A great chance to experience life in a remote, beautiful Andean community, sharing your own values, skills and lifestyle with local people, and learning about theirs.
Accommodation with local families, usually after an introductory period in the community guest house.
Length of placement anything from a week onwards. There are 3 main types of placement: teaching, farm work, and ecology/conservation.
Overall purpose of volunteer project: to provide a fantastic experience of authentic Latin America for volunteers, and to build the confidence of the local children and adults in their ability to enjoy a wide range of professions, and to prosper from sources of sustainable income that do not threaten their traditional way of life. We'd like to slow down deforestation in Intag, and encourage local people to think twice about the long term effects of copper mining on the wonderful natural resources of Intag.
(the difference takes into account the great benefit for local children that volunteer teachers bring)
All money paid direct to the family that you are staying with. Cost includes all meals and accomodation. Note: these low prices assume a sincere interest on the part of the volunteer in local work: those wishing to visit Intag as ecotourists are directed towards the ecotourist section of this website.
Other costs. Most volunteers (not all) like to spend a day at the start of their stay in Intag at Ned and Patricia's guesthouse, while they are shown around the area and introduced to local people. The guesthouse costs are: $10 per night, and $2 per meal.
And: most volunteers like to buy their own sunday lunch in the village, $1.75 for a good 2-course meal. Finally: A pair of rubber boots ( not always necessary for teaching volunteers who decide to work in the village school) Cost: $8.0. Great for muddy paths, and protects legs from biting insects.
We offer help with Spanish, and horse riding lessons free of change as part of the placement.
The one qualification that we consider essential is to be open to the unfamiliar (see heading "the intagtour philosophy"). Volunteers are expected to try to "fit in" with the local way of life. Potential volunteers need to be aware that Intag is a remote part of Ecuador, and that conditions here are generally clean but basic: for example, warm or even cold showers are the norm here; food is good, but cannot rival the variety of modern "supermarket" cultures. Note again that this is a remote part of Ecuador: internet access is fine in the village of Cuellaje, but does not exist in the other parts of the parish. Please don't expect the same relatively luxurious living conditions as you would normally receive in rural Europe or North America - clean but simple accomodation is the norm.
There are no ATMs in Cuellaje (nearest ATMs in Otavalo, 4 hours by bus, so please bring enough cash to cover your costs until you are ready for a well-earned break in Otavalo). There are no complicated application procedures, because every volunteer can bring something to the community, even if it is only taking 5 minutes to talk to a child. You will also need basic spanish, or the willingness to learn spanish. Volunteers motivated to learn spanish are usually astonished at their speed of progress.
Some volunteers commit to a placement before travelling, while others prefer to spend a few days with us, perhaps visiting local schools and families, before deciding if they would enjoy spending time in this corner of Ecuador. Both approaches are fine, this is a relaxed part of the world, where people are used to changes of plan.
You can get an independent view of what it's like to work as a volunteer for Intagtour by visiting our blog http://ecotouristadventure.wordpress.com
We encourage all volunteers to post comments on this blog, (positive and negative!) so that it is a meaningful resource for those considering a volunteer placement with Intagtour. The archive section of the blog is recommended for the photos, and for the same reason we recommend volunteers to browse our companion website, www.intagtour.com
Note: On the basis that most volunteers will spend a significant portion of their time in Ecuador travelling as tourists, we recommend that Intagtour volunteers enter Ecuador on a standard 90 day tourist visa, which is free. Volunteers wishing to spend more than 90 days in Ecuador can buy an additional 6 month visa for $240 at the Quito immigaration office (10 de agosto y Carrion). For more info, visit www.mmrree.gob.ec telf: (593 2)299 3200.
Some volunteers with a return flight from Quito avoid paying for a 6 month visa by leaving Ecuador a few days before their free 90 days expire, enjoying travels in Peru or Colombia, and then returning to Ecuador shortly before their return flight date. This is perfectly legal and a good strategy for those wishing to get to know more of Latin America.
Arrival in Quito: Volunteers may like to be met at Quito airport and/or to spend their first nights in Ecuador at the beautiful home of Chari Agea and Felix Castaneda, good friends of the intagtour project. Chari is an artist and acupuncturist, and Felix is a professional musician with the Orchestra of Andean Instruments. Chari and Felix are frequent visitors to Intag, and can provide detailed information on bus travel to the area. They are also wonderful cooks (mainly vegetarian) You can contact them by email (preferably in spanish) to: email@example.com Telephone: 2236667. A stay with Chari and Felix is much recommended as a friendly, safe and informative start to your time in Ecuador.
Chari and Felix's prices
A range of opportunities to suit your own interests and enthusiasms: We usually work with three local schools, to give volunteers a variety of climate and teaching style:
San Antonio school has 25 children aged 5 to 11. Profesora Carmen has especially requested help in the following areas; sports, English, music, arts, mathematics and dance. Rosario school (Director Profesor Tirson Rueda, assistant Profe Blanca) is a friendly, well organised school where English teaching is top priority for volunteers. La Loma school (director Cecilia Alvarez) is an energetically run school which also places priority on English, and with an additionlal request for craftwork, and "any other skills/interests that the volunteer wishes to share". In general, although English teaching is the favourite, because children are so behind in this subject, there is almost no limit to the subject you teach, the important thing is your own enthusiasm and willingness to spend time with the children. Note that since 2011 we also work with Napoles, San Alberto, and La esperanza schools.
Cuellaje village school has 270 children aged 5 to 16. Here the priority is again English teaching, though here the emphashis is on english for tourism; and again, other subjects are welcome by arrangement with the head teacher.
Finally, adult education within the community, teaching English and/or sharing other skills. Examples: sports, craftwork, cookery, mechanics, agriculture, health care: almost any skill or interest that you may care to share would be welcome.
A basic knowledge of Spanish is necessary for nearly all teaching placements.
Please note that the long school vacation in this part of Ecuador is from mid January to mid April. At this time of year, teaching placements are limited to vacation classes for children, and adult classes. Contact the project coordinator direct at firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone (including national and international codes) 00 593 6 3017543
Farming in San Antonio is probably comparable to what was a way a life for most in Europe or North America some 100 years ago. Most farms are small-holdings with a mixture of animals and crops. Mecanisation is rare.
Volunteers are placed with families who understand the need for patience and a sense of humour as you gradually get to grips with tasks that have largely disappeared in industrialized countries.A wide variety of activities, for example:
A list like this does not really convey the beauty of a farming placement in San Antonio, which has very little to do with agricultural techniques and much more to do with spending time with incredibly friendly and independent people in beautiful, forgotten part of the world: you might be surprised how much more independent and capable you are than "modern" life has led you to believe! A farming placement is also a great chance for those interested in ecological issues to understand some of the problems and solutions related to balancing food production with conservation. You could call it "the flip-side of what you learn from text books!"
It is not necessary to be especially strong to succeed in a farming volunteer placement in San Antonio. Placements are open to men and women, young and old. It is necessary to be able to understand that a way of life sometimes markedly different from a western lifestyle can nonetheless be both healthy and fun.
Contact the project coordinator direct at email@example.com. Telephone (including national and international codes) 00 593 6 3017543
The San Antonio community is working to promote tourism, to share the natural beauty and relaxed lifestyle of the area with visitors while providing an ecologically sustainable source of income for our families. We at intagtour only have sporadic work for volunteers with ecotourists, but we do offer placements with the Nature Reserve rangers for the Cotachachi Cayapas reserve, who in this parish are currently Ramiro Ayala and his assistant Hanibal . This is a great chance for those wishing to learn more about the work of national park rangers in Ecuador, and their work in conserving forests and water sources in the face of pressure from agriculture and mining. It's also an opportunity for those who enjoy visiting widely an area that goes far outside the Cuellaje parish (some 100 communities are served by the Cuellaje park rangers). Ramiro asks that applicants have an appropriate biological or ecological qualification and/or experience with GPS and map making. Accomodation is with a family from Cuellaje village, where you also receive your meals and enjoy cultural interaction with local people.
You can contact Ramiro directly (spanish only), at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some volunteers also enjoy staying with his family (Sra Mora Lisa and daughter Ginger).
YWe would also welcome scientific reseach and field work relating to the extraordinary and little-studied biodiversity in this corner of Ecuador. Particularly suitable is the private reserve of San Venancio, with tremendous opportunities for ecologists, botanists and zoologists. Epiphytic plants such as orchids, bromeliads, and a bewildering range of mosses and ferns would make excellent subjects for field study, as would amphibians, with new species being discovered with some regularity. Local conservationist Angel Flores also provides excellent opportunities for those wishing to study the Andean bear. The intagtour project coordinator, Ned Cresswell, is a botany graduate.
Finally, those who would enjoy a placement with a remote farming family close to the reserve (no electricity) are recommended to stay with the Buitron family where a complete escape from "modern life" and all its trappings is guaranteed!
Contact the project coordinator direct at email@example.com. Telephone (including national and international codes) 00 593 6 3017543For more information, please see our companion website, www.intagtour.com.