Ecuador University Exchange Program



Ecuador’s varied geography, climates, and ecosystems make it one of the most diverse places in the world, both biologically and culturally.  With its’ pristine Pacific beaches, the Amazonian rainforest, and the breathtaking Andes mountains alongside a lively culture still connected to Incan roots, Ecuador is most definitely a unique destination to explore.


We have three program options:

Intern Abroad  Faculty-Led Programs  International Service Programs

All our programs are designed to give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, volunteer your time on ongoing service projects in and around the coastal city of Bahia de Caraquez, and explore the natural beauty of this diverse nation. Our programs are structured to allow students to immerse themselves quickly into vital, ongoing, local community driven development projects while gaining a true understanding of another culture. As you live, volunteer, and learn, you become a part of the growing bottom up, grassroots movement that has developed in Ecuador to protect the environment and in support of underrepresented populations.


Bahia de Caraquez is a coastal community that was gravely affected by El Niño in 1997 and a devastating earthquake in 1998. Following these natural disasters, local environmental groups re-envisioned Bahia as an ‘Eco-City’ and the populace has since placed a growing emphasis to manage the city and surrounding areas in a sustainable manner. Western Ecuador as a region has suffered some the world’s worst rates of deforestation.

“During my time spent in Bahia de Caraquez with GSE, I can honestly say I experienced some of the most memorable and fulfilling moments of my life. My group planted over one thousand native trees in a coastal area that has been greatly impacted by recent droughts, but is still among the most densely populated with endemic species in the world.

Doing this work, and knowing how it would help relieve some of the stresses on this region and its people was very satisfying. I greatly look forward to returning to Bahia to reunite with my friends in this community and to see the progress of my contribution.”

– Sky Lovill, UC Berkeley

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1 — Fly into Quito or Guayaquil (itinerary depends on flight availability).  From the airport travel by private transit to Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador.  Stay at hostel La Gorda for the night.
Day 2 — Bahia City Tour, Orientation & History of Ecuador Workshop, visit Fanny HS to work on greenhouse, garden and other projects with local students
Day 3 — Leadership workshops, garden and greenhouse work in Bellavista, afternoon visit to Miguelito and work on mural
Day 4 — Mangrove reforestation work day, Discussion on water scarcity
Day 5 — Head to ‘La Punta Gorda’ Preserve,  reforestation and beach camping
Day 6 — Reforestation work, afternoon free to relax on the beach, play soccer, beach camping
Day 7 — Reforestation, educational hike, travel back to hostel in Bahia, visit San Clement beach along the way and enjoy a local dinner
Day 8 —  Travel Portion:  Explore Bahia in small groups: boat trip to la Gorda along coast, soccer at beach in town.
Day 9 —  Travel Portion: optional surfing day at Canoa, optional hiking in forest in Bahia.
Day 10 — Travel back to USA

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Ecuador safe?

In our experience, Ecuador is one of the most safe and friendly countries in the world. We closely monitor all political, civil and environmental situations in Ecuador. Should we deem that the area is unsafe for travel, we will adjust the program accordingly.  Additionally, Global Student Embassy has built a vast network of in-country contacts in all of our partner locations and communities. We stay in dialogue with these partners regularly and are constantly receiving the most up-to-date information about our destinations and how it affects our groups and programs. We do everything we can to safeguard our selves and our possessions, but students are also responsible for their own safety by following our policies, guidelines, and advice.

Do students need a visa for traveling to Ecuador?

Students will receive a tourist visa upon entrance to the country.

Do students need to carry a copy of their vaccination records with them?

Yes.  Your student should carry there vaccination record with them at all times.

What if my son or daughter cannot pay the full price of the trip?

That is a great question. We actually have many students who cannot personally fund the whole international trip. For this reason, and because fundraising is an important part of advocacy and organizing, we have developed training and projects to help students fundraise. With the support of GSE staff, students have even fundraised their entire program costs! GSE’s fundraising packet will be sent out after the first parent meeting through email.

Can my son or daughter bring any food with them, like Clif Bars?

Yes. In fact, we encourage it. Many of the service workdays involve long hours or challenging labor. Water and snacks are always provided but students should bring additional energy bars that they can snack on throughout the day.

Should my son/daughter bring money with them on their trip?

Everything that your son/daughter needs will be provided on the trip. However, if he/she would like to buy gifts or memorabilia then they should bring some additional spending money. They may also want to have some money to buy snacks at the airport.

I can’t speak Spanish; is that a problem?

Not at all!  All staff speak Spanish.  It doesn’t hurt to learn a few greetings and if you are studying Spanish our trips are a great way to practice!

Where will we be sleeping?

When traveling to Ecuador, you will stay at GSE’s newly built Casa Gorda in the community of Bella Vista, overlooking the city of Bahia and the Pacific Ocean. You will also have a couple of days in tents at the beach, which is closer to our worksites and some nights in hostels during the travel section. Because we are moving around throughout your stay it is extremely helpful to pack light.

Will my student have email and phone access while in Ecuador?

Our programs offer students the opportunity to be away from home and explore their independence.  We will not provide the wifi password for students when they are in Bahia.  Staff will check in any time they have internet through a blog and through email.  Please note that during reforestation projects at La Gorda there will be no wifi access.

In the event of an emergency, where your family needs to reach you immediately, please have them contact our Kate Crigler or (707) 228-8831.

What about clean drinking water?

Filtered drinking water is available to students 100% of the time. Students should bring canteens or water bottles to re-fill throughout the trip.

What type of insurance is provided by Global Student Embassy?

Global Student Embassy has an international health and liability policy that covers all participants, but does not have a policy about international travel insurance (insuring belongings and cancellations of trips) and therefore, leaves the decision making to each individual family. Many homeowners and renters policies will also cover you for lost/stolen items during your travels. However, they can have high deductibles and a variety of clauses that can make this more troublesome than you’d prefer.

What is GSE’s policy on drugs and alcohol?

GSE has a zero tolerance policy on the use of drugs or alcohol. Our programs are focused on community service and building relationship and students are prohibited from seeking out or using intoxicants. Students will be kept by the side of a chaperone in the event that these rules are broken and may be sent home at their family’s expense if their behavior is endangering themselves or the group. (Please see the release waiver for more info on this subject).

What if I get sick during the trip?

Different environmental factors exist when traveling abroad and our bodies may not be used to the challenges posed by daily life in a new country. While a certain amount of travelers’ diarrhea is to be expected, our leaders have the travel experience and medical training required to determine when an illness is potentially severe and when it is more routine. GSE has a wilderness first aid trained staff member on each trip. Should a student ever need to go to the doctor, a leader will accompany him/her to make sure he/she asks all the relevant questions and gets the best medical care possible. It is important that you notify your program directors and leaders of ANY medications you are taking regularly, or before you begin something new during the program. The closest hospital is in Bahia (Ecuador), both of which are a few miles away from our project.

Please be sure to consult with a travel doctor prior to your departure. If you have questions about vaccines needed for the region, please consult the CDC website We ask that all participants be up to date with standard vaccines and have proof of immunization history in the event of a medical emergency.

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