South America Explorer with Gapforce

Video and Photos

The group
The group
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
zongo zongo in the Sacha Yacu animal sanctuary
Over the sacred valley

About

Discover the lost lands of the Incas! Whether the awe-inspiring spectacle of Machu Picchu; the sensation of waking up to the sounds and sights of the rainforest; or intimate encounters with incredible animals, you are sure to encounter something to astound you at every turn of this journey across Peru and Ecuador. Volunteering opportunities in wildlife conservation and mean you can leave your mark and give something back as you travel this vibrant, surprising corner of South America.

Conclude your adventure with a tour of the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of unparalleled marine biodiversity. Hike, sail and snorkel your way round the islands made famous by Charles Darwin, encountering sea lions; dolphin; turtles; sharks and more. Wrapping up with a return to Quito for the nights of your adventure where there is a chance to explore the city and visit the Mitad del Mundo, zero degrees of latitude and longitude - the centre of the world!

Highlights
  • Learn Spanish in the old Inca capital of Cusco.
  • Trek off the beaten trail to the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu.
  • Learn to surf in the laid back beach town of Mancora.
  • Volunteer at an Amazon animal rescue centre in the heart of the rainforest.
  • Visit the Charles Darwin Research centre on the world-renowned Galapagos Islands.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

91%
based on 33 reviews
  • Housing 8.5
  • Support 8.5
  • Fun 8.9
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 8.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 33
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Ruby
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

South America Explorer with Gapforce Review

I couldn't recommend this trip more highly. I was so nervous to go previously as I didn't know what to expect with the people and dynamic of the trip but I can definitely say I have made some friends for life. The trip is well organised with a high standard of accommodation (all the hostels/ hotels were fun and good quality). The trip was a lot less regimented than I expected which was good, there was the perfect amount of free time for you to go and do your own thing and the group leader was reasonable but not strict. All the activities we did were so worth it and were all very well organised. The leader was friendly, fun and organised and kept everyone in the loop about what we were doing or where we were going. South America is a beautiful continent and the experience was made better by the opportunities that SA explorer gave us.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
As much as it is a trip where you could definitely go with a friend, don't worry about going alone. You'll meet the most amazing people who you'll create bonds with for life.
Don't worry too much on the physical aspect, as much as it was challenging at some points like on the trek to Machu Picchu, it was easy to get through with friends by your side and was so rewarding and worth it by the end.
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Alexander
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Recommended

I chose this program because I wanted to travel through South America, see a lot but also do some volunteering work. This program combines these two aspects very well, with the first three weeks consisting of a lot of travelling, the next three weeks a lot of working and the last week travelling again. You see a lot of both Peru and Ecuador and get a great feeling for each country. The volunteering work was very interesting and you definitely learn a lot. In general the atmosphere on the trip was great, the travel group was pretty small and very nice. I think that this trip definitely helped me growing as a person and learn a lot of new things

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Jumping down eight meters into a tiny pond while doing canyoning
Default avatar
Carmel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable!

This trip included everything I could’ve hoped for, from Spanish lessons to hiking and volunteering in the animal center. Our guide Colin did everything to make our experience even more enjoyable and was a real asset to making the trip this amazing. He organized extra activities such as yoga in Lima and made sure we had the best busses for each journey. The hostels were great and we got to see the best parts of each city/town. Colin made sure we were safe throughout the trip. Glad I booked it with Gapforce and will recommend it to everyone. I absolutely loved every bit of it!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would make the Spanish lessons less long. Just 3 days instead of 5.
Default avatar
Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing!!!

I absolutely loved this program! I was really scared going into it because I’ve never traveled alone before but I had nothing to worry about. Everyone I met was fantastic. They were down to earth, nice, and so much fun. I can not describe how beautiful Peru and Ecuador are, I’ve never been anywhere like it. There are definitely challenges along the way but they are very “character building” and I am so thankful for them. The trek to Machu Picchu was tough but you get so much closer along the way. Also you get to go to relax in a hot spring and go zip lining! My favourite part was definitely Yanacocha, I could literally stay there forever it was such an amazing experience. Banos pushes out limits as we went rafting and jumped off a bridge! The only thing I’ll say is that the spanish lessons were a bit of a let down. I was in the basic group and we didn’t learn anything. I heard the advanced group did a lot though. I definitely recommend this trip for everyone but especially people who wanna get out of their comfort zone and meet fantastic people along the way:)))

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Jumping off the bridge in Banos. I was absolutely terrified but it was so worth it.
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Christian
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Review

I had a great time on the South American Explorer program. I only did the 4-weeks, but I really enjoyed everything in the program. I’d have to say my favorite activity was the Salkantay trek to Macchu Pichu, despite it getting hard at times, it was a great experience and very rewarding once you stood overlooking Macchu Pichu. The culture is so different from my own and it’s very humbling and exciting to be immersed in the indigenous culture here. The people are very nice and I would one hundred percent recommend it for anyone looking to do it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Bring good hiking boots and lots of sunscreen with insect repellent
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Sam
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing!

I had an amazing time on this trip. I was super nervous about meeting 7 strangers who I had to spend the next 4 weeks with but everyone was lovely and we all got on so well. The places we went were truly amazing and the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu was a big highlight for me. Even when we were all tired and cold it was still an unforgettable experience and made getting to see Machu Picchu all the more memorable and special. Stefan our guide was great and helped with any problems we had while talking and taking no shit from anyone which was refreshing and meant we all trusted him to take charge when he needed to. We were quite a young group but for me that made it even more fun. I would really push anyone who’s remotely interested to go on this trip.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have loved to spend more time at the animal rescue centre at the end of the trip. The three days we spend there were great but you don’t get to experience everything or really manage to be helpful around the site because you are still learning the ropes. A week there would be amazing. Also potentially spending some time volunteering somewhere else for a week or so would be great to
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Jai
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

I had fun and saw some amazing things such as Machu Picchu. The views on the trek were equsiseite and the journey extremely hard but rewarding with the scenery it offered. One thing I struggled with was the food but this was due to my dietary requirements of being a vegetarian. All the hostels we stayed in were great and all the staff were lovely. Stefan made sure we were always safe and let us know when certain areas were more dangerous than others. Other activities such as white water rafting were reallly fun and memorable, but what I found the nicest was the friends I made along the way. I wish there was more we did in terms of activites as we had many free days, but at the same time it was up to us and go do something. Overall would recommend.

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Paula
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wow!

I had a great time on South America Explore 2019! I felt safe and supported everywhere we went thanks to the tireless efforts of our guide, Sara. This is the perfect program for someone who wants to travel but doesn’t want to go alone, or have the stress of planning it. I had no friends to come with and didn’t even know where to begin; 2 months later I can say that I’ve made friends that will last a lifetime and I loved not having to worry about where I was going, how I was getting there, or what I was doing since it was all pre-planned. From the coblestoned streets of Cusco to the blue waters of the Galapagos it’s been an amazing journey. The spanish school and nightlife of Cusco made it one of my favorite cities, Mancora was the perfect relaxation stop after the tiring but incredible Machu Picchu trek, Baños is a thrillseeker’s paradise with parasailing, white water rafting, bungee jumping and more, the jungle, animals, and people in Yanacocha/Tamadua made it a dream to volunteer there, visiting the Equator and markets in Quito was incredible, and the Galapagos is the perfect stop to the trip.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Leave enough room in you bag for souvenirs - with all the markets you go to you WILL end up with a lot. Make sure that you journal, it’s so nice to read back on what you’ve done.