ARCC Gap: South America - Peru, Ecuador & Patagonia

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About

Adventure and education collide during our three-month journey through the rugged peaks and stunning valleys of Peru, Ecuador and Patagonia. Navigating Ecuador’s Amazon jungle by canoe, we explore the effects that petroleum drilling is having on the Amazon and its people. Settling into a homestay in Ecuador's Otavalo region, we take conversational Spanish classes and immerse ourselves in the language and culture of the region. 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. Settling into a Quechua community, we understand the importance of sustainability and conservation of the local llama population. Paddling through the floating Uros islands of Lake Titicaca, we understand an ancient way of life. Trekking through the towering peaks, stunning glaciers, and turquoise waters of Torres del Paine National Park, we uncover a newfound appreciation for the pristine environment that surrounds us.

Highlights
  • Delve into South American Culture and Language During a Homestay in Otavalo, Ecuador
  • Explore the Effects Petroleum Drilling is having on the Amazon and Its People
  • Walk in the Footsteps of the Incas and Explore the Ancient Ruins of Machu Picchu
  • Trek in the Shadows of the Towering Peaks and Glacier of Torres del Paine
  • Raft the Exhilarating Turquoise Waters of the Futaleufu River in Patagonia

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.39 Rating
based on 23 reviews
  • Housing 9
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 8 of 23
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Reece
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Spectacular!

First off: don’t pack jeans you’ll probably never wear them, despite with the list says. If you do pack two old pairs like I did, you can find somewhere to donate them along the way like I did! I say this first, because I hardly see the point in trying to sell this program, it sells itself! Working with sea turtles, hiking in the Andes, canoeing in Lake Titicaca, walking through Machu Pichu, the entire experience was incredible. ARCC prioritizes ethical, safe, and learning-based travel. Your money not only sends you on the trip of a lifetime, but also goes to help communities build meeting places in Ecuador and sends young women in Perú to school. Every experience, with the right attitude, could be framed to one of learnings and laughter. The leaders will care for you and look after you; they will do everything they can to help you succeed and stay healthy! There is a huge component that’s up to you: your attitude. You have to want to go on this trip, embrace living in close quarters with a group, and understand that the rules are for your safety. If you can understand and embrace all that, you will enjoy and laugh at every moment. Even the moments you don’t enjoy, you’ll still be able to laugh at the next day. I can’t recommend it enough. Perfect for people like me who plan to go to college in the spring, anyone who would like to go multiple places during their gap year, or spend a semester working and one traveling. It’s the only semester-long program I found in my research, but then again, I didn’t have to look much further since I already knew I found the perfect one from the descriptions and reviews. I wasn’t let down in the slightest.

What would you improve about this program?
The group has a lot of freedom to shape their experience in how they interact, make use of technology like cell phones, and their leaders are equipped to work with the group on communicating those ideas and desires. In short, the program is tailored to the needs and wants of each group that goes which is incredible! The improvement comes from then group, the trip itself is structured, but leaves the perfect amount of room for flexibility to try activities outside of the planned program.
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Liora
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing trip!

This trip was the best 3 months of my life! I traveled with a group of people that I will be friends with forever. I learned so much about the places we were traveling through the people we met and the course reader our instructors put together. I learned a lot about myself and grew as a leader. I love that we did a variety of activities, never staying in one place for more than a week and living out of a backpack. We did some of everything: volunteered, saw tourist attractions, hiked, rafted, surfed, spoke Spanish, learned about the culture, worked on our leadership skills, and shopped, just to name a few. My leaders are incredible people who taught me so much and helped me with anything I needed throughout the semester. I'm so excited to be able to do another ARCC trip in the spring!

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Nick
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-changing experience

My time with ARCC in South America was an experience that I will never forget the rest of my life. I learned so many valuable things during my time abroad and so many traveling tips I had never heard before. My favorite part of the trip was the deep cultural exchanges and practicing my Spanish with all of the local communities. Also, I loved how my leaders , JP and Kaitlyn , discussed with our group major issues that were going on around the countries we traveled through. I also loved my group tremendously and I beliebe there was just the right number of students. Also, I loved the number of students in my group very much. The number of us was just right and I grew to know everyone so well and they became like family to me. I learned to many life lessons on this trip that I will forever cherish.

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly do not have anything that I would suggest to improve on. I would be lying if I made something up that was not true.
Read my full story
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Izzy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC LamA 2018

Never in my life would I have thought I would have the oppertunity to go on this trip. During my time, I gained many life strategies, new passions, and friendships. I learned about new cultures and languages. I helped paint a mural at a school in San Isidro, Costa Rica. I became a turtle midwife at 3 AM on the coast. I spent time sleeping in a school and building a community center in Minas Chupa, Ecuador. I snorkled with sea lions and turtles in the Galapagos. I lived at an orphanage in Peru, and helped clean guinea pig cages. I hiked for 7 hours through the Peruvian Andes to get to where we were staying for a week. I discovered my love for the mountains. I discovered to live comfortably with less. I realized my privilege even more from home stays. I learned that I was strong, and could overcome bronchitis while in high elevation. I learned that life is more about adventure.
Overall, it was a super valuable experience.

What would you improve about this program?
I do not see a way this program could be improved. I thought it was set up very nicely and had the perfect mix of adventure and cultural immersion. I now have 10 other best friends that all shares the same life changing experience. I would not have changed anything
Izzy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC LamA 2018

Never in my life would I have thought I would have the oppertunity to go on this trip. During my time, I gained many life strategies, new passions, and friendships. I learned about new cultures and languages. I helped paint a mural at a school in San Isidro, Costa Rica. I became a turtle midwife at 3 AM on the coast. I spent time sleeping in a school and building a community center in Minas Chupa, Ecuador. I snorkled with sea lions and turtles in the Galapagos. I lived at an orphanage in Peru, and helped clean guinea pig cages. I hiked for 7 hours through the Peruvian Andes to get to where we were staying for a week. I discovered my love for the mountains. I discovered to live comfortably with less. I realized my privilege even more from home stays. I learned that I was strong, and could overcome bronchitis while in high elevation. I learned that life is more about adventure.
Overall, it was a super valuable experience.

What would you improve about this program?
I do not see a way this program could be improved. I thought it was set up very nicely and had the perfect mix of adventure and cultural immersion. I now have 10 other best friends that all shares the same life changing experience. I would not have changed anything
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Natalie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Gap Semester

Looking back on my gap semester now, I can honestly say this was one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done in my entire life! Traveling throughout South America gave me a broader perspective on life. It enhanced my perspectives of the world and exposed me to things that few people get to experience in one's lifetime.

Being exposed to different cultures and different ways of life not only gave me a newfound appreciation for my life but also made me extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to a unique region of the world before I go to college.

Traveling to new and exciting parts of the globe with a group of like minded individuals was definitely a phenomenal experience. I will never forget all of the amazing things I did and experienced during my gap semester.

What would you improve about this program?
Perhaps the more fun-oriented activities such as river rafting, zip lining, and surfing could be more dispersed throughout the semester instead of during the first few weeks in Costa Rica.
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Andrew
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Latin America

I thought the trip was really fun and really beneficial. There were some ups and downs across the way but other than that it was a great experience. I had two really awesome leaders Will Earley and Alex Morton and they did a great job keeping the group safe, had great activities to keep the group close and to help form life long friendships. Their was a lot of fun activities planned by the leaders and we learned about a lot of new cultures, met some really cool people, and formed really close friendships.

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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Amazon

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.