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Overview

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Made famous as the destination that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, the Galapagos Islands are home to unique plant and animal life. This UNESCO protected archipelago of 19 islands is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, approximately 500 miles (over 800km) off the Ecuadorian coast. Their extreme isolation allowed for native flora and fauna to evolve completely separately from the rest of South America. With continuing seismic activity, the story of the Galapagos is not over – the islands are still physically changing, as are their plant and animal residents. This trip will give you the opportunity to learn about the unique environment through experiencing it firsthand. Expert guides will take you to the top visitor sites for spotting wildlife, including the famous giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, land and marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins, and much more. An educational adventure with MEDLIFE is the perfect way to discover the majestic beauty of the Galapagos Islands!

Highlights of the Trip

  • Delve into human and natural history at the Galapagos Interpretation Center
  • Get acquainted with incredible marine life on a snorkeling excursion to San Cristobal
  • Learn about the region’s unique flora and fauna at the Charles Darwin Research Center
  • Witness giant tortoises in their natural habitat
  • Enjoy scenic hikes accompanied by a naturalist guide

Key Pillars

Service: Your trip directly contributes to our work supporting low-income families. You’ll also expand your understanding of our work through educational discussions.

Environment: Stay in eco-friendly accommodation as you learn about conservation and evolutionary biology at an iconic site in the history of science.

Education: Your certified naturalist guides will share their knowledge of the geological, biological, and human influences that have shaped the islands.

Life-changing experiences: The beauty and diversity of these fascinating islands will leave you awe-struck and inspire you to protect the natural world.

Itinerary In Brief

Day 1: Saturday

Arrive anytime in Quito, Ecuador’s lofty capital. Known for its well-preserved historic center, this picturesque city sits at 9,350 ft. (2,850 m) above sea level, crammed between two imposing mountain ranges. In the evening, the group will meet for a briefing to review our itinerary and prepare for the adventure ahead. 

Overnight in Quito

 


 

Day 2: Sunday

Today you will begin your adventure to the Galapagos Islands. You will fly from Quito to San Cristobal, where you will meet your naturalist guide before heading to the Galapagos Interpretation Center. Here, you will have the chance to learn about the history of the islands. The Natural History Room introduces scientific phenomena such as the volcanic origin of the islands, the evolution of different species, and the unique climate of the region. The Human History Room chronicles the discovery and colonization of the Galapagos. Later in the day, the group will go for a hike to experience scenic views of the islands before enjoying a swim at Playa Mann.

Overnight in Hotel Blue Marlin or Similar

 


 

Day 3: Monday

Deepen your knowledge of the ecology and biodiversity beneath the surface with a snorkel excursion to Islas Lobos or Kicker Rock. Islas Lobos is a flat, sandy island named after the sea lions who call this place home! Kicker Rock is a striking formation that juts out of the water on the western shore of San Cristobal. Here, you can find Galapagos Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, and Sea Turtles! After a busy morning learning about marine life, spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach and soaking up the sun. 

Overnight in Hotel Blue Marlin or Similar

 


 

Day 4: Tuesday

Take a morning speedboat (Approx 2 hours) to the island of Santa Cruz. After lunch, you’ll have the chance to learn about the diverse plant species from the experts at Charles Darwin Research Station. The station conducts research and conservation efforts for the islands – important work that keeps this unique ecosystem as pristine as possible. Then head over to Tortuga Bay, the beautiful white and powdery beach where you can swim and enjoy the sun. But watch your step, many lava lizards also like to lounge on the beach! 

Overnight in Hotel Villa Laguna or Similar

 


 

Day 5: Wednesday

The adventure continues with a full day guided excursion to a nearby island. This experiential learning opportunity will allow you to expand your understanding of the biological and geological forces that have shaped the Galapagos islands today. With a focus on environmentalism and conservation, your naturalist guide will lead educational group discussions and activities during the excursion. You will enjoy lunch on the island and have an opportunity to put on your snorkelling gear and get up close and personal with marine life! 

Overnight in Hotel Villa Laguna or Similar 

 


 

Day 6: Thursday

Rise and shine bright and early for a day trip to the highlands of Santa Cruz. The journey will begin with a visit to a canal with the opportunity to participate in adventure activities like kayaking, snorkeling, and paddle boarding. The group will head to a ranch where Giant Tortoises roam in their natural habitat. You’ll learn about the challenges faced by this incredible species, which can live for more than 170 years! After lunch at the ranch, the group will visit Cerro Mesa for a breathtaking view over the islands. In the evening, we will return to the islands for our final evening together.

Overnight in Hotel Villa Laguna or Similar

 


 

Day 7: Friday

Your Galapagos adventure has come to an end! Travel to Baltra Island this morning for your flight back to Quito. You can book your flight departing Quito anytime after 8pm. Alternatively, you can stay overnight in Quito and depart the following day. 

Overnight in Quito

 


 

Day 8: Saturday

For travelers who’ve stayed overnight in Quito, you can enjoy a tasty breakfast at the hotel before departing at any time. 

Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Valerie Lindeborg
Parent

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.

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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.