San Andres Ecuador volunteer buillding conservation project

Adventure Details 

Project Leader:
Juan Diego Badillo Reyes, Architect, Volunteer South America
Juan Diego Badillo, is a conservation architect in Ecuador, and serves as Coordinator for Volunteer South America. His main focus is organizing projects involving cultural heritage and traditional crafts as an engine for sustainable community development. Previously, he worked for Ecuador’s Ministry of Culture as the Director of Conservation and Risk of Cultural Heritage. Mr. Badillo has a degree in Architecture, with Masters in Conservation and Management of Cultural Heritage as well as in Diagnosis and Repair of Buildings with specialization in historic regeneration.

Project Sponsors:
Municipality of San Andrés de Guano
The Municipality awarded a grant to cover the cost of all materials needed to restore the former convent.

Help sponsor this conservation project!

Project Partners:
Volunteer South America
Volunteer South America began in response to demand from local non-profit organisations with volunteer positions on structured programs in South America. Their mission is to fill those positions by helping volunteers find the position that is right for them. THey are committed to providing quality service, information and support and keeping costs low so that more people volunteer and help local organizations.

historic view San Andres Ecuador volunteer buillding conservation project

DBL US$1,500 | SGL +US$130 for two weeks

Residents of Ecuador receive reduced rate – Contact Volunteer South America
San Andrés community members attend at no cost – Contact Volunteer South America


Discounts! Past participants always receive a discounted tour fee
Check out AiP's Loyalty Program

Additional Cost Information:
All costs are per person per 2-week session.

Your fee includes:

  • Lodging August 1 in Quito
  • In-country transportation
  • Lodging in San Andrés
  • All meals, except in Quito
  • Excursions during your trip dates
  • Instruction and training
  • Project materials

All participants are responsible for:

  • Transportation between airport & group meeting point
  • Visa, if needed
  • Travel health insurance, including emergency evacuation coverage
  • A review of our Welcome Package, sent upon receipt of your trip deposit. It contains important information for pre-trip preparation and additional information about the project and the area

vernacualr mill building San Andres Ecuador volunteer buillding conservation project


All photos this page by Juan Diego Badillo Reyes

Saving Ecuador’s Vernacular Village Architecture

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Explore and restore Ecuador’s cultural heritage – AiP’s newest volunteer travel opportunity!


Registration Closed – 2016 projects coming soon!
Join this Adventure!

Dates: August 2-15, 2015

Why Volunteer in Ecuador
When Juan Diego Badillo, an architect in Ecuador, first visited San Andrés he found himself enchanted by the town’s small stone buildings. Returning a few years later, he found the spell broken: many of the traditional stone houses and shops had disappeared. As Coordinator for Volunteer South America, Juan Diego asked AiP if our volunteers could work with him to stop the loss of Ecuador’s traditional built heritage. Join AiP’s jammers (volunteers) for an extraordinary adventure in Ecuador’s Andean foothills, and our answer for Juan Diego will be “YES”.

Project and Need View through convent ruin window - Badillo
When talking to residents of many of Ecuador’s villages, it becomes apparent that community members no longer have the skills needed to repair and maintain their traditional stone buildings, perfectly designed to deal with the Andean landscape and climate. The goal of this project is therefore to demonstrate the economic and environment gains achieved by re-learning traditional techniques, saving their historic buildings and retaining the visual beauty of the region’s unique cultural landscape.

Cultural heritage conservation in Ecuador has grown since 2007 but the focus has been on monumental architecture, leaving almost 80% of the country’s beautiful vernacular architecture at risk. Small towns continue to lose building after building, greatly reducing the potential for economic development through heritage tourism.

This hands-on volunteer project takes place in the community of San Andrés de Guano, 300km south of Quito, at Antiguo Convento de la parroquia de San Andrés de Guano. The structure is part of a religious compound that includes a 17th century Franciscan convent, partially in ruins (get ready for an archaeological dig in the near future!), and a newer, mid-20th century church, both built of local volcanic stone.

Work during the two-week session will include:

  • learning carpentry skills to repair wooden windows and doors
  • removing inappropriate concrete and mortars from the stone
  • restoring ceilings
  • completing general repairs such as painting and replacing light fixtures.

If you have a special construction skill, such as plastering or carpentry, please let us know. We are also interested to hear if you have experience in photography, sketching or video work.

How You Will Help the Community
volunteer historic preservation vacation EcuadorVernacular stone buildings are typical of the area, but due to the lack of resources and misunderstanding of the economic potential of maintaining this architecture, traditional building skills have been lost. These skills have been replaced by modern technology that actually damages historic buildings and negatively affects the environment and Andean landscape. In demonstrating the beautiful results of conservation work at a site very important to the community, our goal is to interest owners of historic properties to join us in learning traditional building skills and using them to maintain their own historic properties. Join this adventure in preservation and be part of:

  • Creating a much needed change in perception about the value of historic buildings
  • Encouraging community members to join in re-learning Ecuador’s traditional building skills
  • Building a sustainable economy through heritage tourism
  • Bringing new jobs to the community and helping create new small businesses specializing in traditional construction techniques.

As an AiP jammer, you’ll play a vital role in showing that preservation is a powerful tool for change.

More Ways to Help
The total cost of conservation work at the convent is an estimated US$15,000. We are seeking sponsors and donors to join the Municipality of San Andrés in supporting this important economic development project. AiP is also actively seeking partnerships with university programs that would like to include this long-term conservation project as part of their curriculum. For interested students, we will work with your university program to provide a learning experience that fulfills requirements for receiving credit. Semester internships are also available. Have your adviser or professor contact us to explore this possibility.

In San Andrés, volunteers will stay at the Hotel San Andrés, which provides both single and double rooms, with private bath. Your fee covers lodging in a double room; single room supplement is available on request. Breakfast is included.

Most meals will be served at the hotel. Some meals will be provided by the community, giving you the opportunity to sample homemade local cuisine, such as delicious soups and traditional dishes made of beans, rice and meat.

Each session includes two, full-day excursions designed to introduce you to more of this beautiful country and its culture. On a trip to Nariz del Diablo, Alausí in the Chimborazo Province you will experience firsthand the delights of the Andean landscape, culture, folklore and traditional crafts. Traveling on the zigzag railroad, a unique and majestic feat of engineering, is sure to be a highlight.

We will also spend a day traveling The Stone Circuit through Chimborazo Province, visiting museums, ruins an old chapel under restoration, and streets where it seems time has stood still.

Travel Details
View over Gjirokastra Albania travelIf you arrive in Quito on Saturday, August 1, take a taxi to the hotel where you will spend Saturday night and meet other team members. Lodging for the night is included in your fee as long as you let AiP know in advance. The name and location of the hotel will be provided in your Welcome Packet.

Meals in Quito are the responsibility of each individual.

All team members, whether arriving on Saturday or Sunday, will leave from the hotel for San Andrés by van at 1pm on Sunday. A trip coordinator will be there to provide assistance if needed. You will be met by a member of Volunteer South America when you arrive in San Andrés, who will assist with hotel check-in.

Ecuador recently adopted the US dollar, so those traveling from the US will not need to change currency. Those traveling from other points of origin will need to get dollars. Residents of most countries will need only a valid passport to enter Ecuador, though citizens of some countries are required to have entry visas. Be sure to check the visa requirements for your country of origin.

We’ve discovered some very affordable airfares on LAN airlines to share with you. With these great fares from select American cities, this trip could be the chance of a lifetime to immerse yourself in the natural and cultural heritage of Ecuador.

If you would like assistance with travel arrangements, contact Peace Frogs Travel/Outfitters, AiP’s partnering travel agency.

Take the next step toward adventure –
Join us in 2016!

Join this Adventure!

If you have any questions or would like to chat with an AiP staff member about joining this cultural heritage experience, contact us at or call +1 303 444 0128.