Rafting Through the Amazon Rainforest!

Although the end of our trip is edging ever closer and our reunions draw nearer and nearer, this group of explorers continues to take in every beautiful moment. The story picks up during our stay in Baños. We kicked it all off by walking to the local hot springs just under a gorgeous waterfall. At the base of this waterfall was a tribute to the virgin Mary, a partner to the statue topping the opposite side of the ridge. Both of these sites are staples of this primarily c… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2022

Saying Goodbye to our New Families in Ecuador

The past week has been quite eventful for the Pacific Discovery students. The group continued their homestay with their loving and welcoming host families in the Agato Community, learning more about the Kichwa culture. The mornings would begin with the group giving back to the host community with extensive community service ranging from community cleanups to the planting of over one hundred and thirty trees. After completion of the daily service activities, students met … Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2022

Homestays in the Agato Community

This week, the group has been adjusting to and getting to know our homestay families in the Agato Community in Otavalo, Ecuador. Five families welcomed 3-4 of us into each of their homes, and we’ve spent each morning doing volunteer work in the community. Some of the projects have included cleaning up community spaces such as parks and soccer fields, regenerative gardening, and moving debris. We’ve also gotten to experience Kichwa Spring Equinox traditions.   On Sunday… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2022

Volunteering in Peru, Our Most Memorable Experience

When we first signed up for this trip, we all discussed the things we were most excited for. Machu Picchu, the Galápagos Islands, and rafting the Amazon were some of the group’s most anticipated activities. However, if you asked our group what our most memorable experience was thus far, I’m confident most would answer our stay with the Llama Pack Project. Our experience began with a grueling hike to Cancha Cancha, a rural village located high in the Andes mountains. As … Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2022

Moments of Beauty in Peru and Ecuador

As we have traveled through Peru and Ecuador, our group stayed in a multitude of accommodations ranging from single nights in hostels to whole weeks in community member's homes. We’ve grown accustomed to unpacking and repacking our entire backpacks, sometimes within a matter of minutes. Some of the incredible places have been hipster, eco-friendly hostels or nice hotel rooms, but the places I’ve felt most at home are in the homestays. Here is the thing about homestays: … Read more

Category South America

Halloween Along the Rio in Ecuador

Before coming on this trip, one of the many thoughts that crossed my mind was what in the world celebrating Halloween in Ecuador would be like - or whether we would celebrate at all. I can now say that a few days ago I celebrated the coolest and most unique Halloween of my life so far, on the island of Shandia. We began the day with a bus ride to the starting location of our  two-day white water rafting expedition, a part of the trip I had been looking forward to for a … Read more

Category South America

Cultural Immersion in Agato

The concept of a gap year appealed to me initially for a multitude of reasons: the opportunity to travel to foreign countries, make new friends, take a much needed break from the stresses and anxieties of traditional education, have meaningful experiences outside of the classroom, and the list continues. However, the South America Pacific Discovery program sparked my interest primarily for the homestay opportunities. From my experiences, even a few days spent at a home s… Read more

Category South America

Our Homes Away From Home

A true traveler approaches a foreign place with humility, with the acknowledgement that he is in someone else's land, on someone else's turf, playing by someone else's rules. He displays this humility by being open and aware, by listening rather than speaking, by receiving rather than delivering, and by accepting and responding rather than controlling and demanding. - Michael D'Orso At the Llachon and Agato homestays, we were to be their guests, or rather, their family … Read more

Category South America

A South American Birthday

During the first couple of days of our journey through Peru and Ecuador, our trip leaders Hope and Nathan asked me how I felt about my 22nd birthday happening while we were in South America, away from my friends and family. I had to think about the question for a moment. Part of me was excited and open to the new experience of being so removed from my everyday life, being that I am not one for big celebrations to begin with. Another part of me was a bit disappointed beca… Read more

Category South America

Adventures of the 13 Amigos

When we first arrived in Peru, we were given a very specific/odd warning. Our rad instructors said to us, "Getting accustomed to the food, altitude, the long hikes and the culture will make this first week feel like one of the longest weeks of your lives. However, after this week, time truly flies so try your hardest to be present and enjoy every second of this trip." At first none of us really knew how to take this advice, you know? We had all just traveled for more th… Read more

Category South America