Galápagos!

The Galápagos Islands. A piece of paradise. Heaven on earth. An oasis in the middle of the ocean. The epitome of travel destinations. The top of the bucket list. These are the responses I received when I told friends and family back home that I would be traveling to the Galápagos. In reality however, the Galápagos Islands have far surpassed even my reasonably high expectations. The Galápagos themselves truly are a private paradise, but it has been the friendships I've f… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2016

Gratitude in Galápagos

I like to recap each day by listing three things that I am thankful for. I normally spend time with our program leader Laurel, and we listen to what the other person was most grateful for that day before going to bed. It has been a nice way for me to reflect on the trip and appreciate all of the different experiences. In no particular order, I will list things that our group members are thankful from our time in the Galapagos. Lexie is thankful for the white sandy beach… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2016

Journey into the Amazon!

On Saturday March 5th, we arrived in Cuyabeno National Park for four days in the Amazon Rain Forest, and what would come to be a highlight of the trip! We travelled by boat to Nicky Lodge, a secluded group of cabins in a small clearing in the jungle, stopping along the way to admire birds, monkeys, insects and even an anaconda. Upon settling into the lodge, to the initial alarm of many, we met the large population of insects and spiders with whom we would be sharing our… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2016

Reflection at Sinchi Warmi

After two long, fun-filled days of rafting, we arrived at the riverside town of Misahualli and were greeted by a lovely group of capuchin monkeys perched in the trees. The monkeys have taken over the port, now nicknamed "monkey town" and leap from the roofs to the treetops, scrounging up any food scraps they can. Even though we were all tired and drowning in the heat and humidity of the jungle, we were taken aback by its striking beauty.  On our short walk from the river… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2016

Rafting on the Jatunyacu River

On Monday February 29th, we began our rafting journey into the Amazon. We would raft for two days through class three rapids, totaling 40 Km on the Jatunyacu River, which means "big water" in Kichwa. Our guides briefed us on technique and safety, we divided into two boats and chose names, and after a couple wipe outs, we managed to enter the rafts and set off. We paddled just across the river where we unloaded to trek to a nearby waterfall. We hiked, climbed, and swam un… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2016

Adventuring in Baños

Baños is known as the adventure capital of Ecuador and we all got the opportunity to experience just what makes that statement true last week. With opportunities to go bridge-jumping, paragliding and canyoning, this week was very adventurous for all of us. All the exciting activities were well offset by 3 hours of Spanish class every morning at the Marco Polo Spanish School. After sitting in class all morning, it was nice to spend the afternoons exploring Baños through e… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2016

Quilotoa adventures

When the sun rose over the volcanic crater lake of Quilotoa, we were on Day 31 and almost halfway through our trip. We were staying at a hostel that had made the chilly night seem cozy, in our big blanketed beds and with our little stoves burning wood in the corner. The hostel was right outside the entrance to the very small town that thrives off of tourism. The crater itself has a 14 kilometer rim that takes approximately 5-6 hours to hike around, but also has hiking tr… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2016

Shungu Manda (With an Open Heart)

After journeying from one country capital to another, I thought to myself, how can any of our home stays be better than the ones we've had? Is it possible to meet more amazing people? I was granted with 2 amazing home stays in Peru, and I doubted that anything would trump our time in Llachon or Cusco. However, when I was greeted by Guillermo, Alex, and Rumi in the rural community of Agato with some sort of indigenous ritual, I realized I was wrong. Alex and Rumi are a co… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2016

A Land of Balance

Hola from Quito! We just finished an incredible week staying in the community of Llachón on Lake Titicaca. Llachón, a land filled with incredible natural beauty, beautiful people and even slightly more beautiful stray dogs. This little village on the peninsula's southern tip is home to a wonderful and proud community rooted in tradition as well as love for one another. Before I get started on our adventures in this new place, it's important to understand the culture wi… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2016

Ancient Ruins, Breathtaking Treks and the Spectacular Machu Picchu!

¡Hola amigos! After months of anticipation, the Pacific Discovery South America crew met in Lima, Peru last week to begin our 2 month adventure through Peru and Ecuador. Bonding started right away with a 3-day orientation as we played games and our fearless and fantastic leaders Laurel and Caitlin prepared us for the trip of a lifetime. Excitement levels were high as we got to know each other while exploring ancient catacombs in central Lima and trying our first Peruvia… Read more

Category South America
Departure Spring 2016