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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

Our Tentative Itinerary!!

Dear students,

Over the past weeks, we have been working together to craft a course itinerary that is dynamic, immersive, and inspiring. We believe that the people and places we will encounter in the coming weeks will enrich our understanding of the world, and our place within it.  We are excited to share this journey with you!

As you will soon learn, travel in Bolivia and Peru is not an exact science and we’ll all soon become South American “travel yogis” able to bend, stretch, and breathe into the unexpected events that can be opportunities for patience and magic on the road. Over the coming week or so you’ll each be receiving a call from one of use to talk about the itinerary and address any last minute questions you may have, so keep an eye out for that communication!

At Dragons, we intentionally keep our itineraries flexible so that we can take advantage of the unexpected opportunities on the ground and adaptively craft the trip to match the interests of our group. We’ll speak more to the logic underlying our itinerary design once we’re together in Bolivia, but for now, please know that we’ve intentionally chosen places and activities to provide a progression of challenges and opportunities throughout the semester. The culmination of that progression is the “student led expedition” (often referred to as the x-phase) in which you all will be responsible for planning and running the final 10 days of the course. Exciting, yes?
Our excitement has been growing as we’ve delved into planning details, and we can’t wait to share these wonderful places with each of you!  So with great anticipation, here is our tentative Fall 2017 Andes & Amazon itinerary for Group C!


Sep 16: Arrive to El Alto airport just outside of La Paz and travel to Sorata, a sweet little Aymara mountain town. We will have lots of lovely outdoor space and have a chance to acclimate to our new surroundings, heights, and Bolivian culture.

Sept 16 – Sep 20: Orientation week will take place in Sorata. Here we’ll have workshops on group dynamics, our goals and expectations for the semester, and tips for navigating the culture and places we visit.


Sep 21 – Sep 26: We will prepare for our first trek in the Cordillera Real; 4 days of continuous trekking and camping along the way. Cordillera Real has more than 600 peaks over 5000 meters high; it’s a spectacular and exotic range. We will review the basics of trekking as well as the impact that we make on our environment.

Sep 27: We will travel to the fascinating city of El Alto, La Paz where we will prepare for our next adventure in the Potosí area.

Sep 27 – Sep 30: We will take an overnight bus to the beautiful city of Potosí, a colonial city with a difficult history. It is the site of the infamous Cerro Rico which single-handedly financed the Spanish Empire for centuries and contains one of the most tragic stories of abuse of indigenous cultures in the Americas. Today it is Bolivia’s poorest region and the still active mines give insight into resource extraction and environmental issues.

Sep 30 – Oct 4th: We will travel to the stunning Uyuni Salt Flats. The 4,000-square-mile Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat and one of the legs of the lithium triangle (Chile and Argentina are the other two). We will look more into resource extraction and the impact on the environment in this area. On the way we will do a volcano hike and then we will spend two days in Parque Avaroa, home to diverse flora and fauna like Andean flamingoes, vicuñas, and ñandus.  

Oct 5 – Oct 7: Returning from our trek, we will make our way to El Alto. There we will partner with a local theater and arts organization called El Trono. We will learn about social movements and activism in El Alto and about Aymara indigenous identity.

Oct 8 – Oct 13: In El Alto we will spend some urban time and we will have a six-day long homestay with Teatro Trono. Our time here will be highlighted by excursions into La Paz to meet with guest speakers, an exploration of the largest black market in South America, and an urban hike from El Alto to the Valley of the Spirits south of La Paz.


Oct 14 – Oct 16: We will travel to Copacabana and spend some time around Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable fresh water lake in the world), where we will learn from one of the oldest civilizations in Latin America.  This will mark our transition between Bolivia and Peru.

Oct 17 – Oct  24: We’ll be heading to Ocongate, to prep for our next trek and adventure. We will visit Nación Q’eros and have homestay experiences in rural (Quechua) communities accessible only by trails. The Q’eros people trace their lineage directly back to the Inca and in this kind of altitude nothing grows except for potatoes, so we’ll be enjoying potatoes for days!  

Oct 24- Nov 17: This is the time for you to connect on a deeper level. We will be in the middle of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, in the city of Urubamba, where you will do a three-week long homestay and be able to connect with the community. Here you will attend Spanish classes and dive into your Independent Study Projects with local mentors. During this time we will visit the city of Cusco, the ombligo, or belly button of Inca civilization, with much colonial history and beautiful architecture. We will also have a mid-course excursion, and we will visit the magical Machu Picchu!


Nov 18  – Dec 1: For the final Expedition Phase of our semester to the Amazon, the itinerary will be determined largey by the student group.  Options include Huacaria and Villa Carmen research station, the Puerto Maldonado area working with Fauna Forever and their biological research team, the Weyquechua Cloud Forest research station, or heading to Pucallpa to work with Alianza Arkana and Shipibo indigenous communities..

Dec 2 – Dec 5: During our transference phase we will head back to the Sacred Valley where we will discuss, reflect, and begin to integrate what we have experienced and learned during our journey to our current selves and our lives back home.  

Dec 6: Going home!