group travels together to begin five-day long training, also known as briefing! Staff lead all gap volunteers in a country-specific orientation on technical training, health and safety, and cultural competency. After briefing, gap students meet their host families and get settled in their new home and city.


Intensive Spanish classes in the morning and optional activities in the afternoon, such as salsa lessons, cultural and historic city tours, and cooking classes. The first workshop takes place around the middle of the month. Start planning and working on your service project.


Begin internship. Create a schedule with your internship supervisor. Begin to research fun extracurricular activities to fill your free time. First group excursion to Vilcabamba and another group workshop.


Continue your internship. Celebrate Cuenca’s Independence Day. Turn in the final draft of your Service Project and begin implementation. Third workshop takes place this month. Shared group Thanksgiving dinner.


Excursion to Baños and Tunguragua. Winter break begins. Opportunity for independent travel.

Spring Semester


Welcome Spring Semester students. Workshop 4 takes place. Resume your internship.


Continue internship. Workshop #5. Holiday for Carnaval.


Continue work at internship. Implement the second phase of your Service Project. Group excursion to the Ecuadorian coast. Workshop #6.


Continue internship. Experience Holy Week (Semana Santa). Group excursion to the Amazon rainforest.


Final workshop. Wrap up internship and Service Project. Farewell party with families and partner agencies. Final excursion to Quito and debrief.

Length Training
Ages Application
Gap Year 9 months

Train as a group with fellow volunteers upon arrival in Ecuador!

TBD – Dates will be adjusted to reflect the suspension of fall 2020 programs.

17–22 July 1st


College credit is available through the Gap Year Association for an additional $1,700 per semester.

Click here to learn more about funding and financial assistance.

  • Gap Year
  • Length
    9 months
  • Training Dates

    Train as a group with fellow volunteers upon arrival in Ecuador!

  • In-Country Dates

    TBD – Dates will be adjusted to reflect the suspension of fall 2020 programs.

  • Ages
  • Application Deadline
    July 1st
  • Price


    College credit is available through the Gap Year Association for an additional $1,700 per semester.

    Click here to learn more about funding and financial assistance.

About the Region

City of Cuenca

Cuenca is the capital city of the Azuay Province and is the 3rd largest city in Ecuador. This amazing southern Andean city is steeped in rich history and architecture. The Cuenca historic city center is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site! Over 700,000 people call Cuenca home. It has a lively culture – a thriving arts scene, plenty of restaurants, live music and dance, and a beautiful countryside to explore.


achachai = how cold!
chuta = an interjection similar to “darn!”
no más = go ahead


Ecuador is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse countries in the world. The country is divided into four distinct regions (Amazon jungle, coast, Andes Mountains, Galapagos Islands), each with a unique climate, history, culture, and environment. Ecuador recognizes 13 different languages, though the most wide-spoken languages are Spanish, Kichwa, and Shuar.


Mild and warm during the day and cool at night. Cuenca is one of the “cities of eternal spring.”

Example Service Projects

You’ll gain first-hand experience in project management by designing and implementing a service project within your internship placement and in close collaboration with this local organization. You have the independence to design this project, explore your interests, and respond to the needs or initiatives of the organization. Here are some examples of projects completed by AMIGOS gap volunteers:

  • Developing a women’s empowerment workshop for artisans who supply fair trade goods
  • Creating a photo exhibition to raise money for school scholarships
  • Remodeling a greenhouse
Example Internships
  • Public Health: At Casa de la Diabetes, Kaylee helps support children with diabetes and their families. From planning and organizing events dedicated to educating people on the illness to recording a radio program debunking common myths surrounding diabetes, Kaylee’s internship has allowed her to gain skills in Public Health and make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Education & Teaching English: Abigail has become fully integrated into her community at NOVA, a private school where typically abled and differently abled students learn and thrive together in the classroom and on the playground. There, Abigail teaches English to students and supports the teachers in areas of need. Abigail developed a project in which she took candid photos of each student at NOVA and held a photo exhibition to raise publicity for the school.
  • Women & Youth Empowerment: At Casa María Amor, Natalie volunteers at a safe house for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. At the safe house, Natalie preforms various tasks including providing day care to young students, assisting older students with homework, and supporting the women in maintaining the garden and communal areas in the safe house. For her project, Natalie is developing a women-empowerment series, providing the women with extended learning opportunities.
  • Social Justice & Immigration Services: Luke works at Fundación Crea tu Espacio, a non-profit that helps migrant and indigenous families. His tasks include planning fundraisers, helping in translations, working in daycare centers to provide care for 1–4-year-olds, teaching English, and leading workshops. He is also helping to expand the programs of FCTE to Alausí, so the indigenous youth there can have their own space to grow their leadership abilities.
Example Workshop Themes
  • Ecuadorian History and Politics
  • Venezuelan Humanitarian Crisis
  • Afro-Ecuadorian Culture
Example Day

Have coffee and breakfast with your host family, collaborate with coworkers on your service project at your internship, share a traditional lunch at home with your host family, go to salsa or a local yoga class, return home to have cafecito and play cards with your host family.

Spanish School

Attend intensive courses tailored to your Spanish level at Amauta Spanish School. In the morning, you’ll have language instruction and in the afternoon, you’ll participate in dynamic activities like cooking, salsa lessons, and scavenger hunts.

Cuenca, Ecuador

Why Choose AMIGOS?

Have an Adventure

Each day brings new and unique opportunities! Find the best local spot in your Cuenca neighborhood, learn traditional dances, make new friends with people in your community, practice your Spanish, hike in national parks, and more!

Learn About Yourself & Discover Your Interests

The best way to grow as a person is to journey beyond your comfort zone and experience new things. AMIGOS Gap Program alumni say they are more confident, better prepared for college, more focused, and more resilient.
From teaching English to public health, you’ll have the freedom to explore topics that interest you. You’ll also learn about Ecuadorian culture and history at monthly workshops.

Gain Real-World Experience

Intern with a local partner agency to gain work experience and hone the skills necessary for the real world. AMIGOS matches you with an internship based on your interests and our partner agency needs, ensuring you get the most out of your experience.

Develop Useful Skills

Community organizing, speaking Spanish, managing projects, accounting and budgeting, public speaking…These are just a handful of the practical, resume-ready skills you’ll cultivate on a Gap Program with AMIGOS! Get a head start on your future by building these dynamic skills valued by modern employers.

Build Friendships Across Cultures

Connect with people around the world who you otherwise would never have met! Bond with your host family over meals, make friends at your internship, and spend time with your fellow Gap Program volunteers throughout your time abroad.

Go Beyond Travel

Do more than travel–live abroad! You’ll become part of a local community, making your time in Cuenca infinitely more rewarding. Immerse yourself in an authentic, one-of-a-kind experience far beyond anything else out there.

Ready for a gap year?

Start your application now!


Partner Agencies

Taking a gap year has been the most important and valuable decision I’ve ever made, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. This is an opportunity like no other.

—Emma, Gap Volunteer

Program Requirements
  • Meet the health criteria for AMIGOS participation and follow the mental health procedures if necessary.
  • Receive required immunizations and medications
  • Be age 17–22 at the start of the project, and a high school graduate

Learn More about the Gap Program

Read blogs from amigos gap students here.


Volunteers loved getting to know the beautiful Ecuadorian coast this weekend! ...

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