South America Explorer with Gapforce

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An 8 week South American adventure combining Spanish lessons, a Trek to Machu Picchu, volunteering at our jungle animal sanctuary and a visit to the Galapagos!

Start your adventure with intensive Spanish lessons before embarking on a 4 day trek to the infamous Machu Pichu. Next spend a week travelling along the Northern Beaches of Peru before entering Ecuador and spending 2 weeks at our animal sanctuary for a volunteer opportunity you’ll never forget. From here you’ll travel deeper into the jungle and live with a remote Shuar community before returning to Quito to undertake a meaningful school project. Finish your epic journey with a visit to one of the most famous national parks on Earth, the Galapagos Islands.

Questions & Answers


based on 23 reviews
  • Housing 8.2
  • Support 8
  • Fun 8.6
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 8.6
Showing 16 - 23 of 23
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What and amazing experience met some incredible people and had some amazing experiences. Obviously some stuff sometimes went wrong but its South America what are people expecting? Cant wait to go back!!!

How can this program be improved?
maybe to shut up all the complainers put a leader that can speak spanish
Yes, I recommend this program
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No Anaconda?

Leaders: very good, should be given raises and promotions, and probably take over the company all together
People on trip: very good
Office: very bad
Pre-trip information: was not happy with certain promises not kept.
Food: various (as we were promised three meals a day, was dissapointed with the lack of budgetted money given to us for food weekly.)
Lack of anaconda sightings: horrendous.

If you wish to hear more in depth, please email me.

Response from GapForce

Dear GG,

Thank you for your comments, we welcome all feedback so we can better understand our customer needs and make amendments to our programs where necessary.

First of all, I am pleased that you found our Leaders very good. We run a rigorous Expedition Leader Training Course to ensure we have the best leaders for the job. Both Nick and Hannah completed the course last year so I am pleased that you recognise the high standards we set for our staff. The quality of our Leaders is something we pride ourselves on.

I am also happy to hear that you enjoyed the company of your fellow group members. We have participants from a number of countries on our programs including the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Europe which I think really adds to the group dynamic.

Of course I am disappointed that you felt the office was not good and the pre-departure information lacking. We have asked Nick and Hannah for updated trip information so we can amend any details that are incorrect and advise all future groups accordingly. If you have more specific details on you feel we can improve in this area please do let us know by emailing [email protected]

With regards to Anaconda sightings, I am unsure whether this is a serious complaint? If it is please do email the office with more details so I can look into it further

In summary, I am pleased that you enjoyed the leadership of our staff and company of your fellow travellers and hope that, in the main, you had a great time in South America like most of our participants do.

We are constantly looking at ways we can improve our programs and thank you for your feedback. I will be reviewing our pre-departure information to ensure it is up-to-date and making any changes that are needed for future groups.

Best wishes,

Manager, Gapforce

No, I don't recommend this program
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Gap Force South America

I had an amazing time in South America and met some really great people. The team leaders, Nick and Hannah were really great. They were always looking out for us. Everything within the country was organised well due to the fact that Nick and Hannah were in charge.

However Gapforce were incredibly slow when it came to providing information. The staff back in the UK have very little knowledge of what the trip actually consists off and repeatedly gave wrong information to me and my fellow travelers. The food budget was a complete joke. This is no fault of the leaders but Gapforces fault. We were promised three meals per day. If I didn't have my own money, gapforce would have forced me to eat off the streets. After all the money that was given to Gapforce, I thought that this would be provided.

However the jungle experience was incredible and extremely grateful for having that opportunity. Met some great volunteers and was amazing to get so close to the animals.

Also, the galapagos trip was not organised very well, however that is Gapforce's fault for subcontracting that work to such an awful company with rude staff. However I had a great time there seeing the exotic animals and also scuba diving.

The nights out were really great, and had a really good time with all the people on the trip. All in all this trip was amazing and wish I could do it again.

Yes, I recommend this program
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I dont understand what this means -_-

I absolutely loved the trip and the people I was with. I had the best 2 months of my life. It was the hardest but also the most rewarding thing Ive ever done in my life. I will always remember this crazy trip and the amazing friends I made on it. I could go on and on, but I'd rather give a few tips to Gapforce on how they could improve for future trips:

1) Choose an easier trek to Machu Picchu or tell people you need some experience for the trek. As a beginner hiker, I was not prepared for that at all. Again, if I didnt have my amazing friends to drag me up those mountains, I would not have made it.
2) We should spend less time in the Amazon, and more time in Mancora, Lima and Banos. There were loads of fun activities we could've done in Banos. And we had no time to explore Perus capital.
3) Tell people before that nothing is included in the trip. We had to pay for almost every single excursion on this trip. Also, the allowance you gave us for food every week was not nearly enough for 3 meals a day! We gave you boat loads of money, and I honestly don't know where at least 70% of it went. Smh.
4) Cut the Shuar tribe from the trip completely. We spent a week doing nothing with a bunch of normal Ecuadorians, who on the last night dressed up like tribesmen and danced for us for about 20 minutes.
5) Pay your leaders better! They work SO MUCH harder than you realize.
6) The Galapagos....
a) Half the people didnt know about $125 entrance fee, that was, of course, not included.
b) We did not do a fraction of the activities we were supposed to do on the itinerary. The activities that we paid a lot of money for.
c) The program we used while at the Galapagos was a hot mess and they were very rude to us. And they rationed us $5 per meal, which is a complete joke.
d) I lost about $1000 alone on the 4 days in the Galapagos. -_-

No, I don't recommend this program
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South America Jan 2015

During the 8 weeks, we managed to fit a lot in and see a lot of Peruvian and Ecuadorian culture. Staying with host families in Cuzco and in the jungle allowed us to see how people live in these places which was really interesting. Visiting the Galápagos Islands at the end of the 8 weeks was my favourite part of the trip. I also really enjoyed seeing Machu Picchu, the equator line and Quilotoa, to name just a few things.
The positives of Gap Force are: I made great friends and went with a group of fun, lovely people, everything was organised (Nick and Hanna were amazing!) so it was a great introduction to travelling (I'd now feel confident to do it all on my own), you have a huge amount of freedom if you want it, you get to visit/stay in places you wouldn't get to as easily on your own and the length of each 'stage' was the right length and the changes in town and type of activity kept the travelling interesting.

How can this program be improved?
The pre-departure information was not great. The itinerary was completely wrong so I'd suggest that it only be published once they've actually decided what to do on the trip, the kit list didn't include everything we needed, the people I spoke to at the office didn't seem to know much about my trip at all even about basic things such as when the trip started and ended.
The money we were given was not nearly enough to buy 3 meals a day with, so next time either give more money for food, or don't advertise that there will be 3 meals per day on the trip. For the amount of money the trip costs, I think more extra activities should have been included (although the budget suggested by gap force was enough for me personally).
Finally, don't use the flight travel agent suggested. My flights were very expensive and it seemed like they had purposely been booked to be the most inconvenient flights for me as possible!

Although there were several things wrong with Gap Force, I would still recommend it. I had a great 2 months.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Positives and negatives

Overall I though the programme was great; i thouroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and I have made friends for life. I feel like we managed to fit a lot in.

However, I felt the pre-departure information was very poor. The information I was given was far from the truth which made it all a bit confusing. Also on the programme we were told we would be provided with 3 meals a day; for a lot of it we were given money to spend on food as we wanted but we definitely weren't given enough and it was hard as I believed we wouldn't need to be sword hint about the food situation.

Besides that I would recommend Gapforce. I have enjoyed my time but I feel the office workers need to get their facts straight.

How can this program be improved?
pre-departure information. I feel the office workers who give out the information should know the facts the sleeves before misleading us. Everyone on my programme was told different answers for the same question.
Yes, I recommend this program
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South America explore.

Have always wanted to travel but felt like going with a group/company would be best for the first time. I chose this trip as it had a mixture of expirences, for me one of the highlights of the whole trip was the Sachu Yacu wild animal rescue centre. Volunteering with animals is something I have wanted to do for a very long time and will base many future travels around. The place is so relaxing and peaceful, being in the Amazon rainforest Is truly an amazing experience. Working so closely with wild animals is experience you will never forget, going inside a cage with an ocelot is both terrifying and incredible at the same time! The people who run the place are so lovely and quickly become good friends along with all the other volunteers! Saying good bye when leaving was sad because everyone becomes so close, it really makes the expirence x10 more wonderful!
Banos is a town in Ecuador which I loved, bungee jumping off a bride is something I never thought I would do but it was absolutely amazing! Being on this trip has increased my confidence hugely, my self-confidence in travelling alone has become something I am no longer afraid off.
The trek to Machu pichu was difficult for me, I struggled quite a lot going uphill, but my leader was so understanding of my injury I came on the trip with and would contiously check up on me to make sure I was not in pain, he was so supportive. Completing the trek was a massive achievement for me, and the views from Machu Pichu itself made it so worth while.
My leader was brilliant! His sense of humour was always apparent, even on days with 5am starts! so happy I did not have a different expedition leader as he has taught me so much about travelling, I really couldn't of had anyone better!
The whole trip was better than I hoped and was defiantly the perfect first time travel!

How can this program be improved?
The communication before leaving for South America could be improved, the webinar did not work so I was constantly emailing to go through information with Gapforce. Although you are given a kit list it did not have everything on it, I did not know I needed a sleeping bag until a week before hand, information could be communciated more in advanced and made clearer. Bag sizes such as your main bag could be given as a guideline as the whole group ranged in sizes of bags, some people struggled as there bag was 10liters too small, then the other side of the spectrum was that I was told to take a bag about 30liters too much but luckily decided to take a smaller bag through personal preference.
Yes, I recommend this program
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south America explore

Great trip for those who have never travelled by themselves before. I found it the perfect length of time to fit into my university summer. It also had a range of volunteering activities as well as cultural experiences. I found staying in home stays really helped to improve my Spanish.

How can this program be improved?
More support and advice from staff in the office before the trip is needed in order to prepare.
Yes, I recommend this program


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Gapforce is a leading provider of structured Gap Year programs and summer opportunities overseas. The wide range of global adventures includes marine conservation, wildlife protection, community volunteering & healthcare, extreme expeditions,...