More help needed please,
My partner and I are going around the world this summer South America is part of our itinerary.
We are looking to spend 3 to 4 month there, traveling and also some voluntary work. Just wondering if you have any recommendations or do's and dont's for this please?
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
As I´ve been updating the group that I created on couchsurfing called "Ask Finn in Quito as well as answering a lot of posts regarding backpacking in Ecuador of late, I came up with an idea that I´ve always thought was a savvy way to travel here.
I´ve known a few friends from the bar and the hostel where I have volunteered and worked who have explored Ecuador through volunteering..As they are often the most adventurous and seem to have the most fun, I wanted to post a suggestion for those headed this way. For example if you were to come to Ecuador, a plan of attack could be..
Three weeks in the Galapagos with Lead-Adventures on three islands that includes tours as well as most food and accommodation. Good value and you get to see a lot on land tours while saving money that can be spent on activities such as diving or daytrips at the end of the program.. You can contact me if you want more info but this is more a heads up as an idea rather than a plea for more volunteers.. There are a few other companies that just do the land tours for less than a cruise as well. From people I have had conversations with at the hostel who have done conservation projects in The Galapagos, it was well worth it to volunteer as it gave them a closer feel for the people and the culture there.
A few months volunteering at Hostels..
The Secret Garden, Quito takes volunteers for a month where you help check people in and out, serve food, take people to clubs and bars, and act as their social, travel, and Ecuador guide. Good way to meet other travelers and get free food and accommodation. Really good for figuring out what you want to do next as everyone is in the same boat and volunteers end up traveling together after their stay.. Benefits include Spanish Lessons, trips to the sister hostel in Cotopaxi, and constant contact with travelers at the hostel who have just come from Peru and Columbia.
If Quito isn´t your thing, their are other hostels that offer similar volunteer positions-
Currently I know of this opportunity that someone emailed me with a few days ago-
Hostal Llullu Llama is still looking for people who like to help run our in Isinlivi. From the end of April until they like. We usually prefer that people stay for 8 weeks and then we give food and board in return. Isinlivi is pretty small so people have to like being out there in the Andes and speak Spanish, cause it will make their lives much more fun. Teaching at the local school is an option and the rest of the work is helping at the hostel. Receiving guests, giving information, take our dog for hikes, etc.
These are good ways to see places on a limited budget. I have done it off and on and it´s a good experience. The Galapagos on a backpackers budget, Latacunga, and Cotopaxi are all somehow all easily made available to people with these options.
If you are headed this way send me a message and I can get you in contact with the people who are behind all of the above!
As I said this is in Ecuador, but I know that other hostels in Peru and Columbia are doing the same type of things. Try Loki in Peru or The Cranky Croc in Columbia! Hope this helps and let me know if I can find anymore information for you!
South America is about 2.5 times the size of Continental USA, bus rides from one country to another can be 50-60 or more hours on First Class. Bus stations in South America are dens of pickpockets, bag snatchers and scammers, after arrival, leave teh bus station and the area around it as soon as possible. Take only authorized taxis. Very few trains left. Many areas of large cities, especially Brasil, dangerous daylight and after dark, worse. Best to join one of the Hospex sites like Couch Surfing (Google it up). Thousands of local South American members.
There are also many excellent south America Travel Information sites, avoid websites put up by tour operators, tehy basically are shilling their guided tours..also surf Wiki Travel on Wikipedia, country by country..excellent advices.
You will require some Spanish/Portuguese if travelling off the beaten path outside tourist destinations. Best bet, join hospex sites and ask the locals!!!
If I was traveling to your city or town I would ask you, not a traveler who has been there 'before' or is 'going there'. saludos.
Thanks for the lengthy replys thats agreat help and well appreciated