Arrive at any time. There are no planned activities, so check into our hotel and enjoy the city. Information will be left at the hotel regarding the arrangements for the next day as well as general information about the upcoming trip. If there is any confusion on arrival, please do not hesitate to call the contact number listed in this dossier. Located 2850m (9348 ft) above sea level, the Ecuadorian capital of Quito enjoys a wonderful spring-like climate, despite the fact that it is only 22 km (14 miles) south of the Equator. Nestled in a valley flanked by mountains, on a clear day several snow-capped volcanoes, including nearby Pichincha, are visible from the city centre. Add to its beautiful location a rich history and well-preserved colonial district, and you begin to understand Quito’s appeal to thousands of tourists every year. In 1978 UNESCO declared Quito a World Heritage site, and any new development in Quito's old town is now strictly controlled. Life in Quito tends to be peaceful, though the drivers are fond of using their car horns! There are approximately 2,000,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area, but the pace is relaxed and the residents hospitable. Since pre-Columbian times, the site of Quito has been inhabited by the Quitus, the Shyris and the Puruhas. The Inca reached this city before the Spaniards, but levelled it to the ground rather than give it up to the Spanish. The present capital was founded by the Spanish on December 6th, 1534. Quito is separated into two basic sections, the old and the new cities. The old city is full of historical buildings and churches. One of the more noteworthy is the Catedral de Quito, located on the Plaza de la Independencia. Built between 1550 and 1562, it was one of the first neoclassical works in Quito. La Compañía de Jésus Church is considered one of the most beautiful in the Americas. The decorations in the Compañía contain approximately one and one-half tons of gold, and construction of the church took 170 years (1605-1775). There are several excellent museums scattered throughout the city. The Casa de la Cultura Ecuadoriana has an interesting display of traditional musical instruments and Ecuadorian traditional dress, a large art collection, and a small natural history museum. For archaeology the best museum to visit is the Museo del Banco Central with its well displayed pottery, gold ornaments, skulls showing deformities and early surgical methods, a mummy and many other objects of interest. The small, rounded hill dominating the old town is El Panecillo or 'the Little Bread Loaf,' a major Quito landmark. From here there are marvellous panoramic views of the entire city and surrounding volcanoes. You can easily take a trolley (streetcar) or a cab between the Old Town and New Town. Quito’s large foreign population and steady stream of travellers have given it a varied and vibrant nightlife, and salsotecas and other dance clubs abound. For a real Ecuadorian experience though, be sure and drop by a peña if you can; these are great places for meeting locals and dancing, as well as enjoying local cooking. Just a couple of hours south of Quito is Parque National Cotopaxi, home to Cotopaxi Volcano (5897 m/19342 ft). the beautiful cone-shaped, snow covered volcano is Ecuador’s second highest peak and the highest active volcano in the world. This is a great spot for a days hiking (up to the refuge on the glacier’s edge) or mountain biking (downhill all the way). True enthusiasts attempt the climb to the summit (overnight excursion). Allow yourself an extra day or two in Quito, before or after your trip, if you want to conquer Cotopaxi.
Travel day by public bus to the Pacific Coast and the town of Puerto López. You will be met by a project representative and transferred to the project for a short orientation meeting to prepare for the week ahead. Free evening to relax.
Spend three weeks assisting the project with tasks associated with whale and ocean conservation. Spend time organizing and analyzing recent photos of the whales and their activities, recording their activities as well as going out in the boats to do hands-on field research with whale observation. Also assist in organizing and participating in environmental education workshops as well as helping with local recycling initiatives. Participate in Spanish classes and enjoy occasional excursions to spot birds or explore the surrounding area including the nearby Isla de la Plata (also known as the "Poor Man's Galapagos"). The tasks that volunteers can undertake depend on their Spanish ability, areas of interest and the time of year that they are available. Volunteer projects can include: •June to September – Field work on boats photographing and tracking whales. Specific experience studying or working in these areas is appreciated but not necessary, however a keen interest in the subject matter is important. •July to September – Environmental education programs in schools regarding waste management, the sea, and the environment in general. The Foundation has an agreement with the municipality to provide these education programs. Volunteers, with the assistance of the Foundation, plan and deliver classes to school students in the surrounding communities. •All year – Participate in a plastic and glass recycling program, create promotional and educational materials. Pacific Whale Foundation is an international organization working in the areas of marine research, education and conservation and in general working to address the issues that shape the future of our oceans and our planet. In Ecuador, the Foundation is based on the central Pacific coast in Puerto Lopez, where for three months of the year migrating whales pass close to the shore. The main activities of the Foundation include: •Marine research – including studies of humpback whales in Hawaii, Australia, Tonga, Alaska, Japan and Ecuador, along with pioneering studies of the wild dolphins and coral reefs of Maui County. •Education – the Foundation’s award-winning marine education programs grew out of a desire to share research discoveries with the public. These programs combine field trips and classroom/lab work, aiming to inspire greater interest in science and marine conservation. The Foundation also offers talks, slideshows, displays and educational guides for the public. •Conservation – tackling both small and large issues ranging from preventing litter on beaches to stopping commercial or so-called "scientific whaling" around the world.
Return to Quito by public bus.
Depart at any time.