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Ecuador

* Note about Summer 2021 Programming

The current pandemic is an ongoing, constantly evolving situation. We are currently working with our international partners on new protocols for summer 2021; however it may not be possible to offer all programs. Should the University allow study abroad programs to run next summer, decisions as to what sites will be available will be made based on travel advisories and University risk management guidelines.

We will update the website as soon as more information is known.

Ecuador: Amazon, Galápagos and Andes

Friday, May 15 to Monday June 15, 2020 (4 weeks)

This is the 15th year of the University of Toronto’s summer program in Ecuador. This exciting program is a wonderful opportunity for students interested in life sciences, environmental studies, conservation biology, geology and geography to experience one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world and to explore the pressures and challenges on these unique environments.

The program is hosted by the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and will use two of its research centres, the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS) and the Tiputini Biodiversity Station (TBS; located in the Amazon Rainforest), as well as its Quito campus. USFQ has been collaborating with partner universities from around the world for many years, sharing their faculty’s expertise and research knowledge to run successful programs for local and foreign students.

Female student in white sweater, Andes mountains

Primeval Lands and Unique Wild Species

Ecuador is a relatively small country that contains stunning natural diversity: tropical rainforests snow-capped volcanoes, vast coastal beaches, the majestic Andes mountains and the incredible Galápagos Islands. Ecuador has 9.2 species per square kilometre, more than any other country on Earth.

The Andes is the world’s longest mountain range, forming a continuous chain of highland along the western coast of South America. Students will view first-hand paramo ecology and the impact of global warming on the glaciers, as well as the physiological, cultural and economic adaptations of indigenous mountain peoples.

Students will live, study and conduct biological fieldwork in the Amazon Rainforest on the north bank of the Tiputini River. The site borders the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, a region famous for having one of the highest species diversities on Earth. Researchers here have documented 12 species of primates, 520 species of birds, 1500 species of trees and thousands of insect species.

Made famous by Charles Darwin over 150 years ago, the Galápagos is a string of islands about 1000 kilometres west of mainland Ecuador. Formed by volcanic activity, the islands contain some of the most remarkable ecosystems on Earth. Birds, sea mammals, reptiles and a wide variety of tropical fishes and invertebrates abound in the Galápagos.

Program Activities

  • Students begin in Quito with orientations and introductory lectures, including visits to old Quito and Mitad del Mundo (the Equator).
  • They will then spend several days in the Andes highlands studying its unique flora and fauna and examining the economy and culture of the indigenous mountain peoples.
  • The next course segment consists of eight days at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station, situated along one of the headwaters of the Amazon River in one of the few remaining pristine rainforests in Ecuador. Here students will focus on tropical forest ecology and the impacts of oil exploration on wildlife and indigenous peoples.
  • For the second half of the course students will be in the Galápagos, a chain of active volcanic islands that has played a crucial role in the history of science, examining how plants, animals and people interact in this fragile and threatened environment. This will include lectures and field trips based at GAIAS on San Cristobal, followed by tours of other islands.
  • The program concludes in Quito.