Indigenous people of the amazon

Exploring Ecuador: Getting Acquainted with the Natives

Ecuador has countless opportunities for awesome travel adventures. Even though it is a country with magnificent beauty and historic significance, Ecuador’s most valuable resource will always be its people.

Over thousands of years, the indigenous people have shaped their country and significantly influenced the Ecuador enjoyed by everyone today.

Adventure Travel 

Ecuadorian adventure tours expose visitors to an array of natural wonders, varied wildlife, and diverse landscapes. Within a matter of hours, tourists can experience the Amazon’s tropical climate and the Andes’ cool glaciers. Professional guides can provide the ultimate eco-adventure journey. With their expertise and experience, they can handle every detail of even the most complex itinerary.

Source: Ecuador Plurinational
Source: Ecuador Plurinational

Priceless Adventure 

Leading adventure tours also allow for indigenous community encounters and exposure to ancestral traditions. This interaction is priceless on various levels. Of course, it provides an incredible opportunity for visitors and locals to meet one another, but it also gives tourists access to the native people–the best source of information about Ecuador’s different regions. The indigenous groups have the invaluable knowledge and unparalleled experience which can come only from living in a country, surviving its challenges, and adapting one’s lifestyle to suit the environment.

As tourists explore Ecuador, a global marvel of diversity, they will enjoy its sights, sounds, and flavors, as well as experience nature at its finest. Getting acquainted with Ecuador’s native people along the way, however, will be their most memorable experience.

Volunteer Adventures 

Volunteer adventures are one of the best ways to get to know Ecuador’s native people. These volunteer programs encourage unity, goodwill, and social responsibility, as well as fostering community immersion and cultural exchange. In addition, participants have plenty of fun and enjoy interesting adventures.

The programs are designed so that individuals have direct contact with indigenous communities or local people. The activities can vary from ecology-based projects (trail building, reforestation, eradication of invasive species, taking care of the giant Galapagos tortoise, etc.) to teaching English or caring for children to community projects like painting in villages or repairing community schools.

Examples of Volunteer Adventures include: 

This volunteer program encompasses a diverse mix ranging from reforestation to teaching children to continuing the tradition of collecting glacial ice from Ecuador’s highest volcano. Participants can help an Andean community and learn ancient traditions from an Amazon Kichwa group.

In addition, this fantastic tour takes volunteers on several adventures such as up to the glaciers of a 20,000-foot volcano, down incredible rapids through the Amazon rainforest, and into a lush canyon overflowing with spectacular waterfalls. Guided adventure tours can vary in difficulty. The effort required for this adventure is moderate.

This volunteer/adventure trip takes place on the beautiful Galapagos Islands. It is very rewarding for volunteers to know that they are playing a role in preserving the world’s most unique archipelago. Through this journey, individuals can help protect a fragile environment and support the community of San Cristobal. This tour offers varied experiences from eradicating invasive species to leading special-needs kids on hikes, horseback rides, or playing educational games. Effort: moderate to challenging.

There is also a similar 4-Day Volunteer Experience to the enchanting islands of the Galapagos. Effort: moderate to challenging

Working Together 

Responsible tour operators work with indigenous tribes. Volunteer adventures can include working to conserve endangered monkeys, as well as helping the native people of the Napo River region near Yasuni National Park.

One volunteer work program is located in the territory of a Shiwiar Amazon tribe in an extremely remote region of Ecuador only accessible by small chartered flight. Due to its remoteness, this region has not been affected by oil, forest, or mining exploration. The community would like to keep it that way and focus on eco-tourism.

Volunteer tasks with the Shiwiar people can include translating for foreign guests, teaching English to children, community work, construction, organic farming, helping with the eco-tourism program, and maybe even hunting and gathering in the forest. Two weeks is the minimum length of stay for visiting the Shiwiar. Usually, three volunteers are accepted for each trip.

Volunteers for this particular program would need to speak at least an intermediate level of Spanish, be able to completely immerse themselves in a vastly different culture with little contact with the outside world, be eager to learn about organic farming, have a passion for preservation, have patience for teaching, and be willing to learn from the community.

Photo Source: Ecuador Eco Volunteer
Photo Source: Ecuador Eco Volunteer

Situated in a quiet remote haven between two branches of the river Puyo, you will find a small Amazonian community made up of 42 native people (23 are children). This group have recently opened their land and hearts to volunteers and tourism. They practice Shamanic medicine so visitors can experience the purifying Ayahuasca ceremonies. Volunteers will also learn about medicinal plants and Amazon traditions.

Volunteer duties in this community are focused on building projects such as a school or community center. Tasks can include creating and clearing, laying down a foundation, designing and constructing the building, and weaving the rooftops. Everything is done in traditional style using materials from the jungle.

Volunteers might have to help with creating walkways to various tourist points slated for development. A considerable amount of volunteering involves the children–building infrastructure for their education, introducing play therapy, dance/music, and teaching languages.

These adventures last at least two weeks with six volunteers who work during the week, but enjoy leisure time on the weekends.

Practical Details 

Of course, all these volunteer programs have their own guidelines and cost. Booking might require a deposit and the remainder of payment on the first day, while another tour could have totally different arrangements.

In the case of traveling to the Shiwiar tribe, there is the extra cost of a chartered flight. A tour company, however, might be able to help with the logistics and arrangements for the flight. A tour price could cover training and support, a work reference and volunteer certificate, accommodation and food, and a work recommendation letter.

The most important advice about guided tours is to know all the details and requirements before the journey. Thus, everyone avoids any unwanted surprises, and the arrangement works well for the tour operator and guests.

Unique Adventures 

During their stay in Ecuador, tourists can choose from a variety of adventure tours with experienced professional guides. Not all tours offer a volunteering experience, but every trip is unforgettable. Specialized tours are available for visitors. They cater to individual interests such as a 4-day Cotopaxi mountain biking trip, 9-day Galapagos culinary adventure tour, and 7-day Cotopaxi trek, as well as many more.

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This authentic rainforest adventure lets tourists visit  the Huaorani–one of the globe’s most isolated ethnic groups. The amazing trip to the Huaorani Lodge, one of the world’s best examples of community-based sustainable tourism, makes for a one-of-a-kind adventure.

Visitors can meet with the local Huaorani community, take part in rainforest hikes with Huaorani guides, and learn about their culture and customs.

Tourists will gain a rare insight into the life of this native group. They can observe the skills which these people need to survive in this remote region.

Visitors can also see how oil exploration has affected this area. They will be able to hear Huaorani leaders speak about how this exploration has impacted their lives.

Visitors can always find the ultimate wildlife, nature, and adventure experience in Ecuador, but its people is the country’s real treasure.

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