Expedition Service Trip

Join us in Ecuador for a new kind of Foundation service trip!

Apply to join us March 1-7  for a service trip unlike we've ever done before! On this expedition service trip, you'll travel to Loja, Ecuador to reforest 1,000 Palo Santo trees, learn about the region's incredible biodiversity, and experience how Gary Young and Chris Packer sought out the best botanicals around the world to distill into Young Living essential oils.

Why Loja, Ecuador?

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    Loja, Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse areas in the country due to its location. Located in the southern part of Ecuador near the border of Peru, it is situated between the coast and the Amazon in the Andes Mountains. The unique geography offers a rich habitat for thousands of species of plants and wildlife, including Palo Santo trees.

    Gary Young traveled the world searching for the best areas to source botanicals for essential oils. When he and Chris Packer explored Loja, Ecuador, they knew they’d found the perfect region for quality Palo Santo and set out to find ways to ethically and sustainably harvest the trees.

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    For decades, the landscape of southern Ecuador has been threatened by land clearing and unsustainable agricultural practices. Aside from illegally clearing land to raise unregulated livestock, Palo Santo trees are particularly vulnerable to deforestation as they offer a source of income in rural populations with limited resources. For generations, harvesting the tree’s valuable oil was accomplished through deforestation.

    Now, ethical farms in Loja such as Young Living’s harvest Palo Santo that has completed its lifecycle, only harvesting trees that have been dead for three to five years.

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    Our commitment to sustainable farming goes beyond responsible harvesting. We are also committed to giving back to and replenishing the region! We’ve been raising 1,000 Palo Santo seedlings for the past several years at our Finca Botanica farm in Chongon, Ecuador, and now they’re mature enough to be planted in the forest where their seeds originated from in Loja.

    Apply today to join us in Loja from Wednesday, March 1 through Tuesday, March 7 to serve hands-on planting these 1,000 Palo Santo trees and explore the biodiversity of the region like Gary did.

Trip Details

Here are some general FAQs to help you prepare.

  • When can I apply and when will I be notified if I am accepted?

    You can apply to join us now through Sunday, January 15.

    You'll be notified if your application was accepted, waitlisted, or denied on Monday, January 16. If accepted, you will receive more information about how to pay your deposit with your acceptance email.

  • When is the trip and what does the agenda look like?

    We're excited to have you join us in Ecuador as we plant 1,000 Palo Santo seedlings from March 1-7. The trip will be 7 days (6 nights) including travel from March 1-7, 2023. Below is a tentative agenda:

    Wednesday, March 1
    Arrive in Quito, Ecuador in the evening and stay the night in a hotel.

    Thursday, March 2
    Spend the morning exploring the hotel grounds, and depart for Loja in the afternoon. Enjoy an authentic Ecuadorian dinner and settle into your hotel for the night.

    Friday, March 3
    Explore the area on a hike guided by Chris Packer in the morning, and travel to the Palo Santo forest to set up camp. After set up, you'll learn more about the Palo Santo planting process and begin work.

    Saturday, March 4
    Spend the day planting Palo Santo, and unwind at a bonfire back at camp that night.  

    Sunday, March 5
    Finish planting and explore the area before your final night at camp.

    Monday, March 6
    Go for a morning hike and enjoy your last night in Catacocha.

    Tuesday, March 7
    Travel back to Loja to begin your journey home.

  • How much does the trip cost? What does the cost cover?

    The cost of the trip is $1,800 USD and includes accommodations in hotels and at the campsite, all in-country transportation, meals, and activities for the duration of your stay. You will book your flights separately.

    Paying in full: 

    • If your application is accepted and you prefer to pay in full, payment is due Monday, January 23. 

    Paying in installments:

    If your application is accepted, you are welcomed to pay the $1,800 trip cost in installments. Make payments and fundraise for your trip in one place by setting up an Expedition Service Trip fundraiser and selecting General Donation in the dropdown menu. You and your friends and family can contribute to your fundraiser directly through your unique fundraiser link!

    Here is the payment schedule: 

    • January 23 - $800 deposit due
    • February 6 - $500 due
    • February 20 - $500 due

    Any leftover funds, after all trip expenses are paid, will be donated to our efforts to protect the earth.

  • How do I book my flights?

    You will book your flights separately from the trip cost, giving you the freedom to fly with your preferred airline. You may book your flights on your own, or work with our recommended third party travel agent.

  • Will I need to bring my own camping gear?

    Because a portion of this service trip involves camping in the beautiful Palo Santo forest in Catacocha, you will need to bring your own camping essentials including:

    • Tent
    • Tarp(s)
    • Sleeping pad/packable air bed
    • Sleeping bag
    • Pillow
    • Headlamp

    At the camp, all of your meals will be provided so you can leave your camp cookware at home. 

  • What are the current entry requirements for Ecuador?

    Ecuador eliminated its COVID-19 entry requirements effective October 20, 2022. International travelers are no longer required to present COVID-19 vaccination cards or proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to entering Ecuador. 

    International travelers are still required to present a declaration of traveler health. You can fill this declaration out on the plane or ahead of time on the Ministry of Public Health website.

    Please note, procedures may change at any time. For the latest entry guidelines to Ecuador, visit the website of the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Ecuador. To receive important updates, U.S. citizens should register their travel in Ecuador in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

  • Can I extend my stay in Ecuador beyond the trip dates?

    If you'd like to extend your stay beyond the trip dates, you will be personally responsible for any additional expenses incurred. You are welcome to work with our travel vendor to delay your return flight. Please contact Michelle Inchiglema at minchiglema@youngliving.com with any additional questions.

  • Who can I contact for more information?

    Please email our events manager Michelle Inchiglema at minchiglema@youngliving.com with any specific questions you may have.

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