ANDES DETAILED ITINERARY
IN-COUNTRY ORIENTATION (BOLIVIA)
The group takes its first steps into the Andes in La Paz, Bolivia, the highest capital in the world at around 12,000 feet. Absorb the dramatic juxtaposition of urban sprawl against the snow-capped peaks of Illimani from the air as you fly to Rurrenebaque and venture into the Bolivian Amazon. Nestled in an Ecolodge in the middle of the Madidi National Park, spend your days on guided nature hikes or canoe rides through the habitats of an incredible variety of monkeys, birds, butterflies, and fish. At night, relax in a hammock or join a guided search for the glowing eyes of alligators on the shores of nearby lagoons.
This exciting start to your journey provides the backdrop for an orientation training designed to prepare you for all aspects of your semester. Together with your group, participate in lectures, discussions, and activities designed to deepen your understanding of the culture, customs and life of rural South America and explore the nuances of sustainable development and responsible volunteerism. Your orientation concludes when you fly to Cochabamba, a proud and progressive city in the Central Highlands of the Andes. In your brief stop here, you make final preparations for your community service and homestays.
SERVICE, TEACHING & INDEPENDENT PROJECTS (BOLIVIA & ECUADOR)
Service, Bolivia (3 weeks): Your group is welcomed with great celebration into a rural, picturesque and traditional village outside of Cochabamba. While living in pairs with host families, you work side by side with community members to build, paint, or remodel a community center, playground, or school classroom. In the afternoons and evenings, spend time learning Spanish and a few words in Quechua with your new friends and family or initiating secondary projects such as building school desks, planting trees, painting a mural, or starting a soccer tournament. Prepare for your teaching placement in the latter half of the program by observing and assisting teachers in the local school and even teaching a few of your own lessons. Enjoy a day trip as a group to the bustling Sunday market in nearby Cliza or the Lagunas Huarahuara in Tunari National Park.
Teaching & Independent Projects, Ecuador (5 weeks): Share a more independent South American experience with one fellow intern as you move together into a host community outside San Luis de Pambil, a small town in the tropical lowlands of Ecuador. In this beautiful lush agricultural region, live with your own host family and teach at a local school where, depending upon your skills and interests and the school’s needs, you may teach English or any number of other subjects. Your in-country director visits you weekly to provide ideas, strategies and ongoing support. In your downtime, spend an afternoon conversing with the members of the Padres de Familia (PTA), visiting the family cacao farm, or drinking a strong cup of local coffee. Initiate an Independent Project such as volunteering at a local health clinic, working with a women’s cooperative, building a playground, starting an environmental initiative, or running a sports or arts camp. Enjoy several weekends gathering together as a group to cook dinner, share stories, or visit nearby sites of interest.
TRAVEL ADVENTURES (PERU & GALAPAGOS, ECUADOR)
Mid-Program Break, Peru: The Mid-Program Break is a well-timed opportunity for reflection, rejuvenation, and adventure. This amazing two-week adventure begins traveling overland from Bolivia to Peru through high Andean grasslands to arrive at the shores of mystical Lake Titicaca. Kayak along the secluded Capachica peninsula and take a boat ride to Isla Taquile and the floating Uros islands, built of totora reeds. Next, travel northwest to the 3000-year old city of Cusco, once the capital of the Incan Empire. Walk the cobblestone streets and the colorful Cusqueña markets and visit the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuaman. From Cusco, your group embarks on a 4-day trek in the stunning Sacred Valley. Ascending to over 13,000 feet, you pass by traditional villages, grazing llamas, rugged mountains, and pristine lakes. Your trek culminates with the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city that is considered one of the world’s great wonders.
Final Travel, Galapagos, Ecuador: Few have the opportunity to visit the geological wonders of the Galapagos Archipelago, famed for the blue-footed booby and giant 500-pound tortoise that make their home there. Joined by bilingual naturalist guides, spend a week exploring these exquisite volcanic islands as you swim among playful sea lions, witness the underwater grace of giant sea turtles and view countless exotic sea birds diving for fish. In this spectacular setting, you and your group begin the important process of debriefing your contributions and discoveries, evaluating the program, and preparing to come home.