Explore the highlands around Cuenca, Ecuador, and dive deep into food security and justice in rural indigenous farming communities. Discover how Ecuadorian agriculture is based on ancestral cultures, specifically regarding the importance of superfoods and indigenous medicine. Meet local leaders, food producers, and youth making an impact on food systems in the region.

Length Training
Ages Application
Gap Semester: Ecuador 8 weeks

Training in Cuenca upon arrival

Spring: February 15–April 12, 2022

17–22 December 15, 2021

Program fee TBD

Need-based financial assistance is available! Apply by November 15, 2021.

  • Gap Semester: Ecuador
  • Length
    8 weeks
  • Training Dates

    Training in Cuenca upon arrival

  • In-Country Dates

    Spring: February 15–April 12, 2022

  • Ages
  • Application Deadline
    December 15, 2021
  • Price

    Program fee TBD

    Need-based financial assistance is available! Apply by November 15, 2021.

What to Expect


  • Pod of 20 students, two spots reserved for students from Ecuador
  • 8-week session
  • Communal living in Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Robust health and safety protocols


What You’ll GET

  • Volunteer with small organic farms in the Cañar and Azuay provinces near Cuenca
  • Network with local officials and community organizations who promote sustainable agriculture, environmental protection, youth leadership, and indigenous rights
  • Excursions to national parks, Incan cultural sites, and Andean communities
  • Mentorship through coaching, supervision, and support
  • Spanish classes tailored to your level
  • Earn 120 service hours
  • College credit is available through the Gap Year Association and Portland State University for a fee of $1,700. Email Admissions at [email protected] for more information.


What You’ll Need

  • Age: 17–22 (high school graduate)
  • Interest in food security, indigenous rights, or community service
Start an Application

Apply Now

About the Program


Session Dates

February 15–April 12, 2022


How to Apply

Start your application here!

The deadline to apply is December 15, 2021.


Fees and Financial Assistance

Program fee TBD
Need-based financial assistance is available! Apply by November 15, 2021.


What’s Included

All expenses in Ecuador are covered, including:

-Accommodation, including excursions
-Three meals per day
-Private group transportation throughout the entire program
-Medical supplies like hand sanitizer, masks, and cleaning products
-Entrance fees at sites we visit
-24/7 On-Call Safety System


Join an online info session!


Cosmovisión in the Andean Highlands

Cosmovisión is the way in which the indigenous culture understands the world. The way agriculture and food production have developed in Ecuador are rooted in ancestral cultural systems and practices, which has important implications on food security today. In this program, we’ll meet food producers, local organizers, and young people making an impact on food justice and indigenous rights in their communities.



Ready to Apply?

Click here!


What does it mean to live with a pod?

On this program, you’ll be living with a group of fellow gap volunteers from the U.S. and Ecuador. You’ll share responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, and planning activities. The pod will travel together on excursions and day trips. Certain health and safety precautions will be required when interacting with anyone outside the pod. This is for their health and safety as well as your own.


How is the program staffed and what is the ratio of staff to students?

The program will be led by a Project Director assisted by Project Coordinators and a Health & Wellness Coordinator. The number of students in the pod is 20 maximum, so the ratio will be close to 1 to 5.


What are some of the activities I might take part in?

Visit an organic farm drawing from ancestral Andean knowledge of agroecology, gastronomy, and traditional medicine
Hike to high peaks overlooking pristine lakes in Cajas National Park
Stroll through Cuenca’s historic center
Learn how to prepare land for planting on a local family farm
Take part in a traditional celebratory pampa mesa style meal
Explore Ingapirca, the largest-known Inca ruins in Ecuador
Ride horses in the Yunguilla Valley


Do I have to be enrolled in college to participate?

No, you do not need to be enrolled in college or planning on enrolling in college to join. This program is open to all students ages 17–22 who have graduated high school, regardless of college plans. You should have an interest in Spanish, food security, indigenous rights, or Latin American culture and a commitment to your community.

Explore All Programs

Click here

“The things you will learn and experience and the relationships you will build will remain with you through the rest of your life.”

—Emma, AMIGOS Gap Volunteer

Program Requirements
  • Age: 17–22 and high school graduate
  • Interest in food security, indigenous rights, sustainable agriculture, or community service

Get Social With Us!

Meet Lauren, the Project Director on the Nueva Segovia y Leon, Nicaragua project this summer!

"My name is Lauren and I am the Project Director for the summer 2021 program in Nicaragua. I am originally from Boston, but I earned my B.A. in Spanish at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. I really enjoy working with young adults, as well as exposing myself to new cultures. As such, I am looking forward to a meaningful and exciting summer in Nicaragua with all of our volunteers.

¡Hola! Me llamo Lauren, y soy la Directora del Proyecto en Nicaragua este verano. Soy de Boston, y hice mi bachillerato en Español en el College of Charleston. Además de viajar, me gusta mucho apoyar a adultos jóvenes a desarrollar sus capacidades y compartir mi pasión por viajar. Espero poder pasar un verano significativo con todos los voluntarios."

Today, our staff are observing Juneteenth as a paid holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States and was long overdue for federal recognition as a national holiday. AMIGOS believes honoring this holiday is one small step towards creating a more just and equitable society for everyone. We encourage everyone to spend this time in reflection, education, and action in service of racial justice. Below, we have included a link to resources to celebrate, understand the history, and recognize the importance of commemorating this holiday.

Sam Collins, co-chair of the Juneteenth Legacy Project says: "Juneteenth celebrates the evolution of our country to a more perfect union. We were not perfect in 1528, 1619, 1776, 1865 — or even today in 2021. But hopefully by studying this history and expanding the narrative to tell a more complete story of what happened, we will get a truer sense of our American history."

Additional resources are outlined at the link in our bio.

Image: Juneteenth Flag designed by activist Ben Haith in 1997

Looking for a gap program? Applications are open for our Gap Program in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Colorado!

Emma, an AMIGOS Gap Program volunteer, says, "The things you will learn and experience, the relationships you will build, and the joy and love you will feel are irreplaceable and will remain with you through the rest of your life."

Explore our programs at the link in our bio!

Updates from the field! Volunteers arrived in Nicaragua and Costa Rica last week, on the @amigosnuevasegovia and @amigoslossantos_cr projects.

In Los Santos, volunteers have enjoyed morning hikes and card games during the day.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Saludos desde Costa Rica!

Our staff teams on our Montanas y Mar and Costa Atlantica projects are so excited to greet volunteers, who will arrive tomorrow for @amigosmontanasymar and June 29 for @amigosmonteverde!

Check out this short video introduction to the projects — can you guess the animal that our volunteers will support wildlife protection efforts for? (Hint: they nest on the beaches!)

Curious about how to find the right gap program for you?

First, make sure the programs you're researching are accredited by the Gap Year Association (ours are accredited too!) After that, consider these five factors when choosing a gap program:

1. Consider the Program Outcomes
2. Consider Your Interests
3. Consider the Time Frame
4. Consider the Destination
5. Consider the Program Theme

Read more about each of these reasons, and explore AMIGOS Gap Programs, at the link in our bio!

Today is your LAST chance to complete our alumni engagement survey!

Every day, our alumni fulfill our vision of a world where all people are lifelong leaders sharing responsibility for our global community. Your feedback will help us develop an alumni engagement program that complements our work and brings alumni like you together in the ways that you desire.

Link in bio!

¡Hoy es su última oportunidad de completar nuestra encuesta de participación de ex alumnos!
Cada día, nuestros alumnos cumplen nuestra visión de un mundo en el que todas las personas sean líderes de por vida que comparten la responsabilidad de nuestra comunidad global. Sus respuestas nos ayudarán a desarrollar un programa de participación de ex alumnos, que complementa nuestro trabajo y reúne a ex alumnos como usted de la manera que desee.

¡El enlace a la encuesta está en nuestra bio!

In June, we recognize the origins and history of Pride Month. AMIGOS believes in the power and wisdom of queer voices, and we invite you to follow @them, @pride, @mpjinstitute, @glaad, and @queerty and check out the articles in our bio to learn more. ...