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Plants, People, and Healing: Discovering Ecuador’s Amazonian Ethnobotany

We offer a unique and transformative opportunity for you to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and rich biodiversity of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

This program is designed to provide you with an in-depth understanding of the importance of medicinal plants in traditional medicine and their role in addressing local epidemiological concerns. You will work alongside alternative healthcare providers, specialists, and local healers, learning about their customs and the significance of their work in the preservation of their culture.

During the program, you will learn about traditional medicinal plants used by the Kichwa people of Amazonian Ecuador and how these plants reflect local epidemiological concerns and pharmacopoeias. They will also explore the benefits of cultivating medicinal plants in home gardens and gain an understanding of the determinants of knowledge regarding their uses within the indigenous Shuar and mestizo communities.

As you develop your knowledge and skills, you will have the opportunity to contribute to projects that support local medicine men and healers in their efforts to disseminate information and maintain their cultural heritage. Your daily activities will involve working in agroforestry farms, cultivating medicinal plants, and participating in plant inventories, allowing you to build practical experience while making a meaningful impact on the community.

By living with local host families, you will fully immerse yourself in the culture and forge lasting connections with community members. This unique experience will not only broaden your understanding of traditional medicine and ethnobotany but also inspire personal growth and a newfound appreciation for the interconnection between culture, health, and the environment.

The Experience

As a traditional medicine and ethnobotany intern in Ecuador, you can expect a well-rounded and immersive daily experience that allows you to delve deep into the world of Amazonian traditional medicine. Your day will be a blend of hands-on activities, collaboration with local healers and medicine men, and opportunities for cultural exchange and personal growth.

A typical day begins with breakfast and a possible early morning ritual of sharing guayusa tea with your host family. You’ll then spend your morning working at a local agroforestry farm, learning about medicinal plants and their uses. After lunch, you’ll have time for independent research or engaging in activities with healers and medicine men, further deepening your knowledge and skills in ethnobotany and traditional medicine practices.

Evenings and weekends provide opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture by participating in various activities such as sports, teaching English, or exploring nearby tourist destinations. Interns are encouraged to spend quality time with their host families to foster meaningful connections and gain insights into the local way of life.


To begin journey you will need to fly into Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. We will arrange transport to the local town of Tena, which is approximately 4 hours drive.

You will stay with a carefully selected Host family, and be provided with a comfortable private room. We can also arrange for a local hotel if you prefer.

The cost of the programme is £1000 per week, with a minimum 2 week booking (including travel time).

This includes;

  • Private Accommodation
  • All meals
  • Airport Pickup & transfer to project (includes overnight stay in Quito up-on arrival)
  • All project-related activities
  • Premium Support Package with 24/7 Support

This does not include;

  • Flights
  • Visas (if applicable)
  • Vaccinations
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal spending and any extra activities


All of these experiences include people. People are what kept and keep me going. The energy of the Ecuadorian Amazon was like no other, and I struggle with the fact that I had to leave a place that brought me so much joy. It doesn’t take money, a big house, a busy schedule, or a fit body to be happy there. All you need is an open heart, a wide smile, and a willingness to laugh at yourself to feel like you belong in the local culture which is full of life. After four months of being in Ecuador, I became part of an extensive family that I know I will return to and I gained a plethora of new skills to use. Having already traveled to four continents and over 20 countries, where I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and where I spent my time in San Pablo/Tena, Ecuador are two places I can genuinely consider I have family.



Amazonian Traditional Medicine Intern

Day 6

The kichwa host family and I were out the door and trekking up to the chakra-farm at seven in the morning to prepare for a traditional amazon dinner booked at the restaurant. We all carried a load of cooking equipment or fresh local amazon produce in large baskets slung over our back and secured with a rope handle resting on our heads. Dona Elena and I started food prep and equipment cleaning. While food prep was going Don Clemente started two open fires under a bamboo shelter and had water boiling straight away. By noon the kitchen was running like a well-oiled machine with more family members coming in to assist with food harvest from the chakra, food prep of over twenty different foods, tending the fires, and dining room preparation. The thirty restaurant customers arrived at sunset and started with a tour of the farm before digging into a magnificent amazon feast.



Ecuadorean Amazon Pioneer

As a biochemical engineering major, I learn a lot about western medicine and how to modify things on the DNA level. Traditional medicine and this field are not Emily Dryden volunteer in ecuadoralways combined as they could be. I can see there being some potential with bringing the knowledge I have learned from the Amazonian plants to the world of the laboratories. Additionally being introduced to plants in the Amazon has opened up a new field of study for me that I may pursue.

Putting into words how this experience benefitted me educationally and for my potential career is extremely difficult, because this experience definitely has changed my life. Tangibly, this experience taught me so much about traditional medicine and medicinal plants. As a biochemical engineering major, I mainly see how medicine is made in labs, and it was awesome to see how medicine is directly taken from nature and used. I could see the collaboration of the traditional and western medicine being a potential project for my future.




For 9 weeks I participated in an agroforestry internship through Global Nomadic. This opened me up to a company that produces and sells an energy drink made from guayusa, a ‘tea’ like leaf native to the Ecuadorian Amazon. I worked for the Fundacion, the non-profit initially attached before total separation in the Summertime. The vision of the Fundacion is to improve local livelihoods and conserve tropical biodiversity by creating sustainable value for rainforest products.

Throughout my agroforestry placement I undertook a variety of different roles and had the potential to participate in a number more, those of which I did participate in are listed below.

  • Creation and editing of monitoring guides.
  • Research into the health properties of Amazonian plants.
  • Creation and editing of communication products such as posters, handouts and product packaging.
  • Organisation of intern work.
  • Creation of a guide for future interns.
  • Creation and updating of vivero (plant nursery) inventory.
  • Reforestation project: rotating agroforestry fund.


Amazon Conservationist

Book a Call

Schedule a free call with us to discuss the project in greater details, and answer any questions you may have.