Born and bred in Las Tolas, Luis has a lifetime of experience in caring for the natural environment and is committed to conserving the cloud forest and teaching people about it and its inhabitants. He is also an experienced farmer, managing cattle, milking cows and fruit and vegetable production on his land. Luis is certified as a tourist guide from the Ministry of Tourism, with certifications in various fields of tourism. He has hosted and looked after volunteers from all over the world for the last decade, and has participated in workshops and presentations regarding forest conservation by numerous international NGO’s.
Wyndi initially came to Reserva Mundo Verde as a volunteer, but liked it and Luis so much that she decided to stay. Now married, Wyndi works with Luis on the farm and its many projects, and helps organize the volunteer’s stay. From the USA originally, Wyndi speaks English and Spanish and enjoys hosting volunteers from all over the world.
What does being a volunteer involve?
Reserva Mundo Verde prides itself in its flexibility and commitment to making the volunteer experience an unforgettable one. Unlike other places, volunteers can choose what activities they want to do to contribute to the community during their stay. With so many activities to choose from, you’ll be wishing that you had more time to spend at Reserva Mundo Verde so that you can do them all!
In the cloud forest section of the reserve, you can help Luis by:
- planting native trees as part of the reforestation project
- getting handy with a machete and clearing the walking tracks through the forest
- learning how to construct a cabin from fallen local timber
You can also get involved in the following activities:
- go birdwatching in the reserve with Luis as your guide. See hummingbirds, toucans and the exotic long wattled umbrella bird, and maybe run into a sloth or an armadillo on the way
- hike throughout and explore the wild sections of the reserve with Luis as your guide, and/or explore neighboring tracts of the cloud forest outside of the reserve
- go on a hike and end up swimming in the Aphachal river
- see more stars than you’ve ever seen before while listening to a chorus of frogs
- go horse riding
- go camping on the reserve (tents are available for rent)
- visit and help in sugar cane factory
- make jewelry out of seeds from the forest in the local artisan shop
In the farm section of the Reserve, you can help Luis and Wyndi by:
- learning how to milk a cow
- contributing to the care of the organic garden, by planting new seedlings, weeding, using organic pest control methods and harvesting fresh produce (which will end up on your plate that night)
- Digging Tilapia Ponds
- maintaining fences
You can impress everyone back home by learning the following skills in the nearby town of Las Tolas:
- learn how to dance salsa like a true Latino (Luis can teach you, as can many of the locals in town)
- learn how to cook traditional Ecuadorian cuisine
- make delicious farmers cheese from the fresh milk you collected that morning
- learn about the region’s indigenous tribe, the Yumbo, in the nearby museum in Tulipe
You can also get to know the gorgeous local children in town by:
- giving them English classes (they are super keen!)
- playing soccer
- learning how to play the very popular Ecuavolley (Ecuadorian Volleyball)
Do I get any free time?
Of course! This is your volunteer experience, and Reserva Mundo Verde wants you to enjoy every second of it. When helping out around the reserve and in town, take it at your own pace and do the activities that most interest you.
Weekends are free and you can visit the many world class tourist sites in the region. Some of the top tourist attractions in the area that are well worth a visit are listed below.
Neighboring towns (15 minutes)
In a neighboring town a short bus ride away there’s a milk products factory (with really nice deserts) and a panela factory (panela is a sweet product made from sugarcane.)
Quito (2.5 hours)
The nation’s capital, Quito is a vibrant hub of culture, art and entertainment. Enjoy the stunning Spanish architecture and cobblestones of the old city, and the international bars, restaurants and nightlife of the new.
Tulipe (20 minutes)
The key attraction in Tulipe is its museum dedicated to the cultural heritage of the traditional inhabitants of the region, the Yumbo people. At the museum you can see ancient archeological remains of this great civilization, and learn about their fascinating culture and spiritual beliefs.
Mindo (1.5 hours)
One of Ecuador’s most popular tourist attractions, a visit to Mindo is a must for adrenaline junkies and nature lovers alike. Mindo offers adventure sports such as canyoning, zip lines, rafting, mountain bike riding and hiking, along with a butterfly and hummingbird sanctuary and orchid farm. For those who love their food and drink, there is a chocolate factory as well as a microbrewery.
Otavalo (4 hours)
Otavalo is Ecuador’s art and craft capital. It is the place to buy all your souvenirs for the trip, with its enormous daily market.
Cotopaxi and Lake Latacunga (4 hours)
For those who love hiking, a visit to the iconic volcanic peak of Cotopaxi should be on your ‘to do’ list. It is visible from Quito and plays a prominent role in much Ecuadorian art. It is is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and the second highest summit in the country, reaching a staggering 5,897 m (19,347 ft)! If you plan on hiking to the summit, make sure you leave some time to acclimatize as there is very little oxygen up there.