This is a low-cost independent volunteer opportunity with an ecological non-profit organization, which has been operating in Ecuador since 1999. Experience a new culture... Learn Spanish and... Plant native trees for ecological restoration... Experience life in Ecuador as a local (not a tourist) and assist with long-term ecological projects related to community-based forest restoration and bioregional education.
Volunteering is free. Accommodations (highly recommended) at the Planet Drum house cost $100/month - located at a beautiful, beach-front house with private yard. Volunteers can stay with the Ecuador Program Director and his family (Ecuadorian wife, children 8 and 3 years old, and three dogs) in a communal living environment best described as an international home-stay. In addition to dorm-style beds, linens, mosquito nets (when necessary, usually only January-April), and a full kitchen, volunteers have free access to internet, laundry, bicycles, and drinking water. Volunteers are responsible for their own food expenses and can expect to pay between $100-$200/month on food depending on how you like to eat. Actually you can eat well on even less if you are really on a budget and don't mind cooking meals - delicious food in Ecuador is cheap. The local food market with excellent fresh vegetables, tropical fruits, meat and fish is open daily and is only a 10 minute walk or less than 5 minute bicycle ride away. Volunteers work mornings Monday through Friday (approximately 20-25 hours/week) on projects related to the Dry Tropical Forest Revegetation and Bioregional Education Project. Specific areas of work include: a) Greenhouse work: planting/transplanting, mixing soil, preparing compost, watering, weeding, etc. b) Implementation (socialization, construction, and operation) of new "mini-greenhouses" in strategic community locations to better integrate locals into the project. c) Hillside revegetation planting and site maintenance. d) Conducting bioregional education workshops with local residents. During the afternoons and weekends, volunteers are free to explore the town of Bahía de Caráquez, practice Spanish and visit surrounding beaches, mangroves, and forests.