Jatun Sacha offers an extensive program of courses on various topics

Discover new worlds: Ecuador is not just a country, it is a conclave of many “worlds” – each with their own ecosystems and cultures – clustered in an area the size of Nevada. Join the efforts of the Jatun Sacha Foundation to keep these worlds! You will not only learn a lot about the science of conservation, you will experience a lifetime adventure.

Since 1985 we have conducted more than a hundred courses covering various topics such as botany, introduction to tropical biology, forest ecology, research methodology and techniques of anthropology, island biogeography and others. We can tailor courses to meet your needs, and we have the experience to make your course informative, enjoyable and memorable.

Topics currently being taught in different courses (topics will vary according to each station):
  • Botany.
  • Ethnobotany.
  • Tropical Biology
  • Ecology.
  • Evolution.
  • Extinction.
  • Invasive species.
  • Endemic species.
  • Ecosystem of Ecuador.
  • Climate floors.
  • Fauna and Flora.
  • Turtle breeding program.
  • Reproduction of turtles.
  • Formation of Islands.
  • Ocean Currents.
  • Prevailing winds.
  • Debate on geology.
  • Discussion of human history.
  • Conservation of the Galapagos Islands.
  • Harvesting and processing sugar cane, coffee, cocoa and organic chocolate.
  • Agricultural biodiversity and sustainable agriculture.
Jatun Sacha offers an extensive program of courses on various topics:

Conservation Biology, Tropical Ecology, Dendrology, Botany, Ethnobotany, Wildlife, Population Dynamics, Ethology, Natural Resource Management, Natural History, Ecoturism, Environmental Education and various aspects related to the conservation of biodiversity.

Students from high schools, colleges and universities are admitted to our courses. The courses can be implemented in their Bachelors or Masters Thesis.

Courses tailored to your needs!
  • The program of national and international courses gives you the opportunity to meet and learn in a natural classroom, having direct contact with nature, as well as an unforgettable experience in this natural laboratory called Ecuador.
  • Each one of the Jatun Sacha biological stations  has an infrastructure designed to accommodate groups of students, researchers, volunteers and visitors.
  • Activities for the courses will be organized by Jatun Sacha. The curriculum will be developed according to each group or university in coordination with the Chief Instructors.
  • Courses and workshops can be designed in conjunction with universities, colleges and / or institutions according to their needs.
Mix and match 5 completely different reserves
  • The Jatun Sacha Foundation manages the stations and reserves in all four regions of Ecuador. You can choose from a number of reserves that extend from sea level to 4,000 meters.
  • This wide range includes marine ecosystems, tidal areas, mangrove and dry forest, rainforest, cloud forest, montane forest pre-mountain-highlands and not to forget the majestic alpine meadows known as “wilderness.”
  • Each of the five reserves also works with communities who have their own local history.
  • You can mix and match the reserves to develop an itinerary based on your particular interests. Each biological reserve can provide housing and food for twenty people or more.
Our five reserves
  • AMAZON: Jatun Sacha Biological Station is located in the most famous rainforest in the world.
  • SIERRA: Guandera is in a mountain reserve in the “hot spot” Los Andes Tropicales
  • COSTA: Bilsa and Congal Stations are both located  in the Choco-Tumbesina region, but could not be more different from each other.
  • THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS: San Cristóbal Station is located on the top of the island of the same name.
Objectives and activities
  • Promote environmental education at different levels.
  • Research knowledge of Natural Resources.
  • Explore alternative sources of income.
  • Strengthen technical capacity in conservation biology.
  • Promotion of biological Investigation of non-timber products as research.
  • Maintaine living collections of important plants and endangered species.
  • Conserve the biological and cultural diversity, through different models of private conservation.
  • To present the different reserves Jatun Sacha has developed several investigations:
    • Soils, plants, orchids, phenology, natural regeneration, inventories of birds, rodents, etc.

Once you have met with our course leaders, your greatest worry will be how to share the incredible experience with your family and friends that have stayed at home! Because we will take care of everything during your stay! Our program includes all land, sea and air transport (national flights), as well as food, lodging, instructional materials and the professional services of the instructors.

Nevertheless, each person is responsible for the cost of his or her souvenirs, tips and airport taxes.

It is a good idea to practice hiking at home in the same gear you will use during your stay to prevent future problems with your gear.

Donations of school supplies or other goods are both needed and appreciated!

  • Light-weight clothing for hiking and casual wear (shorts, short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved shirts, socks, underclothing, sleep wear and trousers)
  • Rain poncho, bandanna, hat, sometimes an umbrella is useful
  • Rubber boots with good traction (can be purchased in Ecuador for about US. $12)
  • Light towels, sandals, athletic shoes
  • Bathing suit
  • Thin wetsuit vest (recommended, but not necessary)
  • Mask, snorkel and small fins (can be rented in Galapagos for about $6/day)
  • For Bilsa and Guandera, warm clothes are needed, for the other stations only summer clothes needed
  • Other useful things are: camera, binoculars, swiss army knife, flashlight, battery charger with enough rechargeable batteries.
  • Don´t forget your personal medicines and first aid kit

Jatun Sacha Foundation will handle all the details of your stay (lodging, food, instruction and travel). When you arrive a staff person will meet you at the airport and bring you to the field station or hotel. Your accommodations will be simple and comfortable.

The food is equally simple, but flavorful and abundant. In some areas you may share space with inoffensive arthropods and occasionally larger visitors.

Your costs will vary according to the destinations and activities included in the program you select, but in general run from as little as $30,00 for a one-day program within the city of Quito up to $2,700.00 for a 20-day program which includes time in the Galapagos

Please contact our course coordinator ( in Quito for more information. In addition if you’re a group leader and you need help with your logistics within Ecuador, please write us directly at There are a number of international agencies that can help organize your trip from your home country.

Our course instructors are a blend of experienced conservation professionals and energetic recent graduates who have studied in the same places that we teach. You’ll find both Ecuadorian nationals and English speaking instructors available to lead your group.

Please note that all itineraries are subject to minor change depending on local conditions.

Two-week Course

Day 1: Arrival in Quito. A Jatun Sacha guide will be welcoming you in the exit area and bring you to hotel Alston on avenue Juan Leon Mera. Please advise him or her at this time if you have a special diet or any special needs.

Day 2: Early breakfast, then shopping for rubber boots (wellies) in Quito, followed by travel to the La Hesperia Biological Station (2,5 hour trip from Quito), plus a 1 hour walk uphill to station house. The luggage will be transported by car. Time to settle into accommodations. After lunch an introductory tour will be given about the organic farm, the reserve, and facilities; and a 1-hour hike in forest. After dinner a class on biodiversity, evolution, and ecosystems of Ecuador.

Day 3: 7:30 AM milking of cows, then breakfast. We’ll then take a leisurely hike up to a look-out point where we’ll find a large relative of the kapok tree. Lunch. Introduction to harvesting and processing of coffee, cacao (chocolate) and sugar cane in groups. Dinner. Class on agrobiodiversity and sustainable agriculture.

Day 4: After breakfast will take an all-day hike to waterfall; take your bathing suit! Return to station in late afternoon. Nighttime bonfire and capture and release of Lepidoptera in biodiversity study, lunar phase permitting. Preparation for next-day trip to the native Chigüilpe community that belongs to the Tsáchila ethnic group (known as the Colorado Indians).

Day 5: After breakfast travel to the Chigüilpe community for overnight stay. Experience their culture and traditions as well as their current way of life.

Day 6: After lunch return to La Hesperia. Night class: conservation and the human element.

Day 7: Return to Quito with a lunch stop. Shopping in Quito or tour of old town in the afternoon. Prepare for flight for next day. Overnight at Hotel Alston.

Day 8: Depart hotel at 5:30 AM for 7:30 flight to Galápagos – San Cristóbal Island. Meet station staff at airport and proceed to La Loberia (sea lion beach) to observe marine iguanas and sea lions. Our large baggage will travel separately up to the station by truck. Make sure that your bathing suit, sunscreen, towel, camera, pen and paper are accessible! Depart beach for the field station located in the highlands. Settle in, and receive station orientation. After dinner discussion of evolution-endemism and extinction-invasive species.

Day 9: Morning visit to Galapagos National Park Tortoise research site to view and photograph giant Galapagos tortoise (the species here is one of 10 surviving species and of total 225 individuals – San Cristóbal is thought to be the first island colonized by the ancestors of the tortoises). Proceed  to high elevation lookout and down to China Beach for swimming and having lunch. YOU WILL NEED GOOD WALKING SHOES AS THE TRAIL IS MADE OF FRACTURED LAVA ROCK. Afternoon visit to volcanic crater lake at the top of the island. Evening discussion on geology, island formation, ocean currents, and prevailing winds.

Day 10: Climate zone hike in the morning down from the station through a variety of habitats to high ocean cliffs and river outlets where endemic seabirds can will be observed. Return to station for lunch. Rest time or optional visit to a waterfall-pool for a swim to be followed by a hike up to the Miconia zone. Evening campfire and music.

Day 11: In the morning travel down to the small, sleepy, charming port village of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, where we’ll check in to our hotel and drop off luggage. From here, we’ll walk on a lava trail to a lookout points where we will have dramatic cliff views, then go for snorkeling in Tijeretas cove. Lunch in town is followed a visit to the National Park Interpretive Center. Evening discussion on fascinating human history of the Galapagos.

Day 12: All day snorkeling at white sand beach combined with boatride along leeward side of island. We will visit Ochoa Beach and Isla Lobos where concentrated populations of sea lions, marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, frigate birds and sea life can be observed. We´ll also navigate to Kicker Rock (León Dormido), a large isolated rock jutting out of the ocean where snorkeling and diving conditions are especially good. Fish life is even more abundant here and large schools of hammerhead sharks are sometimes seen. Farewell dinner in town.

Day 13: Early check in of luggage and time for optional activities: Visit to interpretive center or trail, last walk through town or revisit to Loberia. Flight to Quito. Check in to Hotel Alston. Dinner. Evening free.

Day 14: Departure. Remember there exists a USD $42 exit tax to be paid at airport.

Shorter Programs

Day 1: Arrival in Quito. Jatun Sacha guides will be welcoming you in the exit area and bring you  to your hotel.

Day 2: Breakfast 7:30. Shop for boots in Quito. Mid morning travel to the Guandera Biological Station (6 hours from Quito). Don’t forget your cool weather & rain gear! A box lunch will be served. The final part of our travel will be a 45-minute walk up & downhill to the station house. Please pack according to your capability to carry at 11,000 feet altitude. After dinner class on the ecosystems of Ecuador, an introduction to the reserve, its projects, and surrounding communities.

Day 3: Breakfast 7AM. All-day hike to ceja andina forest, guandera groves, páramo, and waterfall. After dinner discussion of Research Projects in Guandera.

Optional: night hike

Day 4: Two groups: Group I – Individual research project. Group II- collaboration in station volunteer projects (i.e. Organic agriculture, construction, etc.). Dinner. Presentation of preliminary results & discussion of local history & cultures.

Day 5: Groups I & II switch activities. Presentation of results & talk about agrobiodiversity and sustainable agriculture.

Day 6: Breakfast 7AM. 9:30 departure. 11:00 1-hour visit to Afro-ecuadorian community in the Chota Valley. 1:00 Arrival in Otavalo and lunch. Shopping Time! Dinner 7:30.

Evening free.

Day 7: After breakfast (with luggage) to Cotacachi & Cuicocha crater lake. Lunch at lake. Afternoon return to Quito. Time to have laundry done, and to shop in local markets. Prepare for departing the  next day.