Santo Domingo de Onzole, Ecuador

This trip to the interior of Esmeraldas Province is the most adventuresome and rugged that T2T-I currently offers. If you’re willing, you will find yourself entering a culture isolated from the rest of the world for most of its history. Because of its seclusion, the African-Ecuadorian settlement of Santo Domingo on the banks of the Onzole River has created a singular, thriving community based on longstanding traditions handed down undiluted through generations. Legend says that the original settlers were escaped African slaves from either Columbian mines or a shipwreck. They banded together in prior centuries and lived in secrecy until very recently. With the assistance of the Onzole River Project, Santo Domingo has built a school that is populated by committed teachers and enthusiastic students.

Trip Itinerary

Thursday, July 13  — Guayaquil

You will fly into Guayaquil, Ecuador, where an affiliated driver carrying a T2T-I sign will meet you at the airport after you claim your baggage. If time permits, lodging for the night will allow you to explore some of the nearby neighborhood with your new team members.

Friday, July 14  — Guayaquil

Today you and the team will tour Ecuador’s largest and most populous city. Framed within the larger narrative of the Onzole community and the country’s history of injustice, you’ll sample a bit of everything this region has to offer. Your day will allow you to experience the week with a deeper understanding of the wonderful people you will meet.


Saturday, July 15 — Transit to Santo Domingo

After an early breakfast, you will begin your trip to Santo Domingo with a seven-hour bus ride. After arriving at the Onzole River, you will take a short break before embarking on a two-hour, motorized canoe ride upstream. You will eat dinner at the village’s guesthouse and have some time to explore and unpack, then a brief orientation meeting will be held.

Your lodgings for this portion of the trip will be secure, dorm-style rooms, with some sharing. Prohibitions on smoking and alcohol consumption requested by T2T-I’s host will be discussed with you before departure.

onzoleboyriverSunday, July 16 — Santo Domingo de Onzole

Experiencing a day in the life of a Santo Domingo resident will be the entire agenda. You will be matched up with a local family who will show you how to eat, work, and live just as they do. This location’s rich culture could take years to experience fully, so this will be a busy day!

Monday, July 17 — Santo Domingo de Onzole

Today is a day for community, team building, and team training. We will hold meetings to prepare for the week, taking breaks for recreation. For example, we might walk to the vista overlooking the village for photos or play soccer at the village field.

OnzoleguysTuesday, July 18 — Santo Domingo de Onzole

During the morning, you will attend a meeting before walking to the school as a team.

Today will provide opportunities for you to observe your partner and her/his classroom. You and the team will eat lunch with the teachers at the school. The high school meets during the afternoon today and Tuesday, so you will assist with math lessons.

After group professional development, you will have a fantastic, locally prepared, traditional dinner. The rest of the evening will be set aside for processing the day’s experiences and planning for tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 19— Santo Domingo de Onzole

In the morning, you will deliver the lesson you prepared the night before.

The afternoon will be spent working with teachers as they hold classes for the high school students. You will also have the opportunity to meet with your partner to discuss the past two days.

You will eat a traditional dinner in the home of a community host. You will have time afterwards for a walk around the village or along the river. Storytelling and games may also occupy the evening.


Thursday, July 20 — Santo Domingo de Onzole

While the students are at school in the morning, you and your partner will co-teach a lesson. Observation and support will take the rest of the school day. You will spend some time with your partner reviewing the day’s lessons, then the entire group will hold a professional development session.

Questions to process with the team in the evening are What did or did not go as well as you’d like? and How will this knowledge affect your strategies tomorrow? You will relax with a movie if time permits.

1428758461santo_domingoFriday, July 21 — Santo Domingo de Onzole

Today presents an opportunity for a your partner to lead a lesson or for the pair of you to experiment with a new activity. You will then each lunch with the teachers, followed by one-on-one discussion with your partner.

Afterwards, the entire group will hold a brief meeting.

You will eat dinner again in the homes of local families. The remainder of the evening will be set aside for visiting with community members, games, and reflection.

Saturday, July 22 — Transit to Guayaquil

You’ll want to wake up early today for the journey back to Guayaquil. The team will retrace its steps back downriver and onto a bus.

Sunday, July 23 — Return to U.S.

Time to say goodbye for now. Your flight back to the U.S. will give you plenty of time to reflect on your adventure and plan for your next visit to this wonderful place.


Our team will be housed in the Onzole River Project Guesthouse while in Santa Domingo de Onzole (see pictures below). The guesthouse was built by volunteers as a way to welcome visitors. Accommodations are spartan; you will share a room with one or two other individuals. Mosquito nets and rain boots are provided. The guesthouse has shared bathrooms; however, running water depends on working electricity and river level. There is no internet access within the village.

While in Guayaquil, you will stay in the well-rated Hostel Nucapacha. Shaded by palm trees, this hostel will bust all your preconceived notions of budget-friendly travel, as you enjoy its beautiful pool and complimentary breakfast. It is also situated in a great neighborhood.
View from Onzole River Project Guesthouse
Interior porch of Onzole River Project Guesthouse

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