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schoolchildren on the trip

The Inspiration Project: Parque Condor, Ecuador

As part of the Inspiration Project last year, Exodus sent 2,023 children on fully funded days out to emulate what our travellers experience on our adventures - a practice that we're continuing this year. In Ecuador, that means an all-expenses paid trip for vulnerable children to the Parque Condor bird sanctuary and Cuicocha Lake.

Andean Condor in flightAndean Condor in flight


Parque Condor is a non-profit wildlife refuge for birds of prey, including the endangered Andean Condor. It’s in an impossibly beautiful spot, overlooking the Imbabura and Cotacachi volcanoes and San Pablo Lake far below. For anyone a visit to such a sanctuary would be exciting. But for the children Exodus are sending, it’s unlike any opportunity they’ve had before.

Children from the schoolChildren from the school


We’ll be sending groups of children from several local schools to Parque Condor as part of the Inspiration Project, but we wanted to share the first one with you. La Victoria is a small Afro-Ecuadorian village, home to the Escuela de Educación Básica Franklin Roosevelt school. It was here that Pablo Montalvo, Exodus guide of 14 years, collected the first group for the trip. With Pablo’s experienced hand on the helm, the group of 21 children headed off for the Parque Condor for a day learning about the environment and wildlife of their country.

The first group setting outThe first group setting out


Amidst the excitement of seeing these majestic birds of prey, the children got to learn more about the importance of the conservation of these species and their habitat. There were educational games to teach them about the fragility of the ecosystem, and give them a sense of responsibility as well as wonder at the wildlife all around them. There was a flight demonstration of birds that aren’t able to be released into the wild, including the stately swoop of a mighty Andean Condor, the national bird of Ecuador. If there’s ever a thing to instill a sense of national pride and the importance of conservation, it would be the chance to see these creatures up close.

Cuicocha caldera and lake in EcuadorCuicocha caldera and lake in Ecuador


Next was lunch, followed by an afternoon boat trip across Cuicocha Laguna, where Pablo was able to share with the children his knowledge of the lake, and its local flora and fauna. The lake sits in a volcanic crater some 3km across, and they say its name – translated as Guinea Pig Lake – comes from the small island in the centre which looks like a guinea pig. The islands support a variety of different species and the scenery is enough to fire the imagination of anyone, child or adult alike.

Pablo, Exodus leaderPablo, Exodus leader


We spoke to Solange, aged 9, to find out what she thought of the day – and found her enraptured by the wildlife all around her.

Our interviewee, SolangeOur interviewee, Solange


  “It surprised me to see the condor, its big size, the wings and the huge nests they build! I liked to see and learn about the animals.” But what was her favourite part of the day? “Cuicocha lake! It has a pretty view and we learned about the history of the volcano.”

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