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  • Age: 30
    Hometown: Copenhagen
    Nationality: Denmark
    Degree: MsC Food Policy
    Languages spoken: Danish, English, German
    Past travel experience: I never backpacked before, but I have visited all over USA.
    Lived in Scotland and England.
    Length: 1 month 28 Oct 2016
    Start month: October 2016
    I wanted to visit the Galápagos Islands. It is a childhood dream for me. But I know
    the ecosystems here are under constant threat from human in4uence and I did not
    want to contribute to that. So, I think volunteering at Jatun Sacha is a way to visit
    the Islands in a way that contributes positively and is a sensitive to the ecosystem
    and the local lifestyle.
    Lots of challenges: Mosquitoes, no phone, no internet, no tv, not a lot of hot water,
    no shops close to the station, no ATM nearby, spider, darkness and unpredictable
    weather. All of these are challenges I prepared for and want to give myself
    Tina Sondergaard Thorsen
  •   Age: 26 Hometown: Las Cruces, NM Nationality: USA University: New Mexico State University Degree: Ecology Languages spoken: Spanish, English Past travel experience: First time traveling Volunteer Abroad:  NMSU, Academia Latinoamericana Length: 1 month 21Oct-18 nov 2016 Start month: October 2016 I recently decided to become an Ecologist after a couple years of searching. I love nature and this program seemed perfect at combining both. I could explore my career travel and get to know myself while making a difference. My biggest challenge has been being away from my friends and family. All the wonderful experiences make it worth it but I miss them dearly. There are many wonderful experiences. It is hard to choose one. I would have to pick snorkeling at La Lobería. I got to see four sea turtles and a manta ray which I will remember forever. The funniest experience I have had is just conversing with the other volunteers. You really get to know each other when there are no other distractions. I suggest bringing plenty of bug spray as the best packing advice.
    Mariela Estrada
  • Hey guys! 

     
    San Cristobal was great. I miss being out on the islands. I had so much fun exploring such a unique area and meeting great, like-minded people.
    Elliot Friesen
  • My experience at the San Cristobal Station was fantastic! It was and still is probably the best 8 weeks of my life and meant that I fulfilled one of my life ambitions (visiting the Galapagos) with conservation work to help improve a place that now has a special meaning to me.

    Guy Mollett
  • I can honestly say I loved almost every minute of this experience. Everyone involved with the program was extremely helpful and kind with all of my questions, needs, and concerns, as were the staff on-site at the station on San Cristobal. Come to think of it, almost everyone I dealt with in Ecuador was helpful and kind, from hostel managers, to tour guides, to doctors that I and others (unfortunately) had to get help from. The support staff were excellent at addressing any safety concerns I had, so I never felt once that I was in any danger or put in a situation involving any extreme safety risks.

    The shared accommodations at the station were rustic and rugged as advertised, so I wasn't surprised there at all. While a few others complained a little about the food, I found it to be quite good and a good way to experience some authentic Ecuadorian cooking. I think living in a much simpler way was a great character-building experience, and it was always nice to know that on weekends we could go into town to get a hot shower, some A/C, and enjoy the fantastic animal life and landscapes that the Galapagos islands have to offer. This combination of experiences made it a most unique, and most enjoyable way to spend time away from home.

    The work itself was also quite rewarding. At first I thought I would be spending all day, every day cutting down invasive species, but that was far from the case. The staff at the station have a variety of activities that they vary for the volunteers, and doing so gives the volunteers a number of ways to actually contribute to the local community. This also provided a number of ways to experience the islands and see things in ways that other tourists may not get a chance to.

    Socially, this experience was excellent. Everyone I met at the station (including staff) were positive, generous, helpful, fun, and interesting people. I met a few people that I'm sure will become life-long contacts, if not friends. I regret that my Spanish skills weren't all that strong since it would have been nice to get to know the staff better, but enough people there spoke enough Spanish that we were always able to communicate well. My only other tiny regret was packing and bringing rubber boots: this particular station has a room full of them that other volunteers have left behind, but I suppose it would be risky to assume that the station would definitely have a fitting pair.

    All-in-all this was an awesome experience for me, and I would recommend it to many of my friends... or at least the ones who are willing to be tough enough to live with the very basics while at the station.

     

    Jim
  • Hi!

    I had a very good time in Jatun Sacha Station in the amazonia! I was very lucky, it only rained in the late evening, and the sun was up the whole day. (so very warm)
    When it comes to the volenteer work, the guy running the botanique carden wasn't there, so it was one of the volenteers in charge. I don't think it made much of a difference, we did what we had to do. 
    I didn't take that many pictures, I had a really terrible camera. So nothing to really post on a website or anything.
    I loved the small cabins we lived in, and the hamacs outside the "dining" cabin. And the food was. so. good. I almost wished I stayed there just to eat more of it. yummi!
    Karoline
  • Hello, I had a wonderful experience as a volunteer with Jatun Sacha. I met so many awesome people and learnt a lot about the beautiful local environment. I was really inspired by the work of Jatun Sacha, and look forward to going back one day. All the best, Abi. 

    Abi
  • La experiencia fue muy buena, hasta ahora la mejor que e tenido en mi vida, el poder relacionarse con personas de edad contemporánea y que a veces comparten tus mismo ideales, te abre la mente de una forma impresionante, además puedes realizar amistades que te sirven en el futuro para visitar a los chicos que conociste. 

    Diego
  • Hi,

    To put it briefly, my experience was absolutely amazing. Even though I only stayed for a week, I gained so much from the experience--something very different from any other experience I have encountered. To see the physical transformations a group can make to preserve a small field or to plant chakra in one afternoon was both rewarding and awe-inspiring. What is more, the whole trip brought a new perspective to my life that still affects me to this day (two and a half years later). I would love to go back sometime!
    Min Young Kang
  • Dear Jatun Sacha,

    First and foremost, I would like to thank you for allowing me the (cliched) life changing experience of volunteering on the Galapgos Islands. The experiences and memories that I made there...I take them with me wherever I go and I share them with everyone I meet.

    My experience there was a humbling one. I learnt that it's okay to not have some of the everyday luxuries - like hot water and a powerful electrical current. You can do without such and still survive! Furthermore, by having less things in life...you get to enjoy and explore more of life. For example, I did not have the day to day distractions of the internet, television or even music but it allowed me learn and discover so much more about myself...that I highly doubt I would have discovered - in the city. Just before we left the facilities manager returned and fixed up some things such as a faulty light (ithad a live current) and some of the toilets. The food though at times was repeatedly the same...was nourishable. I thoroughly enjoyed my last meal there - a Christmas lunch in which we had lobster.

    The engagement that I had with other people opened my mind and understanding of other cultures more and more. The readiness of everyone to extend a hand and help out was comforting. It made me feel like I belonged to a family made up of strangers - but a family, nonetheless.

    I loved working at the station! Each day had its own set of challenges and tasks to accomplish. This is where I learnt some valuable life lessons about myself and my beliefs. Even the most mundane tasks (weeding for hours in the rain or macheting a field of mora flat) served a purpose as to how I viewed my trip. Getting to work at a nursery at a different location on the island also gave me a better understanding to how the people lived the way that they did. Simple, humble people.

    Eduardo...singlehandedly made this experience fantastic. His insistence on only speaking in Spanish - forced us to learn the language...and for that I am grateful. He's constant asking "Clementina, Clementina! Que passe?" or responding to every question asked as being because of "Tortuga leche"...added a different element to my time there. His integrity and firm  belief was also very inspiring and motivating.  He showed me that you never know how strong you are both physically and mentally - until you push those boundaries.

    All in all... it was phenomenal. From having to pick lemons and oranges for juice to counting the amount of insect bites...it was excellent. I was even fortunate enough to have been able to travel to some of the other Islands. My only slight complaint would be the admin between the main office and the island. We had arranged to receive tshirts with volunteers who were to come through after us...which we never got. Moreover, we had arranged for Patricio to pick us up upon our return to Quito...which he didn't do. Although I still appreciate the fact that he waited and picked us up on our first arrival into the country. Despite this,  with our freshly learnt Spanish we managed to get to our hostel. These are minor issues that don't take away from my trip at all.

    Thank you once again and please extend my gratitude and regards to the team but especially Eduardo Rios.

    Kind regards,

    Clem Milton
  • Hi,

     
    I had a fantastic time at the San Cristobal Station. I made friends who I still talk to and it was an experience I will never forget and I hope to return one day.
    Tim Wiffen.
  • Jatun Sacha was wonderful. It was one of the greatest experience I ever had in my life. Living in the nature and traveling to the Galapagos Islands was always a dream of mine, I mean, who doesn´t want to see these wonderful islands? They have so wonderful species of animals and plants. But it is also sad if you know what happens to them because of the human. So I tried everything to help these islands. 
    In Jatun Sacha you live in a house and sleep in a bed, but you live with the nature. At first it is a bit strange, especially if you have to brush your theeth next to spiders as big as your Hand and to sleep under a moscito net to be save of all these annoying moscitos. But after a few days you live with that and nothing is a problem. The kitchen house is some 100 meters from the sleeping house so after dinner you have to walk through the forest in the dark. Sounds scary but it is awesome if you love the nature!  The work is good, too. There are many things to do, like picking up food or working with the Machete against the immigranted plants. Especially working with the Machete is really fun! You feel like Indianer Jones going through the jungle. The work is hard, sure, but then it is even better to have a nice sleep at midday on the hammok at the house. That is so great! You can listen to the forest, to the animals, you can whatch little birds and other vermins or just read a book. That is really freedom!
    After a long day at work you have dinner. Before traveling to the Galapagos Island I was wondering what we would eat in the nature, but the food was awesome and not exotic. After dinner you stay at the table with the others and play cards or something. It is really funny and I miss it. If you still aren´t tired you can go to a bar at the neighbour. Yes a bar, in the forest! I couldn´t believe it either. But the neighbour, some 500 meters from Jatun Sacha by feet, has a little bar with two pool tables, bear, coke and rum. So you have everything you want to have a bit fun after a hard day.
    And if you have time between work and dinner you can go to a little waterfall. It is a little pool but it is really nice in the heat. I loved it!
    You work from Monday to Friday and on Friday everybody drives to the harbour of San Cristobal to stay there for the weekend. You can either relax there on the beach, with the sea lions, or you can take trips to the parks or to other islands. Oh my God, these trips were awesome! You can go snorkling and swim with sharks, see really big turtles, wonderful birds, like the blue footed boobie. You have really a lot things to do. 
    I was there for three weeks and it was way to less time. I would have stayed longer but I had other projects in Ecuador so I had to go but I miss it until now really much. It was such an awesome time I will never forget and I hope to come again some day. 
     
    Thank you Jatun Sacha for every experience I could have because of you!
    Benedikt Ommer
  • Hello again!
    Nice to hear from you! I had a wonderful experience there at the Jatun Sacha Station, and everywhere else I was lucky enough to go in Ecuador as well! It is a beautiful country. I would be happy to send some pictures of my time there at the Station. I will send some within the next few days when I locate the disk they are on.
    Thanks again, and I hope all is well there!

    Alexis

    Alexis
  • I'm fine, thank you very much! My time in Jatun Sacha was one of the best in my life. :) There are very nice people at the station and I've learned and seen a lot. I really enjoyed working with Jonas! He knows much about the forest out there. Without him Jatun Sacha wouldn't be the same :)...Even if the work sometimes was hard we always had a lot of fun. Also the accomodation and the food were okay. It was a good thing to see how it is like to live without any luxury. The only thing I didn't like was that we got so much rice too eat but it's normal for Ecuadorians and I think everybody got along with it! :)

    And thank you for the certificate!
    With kind regards,

    Sarah

    Sarah DegenhartVolunteer
  • Arrival Details: Absolutely, but people also have to realize that traveling outside of North America is not always the same as traveling elsewhere. An open mind, patience and a smile go a long way. There will always be kind people around that will guide you in the right direction.

    Partner Impressions: Jatun Sacha, San Cristobal, Galapagos: I can't praise them enough for what they do onsite as well as how they continually receive people from around the world with so much kindness and patience. They really made all of us feel welcome,important and were there to answer any questions as they arose. I appreciated that they explained why the work was necessary, not just what to do.

    Concerns Details: I find it was clear through GVN and Jatun Sacha what the living conditions would be like.

    Impact: I was amazed at how Cesar (Jatun Sacha) managed to have the time for all of us. Their work extended far beyond the Jatun Sacha site. The whole team really worked together to make each volunteer take in as much or as little of the island experience that they wanted. Every possible was made to make everyone comfortable. Living and sharing the experience with people from around the world and of all ages was very special. The work experience, the wildlife, the friendships...what can I say, this was the best gift I could have ever given myself!

    Improvements: No, just to thank you again to GVN for your guidance and opportunity for me to do this type a work a second time. (hopefully not our last ...)

    Resource Needs: Some volunteers came hoping to find rubber boots (absolutely necessary for this placement) but found the ones available did not quite fit. It made it quite painful for them at times.

    Also, there are extra sleeping bags available, but don't count on one being there for you if there are a large number of people on site. Sometimes it does not pay to save a few dollars on proper equipment, be comfy and well prepared.

    Advice: Be open to different ways of traveling and doing things. Cold showers can feel great after a long, hot day of working. Open yourself to new opportunities, talk to everyone. Learn about why this work is important.

    Enjoy this very special time ! It will end all too quickly!

    View images

    France Gagné

    France GagnéVolunteer
  • First I'd ike to tell you that Daniel and I are back in Germany and we already miss Ecuador! We made some great experiences in Guandera and Jatun Sacha and we would like to thank you and Jatun Sacha for that!
    best regards from Munich!

    Clemens

    Clemens RossmanithVolunteer
  • Nos fue muy bien, realmente quedamos maravillados con ese bosque ¡muy bonito y único!, y con los pájaros ¡excelente!, logramos registras 63 especies, para esa altura y el tiempo de estadía es un ¡buen número!. Gracias también a la gente que nos brindo un servicio abnegado y de primera. Esperamos poder ir a la otra reserva en la costa.

    José María

    José María LoaizaVolunteer
  • Bueno mi experiencia fue muy buena, aprendí mucho, compartí buenos momentos que se han hecho de mi vida recuerdos inolvidables, realice muchos amigos. Fue muy especial conocer Galápagos, ya que es único en el mundo, y sobre todo realizar las labores de Jatun Sacha para el bien de este ecosistema único.

    Muchas gracias por haber abierto esta experiencia inolvidable.

    Erika

    Erika CartagenaVolunteer
  • En general mi experiancia en Guandera fue bien. A veces el trabajo no me he gustado, pero las personas en la estación son muy simpáticas. Porque no hay muchos voluntarios cuando estuve allí el ambiente fue familiar. Y además mi español he mejorado.

    Saludos,
    Daniel

    Daniel BaronVolunteer
  • I am home and adjusting back to life in the states, after my amazing trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands!!! It was amazing!

    Thank you!
    Kristy

    Kristy MichalakVolunteer
  • Its Uwe, from Germany. I just finished my time in Jatun Sacha and will leave Quito tonight back home. I want to say thank you for all your  help, support, the good memories and moments in the stations- just had  a very good time here in Equador with Jatun Sacha.

    Many friendly and helpful people were working together to make a good time with and for the volunteers. There is not much to complain. The food was allways good and enough. The hikes were interesting and the stations and acomodations had everything i needed. Just some time in Bilsa, when there was no director, I missed some coordination.

    Thank you for the good time!

    Uwe

    Uwe WuenscheVolunteer
  • I just wanted to tell you that we all had a fantastic time at the field station!! It was the student's highlight of the whole trip, and they loved it. I was really pleased to see Cesar, Miguel, Lidia and Eduardo were all there, which was especially nice for me, to see them again.

    I will be planning another trip next easter, and so will contact you in July to book in!

    Thank you so much for your help,
    Joanna

    Joanna BrowneVolunteer