Volunteer Program

Join us in El Paraíso,

located in the Runahurco reserve, a part of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest.
Follow the link below to sign-up.

Volunteer in Ecuador

Four times a year we bring a group of volunteers out to experience the Amazon rainforest, and to be part of the communities that live there. We volunteer for Bosque Medicinal, our sister-NGO based in Ecuador, to help fulfill their mission of direct conservation, scientific investigation, and community education. Join us and revitalize yourself while caring for one of the most precious ecosystems on the planet.

The work

The exact nature of the work changes with each trip. It depends on what projects are available at the time, based on the needs of the land, the availability of our partners, and the weather. Regardless of the specific project, all the work helps increase our ability to fulfil the mission of Bosque Medicinal, improving conservation, scientific investigation, and local education. Generally speaking, we will be working adjacent or in the Runahurco protected natural reserve.


Examples include:

  • Preparing deforested land for reforestation
  • Transporting and planting saplings
  • Clearing & marking trails
  • Placing border markers
  • Placing & monitoring camera traps
  • Tending to the Bosque Medicinal nursery & garden
  • Maintaining & improving the Bosque Medicinal base-camp and the Avian observatory
  • Daily chores, including cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, bringing laundry to town, buying supplies etc…

The adventures

It’s not all work, we schedule in some fun trips as well (although much of the work will also be quite exciting)! Like the work, the specifics on the fun trips vary somewhat each trip based on interests and availability. That said, we hope to enjoy many of the following experiences with you:


  • Daily yoga and meditation*
  • Visit sacred waterfalls
  • Hike in the rainforest, learning about the life it supports
  • Visit Indigenous communities, and hear of the legends and magic the rainforests still hide
  • Explore local caves and discover hidden underground scenic spaces
  • Learn about traditional medicinal plants and healing practices
  • Visit local eco-entrepreneurs working with wayusa, cacao, coffee, rafting, crafts, etc…
  • And more!


We encourage you to plan for a week (or more) following the volunteer trip to explore the rest of Ecuador. It is an enchanted land with a large variety of amazing experiences to partake in. We can help you plan and often our volunteers group together prior or after the official trip to continue adventuring through Ecuador. You can visit natural hot-baths, ancient ruins, high-altitude plateaus, dry-forests, the Galapagos islands, and in the late summer even see whales!


* Provided one of the hosts is able to offer this. Many of our hosts are yoga and meditation instructors, but not all of them are.

The food

While on the volunteer trip, we encourage our volunteers to perhaps challenge their normal approach to life. This extends to the food we eat.

While living at the Bosque Medicinal refugio we will be cooking for ourselves, and eating a plant-based diet, with vegetarian options on the side.

When eating out, which we will do when traveling to town, we encourage our volunteers to stick to a plant-based or vegetarian diet, although this is up to each individual. Ecuadorian restaurants will often have plant-based, and vegetarian options, although it is almost always the same side dishes: rice & beans (menestra).


We encourage everyone to bring their own vitamin supplements and energy bars. Especially Vitamin B12.

What to bring

If there is one piece of advice to share with incoming visitors and volunteers, it would be to have an open mind and a sense of adventure. The second piece of advice would be to pack light.

Below is a short list of recommended items to bring with you. Nothing is mandatory, although everyone is responsible for themselves. Many items can also be found in town, mosquito nets being a notable exception (although they also aren’t needed at all). We also cannot buy eco-friendly (DEET-free) mosquito repellent in town, so please bring your own.

The temperatures will generally be warm and pleasant during the day, and cold at night (we’re at 1400m in altitude, so yes, it gets cold in the jungle). Ecuador has many micro-climates, with a 2 hour bus ride possibly resulting in a 10-15 degree change in temperature, so if you are planning on touring around Ecuador come prepared for everything.

The rainforest is also quite wet, so consider water-proof bags for items that must stay dry. Those used in rafting are perfect.


Recommended items to bring:

  • Sleeping bag rated for 0C or below
  • Headlamp / flashlight
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Earplugs
  • A towel
  • Power-outlet adapter (American electricity sockets are different than European ones)
  • Eco-friendly toiletries & soap
  • Mosquito & bug repellent (must be DEET-free, so please use a natural alternative)
  • Medication you use or may need (anti-histamines, bug-bite itch control, anti-diarrhea, etc…)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Powerbanks to charge devices can come in handy during long bus rides
  • Water-proof bags
  • A day-bag / backpack (something small to carry essentials while hiking)


Clothing to bring:

*Ideally hiking clothing should be natural colored (black, brown, grey, green, tan, white, etc…)*

  • Light-weight hiking pants
  • Light-weight long sleeved and short sleeved shirts
  • Thermal shirts (long underwear tops)
  • Warm clothing! (hoodies, ponchos, jacket, something you can layer with) for the evenings. It gets chilly at night (or during heavy storms), dropping as low as 5C occasionally, and often below 12C
  • Swim-clothes
  • A hat or bandanna
  • Many hiking socks
  • Comfortable shoes or sandals
  • Rubber boots (Wellington’s) – if you want your own, we have many at the base-camp to use, and can purchase more in town
  • Heavy-duty rain-poncho (this can also be purchased in town; most light-weight European ones tend to rip after one day’s hike in the rainforest)

Getting there

The volunteer trip begins in Gualaquiza, a town near the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Bosque Medicinal base-camp/refugio. This is a long bus-ride away from the nearest international airports, so please plan accordingly. We will do our best to help you with your travel plans.


*You are responsible for booking your own flights, the cost of the flights are NOT included in the fees we request for the volunteer program

We recommend flying in to Guayaquil, as the airport often has more convenient connections, and is cheaper than flying in to Cuenca, which is technically closer. Quito is much further north, and we do not recommend flying in to Quito.


Once you land, take a taxi to the bus terminal, and then get a bus to Gualaquiza. We will meet in Gualaquiza, either at the terminal or at the “El Paraíso” Hostel. The Hostel is a block away from the bus terminal.

With all travel, we are happy to help out, but please get in touch earlier rather than last minute!

Health & Security

Ecuador is relatively safe, by the standards of any impoverished country. The areas we visit, in particular, are quite safe. That said, basic common-sense and safety precautions should be maintained. We also do not recommend spending time in Guayaquil city or walking around there alone.

Health concerns:

We will be spending most of our time in and near the Runahurco rainforest. As it is relatively remote from a large human population, there are few health or disease concerns. However, as a wild part of nature, we do have to be aware of (not afraid of, just aware) the local wildlife.

  • Small animals are often inquisitive and enjoy hiding, so we recommend always checking your equipment before using it, to avoid a surprise encounter with a tarantula or snake

  • In the region we work, yellow fever is not a concern, however in some parts of Ecuador it is (Consult your preferred health authority as to whether you would like to vaccinate or not)

  •  Please bring any basic medication, antibiotics, and eye-drops that you feel you might need
  • If you are allergic to any insect or animal bites, please bring your own allergy medicine and epi-pens!

Covid requirements:

General travel requirements may change, so please check yourself for up-to-date requirements

  • A negative Covid-test is required at the time of writing this
  • In the big cities, people wear masks in public
  • Masks are required on busses
  • In the town nearest to the Bosque Medicinal base-camp not many people do
  • In the base-camp, it will only be our volunteer group, and we do not require masks


*If you have severe reactions (for example, risk of anaphylactic shock) we sadly cannot recommend that you join us, as medical attention and hospitals are over an hour away from our base, and several hours away from the deeper parts of the rainforest.*


Security Concerns:

  • The cities harbor more crime, although the areas we will be visiting (Cuenca, Gualaquiza, the rainforest) have considerably less than elsewhere in the country
  • Always keep an eye on your belongings, as we would recommend anywhere
  • Keep your handbag/backpack in your lap on bus rides (do not store it above you)
  • Theft of opportunity is common (pickpockets, taking bags if you are not paying attention, etc…)
  • Crime has been on the rise over the past couple of years due to the regional systemic collapse of some Latin American and Central American countries, leading to a lot of migration in to Ecuador

How much will it cost?

We have designed these trips to be as inexpensive as possible: We want to give as many volunteers as sustainably possible the opportunity to help care for the rainforest, and to create their own personal relationship with this pristine nature.

So how much is it?

$800 USD

This includes:

Full room & board for the entire trip!

  •     Food
  •     Lodging
  •     Transport around Ecuador during the trip
  •     Excursion costs (visiting a Shuar community, or travelling to the caves, etc…) 


This does NOT include:

  • Your flights or transportation to Ecuador
  • Transport between the airport you land at and Gualaquiza
  • Travel insurance

A warning about the rainforest

The rainforest is a brilliant teacher. She teaches us to be in the moment, to pay attention, and to be conscious. She does so gently at first, but if unheeded you will be given many sharp reminders. 

The rainforest has several dangerous aspects, from the the ground suddenly giving way (you will discover the “ground” is more like walking on a deep compost pile of leaves at times), to being visited by poisonous animals and insects. Some trees have needles the length of your fingers, and some poisonous snakes are as thin as a pencil (and easy to miss).

In other words, pay attention! Nothing distinctly wants to hurt you, but everything there wants to survive, so do not to touch anything, as many creatures interpret this as an attack.

If you insist on going into the rainforest without a guide, please let us know before you head out, so that we can send your stuff to your family, along with our condolences.

One more thing
- this is more than a vacation!

Interested yet? I hope so, this is a magnificent opportunity to experience the rainforest at a deep level. Especially as you will be working with it, in it, and for it. In short – beware! This is no vacation! It is much much more, and work is expected. We offer you the chance to serve our planet with us, sweating together for her benefit. We count on everyone to participate willingly in all tasks, including manual labor, according to their own ability.

We trust everyone to respect nature the entire time during our trip. This means we clean up litter, rather than leave it. We do not take “trophy” style photos with any wildlife we happen to come across, and that we leave nature in as-good or better state than when we encountered it.
We will be interacting with the local community, and it is critical that we make them feel equally welcome and comfortable. They are typically a humble group, so please, be humble as well.

Forest.ink believes in inspiration, which means living the values we want to see prosper in our world. While with us, you will be representing Forest.ink and Bosque Medicinal. We hope you can live and share in values of respect, love, and care while with us


We hope you will join us in caring for this precious rainforest while we learn to care for ourselves!

Forest.ink believes in inspiration, which means living the values we want to see prosper in our world.