How To Choose The Best Volunteering Destination: Tena vs Riobamba

When you volunteer abroad with MEDLIFE in Ecuador, you have the option between visiting Tena and Riobamba. If you are unfamiliar with Ecuador as a whole and are having trouble deciding which city you should choose, here are some things to consider first.

1. Location and Surroundings:

Tena is located in the Amazon rainforest region of Ecuador, offering unique opportunities for volunteering in environmental conservation and wildlife projects. It provides access to lush rainforests, rivers, and diverse ecosystems. Riobamba, on the other hand, is located in the central highlands of Ecuador and is surrounded by picturesque mountains and volcanoes. Consider whether you prefer the tropical rainforest setting or the mountainous landscapes.

2. Culture and Lifestyle:

Tena and Riobamba have distinct cultural characteristics. Tena is known for its indigenous communities and a vibrant Afro-Ecuadorian presence. It offers opportunities to learn about indigenous traditions, arts, and cuisines. Riobamba, on the other hand, has a strong indigenous heritage and colonial influences, with a mix of modern amenities. Consider the cultural experiences you are looking for and which one resonates more with you.

3. Accessibility:

Consider the accessibility of both destinations. Tena is located in the Amazon region and may require more effort to reach, with options including flights to nearby airports and then ground transportation. Riobamba, being in the central highlands, is more easily accessible by road or train from major cities like Quito or Guayaquil.

4. Language Considerations:

If you have a preference for learning or practicing Spanish, both Tena and Riobamba offer opportunities to immerse yourself in the language. Tena may have a higher presence of indigenous languages due to its proximity to indigenous communities.

5. Budget:

Consider your budget for traveling with MEDLIFE. Accommodation, food, and travel fees can vary between Tena and Riobamba. Tena, being more remote and focused on ecotourism, may have a range of budget-friendly options. Riobamba, as a larger city, may have a slightly higher cost of living.

6. Personal Preferences:

Think about your personal preferences and what you hope to gain from your SLT experience. Do you prefer a more remote and nature-oriented environment, or do you prefer a city with access to amenities and cultural activities? Consider your comfort level in different environments and the type of experience you are seeking.

It is important to note that while you are on your Service Learning Trip, a majority of your time will be spent in the field in our partner communities. The time you will be spending in the city is when you are off-duty and on your own personal time.

Ultimately, the choice between Tena and Riobamba as a volunteering destination depends on your individual priorities and preferences. It may be helpful to read reviews from past volunteers as well as reach out to the MEDLIFE team to book an appointment and discuss your choice with them. You can also research the Service Learning Trip experience in Tena and Riobamba on our website.


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

Testimonial Quote

Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

Testimonial Quote

Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

Testimonial Quote

Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

Testimonial Quote

David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

Testimonial Quote

Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

Testimonial Quote

Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

Testimonial Quote

Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

Testimonial Quote

Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

Testimonial Quote

Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

Testimonial Quote

Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

Testimonial Quote

Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

Testimonial Quote

Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.