Visit two of South America’s most iconic countries – Peru & Ecuador – and discover the lost lands of the Incas! Whether the awe-inspiring spectacle of Machu Picchu; waking up to the sounds and sights of the Amazon rainforest; or intimate encounters with incredible animals!
- Learn Spanish in the old Inca capital of Cusco Trek off the beaten trail to the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu
- Learn to surf in the laid back beach town of Mancora
- Volunteer at an Amazon animal rescue centre in the heart of the rainforest
- Immerse yourself in Quito cultural, working closely with children
- Visit the Charles Darwin Research centre on the world-renowned Galapagos Islands
WHAT TO EXPECT
Week 1: Cusco Begin your journey in Cusco, historic capital of the Inca Empire and cultural heart of Peru. Spanish lessons, homestays with friendly local families and city exploration with your fellow travellers are the perfect way to acclimatise - both to the altitude and the laid-back South American way of life.
Week 2: Trek to Machu Picchu Step up the adventure level with an epic trek across the Andes to Machu Picchu. Follow in the footsteps of Inca roadbuilders on the remote Salkantay route over icy mountain passes and through mysterious cloud forests to the remains of a fallen civilisation. This is the way to the Lost City of the Inca for those who prefer the path less travelled.
Week 3: Lima - Banos Recuperate with a stop in the capital city of Lima, before a chilled-out stay in a surf town of Mancora on Peru's Pacific coast. From here, you will cross into Ecuador, a country of diverse landscapes with a unique flavour and a reputation for friendly, welcoming people. Stop in the city of Cuenca to absorb its colonial history and the stunning beauty of a nearby national park, before heading onto Banos in the jungle-clad eastern province of Amazonas.
Week 4: Animal Rescue Centre Get face-to-face and hand-to-paw with rainforest inhabitants as you volunteer at a rescue centre for wild animals. Macaws; boas; monkeys; ocelots and even caiman crocodiles are just some of the creatures the centre works to protect and rehabilitate after abuse by the black market trade in wild animals as pets. Warning: this phase of the program may contain cute fuzzy animals.
Week 5: Jungle Homestay After a quick stop at Banos to get a fix of adrenaline activities, it’s time to venture further into the jungle with a week's stay with an indigenous community. Learn the secrets of life in the rainforest - test your marksmanship with blow pipes; be cleansed in a traditional healing ceremony; try to keep up with the locals' dance routines; and dare to go on night-time walks into jaguar territory!
Week 6: Animal Rescue Centre Of all the wildlife projects Gapforce supports, the animal rescue centre is possibly one of the most unique and meaningful, and definitely warrants a return visit to check in on the animals you met before and help out with any new arrivals. During your second week at the rescue centre, you’ll truly be into the swing of things and really be able to make an impact on the great work being done.
Week 7: Quito It’s back up into the Andes mountains for your final week and chance to continue giving back to your host country with further volunteering at schools for disadvantaged children in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito. A stay in this high-altitude city in the clouds isn't complete without a visit to the Mitad del Mundo, zero degrees of latitude and longitude - the centre of the world!
Add-on Extension: Galapagos Islands Finally, you will have the option to conclude your adventure with a 5-day tour of the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of unparalleled marine biodiversity. Hike, sail and snorkel your way round the islands made famous by Charles Darwin, encountering sea lions; dolphin; turtles; sharks and more. Not to be missed.