Veterinary Medicine in Ecuador and the Galapagos
May 5-18, 2018
This is a unique opportunity to meet and learn from Ecuador's wildlife and exotic animal veterinarians. Participate in a spay and neutering day at two different locations and observe the fascinating wildlife of the Galapagos Islands!
Program costs (tuition not included): $5500. (This is based on airfare of $1500. Adjust costs accordingly if your airfare is less.) Program costs include all airfare (international flights and your flight from Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands), lodging, meals, guides, in-country transportation, entrance fees, boots, snorkeling gear, etc
Ecuador Itinerary (Tentative)
Day 1 – International Flight to Quito
You will depart and fly to Quito, Ecuador, where your Mainland Sustainable Horizon Program Leader will
welcome you. From the airport, you will head to your lodging where you will spend your first night in
this magnificent country. If you arrive with daylight to spare, you will walk around the neighborhood for
your first glimpse of this beautiful city. Tonight you will have a late night meal of pizza.
Note: If the group has a morning or early afternoon arrival to Quito, additional costs for meals,
activities, transportation, etc. will be added to the cost of the program.
Day 2 – Quito and the Equator Line
This morning you meet your Assistant Program Leader who will join you for the next few days including
the service days in Baños and Quito.
You will then visit the Inti Ñan Museum, which will explain about how ancient Ecuadorian indigenous
peoples took advantage of astronomy in order to shape their culture. You will also have the
opportunity to stand in two hemispheres at the same time and to try your hand at water experiments
on the equator!
From the equator line you will travel to the cloud forest of Mindo. Then you are off for an adrenaline-filled
adventure as you will fly through the forest canopy on zip lines! From here, you will have an
incredible vantage point of the forest. You will have an orientation over a BBQ lunch, reviewing the
program in Ecuador and what to expect. After the orientation, you will head back to Quito and your
lodging. Back in Quito you will gather before dinner to talk about your work on how veterinarians work in this country. You will also discuss what to expect, details of the work sites and what will be different from how veterinarians work at home.
Day 3 – Baños Zoo & Wildlife Rescue Center
Day 4 – Baños Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Center
In the early morning, you will have a drive to Baños, located at the entrance of the Amazon,to the San Martin Rescue Center and Zoo (approximately 4 hours). You will have a breakfast box to eat en route.Upon arrival you will meet Dr. Leonardo Arias, the main veterinarian at the Baños Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Center, and one of the most well known wildlife veterinarians in Ecuador He has significant experience with Ecuador's exotic wild animals, and for 20 years has worked with rescue centers and zoos around the country. You will help out in the reptile habitats with check ups and parasite medicine for the snakes and also possibly for the turtles and caymans.
Recent deforestation of the rainforest and heartless human behavior have forced animals to contend
not only for resources, but also their lives. Unfortunately, many trafficked animals remain in the hands
of their owners, who often abuse them by keeping them as pets.
In response to this, the people of Ecuador have banded together to build various wildlife rescue centers
around the country. The ultimate goal of these centers is to reintroduce wild animals back into their
native habitats. During their time at the center, animals are provided with food, shelter, medical
attention, rehabilitation and love. Unfortunately, many animals will remain at the rescue center
indefinitely. Since the Baños center and other smaller centers do not receive financial support from the
Ecuadorian government, they also function as zoos in order to generate income.
Animals continue to arrive at the Baños zoo and wildlife rescue center and their physical conditions vary
greatly. At the moment, there are approximately 600 individual animals among which are: species of
monkeys; a tapir; ocelots; different snakes, such as an anaconda; Galápagos giant tortoises; turtles;
spectacled bears, a capibara; many different birds, such as macaws and flamingos; foxes;
different reptiles, such as caymans; amphibians, such as frogs; a jaguar; and a condor.
You will have lunch in Baños at a local restaurant. Then you will have an adventure rappelling down waterfalls in the Baños area.Make sure to wear your bathing suit as you are guaranteed to get wet while hiking and then rappelling,sliding and jumping down the waterfalls into pools of water! The alternative to rappelling is a horseback ride. Please let your Program Coordinators know before travelling to Ecuador if you would prefer the horseback riding.
Next stop is checking into your rooms in Puyo. Dinner will be at the hotel in Puyo.
We start the day with breakfast at the lodging place. We will check out before leaving for work. You will meet the local staff of the rescue center in Puyo. You will learn of the diets and care of the animals at the center with the local vets and accompanied by Dr. Leonardo and his coleague. You will also learn about the work to reintroduce these animals to the wild and the challenges this presents. Lunch will be at the hotel. Next we dirve to Riobamba and check into your rooms. Dinner will be at the hotel.
Day 5 – Spay & Neuter Campaing in Riobamba
We start the day with breakfast at the lodging. Then will meet the local staff and volunteer who will be helping set up all the equipment and manage the spay/neuter campaign.
In Ecuador, as in most of Latin America, the attitude is different toward keeping cats and dogs in and
around the house than in the States. Often dogs are kept chained up outside and used as guard dogs,
and cats are often only used for their usefulness in eliminating pests such as rats. The concept and
culture of treating dogs and cats like humans, or human children and fed expensive food is still very new
to many in Ecuador (which is why you may see many stray dogs and cats). For those that do have pets
in their homes, there is an unfortunate lack of pet care education. That said, assisting with spay and
neuter campaigns is very important to the community and to the pet owners for proper domestic
animal education and care as well as adequate population control.
Today you will facilitate spay and neuter campaign in the small nearby city of Riobamba with the
Ecuadorian humane society, PAE. Both Dr. Arias and the second Ecuadorian veterinarian will join you.
You will be responsible for spaying and neutering dogs and cats (many of them stray animals), giving
vaccinations, and examinations of sick animals that are potentially contagious to other street animals.*
Please note, the location may be a local community center or similar and therefore the spaces for
intake, exams, preparation, and operating may be makeshift and temporary.
Tonight after dinner at the lodging Dr. Arias will give an interesting seminar regarding a pertinent
Day 6 – Continues Spay & Neuter Campaign in Riobamba
You will have a final morning of work with the Spay and Neuter Campaign. At around noon will head back to the hotel where we will have lunch. Then, we will start our drive back to Quito Once in Quito you will check into your rooms and have dinner at the hotel. Tonight you rest and relax, preparing for your trip to the Galápagagos Islands.
Day 7 – Travel to the Galápagos Islands
This morning, you will take the bus to the airport as your journey to the Galápagos Islands begins.
You will have breakfast at your lodging.and then take your bus to the airport. Your Galapagos Guide will meet you at the airport and accompany you today and during your time in Galapagos for all activities inside the National Park. Together you will travel by bus and ferry to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island (approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes).You will arrive at your lodging in Puerto Ayora and check into your rooms.You will have lunch at a local restaurant
You will walk into town to look around, get fitted for snorkeling gear, and then walk back to the lodging. You will have dinner at a restaurant.Tonight you may enjoy the island’s famous ice cream as you take an evening stroll to further explore the town.
Day 8 – San Bartolomé Island
Today you will get up early to drive across the island to the channel between Santa Cruz and Baltra (45 minute drive). The boat to Bartolomé Island takes approximately 2-3 hours depending on conditions. You will have breakfast on the boat. Once on Bartolomé Island, you will hike up the volcano for one of the most popular and gorgeous views and photo opportunities in the Galápagos Islands (approximately 45 minutes walking). You will walk down to the boat and get ready for snorkeling. You will then have lunch on the boat back to Santa Cruz Island. Once you reach Santa Cruz, you will board your bus to cross the island and return to your lodging. Note: The maximum capacity on the boat to Bartolome is 14 foreign passengers, plus your Program Leader and Galapagos Guide. If your group is larger, you may be split into two or more boats. If your group is not exactly 14 foreign passengers, you may share the tour with other passengers.You will have dinner at a restaurant before an evening stroll along the harbor.
Day 9 – Santa Cruz Island Beach Day
You will have breakfast at your lodging.
Today you will travel by bus to your work site at a farm in the highlands of Santa Cruz. Here you will learn about farm life and practices in Galápagos and work with Dr. Leonardo to give veterinary treatment to the animals. This will likely mostly be check-ups for the livestock (mainly cows) including giving parasite medications, helping with tick removal, and anything else that may be needed. You will have lunch as a group near the work site. In the afternoon you will continue your veterinary (dependent on local needs). If there is time, you will visit the highlands to see giant tortoises in the wild and a lava tunnel.You will take your bus back to the lodging to wash up before dinner. You will have dinner at a restaurant.
Day 10- North Seymour Island
You will have breakfast at your lodging.You will drive across the island to the channel between Santa Cruz and Baltra (45 minute drive). From there you will depart for North Seymour Island. When you arrive at North Seymour Island you will go ashore and take a hike to see the frigate birds and the Blue Footed Boobies that have colonies here. You may also see land iguanas during the hike. You will return to the boat for lunch and start out for Bachas Beach. At Bachas Beach you will go ashore to relax and if you are lucky you might see some flamingos in the lagoon close by. You can cool down with a swim before boarding your boat again. In the late afternoon you will head back to Santa Cruz. Once on the island, you will board your bus to cross the island and return to your lodging.You will return to your lodging to get cleaned up and relax before dinner.You will have dinner in a restaurant.
Day 11 – Charles Darwing Center and the National Park
You will have breakfast at your lodging.You will walk to the Charles Darwin Center and the National Park where you will see the giant tortoises and learn about their breeding program and its importance. You will have some free time for souvenir shopping.You will have lunch in a restaurant.After lunch you will have two options. If you are tired you can take a taxi boat and short hike to Las Grietas for a swim to cool down. If you are ready for a hike you can hike 1 hour and 20 minutes to Tortuga Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in Galapagos. Here you will find marine iguanas, pelicans, blue footed boobies and lots of finches to make the hike worthwhile.You will return to your lodging to get cleaned up and relax before dinner.You will have your farewell dinner in a nice local restaurant.
Day 12 – Galápagos Islands – Quito
You will have breakfast at your lodging. You will travel to Baltra airport by bus and ferry (about 1 hour and 15 minutes). You will then say goodbye to your Galápagos Guide and your Program Leader after check-in. You will have a packed lunch to eat in the airport.Your flight departs from the Galápagos Islands for Quito.Your flight arrives in Quito where your second Program Leader will meet you and then you will drive to your hotel.You will arrive at your lodging in Quito and check into your rooms.You will have dinner at the hotel.
Day 13 – Quito
After breakfast, you will take your bus for a short ride where you will then take the famous Teliferico, a cable car ride taking you up 11,000+ feet in 20 minutes, where you will have a breathtaking panoramic view over the entire city (weather permitting). This morning you will go to visit Leonardo’s small veterinary clinic to see how a typical Ecuadorian clinic looks and also to say goodbye to him.You will return to the hotel for lunch. This afternoon you will visit the old colonial part of Quito to see the churches and the Presidential Palace with an official Quito guide and then end up at the Panecillo, the statue of the Virgin Mary looking down over the old town. You will visit a handicraft market to do some last minute shopping. You will have dinner together at the hotel and then return to your rooms for some rest before your flight the next day.
Day 14 – International Flight Home
You will have breakfast at your lodging. Today your Ecuador adventure comes to a close as you depart early for your flight out of Quito.