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I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Galapagos project. Not only was it a beautiful place, but the locals and project staff were very welcoming, friendly, and helpful. I felt at home as soon as I arrived and there was a strong feeling of teamwork throughout. There was always a good atmosphere and any of the rare disputes were settled peacefully through listening and compromising. The project leader really motivated the volunteers and made it fun, although the work could be physically exhausting, and one sometimes came away with blisters from the tools or many mosquito bites.

My daily tasks mostly consisted of weed and invasive species control, gardening, everyday hacienda duties (such as milking), various community activities, and a weekly hippotherapy session. This last task, for me, was a particularly meaningful experience that I will not forget quickly. After work you could go to deserted beaches and swim with the sea lions and tortoises, go for a walk in the forest, or relax at the project site. At the hacienda you can still see the balance between man and nature, and the tranquility of that and connection to the natural world was something I really liked. I have definitely become more environmentally aware, learnt to live with less, and better at getting on with strangers.

There is good English spoken on the project, although you do live in slight isolation, as there is no phone or internet signal, nor other tourists, and the only way to get to town is via taxi, which you have to book ahead. However, the surroundings made up for that, and members of the local community often helped, so you got the chance to find out about Ecuadorian life. I also felt extremely safe on the project, and I liked the fact that the local community directly benefited from what we were doing.

If you come to this project, I would advise you to be ready for physically demanding jobs and have an open-minded attitude, as well as be able to cope with many animal species, including insects. But if you are prepared for this, you will enjoy an once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is a well-organized and very welcoming project which I would definitely recommend!

I also took part in the surf and help camp. Because I worked with local people and did different activities, I had a lot to do with them. I felt well integrated and was soon no longer seen as just a tourist, but taken into the community, which can be particularly important when you are in a project for a long time. The project leaders were very keen for me to learn about local life and culture as much as possible.

On the project I fed the injured animals and provided medical care as well as generally ensured that all animals feel comfortable. I have learned to rely more on myself, and the local people have valued my help, even when I improvised; for example, when I spontaneously gave some children an afternoon of English lessons.

I would definitely do the project again, as it was a very varied time in my life. A good mixture between commitment and work, while at the same time recreation and fun.