Multiple Locations +2
  • Peru
    • Cusco
    • Machu Picchu
  • Ecuador
    • Galapagos
    • Quito
    • Guayaquil
4 - 12 weeks
General grants/scholarships, Payment plans, 529 Plan eligibility
Health & Safety

Program Details

Animal Viewing Backpacking Camping City Exploring Rafting Remote Exploring Scuba Diving Snorkeling Surfing Swimming Trekking Yoga
Fall Spring
Guesthouse Host Family Hostel Hotel
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Program fee inclusions:
Visas; All in-country land transport; All accommodation; 3 meals a day (excluding snacks); Two weeks of Spanish language classes and three weeks of volunteer projects; All excursions and activities as described in the itinerary; Experienced Pacific Discovery program leader and local guides; Online image library for your program. Refer information booklet for international flight options.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Domestic Airfare Airport Transfers Equipment Meals Park Fees Tour Guide Transportation
What's Included (Extra)

Experiential core curriculum that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves, Certificate of Program Completion

What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance
Nov 23, 2023
Jan 12, 2017
28 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Embark on an enriching journey during your South America gap year program, as you explore the captivating cultural and natural wonders of Peru, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands.

This program offers students the opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant lives of indigenous Andean and Amazon communities while honing your conversational Spanish skills. Engage in valuable volunteer projects initiated by local communities, meander through the historic streets of Quito and Cuzco, and be awe-inspired by the majesty of Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and the Galapagos Islands. From trekking through Andean peaks and the Amazon rainforest to kayaking, cycling, and snorkeling along the Galapagos beaches, you'll traverse diverse environments like never before.

Build meaningful connections, learn about the region's history, and contribute to sustainability and conservation efforts.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We understand that we have a long way to go in achieving the diversity we strive for among our students, staff, and partners. We are committed to fostering a more diverse and inclusive organization, and we recognize that this requires time, effort, and resources. At Pacific Discovery, we deeply value diversity, equity, and social justice, and we are dedicated to creating educational experiences that reflect and promote these values. Our program curriculum incorporates social justice education and encourages students to explore their own identities. To further support these efforts, we offer a 'Diverse Voices' Scholarship.

LGBTQIA+ Support

All of our Pacific Discovery programs are LGBTQIA+ friendly, and our operations team have attended CIS Abroad's LGBTQ+ Allyship Training, to ensure we’re doing what we can to support this community. We provide an open and non judgemental space for students to explore who they are at this pivotal time of their life, and in our admissions process we seek information not only on a student's gender, but their pronouns and gender identity. We’re aware of the differing cultural perspectives of LQBTQIA in the countries that we visit, and can direct students to a semester location where they’ll feel the most comfortable. Operationally we ensure that our instructors use inclusive language and can facilitate conversations with students around their identity, and discuss the rooming situations with LGBTQIA+ students.

Neurodivergent Support

Our programs are designed to support students with a wide range of neurodiverse conditions while following our essential eligibility criteria. For students needing extra help, we provide personalized wellness plans . These plans include coping strategies, care protocols, and specific requirements to help them engage effectively in the program. Our instructors have access to mental health first aid resources and are well-prepared to offer strong support to students with these needs.

Accessibility Support

Our programs offer a variety of physical activities, including hiking, surfing, rafting, and mountain biking. We make sure to accommodate students with diverse needs such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic medical conditions, while working within the infrastructure of the host country and our program schedules. We're mindful of the varying levels of accessibility in the countries we visit and can help students choose a semester location where they feel most at ease.



Sustainability is one of the 6 core components of each Pacific Discovery program, where we educate students about the local and global environmental issues, how to travel sustainably, and have them think deeply about their impact and what they can do in their daily lives to affect change.

We recently embarked on a Net Positive Benefit project where we are qualifying what impacts our groups have on the local communities, taking into consideration carbon emissions +/- social impacts +/- conservation impacts +/- community impacts. On our programs, students engage with non-profit organisations such as Litter Intelligence, Scholars of Sustenance, Ulu Mau puanui, Llama Pack project where they directly work for a better future - planting trees, eradicating invasive weed species, helping local communities and food banks.

Ethical Impact

We make a conscious decision to partner with host communities and suppliers who are passionate about our students' participation and involvement with them being of a positive benefit to the community. We want our presence to enable positive sustainable growth for our partners and this mantra is ingrained in the fabric of our programs.

Program Highlights

  • Spanish language immersion while traveling through South America
  • Conservation and sustainability with Llama Pack Project in Peru
  • Galapagos Islands immersion: visiting islands, kayaking, snorkeling, and up-close wildlife encounters
  • Rafting expedition on the Jatunyacu River in the Amazon Basin
  • Experience the history and culture of Lima, Peru, and Ecuador’s cosmopolitan capital, Quito. Visit an indigenous community at Lake Titicaca and gain insight into traditional Peruvian culture

Program Reviews

4.93 Rating
based on 14 reviews
  • 5 rating 92.86%
  • 4 rating 7.14%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.5
  • Support 4.8
  • Fun 5
  • Value 5
  • Safety 4.95
Showing 1 - 8 of 14 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Stories to Last a Lifetime

Where do I even begin? From adrenaline-pumping adventure activities like bridge-jumping and canyoning, to deep cultural immersion through homestays in Llachon and Agato, to genuinely engaging myself with the natural world through multitudes of hikes and treks, to eye-opening service projects with Sinchi Warmi and the Llama Pack Project, these two months have been some of the most formative of my life so far.

Our instructors were some of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met. Their go-with-the-flow attitudes, ability to remain calm amidst all situations and their sheer enthusiasm for travel and adventure was infectious - they were honestly role models, and I have a huge amount of appreciation for them.

Perhaps the most life-changing experience for me was the one-week homestay in Agato. The people of Agato have a golden, intrinsic thread of sheer willpower, love and community running through them, and they taught me to sew that very thread into everything I do in life, a lesson I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for.

And it’s hard to forget the myriad of adventure activities we took part in: a two-day rafting expedition in the Amazon, rock-climbing, mountain biking, trekking, trail-running, snorkeling, and spending a week in Baños, the adventure capital of Ecuador, where went paragliding, high-speed zip-lining, rappelling down waterfalls… the list goes on. I came out of the trip understanding the immense value of travel, and with a spark for adventure ignited; I know for a fact that this is going to become an integral part of my life moving forwards.

It’s easy to recommend this nine-week escapade to anyone who wants to truly experience the culture of Peru and Ecuador, partake in a ton of adventure and absorb themselves in nature. You’ll walk out a better person with a more worldly perspective and stories to last a lifetime, guaranteed. I know I did.

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

Pacific Discovery South America

When I was a senior in high school, I originally did not have the intention of taking a gap year. However, when I was given this chance to take a gap year, I just knew I wanted to travel somewhere. It was one of my best decisions to travel with Pacific Discovery in South America because I learned so much about myself and the world. My Spanish improved immensely, I created strong friendships with 13 other people, I tried paragliding for the first time, camped, connected with the four families through our homestays, went puenting (bridge jumping), made coffee, and had many more new experiences. The leaders acted as friends, advisers, and most importantly, role models. One of my favorite homestays was definitely in the rural Agato, Ecuador because the community is so tight knit, warm, welcoming, and thoughtful. Everybody knows each other in the community. I remember one of the host mothers went to get groceries from a market, and she had a list of items other community members needed as well.
During my trip, I created a video that captures small bits of our experience and the gap year program.

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

Most Amazing Gap Semester

My absolute favorite memory from this trip was staying with a family in Ecuador. My friend David and I stayed with a mom, dad, and 4 siblings. At the end of the week we were to have a celebration with all the families the group was staying with in the community. Our older sister told us we would be showing off a traditional Llachon dance. Each night after we helped prepare our delicious dinners, we would eat with our family and then dance! It was hilarious trying to dance correctly, but even funnier when we taught them a dance of our own. This brought us so close despite the language barrier. Through the music, dancing and laughs we became true family.

What would you improve about this program?
I think everything was perfectly planned and could not have asked for a better 2 months.
90 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

South America Semester

My experience in South America with Pacific Discovery was amazing! There were so many incredible opportunities that I would never have had the chance to do otherwise. Between the service, learning and adventure, there was such a great balance between the different types of activities that we did. Some days we were in the garden helping out the community, while others we were improving our Spanish or rafting through the rapids in the middle of the Amazon. No matter how scared I was to try something different, it always ended up being an amazing experience and the leaders were always aware of when people were out of their comfort zone. This program went far above my expectations in terms of activities, food provided and accommodations. I definitely recommend this trip to anybody. Whether you speak Spanish or don’t, or whether you have tried the activities on the itinerary or not, the moments you experience during the trip are unforgettable and are definitely something you can share with people for years to come.

What would you improve about this program?
I can not think of much that can be done to improve this program. The staff is wonderful and the activities we did and the places we visited were incredible.
95 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Pacific Discovery - South America

This was the best experience of my life! Pacific Discovery is so amazing and they know how to run trips! You have the opportunity to travel through Peru, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands. Before, I didn't know any Spanish and it was really nice being able to travel with group leaders who handled the logistics. It was so awesome to be immersed in the culture and meet some incredible people from these countries! I really enjoyed learning Spanish (even though I was terrible) and being able to connect with other locals or our host families. The volunteer and service projects really allowed me to feel apart of the community and it was nice to help them. The question should be: what didn't we do? The entire trip was filled with exciting and unique experiences. We were able to go rafting, hiking, mountain biking, snorkeling, paragliding, zip lining, surfing, and so much more. The small group experience allows you to connect with others and build relationships which made the program so enjoyable! As I look back, I have so many great memories, but I loved the times with our host families. The meals we had were fantastic but the opportunity to spend time with them and learn was the most valuable. It should be said that the locations you get travel to are absolutely beautiful! The water in the Galapagos is so clear it's unbelievable and Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world.

What would you improve about this program?
Not much! The amount of different and unique experiences you are able to enjoy is wonderful!
94 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Time of my life!

As being part Peruvian, I was looking to explore this country in a way I could see the multiple aspects that it offered. I have no regrets of picking Pacific Discovery! We explored multiple areas throughout Peru; such as Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Apurimac River, Colca Canyon, Arequipa, Huacachina, Ballestas Islands, and many more. Additionally, we mountain biked, hiked, white water rafted, witnessed many sceneries, sand boarded, rode in a dune buggy, sail boated, and the list could keep going. Peru is definitely a beautiful country and there is no other way of exploring the country than through Pacific Discovery!

What would you improve about this program?
I would have liked to make a trip through the Amazon. One part of Peru that I will have to go back and see. No worries for future participants however, they have now added it into the program!
79 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience in Peru!

My month in Peru with Pacific Discovery was the best month of my life and the most life changing for me. We started with a week of living in home stays, studying Spanish and volunteering at orphanages. This experience not only helped my Spanish but also opened my eyes to the living conditions and lives of people in Peru. The next week we started adventuring. We mountain biked down a mountain, did a multiple day hike to Machu Picchu and in the Colca Canyon, explored Cusco, Arequipa, and islands of Lake Titicaca and went sand boarding in the desert. Along the way, we experienced living conditions throughout Peru. During our Colca Canyon hike, I stayed in a mud hut with a metal roof and shared the room with two people and a goat! (He was the families pet and he would come and go as he pleased). Peru taught me so many things and changed my life so much. After my month in Peru, I changed my major from business to non-profit management. After being in Peru and experiencing life there, I realized that I want to help them and other countries in South America. Also, I became a vegetarian and a strong believer in recycling. I spent so much time near animals in Peru and many of the people I was traveling with were vegetarians too, so I decided to try it and I've never felt better. Our guide in Peru, Susan Staley was very conscious about our impact in Peru. We were advised to use the least amount of plastic possible and if we did use it, to collect it as we go. In Peru, many places didn't have recycling systems so they would just burn the plastic on the side of the road. Overall, Peru has changed me in so many ways and I could talk about it forever. I loved the trip, the people, the country, everything! I wish I could do it again!

What would you improve about this program?
Colca Canyon was a tough hike. But from what I heard it's already been changed! I'd say the living conditions but they really taught us about what life was like for people in poor countries. Not having running water or hot showers really toughened me up! I'd say less time at Lake Titicaca too. A week in a desolated area like there was very relaxing for a while but then got kind of boring.
83 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

One of the best summers of my life

I was in Peru with Pacific discovery during the summer 2014 trip and could not have had a more meaningful and inspiring trip there.I saw some of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen in my life --whether it was a lightning storm followed by a sunrise over lake titicaca with two other daring friends I made on the trip, or going for a roller-coaster-like ride in a dune buggy and sandboarding on the massive dunes of Huacachina. I became so much more confident in myself and my ability to navigate the unknown in my life. This confidence has spilled over into other areas, and made me unique in that I came into college ready for the change while others were terrified! If I could be there again with the wonderful friends I made on the trip, it would be a dream come true. Though some of our accommodations left something to be desired, Pacific Discovery is the type of organization that really cares about its participants and their experiences on their trips, and they are always changing and improving their itineraries. Hope to go again on a different PD trip when I graduate! Do yourself a favor, grow, learn, and get your mind blown by a priceless trip to Peru!

What would you improve about this program?
Accommodations could have definitely been better. Some were very nice, others by necessity of being in the middle of nowhere where understandably lacking, but others could have been nicer. I know that the planning crew though got my feedback and will be improving that for the next year, don't worry! Also, I wanted to see rainforest and we didn't on our trip. But, they are now adding a week long part in Manu national park, which my spanish teacher there said has some of the deepest, most untouched rainforest in the world, so that should be amazing in future trips!
80 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

I don't think the program has an option for a whole year. That being said, someone could go with the program then stay afterwards for however long they wanted. As always, emailing someone who works for the company that this person is interested in going with, would result in the most accurate answer!