Ecuador | Galapagos Islands

Explore one of the most unique places in the world on a 14-day Galapagos Islands expedition.

Questions? Call NCOAE Support (910) 399-8090


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.

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14 days

Course Information

Adventure First

Explore some of the most unique and breathtaking landscapes in the world!

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.

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  • Duration: 14 days
  • Minimum Age: 18

Education Always

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


  • Leave No Trace (LNT) awareness training
  • NCOAE Core Curriculum
  • Gain experience in international travel, risk management, environmental studies, plant and animal identification, outdoor leadership, and more.



  • 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!



  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Andes Mountains
  • Amazon River
  • Sustainable Chocolate Farm
  • Otavalo Market
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 30 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 14-Day Galapagos Islands Pack List.

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 Arrangements for NCOAE International programs are managed and facilitated by NCOAE’s trusted travel agency professionals, Travel Associates.  Travel Associates is a bespoke travel agency staffed by MaryJo Palmer and Heidi Cunningham, both seasoned Travel Advisors with years of experience behind them.  MaryJo and Heidi are based in Woodstock, Vermont but assist with customers based around the world.  While Travel Associates specialty is luxury travel, they are also highly skilled at complex itineraries and can provide guidance on everything from upgrades to Visas to Travel Insurance.  Upon enrolling in an NCOAE program, you will need to contact Mary Jo or Heidi at either 800-640-4137 or 802-332-3511, or by email at and  to secure your travel arrangements.

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

Academic Credit

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 Outdoor Educator and Gap Year / Semester courses which may be eligible for up to six college-level credits.

    Course Outcomes

    This course is for you if you want to explore Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, while gaining outdoor technical skills.

    Where do you want to go (physically, mentally, socially, academic, etc.)?

    NCOAE’s international programming objectives revolve around the concepts of self, community, action and impact; focus on authentic international learning and hands-on education; and involve locals and communities to create meaningful academic and personal connections.

    A fundamental part of this course includes map and compass reading, backcountry navigation, the fine art of setting up a campsite, wave dynamics, marine ecology, and more.

    How will NCOAE help you get there?

    You’ll be immersed in 14-powerful days of the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s (NCOAE) Core Curriculum — an approach to facilitating, guiding and leading that is unrivaled in the industry.

    On top of all that, we can pretty much guarantee you’ll have an advantage over others when you apply for entry-level job openings in the fields of outdoor education, adventure-based education, backcountry guiding, college and university outdoor recreation programs, and others throughout the country.

    Upcoming Dates / Reserve Your Spot

    Discover a unique environment, full of exotic and abundant wildlife on a 14-day Galapagos Islands adventure. And, it’s absolutely spectacular.

    You’ll develop your personal leadership style, gain wilderness skills, and learn effective tools for communication. Finally, you will acquire skills with self and group assessment and develop the ability to teach and share your appreciation of the natural environment with others.