Summer programs
Ecuador 4-Week Experience


Applications are open for Summer 2022

From the pristine beaches to the tropical rainforest, spend a whole month in Ecuador working with marine and wildlife in this special 4-week program!

Combine two of our popular programs to explore Ecuador and gain unique hands-on experience working with marine and wildlife. Half of your program will be based at amaZOOnico (or another of our wildlife rescue partners in the Ecuadorian Amazon). amaZOOnico is a wildlife rescue center located in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest that rehabilitates, reintroduces, and cares for animals who are victims of wildlife trafficking. In addition to learning about the animals of the Amazon and their conservation and care, you’ll also help to put on a free medical clinic for dogs and cats of the local community and get a chance to explore some of the most popular sites of Quito and Tena on this Ecuador adventure.

The other half of your program is based on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos Islands, where you’ll combine an open-water SCUBA certification course, training and participation in marine fishes research, and exploration of some of the most beautiful areas of the island by foot and by boat. Prepare to spend lots of time at the beach, in the water, and hiking around the island.

Who It’s For

This program is designed for university-aged students who are interested in becoming veterinarians or working professionally with animals. Participants must be at least 18 years old. Most are 18 to 25.

There are no pre-requisites for this program. You do not need to be in school currently to apply. Individuals of any nationality may apply.

Each group of up to 8-10 students will have its own veterinarian and marine instructor, and the groups will share site staff. All programming is in English – no Spanish skills are required (but if you have them, you’ll definitely use them!)

Highlights

  • LA beautiful white-throated toucanive in the Ecuadorian Amazon
  • Learn to SCUBA dive and get your dive certification!
  • Care for coatis, toucans, tapirs, and other Amazonian animals
  • See wild sea lions and Galapagos Tortoises up close
  • Research and create enrichments for monkeys
  • Help to research marine fishes populations of the Galapagos
  • Perform veterinary labs such as coprological exams and necropsies
  • Help to provide free pet care and spay and neuter surgeries for locals
  • Enjoy a fun weekend of rafting and caving in Tena
  • Visit pristine beaches with hundreds of fish species to see
  • Snorkel the famous Kicker Rock with sea turtles and sea lions
  • Explore in and around Quito, including the Mitad del Mundo 
  • Learn and practice veterinary Spanish (no experience required)

Dates open for application

Ocelot is a medium-sized spotted wild cat

Summer 2022

May 15 – June 12, 2022

 apply now

*The dates above indicate the day you must arrive in Quito and depart from Quito, which may mean leaving the US the day prior or returning the day after, depending on your flight time.

*Please note that there is no group flight for this program. Students will be picked up and dropped off at the Quito airport.  Loop Abroad reserves the right to cancel any program at any time; in case of such cancellation by Loop Abroad, all payments will be returned in full.

Why Two Programs is Better Than One

Our Ecuador 4-Week Experience combines two popular programs: Amazon Vet Service and Galapagos Marine Research and Exploration.

Spending a full month in Ecuador allows students to maximize their time abroad and save money doing it. Not only is supervision and transportation between programs provided for a seamless transition, but Loop is discounting each program by $100 for a total of $200 off tuition costs. Plus, you’ll get FREE college credit for both programs (normally $499) and will only pay for airfare once!

Tuition

Tuition is $7,850That’s a savings of $450 compared to doing each program separately!

Interest-free payment plans are available. Current college students may be able to use federal financial aid toward their tuition. Your space is not held until your $1,000 deposit (credited toward tuition) is paid.

Tuition is all-inclusive but does not include international airfare. Tuition does not include medical insurance (the policy we suggest is under $25), a passport, snacks, and souvenirs.

There is no group flight for this program. We will have multiple pick-ups and drop-off times at the Quito airport on arrival and departure days.

Hours and Credit

You can receive 6 credits from the University of Findlay for this program. (Additional fee applies.) Loop Abroad can also assist you in working to get credit directly from your school.

Participants will earn 50 veterinary hours and 50 research hours. You will receive a certificate for 110 service hours upon program completion.

Students can calculate their own record of hours for their VMCAS or other applications but will earn at least this many hours.

Groups and Staff

Loop Abroad students on their group visit to the venueGroups will have a maximum of 10 students each, with up to two groups on the project at a time. Your group will have its own veterinarian and marine instructor. You will learn from other Loop marine instructors, local staff, and your SCUBA instructors as well.

Housing and Meals

Beds prepared for the students of Loop AbroadProgram housing will include hostels or guesthouses in Quito and San Cristobal as well as Tena on travel weekends. During our time in the Amazon, you will stay at a small guest lodge that is approximately a 10-minute walk through the rainforest from amaZOOnico. You will share rooms with students of the same gender but will have your own bed. The lodge has electricity in the main common area and hot water in all showers, but it does not have air conditioning. While there is internet and cell signal available for emergency communications, there is not a reliable option for personal use. During your stay in San Cristobal, you may or may not have air conditioning.

Meals are included in your tuition and will be served at the program housing or eaten at restaurants during travel weekends. Meals are simple and not greatly varied. We can accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets and food allergies with advanced requests.

Please note that these projects are in the Amazon rainforest and on a small, remote island, and as such they offer simple, rustic lodging and food.

COVID and Safety

All participants will need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (which may include boosters if eligible). All participants will adhere to the Loop Abroad COVID policy which includes providing a negative COVID test within 2-3 days prior to travel, wearing a mask when flying and when interacting outside of your “travel pod” (your group and staff), daily symptom report, testing if symptoms are present, and testing before return to the US. Loop Abroad had ZERO COVID cases in 2021!

If a program is canceled by Loop Abroad due to COVID-19, we offer a full refund of all tuition paid, including the deposit.

What if my program isn’t cancelled, but I can’t travel for personal reasons?

We understand that sometimes even though a program is not cancelled, an individual participant may be unable to travel due to illness or other personal reasons. In addition to our refund policy, if you must cancel your program enrollment less than 35 days before travel, for any reason at all, you can replace your program with the following virtual package.

 

This package includes 5 university credits from Iowa Wesleyan University (if you successfully complete the courses) and has a retail value of $5,080.

This offer is valid for cancellation of travel programs between 35 days and 1 day before the program begins, when no refunds are available for participants cancelling their travel. One virtual package available per participant; non-transferable. A participant cancelling their enrollment more than 35 days prior is welcome to select this option over their refund if they so choose.

Apply Now

Locations

During this marine and wildlife adventure, you’ll split your time between the beach and rainforest. The order of the weeks is subject to change.

Weeks 1 & 2

For one half of your program, you’ll spend your time at amaZoonico. AmaZOOnico is a wildlife rescue centre located in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest that rehabilitates, reintroduces, and cares for animals who are victims of wildlife trafficking. AmaZOOnico has been working to rescue, rehabilitate, and release animals for 25 years.

All of the animals that arrive at the amaZOOnico are brought by the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment, usually after being confiscated from people who have kept them as pets or intended to trade them on the black market. Some animals arrive suffering from multiple physical and behavioural problems which make it impossible for them to live free in the forest. In those cases, AmaZOOnico provides them with spacious and comfortable enclosures where they can live in the most natural conditions possible. In other cases, the animals arrive in better physical and mental condition and after passing through quarantine, various examinations, and a rehabilitation process, they can be successfully reintroduced back into their natural habitat.

During the day, amaZOOnico is open to day visitors, which helps to raise awareness about wildlife trafficking, to fund the rehab and release projects, and to care for the animals that cannot be released.

AmaZOOnico is based inside Selva Viva, a nature reserve with over 4,000 acres of conservation rainforest where most of amaZOOnico’s releases take place.

In the summers of 2018 and 2019, Loop Abroad sponsored GPS collars to help with the research at AmaZOOnico. The first collar was for “America” the Tapir so that she could be released into Selva Viva to live a wild and free life, while her safety could be monitored. In 2019, we provided collars for monkeys that were ready to be released. Going forward, students will continue to track these animals and learn about how GPS tracking can improve release techniques and make sure future animals get the best chance at a new life in the wild.

Amazoonico is about one hour from Tena, the capital city of the Napo province and a small city in the Amazon rainforest. On one of the weekends during the program,  we’ll stop in Tena to relax and to enjoy some of its famous attractions, including rafting and a cave trip.

 

 

Weeks 3 & 4

The other half of this program takes place on the island of San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador, but they are far from the mainland.

We will fly as a group from Quito to San Cristobal (students must purchase their own airfare on the group flight between Quito and San Cristobal) and arrive at San Cristobal together. All visitors to the Galapagos must purchase an entry pass to the Galapagos Islands, which costs $120. Participants will be responsible for purchasing this entry pass at the Quito airport.

Though San Cristobal is not the most inhabited island in the Galapagos, it is the political capital and part of 3% of the Galapagos Islands inhabited by humans. The sleepy, beach-town feel of the island gives an instant welcome, and many beaches, sites, and restaurants are walkable from our housing. In fact, we can even walk to our research site!

The Galapagos Islands are a dream destination for many people who love nature, in part because the animals there are protected from human harm, and for that reason are not scared of living side by side with humans. Tourism is crucial to preserving the Galapagos and income from entry permits helps to support the national parks and protect the animals there. The Galapagos Islands are particularly famous for their giant Galapagos tortoises, the marine iguana, and their own species of sea lion, as well as birds such as blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. You can and will see all these animals during your program, and many of them you’ll see every day.

The ocean that surrounds San Cristobal is home to sea lions, sea turtles, rays, over 500 species of fish, and sharks, including hammerhead sharks. There are pristine white beaches, excellent snorkeling and diving, volcanic rock formations, and breathtaking hikes.

Your program will give you the opportunity to explore all the highlights of San Cristobal, including:

  • The Giant Tortoise facility (“Galapaguera”) run by the National Park
  • Leon Dormido (“Kicker Rock”) for a snorkeling trip
  • Cerro Brujo beach (subject to weather)
  • La loberia, the sea-lion-filled beach
  • Playa Mann and Puerto Chino Beach

The main town area in San Cristobal has dive shops, restaurants, beaches, small parks, and souvenir shops. Lodging is simple and you will share a room with another Loop student or students of the same gender. The most popular foods in San Cristobal are simple fish and pork dishes with rice, potatoes, or cheese empanadas. Fresh fruits and vegetables are limited and vegetarian options are limited. Vegans may find that the food options are too restrictive – please contact us for more information.

Summer is the dry season in the Galapagos, which is known for blue skies and mid-day showers. The sea water is quite cool and the temperature is generally in the 70s Fahrenheit. As you are close to the Equator (which “Ecuador” is named for), the sun can be VERY strong, and you will need strong sun protection.

This program begins and ends in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. On arrival and departure Sundays, depending on the timing of their flights, students will be able to explore Quito with their staff. On the final Saturday of the program, the group will have a day to tour the colonial Old Town and explore the Mitad del Mundo, a monument on the equator that divides the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Itinerary

This itinerary is subject to change, but should give you a good overall program feel. The order of the weeks may be swapped.

Weeks 1 & 2

 

Arrive in Quito on Sunday and meet your group. Depending on the time your flight arrives, you may have a chance to explore some of the city with your group leader.

On Monday, we will make our way from Quito to Tena, with a stop along the way (weather-permitting) to visit some hot springs. Once we arrive in Tena, we’ll enter the Amazon rainforest and travel by boat to the lodge where we’ll be staying during the program.

Starting Tuesday mornings, our weekdays will be spent at amaZOOnico. We’ll walk about ten minutes through the jungle from our lodge to amaZOOnico and take on the day’s schedule. Most days will include:

  • Lecture by one of our veterinarians on Amazon conservation and animal care
  • Opportunities to lead visitor tours of the animals at amaZOOnico (a few students/day)
  • Assisting in helping to care for the animals, including cleaning and preparing food
  • Joining the staff vet on vet walking rounds to monitor animal care
  • Veterinary labs such as blood pathology
  • Collecting data from camera traps for research

During the weekdays, we will also:

  • Perform ethograms on animals and design and implement enrichment projects for them
  • Assist and observe the vet in performing any necessary medical care
  • Practice and learn some Spanish for veterinary medicine (based on your level – no experience required)

Please note that most of the animals at amaZOOnico cannot be handled, as they are wild animals and our goal is to provide them with only the care that they need to stay healthy and safe. You may be in the enclosures with birds, tapirs, tamarins, guatins, coatis, and tortoises. There is no contact permitted with the captive or free monkeys.

During your program, Loop Abroad and amaZOOnico will offer a two day free pet clinic for the neighboring villages and people who live in the area. During this time, you will work as a team with your veterinarians to provide free medical care for cats and dogs, including vaccinations, skin and ear treatments, and spay and neuter surgeries.

You will learn from your veterinarians and the amaZOOnico vet, both through lecture and labs, how to assist in providing this care, from safely handling dogs and cats to performing physical exams to giving vaccinations to assisting in spay and neuter surgeries, anesthesia monitoring, and recovery. This project allows our vet staff to work as a team across cultures, allows you to get invaluable veterinary experience, and allows Loop Abroad to provide free medical care to animals who might otherwise be far from a vet, and to control the pet population via spay and neuters.

In the evenings, we will relax as a group at our nearby lodge.

On one of the weekends during the program, we’ll take a break from amaZOOnico and travel to Tena, which is famous for its rafting. We’ll have a rafting trip, visit a local cave system, and have some free time to relax and explore the town.

On the second Friday of the program, we will make our way back to Quito. We will spend Saturday touring the colonial Old City of Quito, and also visit Mitad del Mundo, the famous “middle of the world” monument on the Equator, where you can grab a cool photo of yourself in the North and South hemispheres.

Weeks 3 & 4

We will fly as a group from Quito to San Cristobal (flight and Galapagos entry permit are not included in tuition) and we’ll get settled into the island, which will be our home for two weeks.

Throughout the program, you will spend approximately 40 hours assisting in a research project to track the fish species that visit certain beaches on the island, including the times they visit and the number of fish. With over 500 species of fish that can be spotted in the shore area of the ocean, there’s a lot to learn about marine fish identification. We will track numbers in real time in the water with a mask and snorkel, and you will also take GoPro footage and review the footage out of the water to get accurate counts and species analysis. Your research time also includes learning and practicing proper research and recording methods, tracking your data, creating a presentation of your findings, and learning about the marine ecology of the area and the anatomy of the variety of marine species that make their home on San Cristobal.

You can expect that about half of your research and class time will be in the water and about half will be in the classroom (which will sometimes be the beach). The island is primarily rocky reef.

You will also participate in a SCUBA course to earn your open-water certification, which includes training in SCUBA skills and getting practice diving. Students who choose not to do the SCUBA certification or who are unable to do so for medical reasons can spend this time snorkeling or otherwise exploring the island. The SCUBA course is a great chance to earn a certification that can open up dive opportunities around the world and let you better explore marine ecosystems.

In addition to your research work and SCUBA course, we will have lots of time to explore the island of San Cristobal. Some of our favorite recreation activities that surround our course time are early-morning bird watching, sunset yoga on the beach, visiting the Galapaguera to see giant Galapagos tortoises, watching the sea lions on the beach, hiking to see the Galapagos’ most iconic bird, the blue-footed booby, taking a boat trip to pristine and isolated beaches, and snorkeling around the famous Leon Dormido (“kicker rock”) where you can see colorful coral, sea turtles, sea lions, and beautiful fish.

On the final Saturday, we’ll return to Quito on the group flight. Participants can depart from Quito any time on departure Sunday, and may be able to explore Quito with their site staff on Sunday depending on their departure time.

This program is designed for active participants who would enjoy spending many hours a day in the ocean and most of the day outside. We expect that you’ll be very tired at the end of each day!

Amazon Animals

Who lives at amaZOOnico? It’s important to note that the animals at amaZOOnico vary. This is a true rehab and release program, so lots of animals come and go.

Here’s who’s usually there:

  • LOTS of birds, including toucans and parrots
  • Anacondas
  • Tapirs
  • Caimans
  • Lots of primates, including capuchin monkeys, tamarins, woolly monkeys, and spider monkeys.
  • Guatins
  • Coatis
  • Jaguarundis
  • Tigrillos
  • Turtles
  • Tortoises

In addition, troops of free spider monkeys and squirrel monkeys live on or near the  property and are easily seen each day.

For two days of your program, your Loop Abroad group will host a free veterinary clinic for dogs and cats owned by people in the area, where we can provide vaccines, physical exam, skin treatments, wound care, and sterilization surgeries. So we'll have plenty of companion animals around too!

Scholarships

 

There are lots of ways to help fund your online and travel programs with Loop Abroad, and we are here to help!

Scholarships are a terrific way to cover some or all of your tuition for a Loop Abroad program. When you look for scholarships for pre-vet programs, you need to look at all your options!

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship:

Students of Loop Abroad veterinary scholarships recipient.

The Gilman Scholarship could fund $5000 of your tuition and the next deadline is March 1 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time! The Gilman Scholarship was designed to help students of limited financial means have the opportunity to study abroad – online or in-person. Nearly a third of applicants are awarded the scholarship! This is a great opportunity to help cover your tuition.

Students can receive up to $5,000 for travel or virtual programs. The scholarship can be applied to any of our online programs, to our semester programs, or one of our 2-week programs.

Along with their application, students must submit two essays, the Statement of Purpose Essay, and the Community Impact Essay. Students must also upload their transcripts (unofficial or official). For more information on the application guidelines, please click here.

See the official website and read about Loop Abroad students who have received this scholarship. If you are a US citizen receiving a Pell Grant and currently enrolled in college or university, we encourage you to apply for this scholarship. The round of applications due March 1 will cover in-person programs or internships that start between May 1, 2022, and April 30, 2023. This cycle encompasses Summer 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, and Academic Year 2022-2023 programs.

Loop Abroad Dr. Erica Ward Scholarship

Focused elephant imageLoop Abroad is offering one FULL TUITION scholarship to cover one online program of your choice. Applications for 2023 are now open and are due December 1, 2022, for your choice of an online program in 2023. We’re proud to add this to the list of scholarships for pre-vet programs.

Who can apply: This scholarship is open to all students age 18 and over. You do not have to be a US Citizen. You do not have to be currently in school. You do not need to be enrolled in an online course to apply. You can apply for the scholarship first and make your online course selection after you receive a decision about the scholarship. (Note: if you make any payments toward tuition and later receive the scholarship, your payments will be refunded up to the value of one online program of your choice, not including an online semester.) 

Criteria for selecting the scholarship recipient: 

We will consider financial need, commitment to conservation and/or animal science, academic performance, and ability to be a positive team member as factors in our decision. We are not looking for the applicant with the highest grades or the most animal hours. We are not looking for the applicant with the saddest story. We are looking for a student who embodies Loop Abroad’s values of teamwork, commitment to a cause, and hard work, and for a student who would not be able to otherwise afford Loop Abroad tuition (whether because of household income or recent change in circumstances).

How to apply:
To apply, you must complete the following three steps:

  1. Apply for the Loop Abroad Dr. Erica Ward Scholarship here. The application requires a copy of your proof of household income (such as last year’s tax return).
  2. Follow @LoopAbroad on Instagram (instagram.com/loopabroad) and make an Instagram post about the program you’re hoping to join, tagging @loopabroad and #loopabroad in the post.

Announcement of Award: The scholarship winner will be notified by January 15th.

Dr. Erica Ward holding a black dog and an elephant at the background and an elephant dogWhy is it called the Erica Ward Scholarship? Dr. Erica Ward is our Academic Director. We believe that she embodies the values we are seeking in our scholarship applicants: she is passionate, dedicated, hard-working, and driven to make the world a better place. Dr. Ward consistently strives to find ways that Loop Abroad can support projects in need and help its students and alumni have fulfilling academic opportunities. We have decided to name this scholarship after her to honor her continued commitment to her values and purpose. (PS – She isn’t dead. Please don’t write your essay about honoring her legacy. She is very much alive and still working here. If you are a finalist for the scholarship, she will read your essay.)

Details:
The scholarship will be credited toward tuition for the winning student toward the Loop Abroad online program of their choice. If the chosen winner has already made payments toward his or her Loop Abroad tuition, those payments will be refunded in full.

The scholarship is non-transferable. If the student cannot attend, the scholarship will be void – it is not a cash prize and cannot be paid as such. Applicants must be over the age of 18. Citizens and residents of any country may apply.

 

The Gilman-McCain Scholarship:

Young lady holding a blue parrotThe Gilman-McCain Scholarship is a congressionally funded initiative of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and named after the late senator John S. McCain from Arizona.

This scholarship is open to US citizen undergraduate students who are child dependents of active duty service members and receive any type of Title IV federal financial aid. Students can receive awards of up to $5,000 for 2+ weeks of international travel or online programs. The scholarship can be applied to any of our online programs,  semester programs, or 2-week travel programs.

The next round of applications for the Gilman scholarship opens in January 2022. The deadline will be in March. At that time, you can apply for scholarships to use on any program starting between May 1, 2022, and April 30, 2023.

Freeman-Asia Scholarships:

Smiling woman hanging on a ropeThe Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA) provides scholarships for U.S. undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia. This scholarship is open to both US citizens and permanent residents who are undergraduate students at a two-year or four-year college or university.

Recipients can receive up to $3,000 in awards for summer programs. This scholarship can be applied to our Thailand programs for 2+ weeks.

In order to apply, students must fill out an online application. Read the scholarship instructions here and the eligibility requirements here.

Applications for the 2021-2022 school year are closed. 

The Fund for Education Abroad:

Loop Abroad scholarships student checking heartbeat of the tigerThe Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) invests in promising students with financial needs who wish to study abroad. Potential applicants who meet our eligibility requirements may participate in any international education program that meets their academic objectives.

This scholarship is open to US citizens or permanent residents currently enrolled as an undergraduate at a college or university in the US. Scholarships range from $1,250 – $10,000 and can be applied for programs that run for at least 28 days.

Along with their application, students must submit a financial aid form (filled out by the financial aid office at their school), one recommendation letter, and a copy of their unofficial transcript.

Applications for Summer 2022 and Fall 2022 will open on November 16, 2021, and be due by January 20, 2022. Students may review the scholarship and apply here.

Scholarships of note that you can apply for through the Fund for Education Abroad include:

InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest:

Smiling woman holding small wildcatThe InternationalStudent.com 2020 Travel Video Contest gives students the opportunity to win a scholarship by sending in an original video discussing:

  • How COVID-19 has impacted your international education or cultural exchange experience abroad
  • Your ideal international education or cultural exchange after Covid-19

There are several prizes available ranging from $250 to $4,000.

In order to apply, students must create a 4-minute video and submit an online entry form. Tips and tricks for filming a video entry can be found here. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

Submissions are due by October 13, 2021. Apply here.

NAFSA scholarships

NAFSA is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and they have a long list of scholarship databases (including scholarships for pre-vet programs) that might help make your program possible!

"This was a great learning experience! We were able to spend a lot of time with the vets and they were constantly answering questions and sharing their knowledge. Strongly recommend this trip!"

Andrea G., Thailand College Veterinary Service 2016

Wright State University, Dayton, OH