Park and Reserve Assistant Volunteer

Charles Darwin Foundation - San Cristobal, Ecuador
Quick Facts: Placement ID: IND-694 Location: San Cristobal, Ecuador Sector: Wildlife and the Environment Category: Conservation Min Duration: 12 weeks Lodging: Host Family / Lodge Language: Intermediate
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Volunteer Job Description

In 1971 the Charles Darwin Foundation began the National and International Volunteer Program. Volunteers play a very important role in the CDF's objectives. They are selected on the basis of their knowledge and experience, which must be related to the Station's needs and activities. The majority of the volunteers are based at the CDRS in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, although other assignment sites may be at San Cristobal or Isabela Island.

All national park volunteer assistants join one of the programs of the CDF: Research, Information or Technical Assistant. Volunteers may be students or professionals with experience beneficial to the mission and programs of the CDF.

Primarily the program is designed to collaborate with either the training of students in biology and conservation science or those who want to improve their skills through field experience in the Galapagos.

A national park volunteer assistant may attend lectures given by important scientists visiting the Research Station each month and they also have the opportunity to give their own presentations about the volunteer work they are currently doing.

Volunteer Tasks Required


A national park volunteer assistant will be collaborating with known scientists at the foundation to: help them collect the data they need, record new information, take photos and work on new ways to improve research and conservation on the islands.


A national park volunteer assistant will create puppets for environmental education events and write grants to secure funds for scientific research. You will also be visiting schools and hospitals with a specialized team consisting of staff and other volunteers to stress the importance of environmental issues.

Technical Assistant

A national park volunteer assistant will contribute to the implementation of technical and building requirements of the public exhibition at the park and to implement new ideas to improve the exhibitions.


A national park volunteer assistant, as well as scientists and other team members have the responsibility to clean the foundation everyday and make sure everything is washed, clean and in order.

Host Organization Details

Charles Darwin Foundation

The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (CDF) is an international not-for-profit scientific organization. The CDF has been working in Galapagos since 1959 under an agreement with the Government of Ecuador and with a clear " MISSION" to work closely with Government Institutions, providing scientific knowledge and assistance to ensure the conservation of Galapagos.

For fifty years, CDF has worked closely with the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD), (the main local government environmental authority), overseeing the safeguarding of the islands’ natural resources and providing the results of scientific research done to conserve this living laboratory.

Over one hundred scientists, educators, research assistants, support staff, and volunteers from all over the world take part in this effort. The organizational staff is 90% Ecuadorian and CDF is committed to the training of Galapagos residents as future scientists for the good of the islands and the country at large.

CDF’s "MISSION" is to provide knowledge and assistance through scientific research and complementary action to ensure the conservation of the environment and biodiversity in the Galapagos Archipelago.

Within this context, the "VISION" of the CDF for 2016 is to be the world's leading research institution dedicated to the conservation of the biological diversity and natural resources of Galapagos and committed to building a sustainable and collaborative society to achieve this objective.

** Please note: Placements on the Galapagos Islands have a higher program fee than those on the mainland. This placement has a fee of $2650 for the minimum duration, with added weeks at $275 each**

When They Were Founded

The Charles Darwin Foundation was founded in 1959 and is registered in Belgium as an International Non-Profit Association (AISBL) and is subject to Belgian law.

CDF created and established the Galapagos National Park in 1959. In 1964 CDRS established Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. In 1998 Special Law for Galapagos created the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR).

How Are They Funded

With the help of the IUCN, UNESCO, and conservationists worldwide the, Charles Darwin Foundation was founded and funded. Since then, the CDF has successfully supported conservation by providing scientific information and by helping to build local institutional and individual capacities.

Contributions from CDF are crucial in ensuring that Galapagos’ needs for sustainable local development and environmental education are met.

Placement Location Information

San Cristobal, Ecuador

The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (CDF) is an international not-for-profit organization that provides scientific research and technical information and assistance to ensure the proper preservation of the Galapagos Islands.

CDF’s mission is to provide knowledge and assistance through scientific research and complementary action to ensure the conservation of the environment and biodiversity in the Galapagos Archipelago.

CDF carries out its activities in the Galapagos under a conservation research and guidance agreement with the Ecuadorian government. The Foundation is part of a network of local and national organizations supporting and protecting the Galapagos Islands. For over fifty years, CDF has worked closely with the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS), the main government authority overseeing and safeguarding the islands’ natural resources and providing data through scientific research to conserve this living laboratory.

Over one hundred scientists, educators, research assistants, support staff and volunteers from all over the world take part in this effort. The organization's staff is 90% Ecuadorian and CDF is committed to the training of Galapagos residents as future scientists and conservationists for the good of the islands and the country at large.

The Charles Darwin Foundation is registered in Belgium as an international non-profit association (AISBL, abbreviated in French) under the number 0409.359.103 and is subject to Belgian law.

Transfer From BaseCamp

For this placement volunteers should know that going to Galapagos costs $500 dollars extra. You will need to go to Quitumbe Station and buy a ticket to Guayaquil city; this trip will take about 6 hours by bus or if you wish to fly about 45 minutes. Once you get there take a taxi to Guayaquil's main airport. When you get to San Cristobal, someone from the organization will pick you up.

Distance & Time

Distance from BaseCamp: 1400 km
Travel Time from BaseCamp: 8:45

Weather in the Area

There are two main climatic seasons in the Galapagos. The hot season is from December to May when temperatures are higher and there is occasionally heavy rainfall. The cooler season is from June to November with more cloud cover and misty patches leading to lighter rains.

After June however trade winds can significantly affect ocean temperatures, which can dip as low as 15 degrees Celsius. With the exception of the slightly cooler weather in June and July, the Islands are favourable to visit for most of the year due to their latitudinal advantage.

City/Village Description

The location is one of a kind - the Galapagos Islands. Here you can swim with sea lions, float eye to eye with penguins, scuba dive with hammerhead sharks and stand next to the blue-footed booby bird.

Sitting right on top of the Equator, approximately 600 miles directly west of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands had no original inhabitants. They were discovered in 1535 by Tomas de Berlanga, the Spanish Bishop of Panama, when his ship drifted by the islands.

The Galapagos Islands first appeared on maps in the late 16th century and were named "Insulae de los Galopegos" (Islands of the Tortoises) in reference to the giant tortoises found there.

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of the Islands. About 5,400 people live there and many residents work for the government or in fisheries (the second largest income source for habitants of the Galápagos).

Unidad Educativa Pedro Pablo Andrade is an educational centre including a primary and secondary school, which were founded by the "Lauritas" Sisters.

Nearest Medical Clinic

Hospital Oscar Jand
Asalcio Northia
Antonio Navarro N32-179 y Juan Severino
San Cristobal
TEL 1: 593 5 2520-318

Placement Address

Charles Darwin Foundation
Juan Gonzalez N35-26 Y Juan Pablo Sanz
Piso 5,Of. 5c Quito, Ecuador
San Cristobal

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

Program Dates

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