Summer Abroad Ecuador - On Site

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Environmental Justice in Indigenous Ecuador


This program is a traveling program so students should be prepared to move constantly. Program participants will be staying in shared rooms in hostels, hotels and family homestays for most of the trip. During their stay in the rainforest they will camp in Huaorani (Native American) territory. Students should be prepared to spend some nights in sleeping bags, structured tents, and other rustic accommodations. Students will stay at a local hostel when in Quito. Wifi is inconsistent on this program.

UC Davis reserves the right to change the accommodation location. Should this be necessary, we will arrange comparable lodging. Please note that elevators, air conditioners and other modern conveniences may not be available in all locations.


Most meals will be provided by the program. They are included in the program fees and are shared as a group or provided by host families. Type of meals also vary from boxed lunches for field trips to meals taken in restaurants. In Quito and at various other times throughout the program, occasional meals will be on your own and will need to be purchased out of pocket (roughly ten times throughout the program).

Excursions and Day Trips

See: Draft syllabus.

Week 1: Quito and Environs

  • City Tour of Quito
  • Trip to Tena
  • Community work at Shandia Eco-aldea

Week 2: Coca and Huaorani territory

  • Community work: weaving and farming
  • Jungle walks
  • Fishing trips and much more

Week 3: SierraAzul reserve

  • Spectacled Bear workshop
  • Hikes in the eastern foothills of the Andes

Week 3-4: Runa Tupari (highlands)

  • Visit to volcanic hot springs
  • Visit to Cotacachi in the northern highlands
  • Host families stays
  • Bike riding from the Andes to the cloud forest
  • Visit to Otavalo market (indigenous textile market)
  • Visit to Mindo cloud forest
  • Community volunteering
  • Return to Quito and farewell dinner 
  • Optional activities such as whitewater rafting and zip lining are also available to students once on-site, but students should be advised these activities are not covered by program fees or insurance

Study Abroad Advisory of Student Risk

Participation in this UC Davis Study Abroad program requires travel to and extended living in a foreign location(s) abroad. UC Davis Study Abroad endeavors to reduce and mitigate risk wherever possible.  However, the environments and risks associated with living in these locations are substantially different than those found during a regular course of study at UC Davis. All participants must download and review the following information prior to departure. Any questions should be directed to the Program Coordinator.

Study Abroad General Risk Advisory

Program Specific Risk Advisories (PDF)

About Ecuador

From Lonely Planet Ecuador:

“Whenever people tell me they want to visit South America, but don't know where to begin, I recommend Ecuador. This is a country that seems to have it all: Andean peaks, Amazon rainforest, indigenous markets, colonial towns, sun-drenched beaches – not to mention a rather famous chain of volcanic islands full of fascinating wildlife. Adding to the appeal is Ecuador's (relatively) small size and its ease of travel (good roads and an easy-to-remember currency). But best of all are the Ecuadorians themselves: kind-hearted, generous and proud of the great strides they've made in the last decade, they are in fact the nation's greatest treasure.” – Regis St. Louis, Author

Currency: United States Dollar (USD)

Language Spoken: Spanish

Weather and Climate

Prepare for fluctuating weather conditions. Days in the lowlands will be hot, in the range of 90 F; the cloud forest will be much cooler and can get very cold at night. Long sleeves are a must because of the mosquitoes. Torrential rains can pass through, even in the summer. You are encouraged to monitor the weather in the weeks leading up to the program online and bring clothing that can be easily layered.

You will visit many regions in Ecuador, including rain forest, lowlands, and highlands, so the weather will be dramatically different at each location. In the highlands the average temperature is about 65 F but it can quickly drop drown to 45 F at night. The lower elevation parts of Ecuador are hot and humid (~86 F).

Research Your Destination

Keeping in Touch

Since communication options can vary dramatically from country to country, Summer Abroad advises checking with the instructor or the Program Specific Guide for advice about what might be the best option for your particular program.

Calling the U.S. from Abroad

Many U.S.-based long distance phone companies provide special services that make it easy for you to phone home from abroad. Some provide toll-free access numbers that connect with an operator in the U.S. Some provide the means to charge long distance calls to a credit card or to a third party. Some provide better long distance rates. Others provide access to emergency, medical, legal, translation, and entertainment information. Students are encouraged to investigate these options before departure and to shop for the best services and rates.

Global Cell Phones

Most cell phone companies can sell you a special global cell phone with the option to add more minutes as needed. Also, most cell phone companies can unlock your cell phone for global use, but this requires a trip to a provider at your destination who will give you a SIM card and sell you minutes. Check with your cell phone provider for more information. Global cell phones are also available through travel agencies and online. Be sure to check the policies for both incoming and outgoing calls and text messages.

Cell Phone Rental

Some students choose to rent a cell phone that works at their destination. Some companies will ship the phone directly to the student in advance of the program dates—and include a packet for sending the phone back when they return. Interested students can locate service providers via the Internet.

Phone Cards

Many travel agencies and specific phone providers carry great options for phone cards. Check the rates available from your long distance provider. You can often buy phone cards on site.


Skype is a computer program that you can download for free that allows you to talk (for free) on the phone over the Internet with anyone else who has Skype. Go to to download the program. For an extra fee (as low as .02 cents/minute) you can enable your Skype to call land lines instead of just other computers. You will need a microphone and headset so that you can talk to the person on the other line. Skype also includes a chat option for instant messaging.

Instant Messaging Systems

Instant messaging systems are also a great free way to communicate with people back in the states. There are numerous options for messaging systems from AOL Instant Messenger to Yahoo Messenger. Just about every messaging program can be downloaded for free online.

Internet Access

Computer and internet access varies by program. Information for your site will be listed in your Program Specific Guide.

Internet access is offered in all the countries we go to, but the reliability of it differs from program to program. Internet can be accessed through internet cafes. Some programs also offer access through the dorms or on-campus computer labs. Internet cafes are very reasonably priced and often times have various instant messaging programs installed and headphones available to chat with loved ones. Relying on internet cafes may reduce worry of bringing your own laptop with you. You can upload pictures at most internet cafes, but remember due to the speed of some connections, it may be a better idea just to bring multiple memory cards to avoid spending your whole day on the computer.

Cultural Learning

Living in a new culture can be exhilarating, rewarding, and stimulating. It can also be frustrating. It is one thing to tour a country, but it is quite another to live and function according to different norms. It is important to be open toward a new culture, to try to discard stereotypes, and to learn as much as possible about the culture before departure. If you educate yourself about the country you will be visiting, you will better understand and appreciate your new surroundings!

Even with preparation it is likely that you will experience "culture shock." Recent studies show that there are distinct stages of culture shock. Some of these stages include: awareness of the host culture and preparation, initial euphoria and excitement, irritability phase during acclimation, gradual adjustment, and adaptation to culture. Upon return to the United States, many students face "reverse culture shock."

There are some things you can do to minimize your cultural adjustment. Keep a sense of humor! Treat yourself to an occasional U.S. indulgence like a favorite food, or purchase a U.S. magazine or newspaper. Avoid other Americans who are overly negative or who complain a lot. Keep healthy. Above all, don't be afraid to try new activities!

Resources for Further Study

Ethical Considerations in Study Abroad