Ellie Švrlanská: Volunteering in Amazonia
29. 09. 2022
Arriving in the capital Quito, my month and a half in Ecuador begins. Before my departure, however, it is already clear to me that a month and a half is not nearly enough. Ecuador o ers more than I rst thought. The Amazon rainforest with its unique ora and fauna full of national parks and Indian reserves, the famous Galapagos Islands, shing villages and sur ng towns along the coast and countless treks in the Andes, whether to the peaks of the famous volcanoes or around the breathtaking lagoons.
My rst trip is to the Amazon Rainforest, where I have joined two projects as a volunteer. Traveling to the Amazon with a private guide and staying in beautiful wooden ecolodges is not a cheap a air. Being a volunteer in the Amazon is amazing in that not only does it make you a lot better o nancially, but more importantly you get to live the way the locals live, you easily become part of the local community, you learn about the life of the indigenous tribes, you can get a lot of information about medicinal plants or how to plant and harvest di erent tropical fruits. You'll get to see the beauty of the Amazon up close and experience everyday life in the jungle quite di erently from being a tourist.
There is a direct bus from the capital Quito to the city of Tena, which is the capital of Napo province and one of the gateway cities to the Amazon rainforest. In addition to travel and expeditions to the Amazon, Tena is also known as one of the best destinations for kayaking and rafting in all of Ecuador.
My rst stop in the Amazon is a nature reserve and yoga center near Llanganates National Park, which focuses on conservation in the Amazon in addition to yoga and meditation. They recruit volunteers year-round to help with native plants, harvesting fruits in their tropical garden, or assisting with morning meditations.
Over the course of a few days, I got to experience how they make sugar cane juice in the Amazon, learn what foods are typical here, and what tropical fruits they grow in their garden and how to care for them. Not to mention that I improved my Spanish quite a bit, as no one speaks much English here.
From the Llangantes National Park I continue onto the territory of the Kichua Indian communities, located in the Napo River basin, in the wilderness of the Ecuadorian rainforest. The Ruku Samay settlement is an indigenous family-run eco-centre and healing center, with roots in a sacred shamanic lineage that stretches back generations.
Ruku Samay is closely linked to the Czech-Ecuadorian project Život postaru, which aims to help indigenous
Indians in their e orts to preserve their home and culture. As part of the Ecuadorian Amazon in the Napo River basin is being devastated by gold mining and the cutting down of rare trees, the project's main e ort is to create a protected area and help local indigenous Indians preserve their unique traditions and knowledge. One way to support the project is to travel with them to Ecuador as a volunteer, where in addition to helping the local communities you will also be able to visit the surrounding waterfalls, gorges and lagoons, taste traditional foods and tropical fruits, sip a cup of wayusa in the morning and many other traditional activities.
The climate in the Amazon can be summed up as humid tropical with high temperatures and year-round rain. The LAPINA-W shorts were the basis for the everyday out t, and thanks to their lightweight, breathable and cooling material they are ideal for the hot and humid climate. In addition, they match perfectly with the WINIE-W sports bra. In case of rain, it is great to also have the outdoor waterproof jacket MAMBA-W, which I liked because of its lightweight material and high coherence. Since I went several times with locals across the rainforest to visit waterfalls or sacred trees, it was important to have rubber boots, headwear and a very good repellent.
How to volunteer abroad?
For several years now I have enjoyed traveling slowly, getting to know the local people, culture and traditions. For most of my trips I use the international project Workaway, which focuses on exchanges between travelers and hosts at the destination. As a traveler, you have a choice of projects, organizations, schools, camps, farms and families from all over the world that will o er you accommodation, meals and cultural exchange in exchange for you volunteering a few days a week, a few hours a day. Not only is the only thing you have to deal with is the plane ticket or travel to the destination, you also travel slower, more sustainably and learn a lot about the local life and culture. All o ers and hosts pro les are accessible without registration. Only when you like a pro le and want to contact them is registration required.
You can register through my pro le for the rst month for free: