Adult Expeditions

Adult Leadership Expedition — Ecuador, Galapagos Islands

Ages 18+  |  14 days
Explore one of the most unique places in the world on a 14-day Galapagos Islands expedition.
Three Galapagos penguins.

Adventure First

International programming with the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) provides unparalleled adventure. Our 14-day Galapagos Islands expedition is developed to give you the skills you need to work professionally as an outdoor educator with international experience. And, it’s absolutely spectacular.

Our classroom on this adventure will stretch from the foothills of the Andes Mountains of Ecuador to unique Galapagos Islands archipelago.

Within this landscape, you’ll develop solid outdoor skills and explore issues in environmental sustainability, while integrating a sense of community and adventure.

Working with our local contacts at Palugo Farm in Quito, Ecuador, we’ll explore some of the most intricate techniques to sustainable farming, from gardening and cooking, to cleaning and animal work.

Through our multi-day Galapagos Islands trip, we will discover the dense ecology and rich biodiversity that the area encompasses, while also culturally immersing ourselves in the traditions of the local indigenous community. NCOAE’s 14-day Galapagos Islands course is exceptional with its unique combination of adventure and skill development, including: outdoor leadership, map and compass navigation, plant and animal identification, snorkeling, backpacking, and more. You’ll develop technical skills with backcountry cooking, wilderness camping, and international travel. And, you’ll develop the additional skills and understanding of environmental and civic responsibility, leadership and communications styles, as well as decision-making and teamwork.


  • Leave No Trace (LNT) training
  • Expedition planning
  • Backcountry navigation
  • Teaching-level knowledge of the NCOAE core curriculum
  • Navigating international logistics and Spanish-language variables

Course Details

14 days
Credit Hours
Mariscal Sucre Quito International Airport (IUO)
Alternative drop off/pick up locations
Please contact the NCOAE office.
Register for Course
Skills Acquired
  • Develop backcountry skills
  • Advance your knowledge of environmental sustainability & outdoor education — while learning in
  • Ecuador’s wild, beautiful places
  • Discover which areas of outdoor and environmental education are best suited to your strengths
  • Acquire the skills needed to travel in pristine destinations around the world!
Academic Credits

Your work during the 14-day Ecuador – Galapagos Islands course may eligible for up to three college-level credits through The University of North Carolina – Wilmington.

If you are interested in earning additional academic credit for a course, learn more about our 25-Day Expeditions and Gap Semester courses which may be eligible for up to six college-level credits.

Beach landscapes of the Galapagos Islands.


  • Gain new leadership and expedition skills
  • Explore the underwater world of the Galapagos
  • Observe the sea lions play, Blue-footed Booby fly and the giant tortoise move across the land
  • Make new friends and lasting memories
  • Immerse yourself with indigenous tribal communities
  • Eat amazing Ecuadorian backcountry meals
  • Earn college credit

On the Map

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Galapagos National Park
  • San Cristobal, Floreana, and Santa Cruz Islands

Talk to Us

Have any further questions about the course location, what you'll learn, or what else to expect? Contact us, we're here to help!



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Course dates are currently unavailable. Please reach out with any questions!


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 14-day Galapagos Islands course?

The Galapagos Islands course is a 14-day program takes you to the Southern Hemisphere where you’ll learn the skills you need to plan and prepare for backcountry, outdoor adventures. You will develop a wide-range of wilderness and leadership skills, including backpacking, backcountry cooking, wilderness camping, international travel planning, service projects, cultural immersion, environmental and civic responsibility, leadership and communication styles, decision-making, and teamwork.

Where in Ecuador will our course visit?

Your group will board a plane bound for Quito, Ecuador where you will be introduced to our local contacts. Soon after your arrival, you will explore some of the most beautiful islands in the world. Ecuador is a land of extremes, and you’ll see it all.

Your course may include exploring the countryside and sustainable farming in Quito, Ecuador, hiking through the Galapagos National Park, snorkeling with tropical fish, watching the tame blue-footed boobies flying around, and performing service projects in local communities.

The landscape and wildlife will provide a dramatic canvas for your learning experience.

Do I need to have any previous experience in outdoor adventure activities?

No. Previous experience is not required. NCOAE will teach you all the basics you need to know to thrive in the outdoors, and then let you apply them among your group of peers.

How far will we hike in the Galapagos Islands?

While there are no predetermined distances, you may travel several miles one day and none the next. You will learn to embrace and appreciate the unknown and unexpected.

What activities will I engage in?

You will engage in a wide range of experiential learning activities, including international trip planning, campcraft, backcountry cooking, and wilderness risk management, with specific time included for communing with nature, journaling, engaging in rich cultural exchange, and reflecting in solitude.

What do I need to do to prepare physically for the course?

Physical preparation depends on your fitness level. You don’t need to be a triathlete to participate, but you will be responsible for carrying your own equipment and some of the group gear while maintaining a positive attitude. The backpacking section will require you to carry 40 pounds or more over rough and rugged terrain, through various environments.

Do I need to buy any special equipment or clothes for the course?

Yes. NCOAE provides all necessary group gear and food, but you will want, or be required, to bring certain items for yourself. We encourage you to contact NCOAE with all of your gear questions as early as possible. Start planning now by viewing the NCOAE pack list for this course.

How many people will be in my group?

Each group has one to three instructors and eight to 15 students. We maintain an instructor-to-student ratio of no less than one instructor for every six students.

Beyond my tuition, what will I need to pay for in Ecuador?

Your tuition covers all major costs related to your room, board, and lodging, except when specified in the itinerary. You may request an optional meal out when we are in an urban area, which you would need to pay for separately. Additionally, you’ll need to budget a small stipend for your personal items, including souvenirs, extra snacks, and gifts.

How do I book my flight?

All travel during the course is included. Upon enrolling in an NCOAE international program, you are responsible for securing your flight to and from Quito, Ecuador (Airport Code: UIO). You can do so by either, calling our trusted travel agent partner, Fly My Group, or another outside source if you choose to do so. All flights must arrive on day one (1) of your course between hours of 11:00am and 3:00pm at UIO airport where you will connect with an NCOAE staff member and the rest of your group.

Fly My Group:
Phone: (866) 374-5043

What is the average age of participants?

The average age is about 21 years, with a range between 18 and 60. The minimum age to enroll in the course is 18.

Will we have any free time to ourselves?

Part of every NCOAE course is the solo experience. You will have the opportunity to spend some time alone in the backcountry to meet your personal needs and desired outcomes.

Is financial aid available? Can I earn college credits? How do I apply?

At this time, we do not offer financial aid. However, if you are a college student you may be able to use your existing federal financial aid to help pay for your course, and you may receive college credits through a consortium agreement with NCOAE. If you are attending a college or university as part of a degree granting program, your advisor can determine whether your school will accept and transfer academic credits for participating in NCOAE courses from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. If it does, consult your financial aid office to determine if, how, and which funds may be used toward your NCOAE course costs. For more information on the consortium agreement process, contact

Are adult leadership expeditions offered in other locations or on different dates?

We offer Adult Leadership Expeditions in a variety of locations and during different periods throughout the year to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can also explore Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, North Carolina , Patagonia, and Ecuador at various times of the year.

Request More Info


An instructor showing a student a map.

Participating in an NCOAE course has been one of the greatest experiences of my life!
It helped me to grow emotionally and taught me skills that I am able to transfer into my everyday life. I am truly grateful and lucky to have been a part of this program

Aaron Marshall, NC Teen Adventure Graduate