Study Abroad in Ecuador

Ecuador frog

Ecuador flag

Ecuador butterfly

Travel to Ecuador and explore and experience the ecology, biodiversity, and culture of the cloud forest, high elevation Paramo, and Amazon ecosystems of the equatorial Andes Mountains.  Significant time will be spent at a research reserve, Reserva Las Gralarias, located in the Parish of Mindo, just northwest of Quito.  While on site, hike through a lush and mountainous terrain and participate in tropical stream biomonitoring, rainforest revegetation projects, night-time hikes to find insects, reptiles and threatened amphibians including glass frogs.  The site is also a bird sanctuary where 15-plus species of hummingbird can easily be identified and observed at arms-length.  Several days are spent in and around Quito, the capital of Ecuador including a night in Otavallo—the location of one of the largest Andean open air markets—and two nights at a working ranch and hacienda located on the flanks of the dormant Antisana Volcano and within easy reach of the high elevation Paramo bioregion.  In addition we canoe and spend 5 nights in a lodge on the banks of the Napo River exploring world-renowned biodiversity, ecology, and south American native culture.  The Napo River is the largest river in Ecuadorian Amazonia and a significant tributary of the Amazon River.  In summary, we will explore and experience not only a unique ecoregion—specifically the cloud forests of Mindo along the Western front of the Andes mountain range, the high elevation Paramo, and the headwaters of the Amazon River—but also are introduced to South American and Incan culture and history, particularly as it pertains to tropical ecology, management and preservation.  The course includes background lectures and discussions at GVSU and both classroom and field experiences in Ecuador.

Ecuador waterfall

“When reflecting on the Study Abroad trip to Ecuador, I can think of a number of ways that I feel my life has been enriched and that I have grown personally by having this experience. First of all, going to a new country and being immersed in a new culture was real enlightening, in a way. There are many boundaries that separate people by race, sex, background, and nationality. Visiting people in their home country and seeing how they live helps break down these really unnecessary boundaries.”  Galbraith C 2016

"Before the trip, I was expecting to enjoy the nature aspect of the trip the most. And I did enjoy it! Everything was beautiful, and unique, and adaptive, and colorful, and just all around stunning. But honestly, even more beautiful to me there were the people. I didn’t expect myself to fall in love with the cultural side of things, but I did just that. I felt safe there. I felt safe and welcome. I felt as if almost everyone was willing and eager to introduce us to their beautiful country. I think it was the phenomenal respect that I witnessed everywhere I went that made me feel so safe. That was incredibly beautiful.”  Unsworth C 2014

Ecuador hike