ARCC Gap: Latin America - Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru.
93% Rating
(16 Reviews)

ARCC Gap: Latin America - Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru.

Adventure and education collide during our three-month journey through the lush jungles, dizzying heights and breathtaking coasts of Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru.

ARCC’s nearly 20 year history of exploration and service in Latin America opens doors unimagined by the casual traveler. Tucked away in a remote mountain village in Costa Rica, we discover the simplicity of “pura vida” working alongside our generous hosts to improve the village’s infrastructure. Partnering with local biologists on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, we witness the impact of human populations on the natural world. Navigate Ecuador’s Amazon jungle by canoe and partner with an NGO to provide clean water to indigenous communities. Treading in the footsteps of the Inca, we gain insight into an enduring culture as we explore the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru.

The abundance of life around us underscores the rich and unforgettable experiences of Gap Latin America.

Highlights
  • Delve into Latin American Culture and Language During a Homestay on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast
  • Facilitate Nutrition Education to Communities During a Homestay on the Shores of Lake Titicaca
  • Walk in the Footsteps of the Incas and Explore the Ancient Ruins of Machu Picchu
  • Discover the True Meaning of “Pura Vida” Working and Living on a Rural Costa Rican Ranch
  • Explore the Effects Gold Mining is having on the Amazon and Its People
Locations
South America » Peru
South America » Ecuador
North America » Costa Rica
Program Tags
Adventure Travel
Post-High School
Volunteer Abroad
Length
1-3 Months
Timeframe
Fall
Accommodation
Guesthouse
Host Family
Hostel
Hotel
Inclusions
Accommodation
Activities
Meals
Primary Language
English
Age Max
20
Deposit
$800.00
Starting Price
$13,500.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
Program tuition includes accommodations, transportation, food and activities once participants are in-country. International airfare is additional.
Other Locations
San Jose, Quito, Cusco

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Housing
    89%
  • Support
    98%
  • Fun
    91%
  • Value
    85%
  • Safety
    94%

Program Reviews (16)

Default avatar
Hannah
Female
20 years old
Tampa

The Amazon

10/10

When I found out we were staying in the Amazon I was a little apprehensive. We took a boat to our destination and waste welcomed by a swarm of little kids! Two of them being my host family daughters ( mi hermanas) Jocelyn and jasmine! They took us to where Emily and I were staying and we were introduced to our families. Surprisingly enough it was a grandmother , grandfather, my host father and mother, two daughters , and one son named Eric. All of them living in a small house. Emily and I slept on small mattresses on the floor with bug netting around us. There were bugs I've NEVER seen before and it's was hot most of the days. Eating and spending so much time with our families was life changing. /so basic to say that , I know, but it's true.. I will forever be different and greatful for that experience. My host father had us teach him English , and he took us on extra hikes to see native plants and wild animals. He always made sure we were as comfortable as possible and happy! If I could do this all again I would in a second. Thank you to ARCC for this opportunity.

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Grayson
Male
20 years old
Allen Texas

ARCC Latin america gap semester

10/10

This gap semester has truly been one of the best experiences of my life. The places we have gone have been amazing as well as life changing. the people we have met and gotten to know have been enlightening and fun to share time and experiences with. The service work the group has done has been heart warming and fulfilling. Our professors are amazing people that were always willing to lend an ear if you needed one or be a friend and have a fun time with the group. The students have all been good people that have been fun to get to know and make friends with and I will definitely stay in touch with them in the ling run.

How can this program be improved?

a mandatory speaker for music for each group, but that isn't a big deal.

Kathryn
Female
19 years old
Rosemont, Pennsylvania

Lake Titicaca

10/10

Our last week in Latin American was spent on Lake Titicaca in Peru. Coming from a small seaside town in Maine, being by water and mountains again reminded me very much of home. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. We stayed in a small lakeside village with host families. My host mama was Mama Roxana. She treated me like her own child. Giving me warm bottles to sleep with during the cold nights, giving me cups of eucalyptus tea when I was sick, placing sweet kisses on the cheek to say goodbye each day as I would go off to our various activities. During our time spent with the whole community I felt comfortable going to my mama to share a joke, sentimental moment, or ask for her opinion on something.
Our days would start off earl, even earlier for me at times. I would wake to a clear beautiful sky and the shimmering lake. Only steps outside of my room I would find myself sitting in the field with the animals and my young host brother. I would sit and journal, share stories with my host brother and he would tell me about his life and occasionally teach me some of the local language. It was a beautiful exchange.
Spending the days with my Mama and the small lakeside community was by far my favorite part of my travels. Not only did I learn a lot about their culture, but I was able to feel as if I was actively participating in it. They welcomed me with open arms into their life and allowed me to see and live anther culture.

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Mary
Female
19 years old
Grosse Pointe Michigan
University of Michigan

ARCC Gap Semester Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru

10/10

It is extremely difficult to shorten my gap semester experience into a short review, mostly because it has changed and matured me so much on the past three months. Every place that we went and person that we met morphed my opinion of the world around me and made me so much more globally and culturally aware. I remember when we stayed in the Ecuadorian Amazon (wow that is so cool to be able to prove that I have been there!) and how every bit of thier way of life was so different from mine. Thier family life (our host parents had 11 kids!) lifestyle, activities (from helping to farm the exotic fruits to taking a boat across a river everytime we wanted to travel to and from our house) I am still in awe that I was able to experience that. I believe that a gap year is so valuable for any young adult about to enter college to have in thier back pocket and I could not imagine my life now without having traveled Latin America for three months. The ARCC program was really well done, supportive and I made some of the best friends in my life traveling with out group. The planned itinerary hit so much of each country and I really felt like I have used these three months doing impactful service everywhere and having awesome stories to share. This program was a perfect mix of the adventure side of traveling and the volunteer aspect that I wanted to gain experience from. I would highly reccomend taking a gap year and ARCC to anyone looking to travel!

How can this program be improved?

Sometimes the itinerary could be nailed down more as to manage the students expectations because sometimes it is sibject to change or the books do not have enough information to where we were going.

Elle
Female
19 years old
Boulder
University of Colorado- Boulder

ARCC Gap Latin America 2016

10/10

Near the end of my Senior Year I began to examine the idea of taking a gap semester or gap year before heading to college. I had always thought the idea of a gap year sounded incredible, but I never truly pictured myself taking any time off before college until I found ARCC. Adventures Cross Country has made a profound impact on my life in just three short months, and taking a gap semester through ARCC has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. ARCC does a fantastic job of combining adventure, travel, education, and service. The time I spent in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru with my group of twelve other gap students and my two leaders turned out to be some of the happiest times in my life so far. In all three countries our group explored five global themes: Urbanization and the Movement of Peoples, Public Health, Literacy and Education, Environment and Conservation, and Economics and Microfinance. We balanced fun and tourism with in depth home-stays, difficult situations, and learning about and dealing with very real, emotional problems. We called ourselves travelers, not tourists, because we made a point to get to know the people and places we visited, and do service when it was wanted. I know that I am walking away from this experience forever changed for the better. I have a much more global mindset, a strong sense of self, and excitement and a sense of direction for my life going forward. I would highly recommend any of the ARCC programs to anyone who is even considering taking a gap year or gap semester. ARCC, my group leaders, the members of my group, and the people I met and experiences I had along the way have completely changed my life.

How can this program be improved?

I personally had such a positive experience with ARCC that I do not have any comments on how it could be improved. Our leaders were organized, knowledgeable, kind, and became our friends. ARCC intentionally works with preexisting organizations in each country to ensure the service work that students do is wanted and needed, and the activities included in the itinerary were absolutely incredible.

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Natalie
Female
19 years old
Canandaigua, New York

Story

10/10

During our time in Ecuador we got the amazing opportunity of getting to stay with a family in the Amazon. Spending a few days in the Amazon was unlike anything I have ever gotten to do and wouldn't have been able to experience without arcc. During our home stays we were immediately emerged into the way of life of the Amazonian people. The house I stayed in was a creaky wooden fort like house that was home to eight with only two bedrooms. I was emerged into the unique diet of the Amazonian people, bathing in rivers and the strong sense of community Santa Barbra had. This experience was eye opening and absolutely amazing.

How can this program be improved?

There's nothing I would change.

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James
Male
20 years old
Los Angeles california
Hampshire College

Awesome, Mind-Blowing, and Valuable experiences

10/10

This trip has been an amazing experience. My group is wonderful and I have gotten to know them all so well through our shared experiences and activities. I have learned so many lessons from them. The leaders are amazing and facilitate this so well. I've met inspiring people who work at organizations that are doing great work. Being in third world countries has taught me so much about my privilege, the potential help my education can bring, and additionally how to deal with practical life problems.

How can this program be improved?

The final project was not really introduced early enough. It would've been nice to be introduced and developed earlier in the trip so we could have had a clearer idea of what we were doing for more interviews and perspectives on the issues in all 3 countries.

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Willa
Female
20 years old
Healdsburg, California
Colorado College

Most Amazing Moment of My Life

8/10

While in Costa Rica, we volunteered at a turtle hatchery that helps release baby turtles into the Pacific safely. We had night patrols every night, where we walked the beach to look for fresh turtle tracks in hopes of finding a female turtle who was laying her eggs, before a poacher came. For the first three nights, I never saw anything, until one night we came across some tracks. We were lucky enough to have found the Olive Ridley mama turtle before the poachers did. She had not yet played her eggs, but when we were there, we were able to catch over 130, and relocate them to the hatchery. The experience was amazing, and I knew that I would have never been able to do something remotely close to that, if I had not gone on the trip.

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Cameron
Male
22 years old
Denver, Colorado

ARCC Latin America

6/10

This has been a good experience for me. I've learned a lot about different cultures and countries during my travels and it's been amazing to witness some of these cultures firsthand. We went to the highlands or Ecuador where we stayed in a small village and helped them on a construction project for a week. We connected with the local children, learned about their way of life, and made lasting connections with the community.

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Connor
Male
20 years old
Cleveland, Ohio
Other

ARCC Latin America Gap Semester

10/10

For an entire week in the city of Qutambi, myself and my thirteen other group members had to all pack into one classroom. We laid out tiny mattresses and our sleeping bags and all had to deal with sleeping very close to everyone else. Throughout this experience, no one complained, we all took it as an opportunity for learning and getting to know each other! We called it our "Group Slumber Party" and embraced the situation as positively as possible. This is a great example of just how much fun you can have on a gap semester. 50 days before our Group Slumber Party, none of the people packed into the classroom like sardines had ever met nor had we even known each other's names. Over the course of a gap semester your group and yourself become a family.

How can this program be improved?

Better transportation. Sometimes we, as a group of 14, were all very uncomfortable while all inside a small van.

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Ben
Male
21 years old
Louisville, Kentucky
University of Kentucky

Story

8/10

We were able to live in a village in the Ecuadorean Amazon and it was really enlightening. We took part in the traditional dances and worked with them to help their community center it was really cool and stuff. I had a lot of fun

How can this program be improved?

More independence for the students and the ability to drink and be social if you're older.

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Rachel
Female
20 years old
San Diego, California
Bowdoin College

Life Changing

9/10

Taking this gap semester with ARCC was the best decision I ever made! This trip changed my life in so many ways: from the unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, to the 11 unique individuals I got to live with and learn from, to the incredible support of the two trip leaders (Graham and Margo) who constantly pushed me to jump outside my comfort zone and set me on the path to becoming my best self.
The program could not have been planned more perfectly: we had a great mix of service and adventure, urban and rural, rugged and comfortable, structured curriculum and independent learning.
In Costa Rica, we got to learn Spanish and relax on the beaches, work on conservation and service projects on the coast and in the mountains, go surfing and whitewater rafting, and experience the local culture through homestays and a stay on a beautiful farm deep in the mountains.
In Ecuador, we got to experience life in the Amazon through home and village stays, explore the amazing city of Quito, go ziplining in a beautiful cloud forest and hiking through mountains and jungles, plan our own adventure in Baños and Lake Quilotoa without any help from our leaders, build community houses and volunteer at schools, and immerse ourselves in two entirely different indigenous cultures (that of the Amazon and Andes Quichua people).
In Peru, we got to see rich Inca history in Cusco and Machu Picchu, immerse ourselves in a remote community while helping them build clean stoves, work with Peruvian Hearts at a hogar (orphanage) and rebuilding the house of one of the organization's Peruvian Promise scholarship recipients, and stay at the beautiful Lake Titicaca.
Everything about this trip was unbelievably amazing, and I wish I could experience these 3 months again, because they were some of the best 3 months of my life.

How can this program be improved?

I wish that Spanish was more of a focus throughout the trip, not just during our first week at the language school in Samara. I feel as though I learned a lot of Spanish those first few weeks, but didn't have much of an opportunity to continue learning as the trip continued.

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Maddie
Female
24 years old
Houston, Texas

3 unforgettable months!

10/10

Choosing to do a Gap year program with ARCC is definitely the best decision I've ever made. It doesn't get better than spending three months in three beautiful countries with a group of strangers that become your family. I absolutely everything we did on the trip!

Some highlights for me were going to an indigenous wedding in Ecuador, staying in a beautiful cloud forest in Costa RIca and of course going to Machu Picchu in Peru!

How can this program be improved?

There were a lot of places I wish we could have stayed longer. It was always sad to say goodbye to our new friends.

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Meredith
Female
19 years old
Raleigh, NC
University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

Amazing 3 Months!

9/10

I'm so glad that I decided to do this gap semester with ARCC. It was without a doubt the best three months of my life. It was challenging for me especially at first to be away from home and experience things that were so different from what I was used to. However, our trip leaders Johanna and Franco were amazing and always supportive and they really helped make the semester as awesome as it was for me. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know everyone in the group and our trip leaders were excellent at facilitating group discussions and activities that helped the group bond throughout the trip.
Each week we were working on a different project in a new location which was fun, although it was often bittersweet to leave the communities we stayed in after such a short period of time. Every week brought a new adventure. Some of the highlights for me were working on a sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica, a community stay in Ecuador, and working at a girls' orphanage in Peru. The trip had a good mix of service and adventure travel. Things like white-water rafting, ziplining and hikes were so much fun in addition to the service projects we worked on.
The trip also had a good balance between staying in rural and urban areas. All of our accommodations were comfortable; with some being more rustic than others. However for me it was the weeks when we were away from things like wifi or electricity that were the most fun and the most meaningful. I really fell in love with the unbelievably beautiful places we stayed from the mountains of Costa Rica to Lake Titicaca in Peru.
This semester taught me a lot about myself and I'm so thankful for this experience and the people that I shared it with. Overall, this was an amazing semester and I would highly recommend ARCC.

How can this program be improved?

I would have liked for the trip to include more Spanish classes. We went to language school for a week but I would have liked to continue more formal Spanish education throughout the trip especially since many of us didn't know any Spanish when we started the semester.

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Gabi
Female
19 years old
White Plains, New York

Three months that changed me

9/10

This gap semester with ARCC is that best thing that I've ever done for myself. I was challenged and pushed everyday along with being given incredible and fun activities consistently for three months.

For example I will never forget the hike up Wayna Picchu in Peru. It was one of the most challenging hikes I've ever done. I could feel myself being challenged both physically and mentally. However, I will never forget the feeling of pride reaching the top and seeing the most incredible view below me. Everyone was so supportive and patient on that hike which was a relief because it felt like everyone was in this challenge together.

The homestays, rafting, zip-lining, teaching, community service and all the activities we did on a day to day basis are all things engrained in my memory. I grew, learned, and had an AMAZING time!

How can this program be improved?

A bit more down time, maybe. Things felt very jam-packed sometimes.

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Brett
Male
24 years old
Boston, Massachusetts

Gap Semester in Latin America

9/10

I had an incredible time during my gap semester in Latin America. I experienced many different cultures and had the chance to go on many different adventures including white water rafting, zip lining, rock climbing, and some incredible hikes. We had the opportunity to hike Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world, and spend a week at Lake Titicaca, the highest elevated body of water in the world. We also had the opportunity to visit and stay with several indigenous communities. The highlight of my semester was when I spent a week with an indigenous family on the Amazon River. While I was with them I tried their traditional foods, learned how to fish using their nets, worked on their farm, hiked through the amazon, learned about their traditional plant remedies, and swam in the Amazon river with all the local children. My host family also had a pet monkey that I got to hang out with each day. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. The trip as a whole was absolutely incredible and I can honestly say I was never bored. Every week was a new project and a new adventure. I would highly recommend the program to anyone who is interested in Latin America. You can learn so much about the culture, improve your spanish, and have some once in a life time experiences.

How can this program be improved?

The program was incredibly well structured and everyday we had something new to experience. While that was awesome, it also meant that there was very little time to sit back and relax. I personally did not mind this but someone who likes to have some time to their self to relax and recharge may find there isn't sufficient time to rest.

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ARCC Gap Semester Programs offer an educational and cultural bridge between high school and college. They are an opportunity to live, work, learn, and explore in some of the greatest classrooms on earth. Designed with a rich educational fabric complementing each and every location, our

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