Who do you want to be in the world? Join Pacific Discovery for an insightful, overland gap semester thought the cultural heart of The Andes: Peru, Ecuador and Galapagos Islands.
On our South America Semester, you'll travel in a fun, safe and supportive group of 14 students with two instructors to facilitate and mentor your experience. Join us to gain insight into the lives of indigenous Andean and Amazon communities while significantly improving your conversational Spanish ability. Participate in worthwhile community-initiated volunteer projects, wander the ancient streets of Quito and Cuzco, and be astounded by Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and the incredible Galapagos Islands. You will trek, raft, cycle, and snorkel through a range of environments from Andean peaks to the Amazon. You will also have many opportunities for meaningful connections with local people that will deepen your global perspective and strengthen your Spanish skills. We support you to develop your leadership skills, resourcefulness, resilience, and independence. Pacific Discovery is committed to sustainability and ethical travel, which we'll be practicing throughout the program.
Develop a global perspective, independence, leadership and Spanish skills through outdoor expeditions, service learning projects, and authentic cultural and language immersion. Pacific Discovery programs foster empathy for other cultures, ethical and sustainable travel practices, and awareness of international issues. Students leave with a deepened sense of their identity, passion, and purpose.
Pacific Discovery is a global leader in experiential education, offering inspiring summer, semester, and gap year programs abroad since 2001, and is an inaugural member of the American Gap Association.
10-week program for ages 18-24. Fall and Spring departures. Scholarships and academic credit available.
- Visit our website to request a detailed information booklet for this program –
Cost and Session Information
Gap Year Program fee inclusions:
•All in-country land transport and travel (some flights - varies by program)
•All meals All language classes, activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in each program's itinerary
•Service learning projects in conservation and community development Informal lectures from resident experts on history, culture, development issues
•Experienced program instructors and local guides
•Online image library for your program
•Extensive pre-departure preparation support and information
•During program weekly updates to families and group photo album
•Post-program alumni network
•Assistance with booking international flights
4 Participant ReviewsWrite a Review
Where do I even begin? From adrenaline-pumping adventure activities like bridge-jumping and canyoning, to deep cultural immersion through homestays in Llachon and Agato, to genuinely engaging myself with the natural world through multitudes of hikes and treks, to eye-opening service projects with Sinchi Warmi and the Llama Pack Project, these two months have been some of the most formative of my life so far. Our instructors were some of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met. Their go-with-the-flow attitudes, ability to remain calm amidst all situations and their sheer enthusiasm for travel and adventure was infectious - they were honestly role models, and I have a huge amount of appreciation for them. Perhaps the most life-changing experience for me was the one-week homestay in Agato. The people of Agato have a golden, intrinsic thread of sheer willpower, love and community running through them, and they taught me to sew that very thread into everything I do in life, a lesson I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for. And it’s hard to forget the myriad of adventure activities we took part in: a two-day rafting expedition in the Amazon, rock-climbing, mountain biking, trekking, trail-running, snorkeling, and spending a week in Baños, the adventure capital of Ecuador, where went paragliding, high-speed zip-lining, rappelling down waterfalls… the list goes on. I came out of the trip understanding the immense value of travel, and with a spark for adventure ignited; I know for a fact that this is going to become an integral part of my life moving forwards. It’s easy to recommend this nine-week escapade to anyone who wants to truly experience the culture of Peru and Ecuador, partake in a ton of adventure and absorb themselves in nature. You’ll walk out a better person with a more worldly perspective and stories to last a lifetime, guaranteed. I know I did.
My trip to South America with Pacific Discovery was amazing! I was able to meet many new friends from my group, as well as many inspiring individuals and families, while traveling through Peru and Ecuador. Pacific Discovery provided me with incredible opportunities such as learning to surf in the Galapagos, paragliding in the "adventure capital of Ecuador", hiking to Machu Picchu and so many more. What I loved about the program was that we were able to explore the places we visited, while also giving back to the communities that welcomed us. Along with many activities we did, we also took part in community gardening, cleaning up mangroves and beaches and a few other things. PD did an awesome job of putting together two months of travel, and I would definitely do another one of their programs!
When I was a senior in high school, I originally did not have the intention of taking a gap year. However, when I was given this chance to take a gap year, I just knew I wanted to travel somewhere. It was one of my best decisions to travel with Pacific Discovery in South America because I learned so much about myself and the world. My Spanish improved immensely, I created strong friendships with 13 other people, I tried paragliding for the first time, camped, connected with the four families through our homestays, went puenting (bridge jumping), made coffee, and had many more new experiences. The leaders acted as friends, advisers, and most importantly, role models. One of my favorite homestays was definitely in the rural Agato, Ecuador because the community is so tight knit, warm, welcoming, and thoughtful. Everybody knows each other in the community. I remember one of the host mothers went to get groceries from a market, and she had a list of items other community members needed as well. During my trip, I created a video that captures small bits of our experience and the gap year program. https://youtu.be/lQShfbs0fAg
Can not say enough great things about this trip. I went on the South America trip during the fall of 2016 to Peru and Ecuador. This program is a perfect mix of everything-- homestays, outdoors, city-life -- and I would not change a single thing. You will meet amazing people, both in your group (including the BEST instructors), and in the local communities. My instructors were extremely adventure-driven, and joined in on the bridge-jumping, paragliding, and snorkeling with sea lions in the Galapagos. I would never have gotten an opportunity like this elsewhere, and I feel much more prepared, and matured, for college. Trips like these really open your eyes to the world and make you realize all there is to live for around you. Unlike if you planned a trip yourself, or even with other groups, this trip let us be part of the community, rather than seeing the world from the outside as tourist. Take this once in a lifetime opportunity to see the colors of Peru, the communities in Ecuador, and the glass blue water and nature in the Galapagos.