Testimonials // Testimonios

identifying-birds-with-Domingo-and-Gabi-2000x1500“The property of Don Adrian Gavilán and his family is an exceptional corner of our beautiful but threatened planet. True to its name, el Refugio is more than a refuge for visitors looking for truly authentic Ecuadorian hospitality and care – it is a refuge for howler monkeys with intricate social circles, sloths with decades of peaceful meditation under their belt, and toucans with technicolor bills who make up but a miniscule fraction of the bird diversity in the lush Chocó region of North-Western Ecuador. As a visitor, volunteer, or researcher, your time with Don Adrian, Fanny, and their daughter Gabby will fuel a positive exchange of social and ecological impacts between the fragmented cloud forests of Esmeraldas and the local community. Adrian treats his guests as though his little slice of primary forest depends on them, and in many ways it does. El Refugio is a microcosm of a greater trend of conservation and ecotourism efforts that are dispersing across the continent of South America and the world. From helping Adrian harvest his cacao crop to teaching English to the local school children in the neighboring village of Santa Isabel, a stay at El Refugio del Gavilán is rich with genuine connection to the land and its passionate stewards. Moreover, visitors will strengthen a pathway to crucial resources for a small family with big dreams.” Laura Nicholson and Scott Glib 2018

“Traveling to the Refugio was an incredible, and quite frankly life-changing experience. Adrian and Fanny were extremely accommodating and generous (I was never hungry), and Zoe made sure everything went smoothly from start to finish. I stayed for eight weeks with essentially no experience with volunteering or living so far from the US, and it turned out to be well worth the effort. The area is beautiful: the biodiversity and wildlife is unfathomable, the scenery is breathtaking. The people are friendly and I immediately felt welcome into their community. The work is very rewarding. If you’re looking for an authentic Ecuadorian experience, you will not be disappointed living and working at the Refugio — I certainly wasn’t.” Rob Vinzent, 2016

“Don Adrian was very considerate. He only wanted us to do things that we wanted to do and were capable of. He spent a lot of time and energy showing us around, and teaching us about everything. We made chocolate, tasted everything that grows around the house, watched birds, took walks etc.. He told us we only had to do six hours of work a day, but we did more because we enjoyed the work. It was our first and favorite volunteer experience we have done. We hope to return before the end of our trip.” Paul Silvers, 2016

Video Testimonial by Nicole Funk