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Marine Turtle Conservation, Puerto Lopez

The project is committed to species conservation of sea turtles on the Ecuadorian coast. Volunteering in the field of animal, species and environmental protection, and environmental education is possible here.

Project Details

Sea turtles spend most of their life in the sea. However, to lay their eggs they leave the oceans. Their nests are very susceptible to damage caused primarily by humans. Coast cultivations, vehicles on the beach, fire, light and waste represent threats. This is why it is important to protect nesting sites and at the same time to collect data, to learn more about the marine life. So far there is little information on the number and frequency of sea turtle nests on the Ecuadorian coast. One research result shows, however, that the Machalilla National Park (Parque Nacional Machalilla) is arguably the most important part of the coast of Ecuador for oviposition for the endangered species of sea turtles (green turtles, leatherback turtles, hawksbill turtles and Olive Ridley sea turtles).

Throughout the breeding season (November to April), the project staff and volunteers patrol the beaches of the National Park, mark and count the nests and eggs, note their position and determine the hatch date. Based on the data, conclusions about the population dynamics and reproductive success can be made.
On the coasts of the Machalilla National Parks, sea turtles are also frequently observed in the water. To collect data, the Ministry of Environment allows to capture turtles during snorkeling sessions, to measure and to highlight them and then release them back into the sea. The information is used to analyze their habitats and their occurrence. The study of labeled sea turtles also provides information on growth and development and to determine whether the sea turtles live on the coast or are just passing through.
Part of the project is to raise awareness about marine turtle conservation among the inhabitants of the coastal areas. For this, weekly get-togethers for children are organized, where they learn about topics like Marine animals, environmental protection, waste and the consequences of pollution in a fun manner. Tours and activities also take place, where the sea turtles are observed between the anchored fishing boats near the beach or the beach is cleaned. 
The 10-member organization in Quito was founded in 2004 and manages projects for marine turtle conservation in the coastal town of Puerto Lopez, where the Machalilla National Parks is located, and in Mompiche on the northern coast of Ecuador. Volunteers mainly work in the projects in Puerto Lopez but also learn about the projects in Mompiche.
Possible activities for volunteers at a glance:
  • Beach patrols during the day and/or night
  • Surveying and marking of the sea turtles that come ashore
  • Counting the eggs, marking the nests and calculation of hatch date
  • Documentation and evaluation of data
  • Snorkeling courses for the marking and measuring of sea turtles for data recovery
  • Environmental education for children (support the organization in the planning and implementation of excursions, activities and creative learning tasks on the subject of environment, nature and animal welfare)
  • Support for the data collection on other projects; e.g. about Shark meat sale at the local fish market in Puerto Lopez
Info Box
Location: Puerto Lopez/Machalilla National Park and Mompiche, Ecuador
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: 1 Week
Maximum Duration: 6 Months
Language Requirements: Basic Spanish
Bed in volunteer house
Supervision Possible: No
Qualification Of Supervisor: -
Minimum Qualification Of Intern: -
Further Contribution To Project: -
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: None
Further Contribution To Project: None
Do you have the "right" attitude?



Accommodation in Puerto Lopez

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Most popular! - This is the preference of most of our participants. You share an apartment with other participants.

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Adventurer - For the simplest and cheapest deals: Dormitory Accommodation


Cabanas on stilts
For the football project in Puerto Lopez, we offer two bamboo cabanas built on stilts as accommodation amongst other options. You are about 1 block (2 minutes walk) from the main road that runs through the coastal town of Puerto Lopez. To the beach promenade, it is about 3 blocks (about 5 minutes). In the same compound, is the home of Fredy and his wife Raquel - the couple who established the football project - as well as a classroom, where Freddy teaches Spanish and can also be used by volunteers, for instance, to teach English. A total of six people can be accommodated in the cabins. The rooms are set up for double occupancy, but can also be used as a single room, if availability permits. The beds have mosquito nets. Three meals a day are offered, as well as WiFi and laundry once a week. Photos are available in the project description.


Project House of the Sea Turtles Organization
The accommodation is part of the organization offering the sea turtle conservation project in Puerto Lopez. The participants live in the house of the project organization in Puerto Lopez, which is located about 100 meters from the beach promenade. The project house is also the Puerto Lopez - Office of the Organization. Its headquarters are in Eucadors capital, Quito. There are two rooms with bunk beds, bathroom and kitchen. There is also a large lounge, which is simultaneously used as a workshop and a terrace. Photos are available in the project description.



Rates for Volunteering

Convert to USD, GBP, CAD, AUD and other currencies
1 Week - 460 EUR
Any additional week 190 EUR
Please notice: All volunteering options in Ecuador start on a Saturday in Quito and then you travel to your project by bus on Sunday.

The Rates for Volunteering include:

  • Accommodation, in some cases including meals - see project description
  • Pick-up and Transfer in Quito on arrival and transfer to the bus for your project the following day
  • Access to the World Unite! Online Resource Centre which has Preparation Materials including Intercultural Preparation, compiled particularly for your destination (PDFs, Videos)
  • Preparation Session via Skype, together with further participants
  • Individual Consultation and Preparation prior to your arrival
  • Donation to your project
  • Emergency telephone contact
  • In Quito Salsa Lesson and Cocktail once per week

The Rates DON'T include:

  • Meals (when volunteering on farms some agricultural produce is provided at no additional cost)
  • Travel to and from Ecuador (you book it on your own)
  • Migration Card
  • Insurance (Travel Health Insurance, Liability Insurance, Travel Cancellation insurance; you book it on your own, we can assist you)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Vaccinations
  • Local Transport (Estimated amounts see below)
  • Arrival outside of regular office hours and public holidays + 25 USD
  • Major change after initial booking + 30 EUR

Overview of other costs:

  • Migration Card 10 USD
  • If meals are not included: around 100-200 EUR (120 USD)/Month (Estimate)
  • Small local expenses (Internet, Local transport): around 20-40 EUR (30-50 USD)/Month (Estimate)
  • Insurance 20-40 EUR(30-50 USD)/Month


How do I pay?

Once all your questions have been answered and you confirm that you want to participate, we will email you an invoice. You can pay it via bank transfer or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR when the invoice is issued. One months prior to your arrival you will pay the remainder for your Service Package.
The payment modalities for rent and possible further costs (e.g. internship supervision fees, as stated in info box of the respective project description) depend on your host country and placement. We will inform you beforehand. In many cases these costs are paid on site, but for some countries and placements they need to be paid partially or fully in advance.



Other Projects That Might Interest You:

These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings. Please contact us to know more! Check out our other listings in the areas of "World Learner" and "Active Travel" at your travel destination to make your stay even more interesting.

Learning Spanish in Ecuador!

You can take Spanish lessons in Quito, Ecuador, before your project. There are 20 hours of lessons per week.
Group Lessons and Accommodation in a Student House:
EUR Quito
1 Week 230
2 Weeks 440
3 Weeks 640
4 Weeks 840

Individual Lessons and Accommodation in a Student House:
EUR Quito
1 Week 280
2 Weeks 520
3 Weeks 740
4 Weeks 970
Please check "Language Training Required" in the form, with your desired duration (minimum 20 hours for one week).

Travel Health Insurance

We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, working holiday, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a journey liability insurance.
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get a confirmation email.

Puerto Lopez


Puerto Lopez

Puerto Lopez is about 4.5 hours by bus from Ecuador's largest city Guayaquill, located on the southwest coast of the country. This coastal town with about 14,000 inhabitants, is a little long in the tooth, but that is what gives it a certain charm. In the immediate vicinity is the National Park Machallila (Parque Nacional Machalilla). The National Park covers 40,000 hectares of beach, coastline, tropical dry and cloud forest and 20,000 hectares of marine area including various islands. A significant feature is the Galapagos Islands like Isla de la Plata (Silver Island). The island is a nesting site for a variety of seabirds such as blue footed booby (the intensity of the blue on their feet provides information about their age), frigatebird, pelicans and several species of gulls. On the one-hour boat ride to the island, one often can watch dolphins, and during the period between mid-June and early October (especially in July and August), humpback whales visit the waters to mate. Sea turtles wander around the Isla de la Plata and also on the mainland coast. Puerto Lopez even has a sandy beach and it is possible to swim in the sea and to enjoy sunsets. The beach village of Montañita, south of Puerto Lopez (about 1000 inhabitants), is considered Ecuador's surfing mecca, attracting numerous visitors. Similarly, one can enjoy the sun and sea at Los Frailes beach in Machalilla National Park (travel time about 30 minutes north of Puerto Lopez). 

Getting There


Getting To Ecuador

Quito (UIO) has an international airport. When flying from Europe, you will have take at least two connecting flights on the way to Ecuador. If your transit airport is in the US, you will have to carry out the ESTA registration prior to departure.
You can also fly to the international airport of Guayaquil (GYE) and fly from there, if necessary; take a domestic flight to Quito (between 40 and 60 USD / 31 to 48 EUR) or by bus (about 10 to 12 USD/ 8 to 10 EUR, 8-10 hours). The bus station is right next to the airport.
For projects in Puerto Quito and in the Amazon Rainforest (near Puyo), it is best to fly to Quito.
From Quito, you travel to Puerto Quito by bus. If you want to spend time in Quito, we can organise that for you.
For projects in the Amazon rainforest, you drive from Quito by bus to Puyo. The journey takes about 6 hours and the ticket costs 6-8 USD/ 4-5 EUR. In Puyo, you will be picked up from the bus by a responsible person and the onward journey by jeep is another one hour.
For projects in Puerto Lopez, we recommend you fly to Guayaquil. There are buses daily from Guayaquil to the coastal town of Puerto Lopez. The journey takes about 4 1/2 hours. The bus ticket costs about 4-6 USD/ 3-5 EUR. The bus station in Guayaquil is located in close proximity to the airport. There are also direct buses to Puerto Lopez from Quito, but they last more than 12 hours and cost 10-12 USD/ 8-10 EUR.



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