Ecuador (May - June)

ECUADOR: Ecology and Conservation in the Amazon, Andes and Cloud Forest

Thursday, May 4 Friday, June 2, 2023 (4 weeks)

[Week one will be virtual; the remaining three weeks May 11 to June 2 will be in Ecuador]

This is the 17th year of the Summer Abroad 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 in Ecuador has been redesigned for 2023 and will not include the Galapagos islands. The plan is to offer a separate Galapagos and Coast course, with each course being offered in alternate years.

The program is hosted by the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), and will use its Quito campus as well as their research centre, the Tiputini Biodiversity Station (TBS), located in the Amazon rainforest. 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. This course will be taught by U of T Faculty, in partnership with USFQ. 

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. 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 páramo ecology and the impacts of global warming on the glaciers, as well as the physiological, cultural, and economic adaptations of indigenous mountain plants, animals, and people.

We will visit the tropical montane cloud forest, where moisture from the Pacific Ocean is blocked by the mountains as it ascends into the Andes. 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 diversity of species on Earth. Researchers here have documented 12 species of primates, 520 species of birds, 1500 species of trees and thousands of insect species. 

Program Activities

  • The course begins with one week of virtual classes introducing students to Ecuador and the various sites they will be exploring
  • The 2nd - 4th weeks of the program take place in Ecuador. Students begin in Quito with orientations, lectures, and 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, hiking around two active volcanoes, and examining the economy and culture of the indigenous mountain peoples
  • Next, students visit the cloud forest in the Mindo area to study tropical montane ecology, the water cycle, and the unique flora and fauna of the Andean cloud forest
  • The final 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
  • The program concludes in Quito with cultural activities, a cooking class, a visit to the traditional market at Otovalo and a farewell dinner

Please note the itinerary is subject to change


Amazon bridge

Ecuador Summer Abroad: News and Highlights

Learn more about the Ecuador Summer Abroad Program through videos, past events and articles.

Questions? Email:  or book a virtual appointment.