Conservation Research and Advocacy

Alianza Jatun Sacha - Congal Reserve, Ecuador
Quick Facts: Placement ID: IND-108 Location: Congal Reserve, Ecuador Sector: Wildlife and the Environment Category: Conservation Min Duration: 2 weeks Lodging: Host Family / Lodge Language: Basic Placement Fee: 40 USD
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Volunteer Job Description

Alianza Jatun Sacha is a private Ecuadorian organization dedicated to the conservation of forest, aquatic and mountain ecosystems through technical training and scientific research; with a strong focus on investigation, environmental education, community development and the management of ecologically important habitat.

Voluntary work is highly appreciated by the foundation as volunteers contribute much to the day to day operations at the reserves and thus to the conservation of ecosystems in Ecuador.

At the Congal Biomarine Station and Reserve, conservation awareness volunteers would have a wide range of activities to choose from, be it: assist at the organic cacao farm, (45 minute bus ride from the reserve); help at the daycare centre; help to maintain infrastructure of the station, the daycare centre, as well as the schools and homes of the elderly in the surrounding communities and assist staff in their environmental awareness educational endeavours conducted in different communities and schools.

The programs are quite flexible and volunteers can choose the activities they are most interested in. Personal projects can be tailored with Congal´s staff to suit personal or academic needs.

Conservation awareness volunteers do not need any environmental studies or experience but they should have a passion for working in conservation endeavours, enjoy working outdoors and have a keen sense for adventure. This placement is ideal for nature lovers.

Volunteer Tasks Required

Daycare Assistant

A conservation awareness volunteer may be asked to assist at the daycare centre. Preschool kids need a variety of activities to stimulate their young minds and new ideas are always welcome.

Maintenance of Infrastructure

A conservation awareness volunteer may be asked to assist in the maintenance of infrastructures in local towns and villages. This would mainly be at their schools and daycare centres. Work may consist of: repairing and/or building -- fences, bamboo or wooden playground structures or tables and chairs. Help is also needed to repair houses of people such as the elderly and underprivileged.

Environmental Education

A conservation awareness volunteer would be expected to assist staff in their environmental awareness educational endeavours conducted in different communities and schools. The organization has different methods of providing this awareness according to the community targeted. Many community members destroy the environment due to their lack of knowledge regarding environmental issues.

Organic Cacao Farmers Cooperative

Located a 45 minute bus ride from the station a conservation awareness volunteer would work at the cooperative centre helping to process cacao with community members. The volunteer would first be taught about the necessary skills needed to assist in this procedure.

Host Organization Details

Alianza Jatun Sacha

Alianza Jatun Sacha is a non-profit, private Ecuadorian NGO dedicated to the conservation of forest, aquatic, and mountain ecosystems through technical training and scientific research. This organization also has a strong focus on investigation, environmental education, community development and the management of ecologically important habitat.

The principal lines of action of the organization are: biological conservation and cultural diversity through private reserves, environmental education, the development of natural products and research that promotes the improvement of quality of life for the people that live in the zones of influence of the foundation's activities.

Jatun Sacha has an extensive program of courses on various topics: Conservation Biology, Tropical Ecology, Botany, Wildlife, Population Dynamics, Ethology, Natural Resource Management, Natural History and various aspects related to the conservation of biodiversity, for students of colleges and universities. Offering the opportunity to take courses in Conservation Biology, Ecology, Environmental Education, Eco-tourism and the implementation of Bachelor and Master's Thesis.

Jatun Sacha Biological Station was created by the need to maintain a centre of conservation, research, and education to host scientists and students interested in tropical forests.

When They Were Founded

The Jatun Sacha Foundation is an Ecuadorian non governmental non profit, private organization. It was legally established in 1989 by Ministerial Agreement No. 270 from the Ministry of Agriculture, published in the Official Record No. 238 on July 21st 1989. Jatun Sacha Biological station was created by the need to maintain a centre of conservation, research, and education to host scientists and students interested in tropical forests.

Who They Work With

Although the foundation's main goal is to continue protecting and learning more about biological diversity and conservation projects, they in turn serve rural communities, and support Indigenous groups in the region.

How Are They Funded

The Alianza Jatun Sacha Organization, receives funding from USAID, Conservation International, IUCN Netherlands, The British Embassy, The Canadian Fund for Ecuador, as well as, some private funding.

Donation Requests

This foundation would appreciate donations of: first aid kits and supplies, allergy kits, school supplies, and basic lab equipment for biological field research.

Placement Location Information

Congal Reserve, Ecuador

The Congal Reserve was created in 2000 and is located in southwestern Esmeraldas, close to the town of Muisne. The Congal Reserve features beach, estuarine, mangrove, wetlands and humid tropical forest habitats which account for the regions high biodiversity and local endemism. The Reserve is part of the Western Ecuador Chocó-Darién bio geographical region, which is the world's fourth "Biodiversity Hot Spot" where less than 24.2% of original primary forest cover remains.

These Chocó-Darién intact mangrove habitats are also considered among the most important in the world providing multiple environmental and social benefits. Additionally, Congal is part of the Mangrove Wild Life Refugee of Muisne and is in the buffer zone of the Mache Chindul National Ecology Reserve. The Reserve influences over 500 hectares of publicly owned mangroves and was the first mangrove reserve of it kind created in the Muisne area.

The Reserve also pursues the creation of the first large coastal marine reserve in mainland Ecuador. In this area it is possible to find coral reefs, sea horses, sea cucumbers, lobsters, several species of rays, etc.

Transfer From BaseCamp

Leaving from the BaseCamp Centre in Quito, volunteers will have to travel to the Panamericana Bus Station and book a ticket to Esmeraldas - usually costing nine to ten dollars. The bus ride to Esmeraldas will take around five to six hours. Once there, volunteers will take another bus heading to Muisne Beach, which will take around two hours. At the bus station in Muisne there will be a BaseCamp representative waiting to take volunteers to camp.

Distance & Time

Distance from BaseCamp: 359
Travel Time from BaseCamp: 9:0

Weather in the Area

Tropical weather with temperatures between 18 - 36ºC. The rainy season lasts from September to June. There is no "perfect time" for coastal Ecuador. The north coast is hot and wet with tropical rainstorms, which may close local roads, from December to June. It's cloudy and humid from June to September and drier and cooler from October to December.

City/Village Description

The small coastal town of Muisne in southwestern Esmeraldas is located on the northern tip of the semi-island of Isla de Muisne – also known as the enchanted island. The town contains a wide variety of biodiversity, including beaches, rivers, mangroves, wetlands and tropical forests.

The mangrove plantations in this area used to be a large part of the community, with many locals earning their living here. But recently a large majority of the mangroves have been destroyed to make room for the massive shrimp farms that have been developed.

This area, though relaxed and tropical, has many amenities including; a hospital, post office, police station, hotels, restaurants and bars.

Nearest Medical Clinic

Espejo 400 Ecuador, Esmeraldas
TEL 1: (593) (6) 2726520

Placement Address

Alianza Jatun Sacha
Congal Reserve

Accommodation and Meals

All of our volunteers begin their stay in Ecuador at our BaseCamp Center in Quito. Given that this placement is more than a 1 hour 15 minute commute from BaseCamp, volunteers here will be living with a host family after your orientation. Living with a host family is an awesome experience for a person looking to really experience Ecuador and its culture.

The following information outlines a brief description of life at BaseCamp and also what someone can expect living with a host family in Ecuador.

If you think that living with a host family is not for you, then this placement might not be the best fit with what you are looking for. You should try completing our application. It's totally free and will allow our team in Ecuador to come up with a list of exactly which placements they would reccommend for you based on your personal preferences, background, skills and interests.

BaseCamp Ecuador

BaseCamp Ecuador
BaseCamp Ecuador Address

Juan Rodriguez E8 - 72 Y
6 De Diciembre
Quito, Ecuador

BaseCamp Ecuador Contact Details

Tel: 593 2-254-7737 (Guest House Jazmines)
Mobile: 593-0-998-221-438

BaseCamp Ecuador is located in the trendy Mariscal district of Quito. Within easy walking distance of banks, restaurants, internet cafes and more; BaseCamp in Quito is perfectly situated for any need. Whether you are taking advantage of the rich and vibrant night life of La Mariscal or visiting a local market, BaseCamp Ecuador is always just a few minutes away.

There are six dormitory style guest rooms and five wash-rooms. Pillows, sheets and blankets are provided. There are two common areas on the main floor, including a small resource centre, containing books, magazines, games and other Ecuadorian publications. As well there is a large selection of local movies and documentaries which are available for guest viewing. In addition to the two common areas, BaseCamp Quito has a rooftop terrace, the perfect spot to watch the street come awake with a morning cup of coffee, or spend an afternoon relaxing in the sun.

BaseCamp Quito is also the orientation and training centre for international volunteers visiting Ecuador. In addition to accommodation and meals, BaseCamp Quito also provides volunteers with orientation, Spanish Language training (1 - 8 weeks), placement consultation and work plan seminars, as well as follow up and continued support while volunteers are at their placements. All of these services are available to guests who are interested.

Living With a Host Family in Ecuador

Living with a host family in Ecuador is a fantastic way to gain a deep understanding of and appreciation for the people and customs of the country. Each home-stay will provide a bed and three meals per day for our volunteers. The majority of host families offer private rooms with only one or two volunteers living with the family.

In the case of a volunteer lodge or ranger station (which is often the only option for placements within a National Park), volunteers will be living in dormitory type accommodation and meals will be provided in a mess hall or dining area.

Living with a host family can greatly enhance your performance at your placement. For one, it will have a huge influence on the speed with which you gain familiarity with the local language. This, along with your deeper understanding of cultural practices and beliefs that you are likely to gain in this environment, can go a long way to improving or strengthening your relationships with your team mates at work. Furthermore, a significant percentage of our host families are closely affiliated with the organizations with which our volunteers work. As such, even the evening meal or hanging out around the house can become valuable time during which volunteers can share their ideas and continue their support of their host organization.

All of this being said, living with a host family is not for everyone. It is very important for volunteers to honor the house rules in their host family and to be punctual. Also, depending on how remote your placement location, host families can be very rustic. Our staff in country can give you a better idea of what exactly you can expect from a host family in any particular community. However, in general, if these things sound like they might pose a challenge for you, we strongly suggest that you look at a placement within commuting distance from BaseCamp Ecuador.

How the Program Works

Our program structure and costing is completely flexible which lets our volunteers ensure that they only pay for exactly the degree of support that they want.

Option 1 - Free Services

Some volunteers prefer to coordinate their own accommodation, meals and other support while overseas.

Anyone is welcome to use our volunteer placement search tool to help in finding a placement that is well suited to their interests. Once someone finds a placement that they wish to work with, they are welcome to make all the rest of their arrangmeents on their own.

As well, our team of staff overseas are often able to offer a few helpful pointers for volunteers 'doing it on their own'. Just send us an email with your questions and we will put you in touch with our team abroad. We only ask that you keep your requests fairly general, as this type of advice is exactly how our team earn their living. :)

Option 2 - Placement Support - 250 USD

Other volunteers would like assistance in selecting and confirming their placement, but they plan to manage their own accommodation and other expenses on their own.

These volunteers have the option of choosing to only have our assistance with selecting and confirming their placement. This option also includes ongoing placement support while abroad, so a volunteer would be able to ask our team for help if things at their placement were not working out.

In providing Placement Support, our team works with each volunteer through email, telephone and either Skype or Google Hangouts, to ensure that each volunteer has a clear understanding of their placement options. Our in-country staff will put together a custom list of placement options for each volunteer that they believe are the most appropriate matches with the volunteer's background, skills and interests. Then each volunteer can work with our team both in Canada and abroad to go through each of the options and narrow-down their selection.

Option 3 - Full Program Support

For most volunteers who are volunteering for less than a year, they are looking for an option that includes their accommodation, meals, airport reception, country and program orientation and placement support. This is what our Program Fees are designed for.

We are proud of how over the years we have ensured that our program fees are amoungst the most reasonable of any program in the world while we continue to provide exceptional volunteer support both at home and abroad.

Our Program Fees and listings of what these do and do not include are listed below:

Program Fees

Program Fees - Ecuador

  Registration Fee
  1 Week
  2 Weeks
  3 Weeks
  4 Weeks
  5 Weeks
  6 Weeks
  7 Weeks
  8 Weeks
  Additional Weeks

Ecuador wildlife and conservation placements require an additional $7 USD per day fee to cover park fees and accommodation. All program fees are listed in US Dollars.

What is Included
  • Pre-Departure support
  • Placement consulation
  • Airport reception & transfer
  • 2 Day orientation
  • Accommodation (BaseCamp or host family)
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Emergency & placement support

What is Not Included
    Before Departure
  • International flight
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Visa costs where required
  • Work permits where required
    While Overseas
  • Daily transportation to and from placement
  • Transport to airport on departure
  • Placement fees if requried

Placement Fee Alert

This placement has a placement fee!

In some cases, a placement will have to take on certain expenses in order to host a volunteer. For example, some medical internship placements take time away from paid medical staff to help with educational assistance. This has a cost that is compensated by a placement fee. In other cases, the organization may have to pay for additional equipment, energy consumption or other expense in order to put a volunteer to work.

In such cases, the organizaiton charges a fee. This fee is paid directly to the organization in cash on the ground.

One of the reasons that we keep this fee separate is so that volunteers who do not pay us for accommodation, meals etc (Program Fees), will see that they will still have to make this payment directly to the organizaiton upon their arrival.

The placement fee for this organization is: 40 USD

Program Dates


The following is a list of all months during which this placement is not available.

  • December

Our regularly scheduled program start dates are the first Friday of each month, every month of the year. We strongly recommend beginning your program on one of these dates as this will allow you to go through our orientation alongside other international volunteers.

If you would prefer, our application will also allow you to select a custom start date for your program. Keep in mind that there is an additional fee for a custom start date which ranges from 50 to 75 USD.

Feb 04, 2022 Mar 04, 2022 Apr 01, 2022
May 06, 2022 Jun 03, 2022 Jul 01, 2022
Aug 05, 2022 Sep 02, 2022 Oct 07, 2022
Nov 04, 2022 Dec 02, 2022 Jan 06, 2023
Feb 03, 2023 Mar 03, 2023 Apr 07, 2023
May 05, 2023 Jun 02, 2023 Jul 07, 2023
Aug 04, 2023 Sep 01, 2023 Oct 06, 2023
Nov 03, 2023 Dec 01, 2023 Jan 05, 2024


These dates are the day that volunteers should plan to arrive on the ground in country. We can accommodate arrivals in-country at any time day or night on these dates.

Give us a Call
Canada / USA 866-646-4693 (toll free)
UK 866-646-4693 (toll free)
Australia 866-646-4693 (toll free)
International 613-353-3000
Send us a Message