South America Fall Semester
The Youth International South America program is a 12 week experiential learning travel semester in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador (including the Galapagos Islands), beginning with a 3-day orientation in Colorado.
Fall 2020 (September 14 to December 6)
Colorado, USA: September 14 to 17
Sept. 14 to 17: Rocky Mountains: Team members meet in Colorado, and stay together in Estes Park for a three-day orientation. In this spectacular Rocky Mountain setting, they take part in a series of orientation workshops covering topics including team building, health and safety, cultural sensitivity, and more, in preparation for their time abroad. On the morning of Sept. 17, the team departs on their flights from Denver to La Paz, Bolivia.
Bolivia: September 17 to October 18
Sept. 17 to 19: La Paz: Time to begin exploring Bolivia’s largest city. Site-seeing and exploration of La Paz’s lively streets, bustling markets, and many museums. On Sept. 19, the team travels by bus to Cochabamba.
Sept. 19 to 25: Cochabamba: For one week the team lives in the city of Cochabamba, set in a picturesque valley in the central highlands. Everyone lives with a host family and attends intensive Spanish language lessons. Outings are also taken to explore this lively Bolivian city. On Sept. 25, the team moves to Malcorancho village.
Sept. 25 to Oct. 7: Malcorancho: For a week and a half the team lives with host families in this small village just beyond the outskirts of Cochabamba. Days are spent helping to build a local school and teaching children. Excursions are also taken to nearby sites, including a day hike in Tunari National Park. Travel by bus to Uyuni.
Oct. 7 to 11: 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 in jeeps across spectacular salt plains and high mountain deserts, visiting volcanoes and flamingo-filled lakes. Overnight travel north to La Paz.
Oct. 12 to 13: 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 Oct. 13, the team flies to Rurrenabaque in the Amazon Basin.
Oct. 13 to 17: Amazon River Basin: A day to explore the frontier town of Rurrenabaque, followed by a three-day boat safari. The team travels in simple wooden boats along rivers in the Amazon Basin, goes for hikes into the pampas, and camps overnight in cabins along the banks of the river. Fly back to La Paz on Oct. 17 and continue by bus to Copacabana.
Oct. 17 to 18: Copacabana: The team arrives on the afternoon of Oct. 17 in Copacabana, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Time to explore this pretty little pilgrimage town before continuing west by bus across the border to Puno on Oct. 18.
Peru: October 18 to November 7
Oct. 18 to 21: Puno & Lake Titicaca: The team visits the small city of Puno, then sets off by boat for two days on Lake Titicaca to learn about island life, staying with host families on the small island of Amantani.
Oct. 21 to 29: Cuzco: Team members live 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 nearby Inca ruins.
Oct. 29 to Nov. 2: Trek to Machu Picchu: The team sets out on a four-day trek deep into the Andes Mountains, through lush vegetation and over snow-covered passes. On the fifth day, they arrive at Machu Picchu, “Lost City of the Incas,” deservedly the most famous historical site in South America. Return to Cuzco at the end of the day.
Nov. 2 to 3: Cuzco: The team spends the night back in Cuzco on Nov. 2, then flies to Lima the next morning.
Nov. 3 to 4: Lima: Site-seeing and free time to explore Peru’s capital city and its sites, including the Church of San Francisco & Catacombs, the Central Market, and the National Museum. Depart Lima on the evening of Nov. 4, traveling by bus up the north coast to Máncora.
Nov. 5 to 7: Máncora: The team has the opportunity to enjoy some much-deserved time to relax on one of Peru’s most beautiful northern beaches, staying two nights in a beachside hostel. On Nov. 7, travel by bus up the coast into Ecuador.
Ecuador (and Galapagos Islands): November 7 to December 6
Nov. 7 to 10: Cuenca: The team has time to explore the many museums, busy markets, and bustling streets of this beautiful colonial city. Travel by bus to Baños.
Nov. 10 to 12: Baños: Time to explore this pretty little town set in lush surroundings at the base of a volcano. There will also be a day long white-water rafting trip. On Nov. 12, continue by bus to the Ecuadorian rainforest.
Nov. 12 to 19: Village Homestay: For one week the team lives with host families, in very simple conditions, in a small village on the edge of the rainforest. Team members learn about village life in the 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 Nov. 19, travel about 15 minutes up river to a rainforest reserve.
Nov. 19 to 26: 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 volunteer projects with a foundation dedicated to rainforest conservation. Recreational and educational outings are also taken into the rainforest and along nearby rivers. On Nov. 26, travel by bus to Otavalo.
Nov. 26 to 28: Otavalo: Time to explore the bustling markets in this small city. The team takes a day hike around the perimeter of Laguna de Cuicocha, a spectacular volcanic lake located in a nature reserve. On Nov. 28, travel back south by bus to Quito.
Nov. 28 to 30: Quito: Time for exploration of Ecuador’s beautiful capital city. On the morning of Nov. 30, the team flies to the Galapagos Islands.
Nov. 30 to Dec. 5: Galapagos Islands: The team visits several islands within Ecuador’s Galapagos Archipelago, where Charles Darwin discovered critical evidence to support his theory of evolution. They have the opportunity to observe an astonishing array of mammals, birds, and marine life. There is also time to enjoy the area’s spectacular beaches and to begin reflecting on the entire trip in preparation for the return home. On Dec. 5, fly back to Quito.
Dec. 5 to 6: Quito: Further exploration of Quito and final program wrap-up. On Dec. 6, the team flies together to the USA and then onward individually to each team member’s final home destination.