Welcome to our course. Over the past few weeks we have been evaluating past courses, our own experience and expertise, and, most importantly, your passions and interests to design an itinerary for our upcoming semester together.
We would like to give you a bit of background on the way we design our courses. While the places we visit are beautiful and deeply moving in themselves, the flow of our course is designed carefully and intentionally to create a progression of experiences. In the first phase, known as Skill Acquisition, you will be learning important tools concerning how to be responsible travelers and taking ownership over your experience. During the Practicing phase, you will make use of these tools and engage on a deeper level with your surroundings. During the final Expedition phase, students take on a more active role in the planning and implementation of course elements. As we move through the course, the challenges will increase and your ownership of the experience and responsibility will increase in kind. Throughout the process, you will be guided by us, your instructors, and by the local people and landscapes.
Furthermore, our Core Values of Awareness of Self, Global Citizenship, and Leadership and Skill Building will act as an undercurrent throughout the course, guiding us through the experience. At each phase of the course you will find yourselves delving deeper into these themes. And finally, as always with Dragons, the course will be flexible and spontaneous, allowing us to make changes depending on local conditions, group interests, and other opportunities that may present themselves along the way.
Our excitement has been growing as we’ve put this together, and we can’t wait to share these wonderful places with each of you! So, without further ado here is our Fall 2017 Andes & Amazon Group B tentative itinerary!
SKILL BUILDING PHASE
Orientation (September 16th-19th)– We will meet you all bright and early at the El Alto airport on September 16th. El Alto is one of the highest airports in the world at 4,061 meters (13,325 ft). To help us acclimatize we’ll leave straight from the airport and drop down to the town of Coroico at a more comfortable 1,525 m (5,003 ft). In Coroico we’ll get to know each other, set our goals and expectations for the semester, and learn some crucial tools for navigating the culture and places we will be visiting.
La Paz + first trek (September 20th- 26th)- From Coroico we’ll head back up to La Paz to prepare for our first trek in the Cordillera Real range. We’ll camp at the base of glaciated peaks, hike along sparkling alpine lakes, and possibly drop down into the cloud forest by foot to observe the dramatic ecological transitions this region is known for. Along the way we’ll come together as a group and begin to hone our trekking skills.
Tiquipaya Homestays Part One (September 27th- October 7th) We’ll make our way to the small town of Tiquipaya outside of Cochabamba. Here we’ll spend a little over a week focusing on homestays and language study. During this time you will be introduced to potential Independent Study Project (ISP) themes -weaving, Andean music, dance, politics, and cooking, among others. Our time here will be defined by small group Spanish classes during the week, as well as the time with our homestay families. This is a valuable opportunity to immerse ourselves in the local community, engage with important themes in Bolivian history, and learn about farming in this agricultural community.
Teatro Trono (October 8th-11th)- We will make our way back towards the city of La Paz, and spend a few days with Ana’s beloved theater group Teatro Trono, based in El Alto. Teatro Trono is an organization that works with young local artists and actors who perform and paint/sculpt/create to raise awareness of current social issues in Bolivia. During this part of the course, we will dive into hands-on learning about the arts for social change, as well as development and resource use throughout Bolivia.
PRACTICING PHASE: PERU!!!!
Nacion Q’eros (October 12th – 22nd)– Our first stop in Peru will be a trek through the Q’eros Nation. Most of Q’eros is only accessible by foot so we’ll be hiking from community to community with our dear friend and trusted guide Fabian. Fabian grew up in Q’eros and is excited to share the unique, complex culture of this region. We’ll stay with families along the way, studying Quechua and learning about this rich culture that can trace its lineage directly back to the Inca.
Amazon Adventure with Fauna Forever (October 23rd- November 1st) – It’s time to drop down into the Peruvian rainforest! Traveling by boat in the Amazon River Basin we will arrive at the indigenous community of Boca Pariamanu and work in conjunction with the organization Fauna Forever. Fauna Forever is a biological research organization seeking to document the incredible biodiversity this region has to offer, and support conservation initiatives. The community will kindly invite us to be guests and participate in daily activities such as fishing, weaving, and arrow making. We’ll use our time here to study issues relating to tropical biodiversity, natural resource use in the Amazon, and lowland indigenous culture.
Cusco + Machu Picchu (November 2nd-6th) – We’ll spend 2 days in the center of the ancient Incan empire, Cusco, before heading off to the infamous Machu Picchu. Full of history and mystery as well as being one of South America’s top tourist destinations Machu Picchu has so much to teach us. Here we’ll dive into ancient history and also examine the effects of tourism on modern day Peru.
Back to Bolivia!
Tiquipaya Homestays Part 2 (November 7th-17th) – Your homestay families will be waiting with open arms to welcome you back after your long journey through Peru. In this second session of homestays we’ll dive deeper into your independent study projects and continue our formal Spanish classes to prepare you for your student lead expedition phase.
Potosi (November 18th-21st)– The little known city that shaped the world. Potosi is home to Cerro Rico, the most important silver mine in human history. The silver extracted from Potosi helped fund the Spanish empire and changed the world as we know it. We will work with local miners and organizations to learn about modern day life in this city resting on top of the world (4,090 metres/13,420 ft).
Expedition Phase (November 22nd-December 1st)- Throughout the course we will be working towards a more student lead educational experience. For this portion of the course you will have to work together as a team to create a rewarding, challenging, educational week of travel. Own your own learning and create a transformative experience.
Transference on Lake Titicaca (December 2nd- 6th)– Transference is a time for us all to reflect upon our time together and to think about how we’ll bring what we learned home with us. We’ll spend these last few days together on the beautiful Lake Titicaca.
Start to familiarize yourself with these places. Find them on a map, research their history, look for relevant news articles and most importantly get excited for this amazing adventure!
-The Instructor Team.