South America Program: Daily Itinerary
Spring 2020 (February 22 to May 15)
Colorado, USA: February 22 to 25
Feb. 22 to 25: Rocky Mountains: For three days team members live together in residence at the YMCA of the Rockies Conference Center in Estes Park, Colorado. In this spectacular Rocky Mountain setting, they take part in a series of orientation workshops covering topics including team building, health and safety, and cultural sensitivity, in preparation for their time abroad. The team flies from Denver to La Paz, Bolivia, on Feb.25.
Bolivia: February 25 to March 27
Feb. 25 to Feb. 27: La Paz: Time to begin exploring Bolivia’s largest, and perhaps its most colorful, city. Individual and group site-seeing and exploration of La Paz’s lively streets, extensive bustling markets, and many museums. On the morning of Feb.27, travel by bus from La Paz to Cochabamba.
Feb. 27 to Mar. 4: Cochabamba: For one week the team lives in the city of Cochabamba, tucked in a picturesque valley in Bolivia’s beautiful central highlands. Everyone lives with a host family and attends intensive Spanish language lessons. Outings are also taken to explore the many interesting sides of this lively Bolivian city. On Mar.4, the team moves to a village about 45 minutes outside of Cochabamba.
Mar. 4 to 16: Village home stay: For a week and a half the team lives with host families in the small rural village, just beyond the outskirts of Cochabamba. Days are spent helping to build a local school, as well as doing some teaching of the school children. Outings are taken to visit nearby sites of interest, including a day hike in Tunari National Park. Travel by bus to Uyuni on Mar.16.
Mar. 16 to 20: Uyuni and the Southern Altiplano: The team arrives at the outpost town of Uyuni and then sets out on a safari into Bolivia’s remote southern Altiplano. For four days, they ride jeeps across spectacular salt plains and high mountain deserts, visiting volcanoes and flamingo-filled lakes in one of South America’s most rugged landscapes. Overnight travel north to La Paz on Mar.20.
Mar. 21 to 22: La Paz: Time to continue exploring La Paz. There is also an optional day trip to visit the nearby ancient ruins of Tiahuanaco. On the morning of Mar.22, the team flies to the town of Rurrenabaque in the lush Amazon River Basin.
Mar. 22 to 26: Amazon River Basin: A day to explore Bolivia’s northern frontier town of Rurrenabaque, followed by a three-day boat safari. The team travels in simple wooden boats along rivers in the Amazon Basin, takes hikes into the pampas, and camps overnight in cabins along the banks of the river. Fly back to La Paz on Mar.26 and continue by bus to Copacabana.
Mar. 26 to 27: Copacabana: Arrive by bus on the afternoon of Mar.26 in Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Time to explore this pretty little pilgrimage town. Continue west by bus across the border to Puno, Peru on Mar.27.
Peru: March 27 to April 16
Mar. 27 to 30: Puno & Lake Titicaca: The team has time to explore the small city of Puno, and then sets off by boat on one of the world’s highest navigable bodies of water, Lake Titicaca, for two days. During that outing, the team learns about island life and stays overnight with host families on the small island of Amantani. Travel by bus northwest from Puno to Cuzco on Mar.30.
Mar. 30 to Apr. 7: Cuzco: The team lives here with host families in this beautiful capital city of the old Inca Empire. Days are spent working on a variety of volunteer projects. There are also two full days to explore Inca ruins in and around the city.
Apr. 7 to 11: Trek to Machu Picchu: The team sets out on a four-day trek deep into the Andean Mountains, through lush vegetation and over snow-covered passes. On the fifth day, the team explores Machu Picchu, “Lost City of the Incas,” deservedly the most famous historical site in South America. Return back to Cuzco by train and bus at the end of the day on Apr.11.
Apr. 11 to 12: Cuzco: Overnight back in Cuzco. On Apr.12, the team flies from Cuzco to Lima.
Apr. 12 to 13: Lima: Site-seeing and free time to explore Peru’s capital city, and sites such as the Church of San Francisco & Catacombs, the Central Market, and the National Museum. Depart Lima on the evening of Apr.13, traveling by bus up the north coast to Mancora.
Apr. 14 to 16: Mancora: The team has some much-deserved time to relax on one of Peru’s most beautiful northern beaches, staying 2 nights in a beach-side hostel. On Apr.16, continue traveling by bus up the coast into Ecuador to the city of Cuenca.
Ecuador (and Galapagos Islands): April 16 to May 15
Apr. 16 to 19: Cuenca: The team has time to explore the many museums, busy markets, and bustling streets, of this beautiful colonial city. On Apr.19, travel by bus to Banos.
Apr. 19 to 21: Banos: A day long white-water rafting trip. Time for exploration of this pretty little town, set in lush surroundings at the base of a volcano. Continue by bus to the rainforest on Apr.21.
Apr. 21 to 28: Village Home Stay: For one week the team lives with host families, in very simple conditions, in this small village on the edge of the rainforest. Team members learn about village life in the Ecuadorian rainforest by living it themselves. Days are spent helping host families with regular daily work and chores, as well as running educational activities for village children. On Apr.28, travel about 15 minutes up river into a rainforest reserve.
Apr. 28 to May 6: Rainforest Reserve: During this week, the team lives in small cabins in the middle of the Ecuadorian rainforest. Here they work on a variety of service projects with a local foundation dedicated to rainforest conservation. Some recreational and educational outings are also taken into the rainforest and along nearby rivers. On May 6, travel by bus from the rainforest to Otavalo.
May 6 to 7: Otavalo: Time to explore the bustling craft, food, and animal markets in this small city north of Quito. The group also does a day-hike around the perimeter of Laguna de Cuicocha, a spectacular volcanic lake located in a nature reserve. On the afternoon of May 7, the group travels back south by bus to Quito.
May 7 to 9: Quito: Time for group, and individual, exploration of Ecuador’s beautiful capital city. On the morning of May 9, the team flies from Quito to the Galapagos Islands, located on the equator approximately 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador.
May 9 to 14: Galapagos Islands: The group explores several islands within Ecuador’s Galapagos Archipelago. This is where Charles Darwin found some of the most important evidence in the development of his theory of evolution. The team has the chance to observe an astonishing array of mammals, birds, and marine life, from swimming with sea lions and penguins to walking within a few feet of giant tortoises, pelicans, and blue-footed boobies. The team also has some time to enjoy the areas spectacular beaches, and to begin reflecting on the entire trip in preparation for the return home. Fly back to Quito on May 14.
May 14 to 15: Quito: Time for more group, and individual, exploration of Ecuador’s beautiful capital city. Final program wrap-up and preparation for returning home. On May 15, the team flies together from Quito to the USA and then onward individually to each team member’s final home destination.