I am going traveling on my own, I am thinking of doing the STA travel Volunteer trip to Galapagos, has anyone done it?
Seems quite expensive 700GBP for 10 days?
Not sure it its a good idea? Are there companies in Ecuador that I could do a similar thing with?
Or even just volunteer in Ecuador?
Have 2 months I intend to travel Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia...
Any tips welcome
The first thing I would say is research your options very carefully. There are a host of volunteer organizations working in Galapagos and we are always shocked to discover how much they charge you for having the generosity to volunteer here. They justify the prices by saying they they have very high overheads (which I find hard to believe) and that the money goes to support the local community, which in most cases is total ##!. We are not familiar with the STA Travel group and it may be they are on the up-and-up but I would be skeptical until I know better. We are planning to research the whole issue a bit more but anonymously as there is major major money involved. One of these companies recently hosted their San Cristobal agent's entire family to seats at the opening of the London Olympics! With travel from Galapagos to England, hotels and the Olympics, that must have cost a small fortune. I suppose that benefited at least one family in the community.
Im in process of arranging my trip too but having looked at the sta reviews im put off. So im looking at other tour operators i.e. gap
Hi Galeodan, Thank you for the warning, I really appreciate that. I tried to do as much research as possible in the time frame I have and decided not to go with the STA company as they couldn't give me straight up answers as to exactly what proportion of my money would be used to benefit the community. I went with Ubelong, I truely hope that the money goes to good causes and they arent one of the parties you are investigating. There seems to be a lot of cover up with where money goes when you try and research it. The company had good reviews and were quick to respond to me.
Will you be publishing you research as I think it would be very interesting to read and if there is anything I can do to help please let me know. You can pm me if you want.
Kiwi 34, thank you so much for the tip on the STA reviews, I didnt see any of the reviews on the website so googled them.... Awful!!! I hope you found someone good to do your volunteering with. I don't know when you are planning on going to Galapagos but I can let you know how mine goes if you want as I leave next week to do the volunteering but will be in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia after the 2 weeks volunteering until mid September!
Thanks for your help!
We haven't really initiated a review process yet and I'm not sure how it will be done, although it definitely does need to be done. We were speaking recently to a fella who is in Galapagos right now with one of these groups and he came to visit us and express his disappointment at the way he and his colleagues are treated, especially considering how much they had paid. He and is friends are, understandably, reluctant to make waves while they are still here and there is an added reluctance because they feel that, despite everything, they are still privileged to be here. I suggested that, once back in England, he should setup a Facebook page so that people who had been through the system could swap stories of their experiences, good and bad, and maybe some patterns would emerge. I think most who volunteer here have a good time and get great satisfaction but, at the same time, many of them are being ripped off big-time. When it is a scam, it's the worst type since it takes advantage of peoples best nature and intentions.