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 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

94%
based on 23 reviews
  • Housing 9
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 16 - 23 of 23
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Cameron
6/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Latin America

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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Latin America Gap Semester

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.

What would you improve about this program?
Better transportation. Sometimes we, as a group of 14, were all very uncomfortable while all inside a small van.
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Ben
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Story

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

What would you improve about this program?
More independence for the students and the ability to drink and be social if you're older.
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Rachel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

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.

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

3 unforgettable months!

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!

What would you improve about this program?
There were a lot of places I wish we could have stayed longer. It was always sad to say goodbye to our new friends.
Read my full story
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Meredith
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing 3 Months!

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Three months that changed me

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!

What would you improve about this program?
A bit more down time, maybe. Things felt very jam-packed sometimes.
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Brett
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Gap Semester in Latin America

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.