VESA’s humanitarian and conservation projects aim to provide direct action support to communities in parts of the world overlooked by traditional charities and aid organisations.Learn more
Ecuador is one of South America’s best-kept secrets. While it’s the second smallest country on the South American continent, Ecuador offers natural diversity and wildlife you won’t find anywhere else. In Ecuador you can drive from the steamy jungle of the Amazon basin, past snow capped Andean volcanoes, through tropical cloud forest and arrive on the warm equatorial Pacific coast – all in a day.
As the name suggests, Ecuador lies right on the equator. The country is bordered by Columbia to the north, and Peru to the south and east. Ecuador is split roughly into four regions: the Galapagos Islands (birthplace of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution), the Pacific Coast, the Andes and Central Highlands, and the Amazon region. Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is situated 2850m above sea level up in the Andes range, making it the world’s second highest capital city. Spanish is widely spoken within Ecuador, although native languages such as Quichua are also spoken within the some parts of the Andes and Amazon. Owing to its unique geography, Ecuador is commonly regarded as one of the world’s ‘mega-diversity hotspots.’ For a nation its size, Ecuador is one of the most species-rich countries in the world. With a remarkable array of birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish and plants, travellers find themselves captivated by nature wherever they go. Ecuador’s population is a vibrant melting pot of indigenous, mestizo (mixed descent) and Afro-Ecuadorian people. It is a predominantly Roman Catholic country with strong family values. The people are patient, polite and friendly with visitors to Ecuador likely to make dozens of lifelong friends. Ecuador is one of the safest countries in South America and was listed in 2018 by the US as a country that poses the lowest risk to travellers, and has shown the most improvements to safety in recent years. Women play an important role in Ecuadorian society, occupying a large part of the workforce. In 1929, Ecuador became the first Latin American country to grant equal voting rights to women. Although a fortunate country in many ways, Ecuador is still a developing nation. An estimated 70% of Ecuadorians live below the poverty line, and this figure is much higher within the indigenous and remote communities. While the government alongside community and volunteer groups like VESA fight to assist these remote communities, issues such as poor education and malnutrition are still widely prevalent. Ecuador’s welcoming and friendly people, incredible climate and natural diversity make it one of the most unique destinations on earth. While somewhat less-travelled than its South-American counterparts, Ecuador’s size and concentration of spectacular landscapes and wildlife continue to attract a growing number of adventure-craving travellers.
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“Thanks so much for providing me with this amazing opportunity! Most fun I have ever had! Best I have ever felt!”
Jessica Lockyer – Carleton
“My experience in Ecuador has been life changing. I have learned so much about myself and other people, all of which was very positive. This experience that VESA has allowed me to have has changed my life and opened my eyes to the difference people can make…”
Stephanie Roberts – Trent University
“I have had such a great time in Ecuador helping with construction and exploring the jungle. The two weeks have been packed with so much to do and every part was fun! Thanks!”
Alessia Beebe – Southampton
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