Friday, 4 November 2011 3:35 PM
If you are considering voluntary work abroad, you'll find there are plenty of destinations that are in need of assistance - but perhaps one of the most exciting and fascinating is Ecuador. With hugely varied opportunities to volunteer, the nation offers something unique to travellers.
What's more, if you decide to volunteer in Ecuador, you should really be able to see the difference your work is making. With densely populated cities and a rich natural environment under threat, the nation has much to plunge its resources into - and for this reason, they are stretched.
By choosing to take part in voluntary work in South America here, you can therefore discover a number of ways to help local communities and protect this remarkable place. At the same time, you will get to live in and explore one of the world's most thrilling destinations.
Among the numerous options for volunteering is taking part in preservation work in the Amazon. Giving you the chance to live and work in the jungle, this opportunity will see you really go back to basics with simple living conditions, experiencing an authentic slice of life in the jungle.
While you're here, there will be a variety of volunteering possibilities. You could help out at a demonstrative facility called the Organic Farm, which introduces locals to a new way of generating income and food, or work at the Amazon Plants Conservation Center, which - as its name suggests - strives to preserve the forest's incredible variety of plant life.
Your duties can range from planting seeds and weeding to trail maintenance and harvesting cacao, so you certainly won't be short of worthwhile things to do and amazing stories to tell once you get home. In your free time, discover as much as you can of the jungle by going on hikes, or taking part in activities such as kayaking or white water rafting.
Another option is to head to Santa Cruz Island - which is part of the Galapagos Islands - and teach English. Living and working in this magnificent place, you will gain a real understanding of local culture, as well as making a tangible difference to youngsters' futures.
After all, the tourism industry is a key part of the economy here, and by being able to speak English, children may be able to secure positions within the sector in the future. As well as teaching the language to kids who are itching to learn, you will have the chance to help out with things like after-school football clubs.
Conservation work on the Galapagos Islands is another wonderful opportunity. Being based on a biological station on San Cristobal, you will help to teach locals new methods of organic farming, as well as take part in efforts to preserve the natural environment.
Among the tasks you may undertake are helping out with light construction, assisting in work to maintain the island's trails and planting new crops. There are countless remarkable species here, and during your free time you can explore by going on hikes to the isle's forests, villages and lakes. Before you do so, it's worth chatting to your colleagues and getting some tips on routes to take and things to see.
Whichever destination you choose - and whatever kind of work you help out with - you can be sure of having the trip of a lifetime, and doing something truly worthwhile for local communities.