Learn Spanish In An Indigenous Community In Ecuador

Study Spanish in an indigenous community . . .

On this program you can study for a week in one of the indigenous communities that Yanapuma Foundation works with. If you wish to find out about life in Ecuador's different ecological regions - Pacific coast, Andean sierra, and Amazon rainforest, you can stay with your teacher with an indigenous family for a week in each region. This is a fascinating cultural experience as well as being a great way to practice your Spanish.

Activities are planned to complement the classes to fill the week with interest and excitement. The basic program includes opportunities to take part in local activities and explore your surroundings. Each community offers extra optional activities with varying costs.These might include hiring a guide, or horses, or a motorized canoe. If you are interested in these offerings you can arrange them directly with the community.

Please note that living conditions can be quite rudimentary when staying with an indigenous family, and this is part of the overall experience of immersing oneself in another culture. Some adaptation is required but we have found that the experience is mostly overwhelmingly rewarding for students.

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"What an amazing week - just like something out of National Geographic! Yachana was wonderful and my teacher (V) was a great companion as well as teacher throughout the week. We saw so much I can't begin to describe it all!

Agato community

The Kichwa village of Agato is situated near Otavalo, in the Andean sierra north of Quito. The population live by farming, with pasture for cattle, as well as fields of onions, cereals, maize and potatoes.

A week spent studying Spanish here is a great opportunity to appreciate the culture and way of life in the Andes. In addition there will be opportunities to visit the famous market town of Otavalo, the beautiful Cuicocha Lake, and nearby towns such as Cotocachi, famous for its leather goods and other handicrafts, and one of the more ecological and progressive small towns of Ecuador. The program ends on Friday after classes in the morning, and you can either return to Quito with your teacher, or stay around the area for another night to visit the famous Otavalo Market on Saturday, its busiest day and the day of the livestock market where alpacas, llamas and cuy (guinea-pigs) are on sale.

Estero de Plátano

The small community of Estero de Plátano is located on the Pacific coast in the southern part of the province of Esmeraldas. Originally inhabited by the Chachi culture, the population is now mixed with mestizos and black descendents of a slave ship that ran aground, resulting in a unique cultural blend. This area is one of the last remaining places where the rainforest still reaches down to the sea; a unique environment in which part of the population lives by farming small plots of yucca, plantains, and cacao in the jungle, and others fish in the ocean. The area offshore has recently been declared a marine reserve in recognition of its unique  ecology and relatively undamaged status.

Activities include spending time on the beach, hiking to waterfalls and other places of interest, and other options such as going out with the fishermen. It is also possible to watch whales here between July and November as they migrate along the coast.

Yanapuma Foundation is working with this community on the development of crafts production, health, education, and appropriate tourism. A week in Estero de Plátano offers a fascinating insight into another culture and way of life that is under threat.

Tsa’chila Communities - Bua, Los Naranjos, El Poste, Peripa

The communies of Bua, El Poste, Peripa and Los Naranjos are four of only 7 remaining villages of the Tsa’chila culture, located in the low tropical foothills of the Andes on the Pacific side. Originally a forest-dwelling people, their unique and distinctive culture is undergoing a renaissance through a group of families that run cultural centers which is where students stay when they take classes. Here students can learn about the Tsa’chila culture and explore a small reserve that contains some of the original primary forest that once covered the entire region. The center in Bua also attracts animals of the region that are brought there by locals such as boas, sloths, and iguanas that used to be hunted. These are looked after prior to being released into the wild again.

Yanapuma works with these communities in agriculture, reforestation, education, health, sanitation, and leadership and organizational training. A visit to a Tsa'chila community offers a great chance to learn about this unique culture and to see how Yanapuma works with the Tsa’chila towards sustainable development.

Note: Recently we have combined Estero de Plátano and a visit to the Tsa´chila communities in the same week, with 3 days in Estero and 2 in a Tsa'chila community, due to the fact that there is not always sufficient activity, especially in the Tsa'chila communities, to justify a whole week spent there. Combining the 2 makes good travel sense, and also makes for a richer experience.


Ecuador is home to around 17 indigenous groups (the exact number depends on how you distinguish between them!) Our "Study in an Indigenous Commuity" program gives you the chance to visit one of the indigenous groups that Yanapuma Foundation is working with to learn at first hand about the culture and relationship to the environment while you study Spanish with your own teacher.


🔸 Tsa'chila communities - a group of 7 communities of the Tsa'chila culture in the Pacific lowlands of Ecuador

🔸 Estero de Plátano - a poor community on the Pacific coast of Esmeraldas province composed of a mix of Chachis, Afro-Ecuadorians and mestizos

🔸 Chilcapamba - A Kichwa (Quichua) community in the Andes near the famous crafts mecca of Otavalo

🔸Sinchi Aqua Center - a Kichwa women´s project in Napo province in the Amazon region.

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