Multiple Locations +2
  • Peru
  • Ecuador
4 - 12 weeks
Program Tags
Adventure Travel College Credit Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Language Immersion Social Justice Study Abroad Volunteer Abroad Wilderness Yoga Retreats +1
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, Payment plans
Health & Safety

Program Details

Backpacking Camping City Exploring
Fall Spring
Guesthouse Host Family Hostel
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Spring 2025: $15,900

Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, scheduled program activities, and international travel insurance for the duration of the program. Keep in mind, while budgeting, international airfare, and spending money are extra. International airfare is estimated at $1500 - $1700.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Meals Travel Insurance
What's Not Included
Airfare Visa
May 30, 2024
Jun 12, 2020
46 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Spend a gap semester in Peru and Ecuador—nations characterized by awe-inspiring landscapes, diverse cultures, and a deep sense of shared history. From your vantage point, you’ll get a fascinating view into the complexities of indigenous communities, colonialism, and the increasing pressures of globalization. From the arid beaches to the soaring Andes Mountains, from the Amazon jungle to the capital cities; this is the adventure of a lifetime.

Study, practice, and expand your Spanish as you live alongside host communities and immerse yourself in unique cultures and traditions. Lend a hand in agricultural and conservation efforts, establish a connection to people and places, and explore questions related to globalization and social justice. From your perch in the cloud forests of Ecuador, participate in reforestation efforts. As is the Carpe Diem way, you’ll discover just as much about yourself as you do this rich, vibrant, complex region.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We recognize that we are a long way from the diversity we aim for within our students, staff, and partners. We want and need more diversity to truly become the organization we would like to be. We recognize that this will not happen overnight or without dedicating time, attention, and resources. To that end, we have created a strategic plan to address our current shortfalls and to make significant improvements, which you can see on our Diversity & Inclusion page.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Neurodivergent Support

At Carpe Diem, each applicant reads through our extensive Essential Eligibility Criteria prior to enrollment. This criteria allows applicants to determine if the organization is an appropriate fit for their gap semester/year goals and their individual needs. During the interview and application process, we have honest and direct conversations with students and families about the support that our staff is able to provide throughout the program experience. We are committed to creating a culture of acceptance and support. To that end, our Overseas Educators and local leaders are selected for their skill in group facilitation and promoting inclusive group dynamics.

Accessibility Support

At Carpe Diem, each applicant reads through our extensive Essential Eligibility Criteria prior to enrollment. This criteria allows applicants to determine if the organization is an appropriate fit for their gap semester/year goals and their individual needs. We have honest and open conversations with applicants about our ability to support individual needs on each program, with the ultimate goal of a healthy and successful experience for all students. In the past, we have worked with students with severe allergies, diabetes, chronic injuries, and mental health diagnoses. We know each student's journey is individual and we work with families to support these individual needs where possible to help determine if the program is a good fit for their gap semester goals.



We are committed to maximizing the net positive impact while minimizing the carbon footprint of every program. In our office, on our programs, and through our carbon offset match, our programs are geared toward environmental education to empower future leaders to move their communities to take action. During our programs, students learn more about their impact as individuals and a travel community - then take a solution-oriented lens to tackling key issues. We also contribute to and amplify the voices of organizations and partners who focus on permaculture, natural building, and sustainable solutions.

Ethical Impact

Our programs are designed to connect to our local communities and provide reciprocal exchange and engagement. Through engaging in experiential education, community engagement, and intercultural exchange, our students develop enhanced perspectives, deeper cultural understanding, and a profound sense of self-discovery and personal growth. We work with vetted local providers to build their businesses as they provide value to our students and programming. With our homestay families, we ensure we minimize our footprint by regularly rotating the communities we work with and evaluating our social impact alongside their community leaders.

Program Highlights

  • Improve your Spanish: Through immersive experiential learning courses and homestays, put your new Spanish skills to the test
  • Machu Picchu trek: Grab your hiking boots and prepare for the journey of a lifetime as you hike to this historic and cultural site
  • Lend a hand: Learn from your host community and lend a hand in reforestation, sustainable farming, and environmental protection efforts
  • Explore the Amazon: From the Amazon basin, you'll participate in forest and river conservation efforts in one of the most biodiverse areas of the world
  • Experience traditional life: While staying with families in the cloud forest of Ecuador, learn about the impacts of large scale resource extraction on communities

Program Dates

Application Deadline
Program Dates

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 10 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.7
  • Support 5
  • Fun 5
  • Value 5
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 8 of 10 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My Gap Year

Taking a gap year was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It gave me an opportunity to be constantly out of comfort zone, step away from my normal life, create connections, learn about things I never would have, and a lot more. The most important thing I learned was how to travel, and how to be safe. I recommend anyone looking at this to take a gap year, and I think anyone else who has taken a gap year would say the same. This applies especially if you are nervous or scared to take one. The best way to grow is to get out of your comfort zone. If you have the means, do it. You may never get another chance to do something like it again.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would probably pack a little differently. More socks and a really good pair of pants is what I needed. And I would do a better job eliminated anything that wasn’t a necessity.
144 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

What has surprised you the most about this experience?

The first thing that comes to mind is how much fun I have had. To be honest I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up and showed up to the airport to go on this adventure. I thought it would be hard and a learning experience. Which it was. It's not easy at times to travel in in a group or in a third world country etc. but they are far outweighed by how much fun it is. The people I talked to, the life long friendships I made my group, the games, the laughs, learning a new language, the places we visited and all the other little things.These are things I things I didn't account for and had no idea the immense effect this trip would have on the rest of my life and the amount of joy they would give me.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Nothing. This is the best thing you can do in life. It changed my life in the best ways possible.
141 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Ready for more!

My experience in this South America Carpe Diem program was incredible. My Spanish language skills improved drastically, and so did the skills of everyone in the group. We had students who had never spoken Spanish before and by the end of the trip they were conversational! Some themes continue throughout the program such as permaculture, coffee production, and the government, so it’s easy to learn about the subjects from many different perspectives. Our contacts were amazing and I still keep in touch with a few of them. Although this was not the case for everyone in my group, my homestay experiences were not very personal, and at times felt more like a bed and breakfast. I was hoping to build strong connections with my homestay families as I have done in the past, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Again, other members of my group had different experiences with host families. I am a Latitudes student, and am so excited to begin my volunteer placement soon! I believe that my experiences on this group semester have definitely prepared me to travel more independently.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don’t bring so much stuff!! The lighter you pack, the better. But it is good to have one or two “unnecessary/luxury” items that you’ll feel good to have while on program.
140 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Desi Casanova's Experience

My experience traveling with Carpe Diem's South America program was everything I could have wished it to be and so much more. As someone who has never traveled out of my home state before my experience, I left my semester abroad feeling confident in my abilities to navigate an unknown world and be a successful traveler. With every day came a new learning experience and room to grow as a person. With Carpe Diem, every day is a new adventure. I felt safe, cared for, and accommodated throughout my entire three months abroad. While abroad we took 4 weeks of Spanish classes, did many community service projects, visited cities and indigenous communities, and of course had a ton of fun. Through Carpe Diem I was given the space to grow, learn, and feel every experience to the fullest extent without judgement. If I could go back and do it again, I would not change a single thing about my experience. I will forever be grateful for Carpe Diem for providing me an experience of a life time and giving me memories, tools, and life long learning through my trip to South America.

What would you improve about this program?
From my point of view there is not much that I can think of that I personally did not approve of on my trip. Maybe just to throw in a couple days along the way where students have completely free days to do nothing and relax.
144 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

South America Semester

Taking this semester abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made. During my time in South America, my life was changed forever. I experienced things that are now motivating me to discover what truly makes me happy in life. On this trip, our cohort managed to learn and do so much. We took classes on history, social economics and Spanish immersion and it was amazing. We got to see so many cool and globally known places such as Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Rainbow Mountain, The Sacred Valley, Cotopaxi and many other cool places. We stayed in many villages where we lived among the indigenous communities in the Andes mountains. This semester was a semester that has impacted me and changed my life forever. Since my trip, I have developed new educational interests. I am now pursuing a bachelors in international studies and plan to work for a nonprofit in the U.S. or abroad. I want to help these marginalized and discounted indigenous communities that I lived with and learned from on my trip. My view of travel and seeing the world has changed. I use to think I would never be able to see the world. Now I plan trips to explore the world and gain new experiences.

What would you improve about this program?
I really enjoyed this program and how it is structure to make you succeed in school and in life. This program helps many young students travel abroad to gain many powerful life experiences.
149 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


I cannot stress enough how incredible this program is. Now that I am back home, the way I describe it to people is by saying "the time of my life" and a "lucky find" - as though Carpe is a gem everyone has yet to hear about. I stumbled upon it online and could not be happier that I did. The program is extremely well established and diverts away from the 'volon-tourism' that might be present in other programs. I truly felt like I discovered the authentic culture in Peru and Ecuador and that the long-lasting connections that Carpe had in the countries we visited was a singular and honest one. We met incredible people and shared unforgettable moments with each other. The group of 12 that we traveled with was led by 2 well-trained, inspiring and knowledgeable educators who maintained a perfect balance between mentor and friend with us throughout the entirety of the journey. Throughout the 3 months I lost the notion of a routine and time, for I was discovering, learning and growing all the while having - I must say it again, the time of my life. Embarking on this journey I had virtually no idea of what awaited in the upcoming months and my only tangible goal was to improve my Spanish. Not withstanding that my ability to have entire conversations and express myself in that language improved tremendously, it is probably the last thing that I talk about when I express how much this trip has taught me. The 12 of us grew emotionally, in independence and character, and made everlasting friends in the process. The work that we did was actually meaningful and we had the opportunity of forming real relationships with locals. I saw a side of Ecuador, Peru and traveling that I fear I may never have seen otherwise. I pat myself on the back for having instinctively signed up. The only downside, honestly, is how nostalgic you get when it's over.

What would you improve about this program?
The programs could be longer! We also moved around a lot and I think some locations could be cut out to make the stay in others longer.
138 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Absolutely amazing

I went on the Fall of 2018 Carpe Semester to Ecuador and Peru. There were twelve of us in the group and two Overseas Educators (OEs) who were incredible. I was very nervous to be spending three months with the same people, but I absolutely loved my group. I met so many incredible people and made so many new friends.

I was very nervous going into this trip for many reasons. I didn’t know any Spanish, I had never been particularly adventurous with food or activities, I had never been away from home for longer than two weeks, and so many other reasons. During orientation, the OEs did a really good job addressing potential fears for everyone and it helped me realize that we were all worried about the same things. Going from place to place with the same group of people helped me become more adventurous knowing that everyone in the group was very supportive. The Spanish schools we worked with were awesome and I definitely learned a lot. It was very nice to have a change from a typical classroom setting but still be learning a lot.

Some highlights of this trip for me would be tubing down a river in the Amazon, the Salkantay Trek, Machu Picchu, my homestay in Peguche, the Otavalo market, Rainbow mountain, and so many more. This trip was truly an incredible and transformative experience for me. I feel so much more independent, confident, and adventurous.

144 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible 11/10 experience

I went on the Carpe Diem Education South America trip in the fall 2016 semester and it was the best experience of my life. I met some of my closest friends from this trips who I still stay in close contact with and have had the opportunity to travel with them since the Carpe Diem semester ended. Through the South America semester, I was able to stay with host families and be truly immersed within the culture as well as get acquainted with the other students in my program and fellow travelers while staying in hostels or at community organizations. Since my gap experience, I have been at college and have seen how much I have truly grown from this program. I feel more confident in not only who I am as a person but also what I aspire to accomplish. I wish that everyone could be able to go on an extensive trip like I did that promoted growth in so many different aspects of my life. Not only was it a fun trip where I got to meet so many unique individuals but it also encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and do things I may never have if I stayed back home and jumped into college right away after high school. I am so glad I took advantage of this opportunity and I believe it is one of the best things that you possibly could do upon graduating high school. The staff at Carpe Diem Education were also extremely helpful throughout my entire year and were always willing to support me in whatever it was I needed - even after my gap year ended.

What would you improve about this program?
Longer trips - 3 months was a great length but I would love for further opportunity to stay with the group to continue traveling.
151 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers