At the beginning, I was going to stay only for one month at La Hesperia, but in the end I stayed for almost 4! I don't hesitate when I say that my experience there was one of the best of my life. I met amazing people from all over the world, made wonderful friends, and learned a lot about things that are very practical for life. Doing all this while we contributed to the conservation of a huge area of tropical cloud forest was really great. I want to thank everyone for making my stay at La Hesperia so enjoyable. I’ll be back for sure.
~ Diego Teje, Spain, volunteer from November 2013-March 2014
I visited and worked in La Hesperia for 6 weeks. I think that this place is perfect for all people who want to see the real life of Ecuador. It is an amazing experience to be part of this little community in the jungle. The work is sometimes hard and the weather conditions sometimes make it not easy, but the workers here are nice, helpful, and funny, and you can have a great time with the other volunteers. It is absolutely worth it to visit La Hesperia. I'm glad that I did it, and I'm thankful for the experiences I had there and for the people I met there.
~ Benjamin Gärtner, Germany, volunteer from October 2015-December 2015
When I first got here, I was scared, nervous, and not quite sure why I decided to take the risk of traveling by myself to Ecuador to work on a reserve for six weeks not knowing anyone or knowing if I will be happy here. I am so happy I overcame that fear and ended up at La Hesperia. I arrived one person, and I am now leaving that same person, except I have grown so much. My experience here has taught me so much about my ability as a worker and about my passion for a cause. Your passion for La Hesperia is inspiring; it has made me love this place and invest myself in it. Also, I cannot tell you enough what an absolute wonderful job you do for the volunteers. You work so hard to make our experience absolutely wonderful, and it does not go unnoticed. Your work and love for the reserve is what has made me fall in love with La Hesperia.
~ Zoë Lees, USA
No TV, no internet, no alcohol, and I haven’t missed any of them! I have had a wicked time and learned plenty, even my Spanish has improved. I love this place and will be sure to spread the word. I hope to return some day to give the football team a chance for revenge…
~ Steve Tweedle, England
It’s hard to believe that my time here is over. In the last four weeks La Hesperia has become my home-away-from-home where I have enjoyed many fond memories and laughs with the staff and other volunteers. Thank you for giving me the chance to contribute to a cause that I believe in. I hope my work here was helpful, and I wish you the best of luck in the future.
~ Matt Tibbs, USA
I stayed for five weeks and it was definitely the best time of my life. I do not want to go home. I love everything here. The nature is amazing. I try to get back here as soon as possible. I wish everybody here has the same fun here which I had!
~ Steffi, Germany
I’ve learned so much not just about the cloud forest but about the importance of volunteer work. The hikes were awesome, along with fond memories of camping and swimming in the waterfalls. The atmosphere was the greatest; there aren’t many places where everyone gets together for international cuisine and obstacle races.
~ Mark Wright, England
Soy la primera de Finlandia, pero seguramente no la última, si depende de mí. Yo voy a aconsejar para todos los que quieren hacer el trabajo voluntario que se vayan a hacerlo a Ecuador y más a La Hesperia.
In these three weeks I have done as much as I could to protect the nature here (reforestation, tree caring, harvesting, etc.) but I know it has been only the beginning. But I will continue the good work from Finland. It has been very nice to work with animals as well as I love them a lot. I also like to teach English to these wonderful kids in the school and to make all kinds of work together with the local workers.
~ Rina Juuri, Finland
I came to this place wanting to make a bit of change in the world, but after 8 weeks in La Hesperia, I’ve come to realize that the change always starts from inside. In the past 8 weeks, La Hesperia has given me every chance possible to be a better me and I’ve changed not just physically but I’ve challenged myself to the point where I thought it wasn’t possible.
~ Nurman Noor, USA
When I told other people that I would be volunteering at La Hesperia for three months, I got a lot of different reactions. Of course there were those who thought the whole idea of taking time off from work and volunteering was just a really cool idea. But then there were some people who wondered why I’d want to do this kind of work and get paid. Others asked why I didn’t want to shorten my volunteer stay and focus more on traveling during my time in Ecuador. Now that my work at La Hesperia has come to an end, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Volunteering for a cause that I really believe in and learning about what it means to “work in conservation” has been rewarding beyond expectation. Also, working at the station for three months has enabled me to have a very different experience than I would have had if I had only stayed for a few weeks. In addition to developing a friendship with Juan Pablo and Alexandra and learning about their vision for the station, I came to feel like La Hesperia was home. After settling in during the first few weeks, I took on special projects like coordinating volunteer activities and helping Alexandra with research that will eventually help the community. I became invested in the work of the reserve and got far more out of the experience than I gave. But this took time, and I don’t think I would have felt the same if I had only been here for two or three weeks.
I left La Hesperia with a better understanding of conservation, Ecuadorian culture, and ideas for staying involved in the station’s efforts to protect our natural resources. I hope to return one day to see the continuation of the work we have begun.
~ Michael Warner, USA