Ecuador Program Description

Program Description

The Ecuador Spring Break trip builds upon the principles introduced in Taproot Leadership Camp and Foundations, providing kids the opportunity to experience a wholly different environment and culture while enjoying the natural beauty of the Ecuadorian Pacific Coast.

Our days in Ecuador will be full and fun! We will be spending the majority of our time in the beautiful neighboring towns of Ayampe and Las Tunas, Ecuador, but we’ll also do day trips to other small coastal towns and beaches. Both Ayampe and Las Tunas are known for their pristine and uncrowded beaches, which are popular among surfers and nature lovers.The towns are peaceful and relaxed, with a small community of locals and expats who live a simple and eco-friendly lifestyle. The towns are surrounded by lush tropical forest and are home to an amazing variety of wildlife, including different monkeys, amazing, colorful birds, and giant sea turtles.

Most days will start with free time for a walk on the beach or fishing before we will meet as a group for yoga and meditation. We’ll eat brunch together and on days we’re in town we might have a bit of free time before participating in a community volunteer event (minga) or a hike on the Colibri Trail. Then we might meet at the beach for a surf lesson, followed by some beach time with games like Ecuavoley and fútbol juggling. After the beach we’ll clean up and have dinner together, perhaps with some guests from another Latin American country, who can share with us about what makes their country special.

There are a few days on the trip when we will start on our day’s adventure early. Any students who elect to do deep sea fishing with Zac (2 opportunities for this!) will go out early and miss yoga and brunch with the group those days. We will also head out early the day we visit Isla de la Plata together.


We will be staying in simple bungalows close to the beach, two students per bungalow. Bungalows have bathrooms and showers.

Meals and Food

We pride ourselves on the food we serve at Taproot, and the food on this trip might be the best ever. We will be eating a diverse diet of whole foods–tons of fresh fruit and veg, and for those who choose, fish. Meals will largely be vegetarian, but we can accommodate vegan and gluten free students easily. We will have simple, whole-food snacks available outside of meals. Students may purchase additional food from the tienda or local vendors, but this will not be necessary. We don’t think we’ve ever had a Taproot participant not get enough food!

We also love having students participate in meal prep and clean up, and we’ll have a rotating schedule to help with both. We will often have guests join us for dinner so we can learn more about them and where they’re from, and, of course, it’s another opportunity to practice our Spanish.


We believe volunteer work is an important part of learning, connecting, and understanding. As such, the group will be participating in many volunteer projects including beach walks to collect plastic, work on the community permaculture farm, and a community “minga” event.

Additionally, Taproot has established two symbiotic programs to help support the our Ecuadorian local community–a food program, “Programa de Almuerzo” and our “Raiz Principal” Land Regeneration Program. All students will participate in helping prepare and deliver food to in-need community members and in a series of regenerative planting projects at this year’s dedicated plot of land. We will have practice clearing, planting young banana trees, harvesting bananas, and planting coffee on a different section of land that is 10 months into the regeneration process.


We don’t call this a surf school because we’re doing so much more than “just” surfing, but the instruction and opportunity to surf on this trip are incredible, and rival that of dedicated surf schools. We are partnering with excellent, extremely experienced (and incredibly cool) instructors in both Ayampe and Las Tunas. We understand that students will have different levels of interest in this activity; students are not required to surf, but we hope everyone will try it at least once!


We will have many opportunities to practice our Spanish. Yoga classes, peer conversations (both prior to when we are in Ecuador and while we’re there), meals, meeting new locals and travelers, volunteering in the community, beach games, or a simple trip to the tienda are all excellent opportunities.

Meditation, Mindfulness, and Flow

Ayampe and Las Tunas have amazing yoga, meditation, and flow teachers! We have picked a few of our personal favorites to work with the group over our time there. No prior experience with these things will be necessary, though TLC and Foundations students will all have had some with us before. Just come open and curious, and we’ll see what lessons these experiences have to teach us.


Peer Conversations

Each student will participate in a total of 8 peer conversation sessions as a part of this trip; 3 in preparation for the trip, and 5 sessions while in Ecuador. These will help students practice some situational Spanish and allow them to meet a few people in Ayampe before they travel there.  For those students who may want more conversational Spanish practice, sessions can be arranged for $15* for 30 min.

*Of this $15 fee, $6 goes to the Ecuadorian peer, $6 goes to the Taproot Ayampe Food Program, supplying 4 more meals that week ($1.50/meal), and $3 goes to the administration of the peer conversations and the food program.  This is a great way to get more Spanish practice, help an Ecuadorian teen earn a good wage AND help raise funds to feed those in need in the community!

Important Dates

  • Registration Deadline 9/29/24
  • Passport Deadline 12/15/24
      • Everyone must provide their passport by 12/15/2023
      • Begin getting your student’s passport if you do not have one
      • If you already have one, please ensure your passport is valid through 10/1/2025, as Ecuador requires a minimum of 6 months on your passport past your planned departure date for entry to the country
  • Meeting 1 9/29, 3-4pm, Location TBD
      • Meet the group!
      • Review important deadlines
      • Gear list
      • Questions/concerns
  • Meeting 2 2/11, 3-4pm,  Location TBD 
      • Travel and trip itinerary review
      • Gear list review
      • Questions/concerns
  • Ecuador Trip 3/12-3/23
      • Please note this trip requires missing three days of school; we encourage students and parents to be as proactive as possible in discussing this trip with their guidance counselor and teachers to minimize the disruption the trip will have on students’ academics.
      • While the time in Ecuador will last from 3/12-3/16, we will be preparing as a group for this adventure in the months between the registration deadline and our departure. A lot of this will be written communication, but some of it will be as a group in Iowa City (for those not in IC, we can Zoom). We want to make sure we set the stage for what to expect, ensure we’re clear about safety precautions and rules, and complete a detailed itinerary and gear review with you and your parents.


  • The cost for this program is $4000.
    • This includes: air travel, transportation to and from the airport and throughout the trip, lodging, all meals and snacks, and all lessons, experiences and equipment rentals. It is very possible your child will not need any additional money for this trip, and we encourage you to keep spending money to a minimum.
    • It does NOT include: passport costs, travel insurance (which we require).  We estimate the combined cost of these items to be ~ $300/student.

We require a $1500 deposit to secure your spot. The registration deadline is 8/15. The balance can be paid as a payment plan or in full.