With No Barriers Youth
No Barriers Youth offers a wide array of experiences to match Ecuador’s natural diversity. Hike through the rainforest and visit a biological research station where scientists are documenting thousands of plant and animal species. Students can also:
- Retrace Darwin’s footsteps and observe an abundance of wildlife up close on the famous Galápagos Islands
- Step into the daily life of a self-sustaining community in the Andes by helping them on a variety of projects: organic farming, bread-making, cheese-making, and other agroforestry projects
- Meet students at a vocational school in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, committed to ending poverty in Ecuador through education
- Participate in a traditional cleansing ceremony led by a local medicine man
ECUADOR straddles the equator from which it gets its name. The capital city of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage site for having the best preserved and least altered historic center in all of Latin America. Culturally rich, with large indigenous communities both in the highlands of the Andes as well as the Amazon basin, Ecuador is also a nature lover’s dream with a huge variety of bird, animal and plant species. On the unforgettable Galápagos Islands, animals with no instinctual fear of humans will approach you. Nowhere else in South America will you find so much cultural, geographic, and natural diversity in such a small country.
Morning: Depart for Quito, Ecuador
Evening: Upon arrival you will be met by your No Barriers Youth Expedition Leader and transferred to your hotel to relax after the long flights. Surrounded by forested mountains and volcanoes at 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is the second highest capital city in Latin America.
Morning: Meet with a naturalist guide and travel by private vehicle to the famous cloud forests of Mindo. Watch the scenery transform as you descend the high slopes of the Andes into the lush green forests below, keeping an eye out for waterfalls and cascades along the way. Located in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, Mindo is home to over 300 different species of tropical birds–including toucans, quetzals, owls, and hummingbirds–and countless other plant and animal species. Go on a guided nature walk through these incredibly diverse forests and learn how they are being protected for future generations.
Afternoon: After lunch, catch a birds-eye-view of the surrounding forest during a thrilling canopy zip-line tour, a series of 13 platforms and lines spanning over two miles across the upper levels of the forest. On your return to Quito, stop at zero degrees latitude for a visit to the Mitad del Mundo equatorial monument. Stand with one foot in each hemisphere and test out gravity here through a series of interactive experiments and observe the Coriolis effect in action.
Evening: Return to your hotel where you will be briefed about tomorrow’s journey to the Galapagos.
Morning: You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to San Cristóbal Island, Galápagos. Upon arrival in the archipelago, you will transfer to a private campsite and botanical garden in the highlands of San Cristóbal. The campsite boasts spectacular ocean views and over 120 acres of open space.
Afternoon: Orientation to your service project. Today and tomorrow, participants will help expand the Native & Endemic Plant Garden by planting endemic species and eradicating invasive species. Your guide will give briefings on the importance of reforestation in the Galapagos and how your help will directly contribute to a better future for the archipelago.
Evening: Campfire and group reflection and journaling time.
Private Galapagos Camp
Morning/Afternoon: Continuation of the reforestation project – planting endemic species and eradicating invasive species.
Evening: Campfire and group activities.
Private Galapagos Camp
Morning: After breakfast, transfer to the beach and set out to explore the coast in sit-on-top kayaks. The slow pace of the kayaks gliding over the water and the freedom to navigate on your own makes this morning in the Galápagos a special experience. Kayakers often attract curious animals, especially near-sighted sea lions, which tend to approach for a closer look! Keep your eyes out for additional wildlife such as Blue-footed Boobies, sea lions, frigate birds, and brown pelicans whose eight-foot wingspan allows them to dive-bomb for sardines at terrific speeds.
Afternoon: Make your way to the port, have lunch, and transfer to El Junco, the largest freshwater lake in the Galapagos, located in the highlands of San Cristóbal.
Evening: Presentation on the ecology of the Galápagos islands.
Morning: After breakfast, hike along the coast with your naturalist guide to Tijeretas Bay and enjoy snorkeling with frigate birds flying overhead. Here it is possible to observe sea lions, rays, sea turtles and multicolored fish.
Afternoon: After lunch, proceed on a guided hike through La Lobería, a resting place for sea lions and home to some of the biggest marine iguanas in the Galapagos. After a hike to El Barranco – The Cliff – return to the beach for a swim and snorkel with marine birds, keeping your eyes out for flamingos.
Evening: Free time for journaling and reflection / group discussion.
Morning: Take a privately charted speedboat to Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, the largest port town in the Galápagos. Ascend by private vehicle into the highlands of Santa Cruz. You will travel through several different vegetation zones and witness the landscape become increasingly lush and green by the minute. Here you’ll have the opportunity to view the islands’ most famous reptile: giant Galapagos tortoises in its wild habitat. It’s a real treat to see an endangered species roving in this lush environment! These gigantic creatures weigh up to 500 pounds and are scattered all over the highlands Explore an amazing network of lava tubes, underground tunnels formed by hot liquid rock.
Afternoon: Later this afternoon cool off with a swim at Garrapatero beach, where it is possible to rent sit-on-top kayaks and observe wildlife such as brown pelicans, flamingos, lava lizards, and lava gulls.
Evening: Free time to rest and relax after a long day.
Morning: This morning you’ll hike through a dry coastal forest and white sand beach to Tortuga Bay, a secluded bay surrounded by mangrove forests. Keep your eyes out for shore birds like Whimbrels, Ruddy Turnstones, Great Blue Herons and endemic Lava Gulls.
Afternoon: This afternoon enjoy a guided tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station, where you will learn about current scientific research on the islands and the Station’s mission to ensure the conservation of the environment and biodiversity in the Galapagos Archipelago. The Station is also a tortoise breeding and rearing center. Observe how tortoises of different subspecies are prepared for reintroduction to their natural habitats.
Evening: Pack and prepare for your departure tomorrow.
Morning: Transfer to the airport in Baltra Island in time for your morning flight to Quito. Stop along the way to view the breathtaking Twin Craters (Los Gemelos), formed by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers. Board your flight for the mainland.
Afternoon: Transfer to your hotel. Enjoy last minute souvenir shopping at Quito’s amazing Mercado de Artesania (artisan market), and visit to an internet café.
Evening: Final dinner of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, group reflection and journaling time.
Morning: Arrive home tired but inspired by your Ecuadorian and Galapagos adventures!
Getting immersed in the culture of India and getting to know and love the children was the greatest. When the students would cling to me at the end of class, and tell me how much they enjoyed having me there was heartbreaking.Rachel W., Student
There is so much life, happening all the time. It's crazy to think that, after only three weeks, I feel like I've become accustomed to so much of how the world move.Saul S., Student
I just wanted to take a moment to formally thank you for another unbelievable and life changing trip. No Barriers Youth made it all possible and took the guesswork out of a potentially nerve wracking and complicated task.Amanda W., Trip Leader
“Every journey starts with a single step.”
Facts & Figures
Special Note: Ecuador has one of the greatest densities of volcanoes in the world.
Spanish (Castillian) - official
Below Poverty Line
Carbon Emissions (%)