Galapagos Islands (July 20-27, 2024)

Jul 20-27, 2024
  • Trip Type:
  • Cats
  • Dogs

galapagosThis project is aimed at helping to protect the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands while providing essential veterinary services and sterilization surgeries for the resident dog and cat population. World Vets will be working in cooperation with local government agency ABG (Agencia de Regulación y Control de la Bioseguridad para Galápagos) and the municipality of San Cristobal.

We are proud to have Lakefield Veterinary Group as a long-time partner and our Founding Sponsor of our clinic in Galapagos! To learn more about our Conservation Medicine Program in the Galapagos read here.

For this field project, volunteer opportunities are open to vets, techs (both licensed and non-licensed), students (vet, pre-vet, and tech), Spanish/English translators, and general assistants.

How much will it cost?

The project fee associated with this veterinary field service project is $1975 USD. Before you register, please ensure you do not have any scheduling conflicts that may impact your participation as project fees are non-refundable and/or non-transferrable to other trips and/or persons.

What’s included in the Project:

World Vets logo scrub top, volunteer kit (which you will receive when you arrive in Galapagos), pre – trip planning and coordination per the project itinerary, accommodations for 8 days and 7 nights, breakfast and lunch on clinic work days, airport transfers in San Cristobal per established meeting times on official arrival/departure days, ground transportation related to veterinary work, a group excursion/activity, veterinary and volunteer permissions and authorizations, as well as all supplies and full participation on the project.

What’s NOT included:

International/domestic airfare*, optional excursions, travelers’ insurance, health insurance, World Vets membership fee, breakfast and lunch on non-work days, dinner and snacks, required travel documentation to enter/exit Ecuador (i.e. a passport that does not expire for at least 6 months from your initial date of travel, visa if applicable), incidentals and anything not specifically outlined as included.

*Go to the “Itinerary” tab above for more information about booking flights and reserving an overnight hotel in Quito.

Volunteer Permits for Galapagos

We will need to submit volunteer permissions for this project and will require your flight itinerary. Upon approval, each volunteer will be supplied with a passer-by certificate that waives the $100 Galapagos Park entrance fee and allows them to legally volunteer in Galapagos. You must enter on a volunteer permit (not a tourist visa) to participate in the project. To obtain passer-by certificates, we will need a high-quality copy of your passport ID page (png or jpg preferred), and vet license (if applicable), as well as the following information:

  • International Arrival Date + Flight # + Arrival Time
  • Galapagos Arrival Date + Flight # + Arrival Time
  • Galapagos Departure Date + Flight # + Departure Time

After you register, you will receive a link to upload your information. Please keep in mind when booking your flights that volunteer permits will only allow you to arrive up to 3 days before and/or stay up to 3 days after the official project dates. If you have further questions about this, please inquire at . Don’t delay in booking your flights and sending your information, as we will need all information by June 10, 2024.


World Vets Galapagos Veterinary Clinic, San Cristobal Island

What will I be doing?

This is a small animal veterinary field project. For this particular project, World Vets veterinary team will carry out a spay/neuter campaign targeting both owned and unowned animals. We may also see health consultations, perform other types of surgeries and/or treat injuries on a case-by-case basis.  Volunteers may also have the opportunity to go with our local staff out to the highlands and rural communities prior to pick up and deliver some of the patients and provide door to door preventive health care services to pets in outlying areas.  Galapagos operates a bit on “island time” and the campaigns can sometimes be very busy but more often go at a more relaxed pace.  We make sure each pet gets a full attention and a high level of care.  Compared to some of our other high volume campaigns in other countries, this one will likely be a bit more of a relaxed pace.  Check out the World Vets Galapagos Facebook page for lots of photos and details on the clinic and location.


As a veterinarian, you primarily will be performing sterilization surgeries for dogs and cats. You may also be involved in the following:

  • Medical diagnosis and treatment and/or in providing health consultations
  • Performing other surgeries that may be deemed necessary on a case-by-case basis (based on your comfort level and/or ability)
  • Providing instruction to students and/or local volunteers or pet owners

The veterinarian volunteer category may be filled by a licensed DVM who is both competent and comfortable in performing routine spay/neuter surgery. PLEASE NOTE: We will require copies of veterinary licenses for veterinarians volunteering on this project.

Veterinary Technicians (Licensed and Non-Licensed) | Veterinary Nurses

As a veterinary technician, you will lead and/or be involved in running the pre-med/induction station to induce anesthesia and prepare patients for surgery.  This includes:

  • Administering, monitoring and managing the pre-medication given to surgical patients
  • Administering, monitoring and managing the anesthesia given to surgical patients
  • Assisting with surgical prep and patient monitoring

The “Tech” (LVT/RVT) volunteer category may only be filled by a veterinary technician that is either certified, licensed and/or registered. Please note, proficiency in IV catheter placement is essential in this position. Veterinary technicians and assistants who are not licensed, but who have experience in a veterinary clinic setting, should register under the “Tech/Student” category.


As a veterinary student, pre-veterinary student and/or veterinary technician student, you may be involved in any of the following activities:

  • Pre-med/Induction: Assisting with prepping patients for surgery (i.e. animal handling/restraint, expressing bladders, assisting with catheter placement, shaving and sterilizing surgical field, positioning patient for the surgeon).
  • Surgery: Assisting a veterinarian in surgery, cleaning up surgical area for the next patient, and/or observing surgery. Vet students who are in their 4th or final year of school will have the opportunity to perform surgery under the direct supervision of a qualified veterinarian as time allows. Because this is a high-volume campaign and not specifically a surgery training program, vet students should also expect to also help in other areas of the campaign.
  • Recovery:  Monitoring patients after surgery, administering appropriate post-op medications per protocol chart and grooming.

The student volunteer category may be filled by veterinary students, pre–veterinary students, and veterinary technology students. When registering select the “Tech/Student” category and further classify your position on the registration form to reflect the student type that you are filling. 


As a translator, you may be involved in any of the following activities:

  • Communicating with clients during registration to facilitate patient check-in
  • Assisting during medical consults to obtain patient histories and translate care and treatment options
  • Helping to explain and clarify post-surgery care instructions to clients

The translator category may be filled by anyone fluent in Spanish and English, whether or not they have veterinary or animal-related experience. When registering select the “Tech/Student/Translator” category and further classify your position on the registration form to reflect the type that you are filling. 


The assistant volunteer category is open to anyone who loves animals and wants to help. Our assistant position requires no prior experience, just a willingness to learn! Assistants often help in the post operation recovery area and in a variety of miscellaneous duties (based on your skills, experience and comfort level).

A few special notes:

COVID-19: The Galapagos Islands have a very high vaccination rate for all adults and a very low incidence of COVID.  Nonetheless, the global pandemic presents an ongoing health and safety risk both in the United States and abroad and conditions and recommendations change frequently. Please refer to information on the US State Department website for travel to Ecuador as well as the CDC website for current information on international travel and health recommendations.  Please read and fully understand the terms and conditions in the link below.

COVID prevention measures (e.g., masks) are not required in Galapagos. However, COVID still exists there, and volunteers are responsible for being careful (masks, sanitation of rented snorkeling gear, social distancing). If you contract COVID and need to quarantine, you will be responsible, financially and otherwise, for any and all arrangements related to a delayed departure from your trip, although World Vets can provide suggestions on accommodations. Please note that you might be fined on the way out of Galapagos with a six -month, no-entry penalty, if your exit date surpasses your volunteer permit expiration.

World Vets is not able to provide medical advice related to travel vaccines or other travel related medical questions. Volunteers are encouraged to consult with their family physician, nearest travel clinic and/or center for disease control regarding recommended immunizations and/or health precautions prior to the trip. It is recommended that volunteers be vaccinated for rabies for any international project, although is not a requirement for this particular project.

The gloves provided on World Vets projects are made with latex. Volunteers who have a latex allergy should plan to bring their own non-latex gloves.

Caps and masks are required to be worn by all surgeons as well as those assisting within the sterile field of the surgical patient. World Vets provides disposable caps and masks on field service projects, however, volunteers have the option of using their own surgical cap and/or mask.

Volunteers should expect to share a room. We will try to accommodate any roommate requests- please let us know when you register.  Each room has a private bathroom/shower.

We highly recommend that you obtain travel and medical insurance for your trip. Global Rescue and MedJet are reputable providers of medical evacuation & advisory services as well as general travelers/trip cancellation insurance. You must read the policy wording to ensure the policy is a fit for your needsPolicies must be purchased prior to your initial registration in order to qualify- check with individual provider for details.

Please read and make sure you understand World Vets Terms & Conditions

For other general questions about volunteering with World Vets, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.


Before the Trip: Book Flights and Hotel

The destination airport for this project is San Cristóbal Airport in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (Airport Code: SCY). You will need to book international flights to Mariscal Sucre Quito International Airport (Airport Code: UIO), and then domestic flights from Quito to San Cristobal via LATAM and AVIANCA airlines. Most domestic flights from Quito to San Cristobal cost between $400 and $450 year-round. You might also look into Equair, which is a new domestic airline with limited flights and days but is less expensive. Domestic flights from Quito will usually have a short layover in Guayaquil (GYE), but passengers normally stay on the same plane, so a short layover is fine (it does not usually specify it is the same plane). Alternatively, you may choose to take an international flight directly to Guayaquil (GYE), and, from there, book your flight to San Cristobal.

(Airline Tip: Use “Google flights” to search for a flight that fits your personal choices, such as departure airport, preferred airline, layover times, baggage fees, price, etc. We suggest a 3 to 4-hour layover time for your outbound flights to Ecuador.  Many airlines just have one flight per day into Quito, so you don’t want to miss it! On your return flight home, you should plan for at least a 2-hour layover at the airport where you arrive back in the US, to give sufficient times to clear customs.  (2 hours is usually the bare minimum).  Once you’ve found a flight selection that you like, we recommend that you reserve it directly through the airline company, instead of a third-party website. This helps to avoid issues with cancellations, refunds, and flight delays.)

Most flights to Quito arrive late PM or very early AM the following day. We recommend you book an overnight stay at the Quito Airport Wyndham hotel, a business hotel across the street from the airport with a free shuttle that runs 24 hours a day. If the Wyndham hotel is already fully booked for the dates you need or for another option, we also recommend the Holiday Inn Quito Airport hotel, which is about a 5- to 10-minute ride from the airport, using the hotel’s free shuttle service. If you are booking your flight to Guayaquil, you may or may not need to book an overnight stay, depending on your arrival time. Some flights to GYE arrive last at night, and some arrive in the morning. (We’ve found the best prices can be found through travel sites like and

Day 1 (July 20): Official Arrival Day and Start Date of Trip

Fly from Quito to San Cristobal Airport (Airport Code: SCY), Galapagos Islands, Ecuador with a late morning or early afternoon arrival. Upon arrival to Galapagos, volunteers will be met by a World Vets representative and transferred to accommodations.

[Special note:  Arrival/pick up transfers will only be provided from the San Cristobal Airport. Should any volunteers arrive via boat, they will need to get themselves to team housing on this date.]

Day 2 (July 21): Clinic Orientation | Group Activity 

Following breakfast, you will go as a group to see the Giant Tortoises on the other side of the island and have time to hang out on a beautiful white sand beach where you can swim and explore the wildlife. In the afternoon, the team will have an orientation time at the clinic.

Days 3, 4 & 5 (July 22, 23, & 24): Clinic Days

Hopefully you are well rested because for the next three days you will be participating in a large-volume spay-and-neuter surgical campaign. Be ready to depart by 8:00 AM.

Bring your scrub top, headlamp, and comfortable, close-toed shoes and be ready to pitch in and help wherever needed to make the project a success.

Days 6 & 7 (July 25 & 26): Leisure | Free Time

These days are free for volunteers. World Vets does not have any activities scheduled for today, so volunteers will be responsible for making their own arrangements.   Most of our volunteers end up going on the “360 Tour” on day 6 (Friday) which is a boat, snorkeling and beach tour around San Cristobal Island which is one of the best ways to see (and swim amongst!) a wide variety of native wildlife of Galapagos.

Day 8 (July 27): Official Departure Day and Official End of Trip

Depart Galapagos in the A.M. (San Cristobal to Quito) and arrive in Quito afternoon/early evening. Then depart Quito same day. Most flights are late evening or very early morning the next day (e.g., 12:30 am-1:30 am). Be sure to verify that the flight date is the next day if it is an early morning flight.

(Please note: the dates and schedule for workdays may be subject to change.)

Extending your stay in Galapagos:  Since you are entering Galapagos as a permitted volunteer (as opposed to a tourist) there are limits on the number of days you can stay before or after the official dates of the project.  Please inquire if you plan to make your own arrangements for arriving early or stay a few days after the official project dates.


The World Vets team will stay at a guest house located within close walking distance of the clinic as well as local shops, restaurants, a coffee shop and the waterfront. The property features an outdoor garden and fun hang-out areas with hammocks and Wi-Fi internet. Rooms are basic with private bath, A/C and a security safe for storing valuables. Accommodations will be shared with team members. Laundry service is available nearby.

General Packing List

*NOTE:  This is a general packing list.
Please research your project's forecast information for weather permitting items.


  • Shoes (anything comfortable w/ covered toes for clinic days)
  • World Vets scrub top (required during clinic days)
  • Scrub pants (optional)
  • Pants
  • T-shirts (weather permitting)
  • Shorts (weather permitting - shorts are ok for surgery)
  • Bandana/hat
  • Swimsuit (weather permitting)
  • Sweatshirt (weather permitting)
  • Light jacket (weather permitting)
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle (highly recommended)
  • Headlamp (highly recommended)
  • Camera
  • Tote bag
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo
  • Prescription medications
  • Over the counter meds (Tylenol, Imodium, cold meds etc)
  • Personal bottle of hand sanitizer (highly recommended)
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen (highly recommended)
  • Bug spray (DEET) (highly recommended)
  • Brush
  • Band-Aids
  • Glasses/contact lenses
  • Beach Towel (if applicable)
  • Ear Plugs
  • Flip Flops/Shower shoes/Water shoes