Volunteer to live and work in the cloud forest in Ecuador

  • Volunteer to become a part of the cloud forest conservation community!
  • Gain experience by volunteering in a range of conservation and organic farming activities
  • Suitable for gap year volunteers and volunteers under 18
  • Experience the very heart of Ecuador and all it has to offer

Project summary

This volunteer project works in natural conservation, combating deforestation, protecting existing forest, restoring degraded areas, environmental education and searching for sustainable ways to generate income for the local community who live in the reserve.

It is a nature reserve located in the cloud forest in the western range of the Andes at an altitude of 1100–2040 metres. The Tropical Andes is considered within the top five biodiversity hotspots on earth. The area encompasses three types of cloud forest and there are 287 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, and 63 genera of butterflies living in the reserve.

The project’s work is extremely important in terms of preserving the biodiversity of the cloud forest and protecting local watersheds. The project also carries out agricultural practices that conserve the natural forest by combining conservation and agriculture. Research is also carried out on the reserve.

Your experience will not only help the project achieve their goals and contribute to the conservation of the environment, you will also develop new skills and learn about organic agriculture, alternative animal production, bio-food production, forestry, sustainable wood production, eco-construction, and alternative energy.

The project staff are well organised. They arrange weekly talks about local conservation issues for volunteers and also organise  guided hikes through the virginal cloud forest.

It is a project that is suitable for all those who want to know more about sustainable living, conservation, gap year students and conservation and environmental enthusiasts.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

Volunteers are needed to help conserve degraded areas of the cloud forest. This involves working in a tree nursery, collecting and planting seeds, tree care and conducting an inventory of planted trees to evaluate their growth. Volunteers are also involved in agro-forestry. They are needed to monitor wildlife in the reserve and plant botanical species that provide food for the wild animals and birds. In addition volunteers carry out research, collecting data in a variety of research areas. Volunteers create and maintain trails in the forest. There is also a medicinal garden which needs maintaining.

Volunteers work in the organic vegetable garden, preparing soil, weeding, planting seeds and harvesting. They are also involved in the production of organic fertilizers by maintaining compost heaps, earth worms etc. Volunteers help with organic agriculture by maintaining banana, coffee, sugar cane, and citric fields. Volunteers look after animals such as cows, pigs, chickens etc. An important role is the preparation of bio-food, including home-made cheese, butter, chocolate and pasta.

How you can make a difference

Volunteers make a difference by protecting the existing forest, maintaining the reserve as an important bird conservation area, restoring degraded areas within and outside the reserve, educating the public about conservation and ecology, conducting research and sharing experiences with nature enthusiasts and local communities.

What is distinctive about this project:

The project is located in beautiful, virginal cloud forest, in a biodiversity hotspot. You are based on site, living in simple but fulfilling conditions with a community of other volunteers, surrounded by an incredible learning and conservation opportunity.

Blue Tiger Features:

This project is some 90km from Quito and 10km from the nearest town, so a little more remote than some of our projects. This will add to the charm for some volunteers, especially given the tranquil setting.

As a rural project in the tropical cloud forest you will not only have other volunteers for company, but insects, spiders, bats and reptiles will also be part of your community. Add in some hard physical work in the tropical heat and you may think this is right up your street, or you may not.


There is no closed season for this project


Volunteers will benefit from having basic Spanish but English is widely spoken among staff and volunteers.

Experience required:

No specific experience is required, but an interest in the flora and fauna of the region will help you get more from the project. You will be working outdoors in hot and humid conditions, and living on site away from the city, so experience of an outdoors lifestyle will be of benefit.

Good to know:

Volunteers use a volunteer house with shared rooms, large communal areas and kitchen. A lot of the food will be home grown, and a rota system means a lot of it will be home cooked. There is elementary wifi but not mobile network, so don’t plan on being too connected.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support, welcome meal and up to 2 weeks of high quality 121 Spanish tuition.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

Things to see and do

  • Visit the Amazon rainforest
  • Downhill mountain-biking in Cotopaxi
  • Go Wild in Banos
  • Visit the Galapagos
  • Straddle the equator

Country co-ordinator

Monika Montes

Monika is superbly connected throughout Ecuador and has been working with Outreach International since 2003. She lives with her two teenage children in central Quito and plays host to many of our volunteers who work in the city. Monika’s passion for volunteering is reflected in her commitment and level of support that she provides. She speaks fluent English and is a qualified Spanish tutor.

About Ecuador