Multiple Locations +2
  • Peru
  • Bolivia
4 - 26 weeks
Program Tags
Adventure Travel Arts College Credit Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Language Immersion Music Post-High School Social Justice Study Abroad Volunteer Abroad Wilderness +3
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, 529 Plan eligibility, BIPOC funding
Health & Safety

Program Details

Camping Remote Exploring Trekking
Fall Spring
Guesthouse Host Family Hotel Tent
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
The South America Gap Semester's cost is $16,950 for three months. Need-based scholarships are available.

What's Included
Accommodation Activities Some Equipment Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Visa
Sep 08, 2023
Feb 19, 2023
35 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

From snow capped mountains to lush tropical rain forests and everything in between! The Andes and Amazon program guides you through the dizzying tapestry of cultures and landscapes of both Bolivia and Peru.

The diverse regions of these two countries provide an ideal backdrop for learning. Through extended homestays, intensive language classes, exposure to remote indigenous communities, and trekking through diverse ecosystems Andes and Amazon students will deeply connect with local cultures while venturing into the rich panorama of Andean and Amazonian realities.

Dragons students will also examine current social movements, political trends, and environmental conservation efforts in the jungles and mountains of Peru and Bolivia. Students will also participate in an independent study project of this choice with a local expert in topics like traditional weaving, Andean spirituality, traditional agriculture and conservation.

Scholarships and college credit is available.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

Unfortunately, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, and skin tone exists in different forms all over the world. In some destinations, especially rural or ethnically homogenous areas, people may not have had much exposure to racial diversity. As such, people with certain physical characteristics may experience unwanted attention. Most commonly, this might include staring, insensitive comments, people taking your photo (with or without asking), or attempts to touch your skin or hair. Black students traveling in parts of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa have often reported higher levels of unwanted attention than their peers. White students traveling in parts of Asia and Africa have also reported receiving unwanted attention. Students are encouraged to communicate with staff if they feel their personal boundaries are being violated or if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable in any situation. We encourage you to believe your peers if/when they share experiences like this with you.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Social, cultural, religious, political, and legal attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community vary around the world. According to the Global Acceptance Index, average levels of acceptance for LGBTQ+ people around the world have been increasing since 1981. However, many countries where Dragons operates programs may have social discrimination or even laws against being LGBTQ+. We have safely supported LGBTQ+ students in all of our program areas, and provide specific cultural and geographic advice to help students stay safe on course.

In some cases, students may be advised not to speak about their sexual orientations and/or gender identities with local contacts (such as homestay families, ISP mentors, language teachers, and guest speakers) due to safety concerns. Likewise, transgender and non-binary students may have to choose to present outwardly as male or female in certain contexts during the program. In other cases, “coming out” to some or all host community members may be a safe choice.

Neurodivergent Support

For students with neuro-differences (such as dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, TS, and dyspraxia), it is important to be aware that neurodiversity is likely viewed differently abroad than at home. People might not be familiar with labels or terms that are very common where you come from. If you struggle with lots of external stimuli, you should be prepared that you will be in some environments that are louder and busier than what you are used to.

Accessibility Support

If you are a student with a physical disability, you might encounter challenges around accessibility than you have at home. Many of the places we travel at Dragons don’t have building codes or other regulations in place to support people with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments. You may need accommodations or support that you don’t usually require in your life at home.



Dragons defines responsible travel as travel that is culturally conscious, environmentally responsible, and focused on developing meaningful connections and mutual respect in the communities to which we travel. Over the course of Dragons 25+ year history, we have cultivated long-standing relationships with respected community leaders, academics, social entrepreneurs and professionals involved in environmental and cultural preservation. In the more than 20 countries in which Dragons has operated, we have steadfastly adhered to minimum impact travel, an accurate and informed understanding of place, and the realization of maximum benefit for the communities we visit.

Ethical Impact

Dragons believes that we need to shift the way we think of volunteer travel. Instead of focusing on “service work”—on the idea that short-term volunteers can contribute to communities abroad—we advocate a paradigm shift: we choose, instead, to focus on “learning service.”

Learning Service is a holistic experience that combines an intimate and authentic engagement with the local community, the study of effective development, and the contribution to an established community-driven project. It is the process of living, working alongside, and humbly absorbing the culture of those being served while coordinating closely with project managers to understand the trajectory of the project, from inception to completion and beyond. It is an acknowledgment that often it is the volunteer who stands to gain as much or more from the work. And it is a commitment to making contributions that create positive impacts in the communities coupled with the humility to always listen and learn first.

Program Highlights

  • Engage with issues in resource management, modernization and globalization, indigenous movements and political representation, urbanization and rural poverty, environmental conservation, and community and sustainable development.
  • Settle into the rhythm of life in an agricultural community, living with a family, deepening your language skills, and exploring an Independent Study topic of your choice.
  • Four weeks of personalized language instruction with local teachers for 16-20 hours a week, in addition to opportunities for language immersion throughout. Quechua lessons also available.
  • Participate in multi-day treks moving from the high Andes to the Amazon basin. Wilderness exploration also includes travel through remote rainforests of Bolivia and Peru, and a challenging trek in the Ausangate range in Peru.
  • Explore land use and relationships, social and political activism, and indigenous identity and representation. The semester also delves into pre-Incan and Incan history and culture, the coca leaf, sustainable agriculture, and the arts.


Where There Be Dragons Financial Aid & 529 Funds

Where There Be Dragons offers need-based financial aid to students that demonstrate reasonable financial need and are excited to engage with communities around the world.

Program Dates

Application Deadline
Program Dates

Program Reviews

4.83 Rating
based on 12 reviews
  • 5 rating 83.33%
  • 4 rating 16.67%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.35
  • Support 4.7
  • Fun 4.75
  • Value 4.7
  • Safety 4.85
Showing 1 - 8 of 12 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing, educational program full of varied, unique experiences

I had a wonderful time doing the Dragons South America Semester. My favorite aspect of the program was that out activities were varied over the course of the semester. We went backpacking, took Spanish lessons, had rural and urban homestays, learned about local social movements, and ate delicious food. It is very structured, so for those seeking more independence, this is not the program for you. However, thanks to that structure, instructors can give us access and introduce us to people and experiences we otherwise never could have learned about. Thanks to these resources, I learned much more about Bolivian and Peruvian culture, politics and life than I even could have as a solo traveler.

  • Homestays
  • Tight-knit group
  • Outdoor and hands-on learning
52 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My adventure

I feel so lucky to have traveled with wtbd. The trip was so packed with adventures that it takes a few months post completion to realize what you accomplished. The program was beautiful, challenging and an opportunity to become a better person. I made new friends, tried new food, and visitied places i would never have discovered without the program. I miss the andes so much, the scale of the mountains and the culture and history that lives inside of it is out of this world. I miss hiking up the side of a mountain and taking a boat ride down the river beni into the amazon basin. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself signed up for this program, get excited and take every opportunity that comes your way when in south america. Dont hold back and be yourself.

  • Personal growth
  • Cultural immersion
  • Unique communities
  • Traveling as a youth group not as adults
  • Hiking speed
  • Timing
54 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


I've done a few summer and semester programs like Dragons with various other companies, and Dragons really blew me away. I felt guided and supported towards learning the culture, language, leadership, interpersonal skills, etc., and pushed out of my comfort zone to figure a lot of it out on my own, which I really loved. I got to bushwhack in the rainforest, swim in a glacial lagoon in the Andes mountains, sleep in ancient Incan ruins, dance with my host family in a huge parade, and so much more that I never would've dreamed of. By the time I left, I was forgetting words in English.

  • Extreme self-growth
  • Spanish language/culture immersion
  • Incredible experiences in nature
  • Probably will have some gastrointestinal issues at some point along the way
57 people found this review helpful.
Response from Where There Be Dragons

We're so glad you loved your experience, Alex. Thank you for your thoughtful review!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The best time.

This was my first experience traveling abroad in a meaningful way and for an extended length of time. I had zero expectations for what the trip was going to be like and I ended up having the best three months of my life, I’d go back tomorrow if I could. Dragons does a really good job of teaching students how to be travelers not tourists, and I’ve learn so much about international travel from that alone. The instructors on the trip really make the trip as good as it can be, their familiarity with the regions and knowledge of the culture makes them the best people to learn from and lean on for support when traveling for so long and to unfamiliar places. My trip with Dragons changed my perspective of the world in a lot of different ways, I cannot wait to travel abroad again.

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

Andes and Amazon review

This program was amazing! I felt like it was the perfect balance of exploring the beautiful landscapes and interacting in local communities. We traveled through Peru and all over Bolivia, trekking, living in cities, and staying in communities. I also loved how close I got with all the people I was traveling with. We lived together through thick and thin, through sickness and through cold nights. We went to Spanish classes, climbed countless mountains, and experienced Peru and Bolivian culture all together. I loved living with families, during the two homestays we did. It was really cool to get to spend so much time with another family, only speaking in Spanish. I loved always moving around and being somewhere new every week, seeing as much of these two countries as we possibly could. These past 3 months I’ve travelled to the coolest places I’ve ever been and I’ve made life long friends!

  • You can get really involved with the communities you visit
  • You become a much more confident traveler, taking leadership during different parts of the program.
  • There are lots of opportunities to improve your Spanish
  • The itinerary was very flexible and we sometimes weren’t sure what the plan was until a few days before.
  • Not quite as much trekking as I originally thought
  • Private transportation in vans was often cramped
55 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Princeton Bridge Year Bolivia

My gap year in Bolivia opened my mind up to different ways of being and living in this world. I met so many wonderful people and was exposed to many new things. While my time there was sometimes challenging, it allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. The lessons I learned about myself and my values still shape who I am today. I also had the opportunity to learn more about Bolivian history and culture as well as reflect on United States history and culture, especially as it relates to South America.

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

Incredible Connections and Landscapes

All in all, a semester spent with Dragons in South America is filled with amazing hiking, fun homestays, and all sorts of eye-opening new experiences. The strong connections Dragons has with local communities, organizations, and guides provides for experiences that you otherwise could never obtain on your own. On the Andes and Amazon Gap Year Semester, you get a little bit of everything--language instruction, backpacking, homestays, work with indigenous communities, and lots more--which I think is an incredible pro and my favorite aspect of the program, but could rule out a participant who is searching for one central focus. For example, immersion and instruction in Spanish undoubtedly improved my Spanish speaking abilities, but if you're looking for a program with a very heavy focus on language instruction, I wouldn't necessarily say this program has that central focus you might be looking for. Regardless, traveling with a group of other students and amazing instructors is an experience that I will never forget and one that I likely won't ever have again. In looking back on my semester, I am continually amazed at how each day brought on a new challenge, perspective, and experience, which led to an expanded worldview and yearning to experience more. That's not to say that there weren't a few hardships and rough patches along the way, but dealing with those challenges and growing as a group were part of the amazing experience that is a Dragons semester. Ultimately, I continue to look back fondly on my semester with Dragons, and I aspire to seize each day as much as we did when traveling through the Andes and Amazon!

What would you improve about this program?
One thing that I would maybe improve upon is clearer communication in terms of plans for the semester at the beginning of the semester. I think my semester may have been unique because it was Dragons' first time doing homestays in Urubamba, Peru for the Andes and Amazon Gap Year Semester (which could have accounted for some uncertainties at the beginning of the semester), but there were a couple times where I felt as our plan was slightly too loose. For example, I thought we were going to be doing our long homestay in Cochabamba, Bolivia when gearing up for the trip until hearing directly from my instructors. That said, my time in Urubamba actually ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip and any kind of plan or itinerary has to be loose when considering international travel. Additionally, I really enjoyed being able to tailor our itinerary and plans to our group's interests.
109 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Andes and Amazon

This experience allowed me to understand how to navigate group dynamics and a foreign country! I now feel confident in my traveling abilities which was one of my main goals when signing up for this trip. It was very unique and dug deep into the cultures that we experienced. We went to the jungle and to the tops of ice peaked mountains. My favorite part was the backpacking trips where we would go from the Andes down into the Amazon. It was amazingly beautiful and we got to meet wonderful people along the way.
I would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn how to travel safely but not to anyone who values independence. There was not much time for personal growth or doing anything on your own but lots of time for group bonding. There was also lots of time spent in cities and probably two weeks in total spent outside. That is important to note.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would take advantage of every single opportunity :)
116 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers