19 Day High School Service Programs
Galapagos 1 & 2
– 19 Days –
Below is the planned itinerary for the VISIONS Galapagos summer programs. The actual schedule may vary to accommodate community needs, weather and impromptu opportunities for cultural activities.
Days 1 & 2: Arrive at the Quito airport, where VISIONS leaders will be waiting to meet each student. All teens make a quick call home before the group heads out. (Additional calls home happen once a week during the rest of the trip, but, like all VISIONS programs, this is otherwise a tech-free trip.) We spend the night in a hotel in the city. The next day we set out to explore Quito’s colonial zone, a UNESCO World Heritage site, walking along cobblestone streets, visiting an ancient cathedral and learning about 16th century Spanish colonization. In the evening, we have our first Circle meeting.
Day 3: Fly to the Galapagos! (Flights to the islands are on regular jet planes, not small aircraft.) Upon arrival to the island of Santa Cruz, wedrive to our homebase at Campamento Petrel. After getting settled in to this permaculture farm in the island’s highlands, we enjoy a welcome dinner with community members.
Day 4: Time to get rolling on projects! We begin with an orientation to the worksites and then get started. Projects include planting fruit trees and other permaculture crops, removing invasive plants, doing carpentry to build out some of the farm infrastructure and volunteering at a school in the nearby village of Santa Rosa. In the afternoon, a scavenger hunt in Santa Rosa helps us get to know our community better.
Days 5 – 7: Spend each morning at the worksite of your choice, breaking for lunch and wrapping up around 2pm. We also begin our homebase days, when a rotating crew helps with grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up our living space. Afternoons and evenings include dance lessons, a visit to Santa Rosa for workshops with local artists and optional yoga classes in the studio on the farm. One afternoon, pay a visit to the Darwin Research Station, a research and breeding center where you can see tortoise hatcheries and learn about important conservation work on the Galapagos Islands. Afterward, we go swimming and snorkeling at a nearby beach.
Day 8: During a day stay with a local family, you and a VISIONS buddy spend the day becoming fully absorbed in the life of Santa Rosa. You may help out around your family’s house or in the fields, sample some traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, or play with their children, all the while practicing Spanish and learning about what it’s like to live, work and play on this island.
Day 9: We take a boat to North Seymour Island, which is uninhabited by humans, but home to frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, sea lions and other wildlife. Explore the trails on the island, then spend the afternoon snorkeling at this ecological wonderland.
Days 10 – 13: Dive into a second week at the worksites. Afternoons are spent learning how to roast coffee and visiting the El Chato Tortoise Reserve and nearby lava tubes. Remember to bring a headlamp for exploring these fascinating underground tunnels! On Friday afternoon, we also spend an afternoon and evening in Puerto Ayora, the main town on the island, to check out the weekly handicrafts and fish markets. The main streets are closed to car traffic and are filled instead with music and dancing, so we stay in town to have dinner and join in the fun.
Day 14: Rise bright and early to catch a boat to the island of Floreana, keeping an eye out for dolphins and whales on the ride over. Learn about the island’s pirate history at the “Wall of Tears”, tour the small town, and go snorkeling at a black sand beach where you may encounter sea turtles and the endangered Galapagos penguin.
Days 15 – 17: During our last few work days, we finish up our projects. In the afternoons, hike around Los Gemelos, a pair of sinkholes formed when empty magma chambers collapsed, or maybe up to El Puntudo, the highest point on Santa Cruz. On our last day, we pack and clean homebase before a farewell dinner with all our local friends.
Days 18 & 19: Return to Quito, where some participants may have late night flights and others will stay in a nearby hotel with leaders for early morning flights the next day.