Ecuador Expedition 2017
There is a small community of Kichwa Indians who live on the banks of the River Arajuno in Ecuador. Thanks to the fundraising efforts and work of the 2017 Harton Expedition, they now have their first running water system.
This project was one of several a group of seven of our students worked on in the first week of this year’s summer expedition. In addition, they built a jungle greenhouse to grow medicinal plants for local communities, planted bamboo along the banks of the river to help slow erosion and helped develop the water system in the amazing jungle lodge which was our rainforest home. When work was over each day, our students explored and learned about the rainforest with a local guide, swam and rafted in the river and visited Amazoonico, a centre established to get tropical animals back to their natural environment, where they got to see toucans, caimans, tapirs and ocelots.
On leaving the jungle lodge, the group headed into Quito city to plan and budget for the rest of their travels around Ecuador and do some sight seeing around the city before leaving on one of many long bus journeys. Time was spent in Otavalo, bartering for alpaca wool clothing and Paja Toquilla hats at South America’s largest craft market and trekking to a beautiful local waterfall; in Tena learning how local chocolate is grown and produced (and of course tasting everything they made); and in Puerto Lopez at the coast where they made the most of the beaches as well as visiting La Isla de Plata to see blue footed boobies nesting and view whales migrating through the area.
After nearly a month of travelling, it was a very tired but ecstatic group who arrived back to their families in Newcastle airport. As well as collecting unforgettable and, in some cases, indescribable experiences together, the students came home with life skills and achievements that will be invaluable to them as they head out on the next stage of their lives. Whatever life throws at them, they will be safe in the knowledge that it will never be as hard as having to deal with it in Spanish, over the phone, at a bus station in Quito surrounded by back packs!