Volunteer to make a difference to the future of the Galapagos

  • Volunteer in conservation to preserve the natural environment of the Galapagos
  • Reclaim the natural habitat from non-native species
  • Work with like-minded volunteers in a shared conservation experience
  • Suitable for gap year students and everyone with a passion for conservation

Project summary

This is a small but very effective project that is the only one of its kind to work in cooperation with the national park authority.

Started by two brothers, the aim of the project is to clear non-native plants from large areas of land and re-plant using native species. In addition to returning the Galapagos to its natural state of beauty, the native plants provide the foodstuffs required to support the local fauna, in particular the tortoise and birds. Brambles are a huge problem, as they smother plant-life and prevent the giant tortoise from feeding. Clearing them provides more food for the tortoise, encouraging their breeding.

The project operates on a number of different areas of land owned by one family, but given the success of the project, it now works on additional locations including the national park, who supply the native plants to the project.

Typically volunteers work in the highlands, in open areas (not the forest). The work is hard and hot, but has the benefit of being amongst some fabulous scenery and the tortoise themselves are often close by, reminding volunteers of the purpose of their labours.

The project takes significant numbers of international volunteers, who stay in shared accommodation. It is suitable for gap year students, those wanting to visit the Galapagos and Ecuador, and all volunteers who have a passion for conservation and the Galapagos.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

The role of volunteers is relatively simple, clearing away the unwanted vegetation with a machete, and replanting native species in cleared areas.

Mornings start with an early breakfast at the volunteer house, then a shared pick-up to the area being worked upon. Eduardo and Jose are well educated on the conservation issues and can provide Spanish speaking volunteers with a good insight to the conservation activities.

It is hard physical work, in high temperatures, but in a magnificent setting and based on an early start it offers volunteers time in the afternoon to enjoy the benefits of San Christobel, such as swimming with the sea lions off the beach, or going snorkelling.

How you can make a difference

The project couldn’t exist without volunteers. There is no state funding for workers and no opportunity for local volunteers. This project is part of an ongoing campaign to reclaim the islands from non-native species, reintroducing native flora that maintains the natural balance in Galapagos. The difference you make is very clear, as typically you can see the ‘before and after’ impression of the areas where they have worked.

What is distinctive about this project:

This is invaluable conservation work. It is physically demanding, but the schedule for volunteers and the proximity to town (15 minutes) means volunteers have the opportunity to enjoy the rest of the island, including swimming with seals off the local beach.

Blue Tiger Features:

This is the perfect project for those wanting to get their sleeves rolled up and their hands dirty in a shared conservation experience. The work is physically demanding, possibly cathartic, and you are rewarded by both wonderful landscapes and the very real sense of progress.


The weather is hottest and wet in Feb-April, which are the worst months for visiting the islands.


English is widely spoken among volunteers, but the local staff only speak Spanish, so you will need to brush up on yours to get the very most out of the experience.

Experience required:

No specific experience is required, but volunteers should be accepting of an outdoors lifestyle, the fact that they will be doing a tough physical job and sharing simple, shared living conditions, albeit with a bunch of like-minded volunteers.

Good to know:

Food is cooked for you during the week, but it is flexible at weekends, with food being left for volunteers to cook for themselves based on their weekend schedules. You are based on San Christobel, with one small island town that has a real charm to it, including a small beach where you can swim with seals.

Price table

4 weeks6 weeks8 weeks10 weeks12 weeks

Includes: Return flight from Quito to Galapagos. Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support, welcome meal. Two weeks of good quality 121 Spanish tuition.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations. Galapagos visitor permit, payable locally on departure from Quito and/or arrival in Galapagos

Things to see and do

  • Island tours
  • Scuba diving & snorkelling
  • Beaches
  • Darwin Centre

Country co-ordinator

Paulina Ratti

Paulina qualified as special needs teacher and language therapist from the University of Guayaquil. She has lived in San Cristobal on the Galapagos all her life and has been supporting our volunteers since 2006. She is a well known island character, recognised locally for her brightly painted wall murals. She lives with her husband in Baquerizo, the town on San Cristobal.

About Galapagos