Travel insights from Latin America

6 Nature Experiences Where Students Make a Genuine Difference

By Hannah Pentin | June 11, 2024

Home to more than 40% of the world’s biodiversity – from the Amazon rainforest to marine life in the Galapagos Islands – Latin America offers a plethora of awe-inspiring landscapes and a myriad of wildlife.

But the region faces great risks.

Climate change threatens local habitats, impacts food and water availability, and affects human communities. 

Many countries here have implemented conservation efforts, or eco-tourism practices, to protect their natural capital. In fact, many feature at the top of Forbes’ Ecotourism Index.  

Educational nature experiences take students out of the classroom, and into real-world settings, offering them the opportunity to not become inspired, take action, and reflect. 

Whether assisting in wildlife conservation or reforestation, there is a rich selection of activities for students to partake in, and their efforts can have tangible results. 

Let’s look at six nature experiences in Latin America that help students make a difference…


1.    Experiencing & restoring the Galapagos

5 nature experiences Galapagos

Reforestation is a critical tool. 

Planting trees and tracking their growth helps combat climate change as the new forests absorb carbon dioxide. It also safeguards and restores biodiversity. 

One great example of this is on our environmental science trip to the Galapagos – an impactful adventure led by expert environmental scientists and biologists.  

The trip begins in the historical center of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, before heading to San Cristobal Island. 

Students receive a guided tour of an interpretation center, followed by the opportunity to snorkel with sea lions. 

Here, they stay in a colonial homestead called a Hacienda. Through the knowledge of local guides, they discover the value of a tortoise protection programme.

On visiting a greenhouse, they deepen their understanding of plant growth, and the data collected is used by the National Park that contributes to the conservation of the island.

Students help control invasive species and learn about the factors threatening biodiversity.

Participants can plant their own trees, which can sequester a large quantity of carbon, and create new habitats.

The itinerary includes day visits to new islands, a tour of the Charles Darwin Research Center, and a stop at Tortuga Bay, where participants enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. 

Additionally, they discover the art of making jewelry from repurposed materials. 


2. Cultural immersion & urban collaboration in Colombia

5 nature experiences Colombia


In Medellin, a city that has undergone major transformations in recent years, Kagumu Adventures highlights an urban gardening project

Students are joined by local pupils, creating a cross-cultural learning environment during which they create a garden bursting with fresh produce.

Through this, we highlight the importance of green spaces in urban environments and have the ability to turn disregarded pieces of land into a blossoming community garden. 

With a visit to a rural farm, in El Carmen De Viboral, students can enjoy organic tasting sessions and cooking challenges and witness the circular economy in action.

In the rainforest, there is a visit to the nature reserve, and an introductory workshop. A native bird species can be found with a guided nighttime stroll through the caves, along with other thrilling activities like zip-lining and rafting.

On return to Medellin, thanks to our collaboration with Cafe Urbania, students can take part in an immersive, authentic Colombian coffee workshop.


3. Bringing to life students’ STEM learning in Ecuador

5 nature experiences Ecuador

From the classroom to Ecuador, Kagumu Adventures’ STEM trip brings students’ education to life, with immersive learning, exposure to unique ecosystems, and integration into the local culture.

The journey begins in Quito, which is one of the most extensive and best-preserved historic centers of Spanish America. 

Here, we tour the Environmental Education Centre and visit the Middle of the Earth. 

A guided tour to the crater of Quilotoa volcano allows students to encounter surrounding native communities, and the opportunity to go kayaking in the volcanic waters of the laguna. 

On entry to the Amazon, in Baños, students can take in panoramic views, and go zip-lining through the Amazonian trees. 

The itinerary also includes a forestry workshop, and a meeting with an incredible local. Omar Tello, created his very own forest, as a way of changing the course of deforestation.

Students can find new wisdom amongst the Shuar community and take part in a cross-cultural exchange workshop – discovering unique healing practices, medicinal properties of local agriculture, and traditional farming. 

To end the experience, students don their aprons in a cooking challenge using locally sourced ingredients.


4. Exploring permaculture practices in Guatemala 

6 nature experiences Guatemala

Sol Y Verde is an agricultural project based in Paxcaman, Peten, Guatemala, which has been going on since 2019, and has hosted ‘over 150 international volunteers in the past 3 years’. 

They primarily work with women and children, who are either migrants or from local campesino families.

On this trip, students meet Baltazar, the founder and director of the project, which began in the village of El Remate.

Jasmine Ward, the secretary, clarifies the primary intention of the project is to ensure everything is replicable by a local family in the village; “as if nobody can replicate it, what are we demonstrating, what is the point?”

With the help of volunteers, their goal is to provide the community with tools, to prepare them for the effects of climate change. They nurture the environment and the community, through education and hands-on activities. 

The project hosts various types of student volunteers, ranging from the WWOOF Volunteer programme, to group tours/day experiences (includes a tour of the farm, or agricultural workshop), and a private group programme of activities for a week or more. 


5. Creative & conservation volunteering in Panama

Hidden away, in the Bocas Del Toro Archipelago, on Isla Colon, you can find Finca

Flora – a small-scale, community, agricultural project. It is run by Monique and Jim, who have been living in and developing Finca Flora for two years but have owned the location for over ten.

Amongst the distinctive natural landscape and abundance of wildlife, this voluntary project invites participants to paint murals, discover the art of mosaic-making, and take part in gardening. 

It doesn’t, however, just incorporate creativity and conservation; it’s also a great way for students to learn Spanish and gain insights into Panamanian culture. 

Students can experience island life in their free time by cycling around the island, snorkeling, visiting beautiful beaches, observing the variety of species, and much more! 

Sign up to volunteer here:

6. Join a burgeoning environmental project in Mexico

Just a few hours from Cancun, you can find the small Mexican pueblo, Bacalar, which is known for its “lagoon of 7 colors”. 

‘Alak’ is a foundation located here which promotes environmental consciousness, as well as self-introspection. 

Diego, the founder, says the purpose of the initiative is “to restore the connection that humans have lost with nature, and promote better day-to-day habits.” 

Normally the foundation works with young people, to empower them to launch more projects, like this, which focus on protecting and restoring ecosystems.

There is a lake clean-up twice a month. The first includes a yoga class to help participants connect their mind, body, and soul, before cleaning the lagoon’s shorelines. 

The second entails free diving to remove waste from the inside of the lake. Alak offers daily waste transportation, recycling and composting services, to separate wastes produced by local establishments. 

According to Diego, in Bacalar they want better tourism, and that is the reason they collaborate with the municipality, other foundations, and the Secretary of Tourism of the state. 

Even before student travelers arrive, they receive a detailed guide, so they know what they can and cannot do in the lagoon. They’re welcome to participate in the clean-ups and contribute to creating change in the small Mexican town.

Amidst the climate crisis, it is crucial to promote global connectivity, displayed in abundance in all these interactive nature experiences. 

We know young people have the capability to help tackle pressing environmental challenges. Joining one of these transformative experiences, or any other around the world, provides the key stepping stone to inspiring action.