ARCC Gap: South America - Peru, Ecuador & Patagonia

Video and Photos

Teaching English at a school in peru
Teaching English at a school in peru
Teaching English at a school in peru
Teaching English at a school in peru
Teaching English at a school in peru
Teaching English at a school in peru
Teaching English at a school in peru
Teaching English at a school in peru

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 important 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

94%
based on 23 reviews
  • Housing 9
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 15 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.
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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.

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Grayson
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Latin america gap semester

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.

What would you improve about this program?
a mandatory speaker for music for each group, but that isn't a big deal.
Kathryn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lake Titicaca

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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Gap Semester Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Gap Latin America 2016

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Story

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.

What would you improve about this program?
There's nothing I would change.
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James
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome, Mind-Blowing, and Valuable experiences

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Most Amazing Moment of My Life

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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