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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Our Exciting Tentative Itinerary!

Dear students it is finally here,

This is our tentative itinerary for our time in Peru and Bolivia. We are really excited to present this to you!  We have been working on this plan for a couple of weeks now and hope that you will get as excited reading through our upcoming adventure as we have been in putting this together!

On September 15th you all will be meeting in Miami to start the journey. You will take a flight that will take you to Santa Cruz, where we will meet you the next morning at the airport after you go through migration and pick up your bags.

Orientation: (September 16th to 19th) – From Santa Cruz, we will drive for three hours to Samaipata, a really beautiful town in the Santa Cruz Valley. Samaipata is a tranquil place that will serve perfectly for adapting to Bolivia and getting to know each other.  We will come together as a group and gain some basic skills for traveling safely and responsibly in Peru and Bolivia. We will also get closer as a group, so we can have a really good group dynamic to engage in the next parts of our adventure.

Sucre and First Trek: (September 20th to 26th) –  From Samaipata we will take our first bus to Sucre, a really beautiful city with many colonial and republic buildings. Sucre is the capital of Bolivia and we will be able to see where the independence act was signed. We will also start learning about indigenous cultures in this area that are actively excluded. We will get ready here to start our first trek in the Frailes mountain range surrounding the city. The trek passes through a small red sand desert, J’alka indigenous communities, dinosaur tracks, and a crater formation. This is a really beautiful landscape. During the trek we will put more emphasis on working together as a group and honing our trekking skills.

Potosi: (September 27th to 29th) – From Sucre we will travel to Potosi, a journey of three hours. Potosi is the highest city in Bolivia and is one of the main reasons for the existence of this country. Potosi was founded at the bottom of the Cerro Rico de Potosi, which was the most profitable mine of the Spanish empire and continues to be mined today. Potosi will be the perfect place to start learning more about the culture and the history of this country. We will also explore the efforts for development and how they are related to the current situation of Potosi and issues around resource extraction in Bolivia.

Tiquipaya: (September 30th to October 27th) – Tiquipaya will be the heart of our program. Here you will be living with a local family and learning about the culture in this town located right outside of Cochabamba. You will also take formal Spanish lessons and engage in learning about social, political, economic, and other issues in Bolivia. You will also have the time to work more directly with your Independent Study mentor and get to create a final product.

During this time we will also engage in mini expeditions that will prepare you for the larger expedition at the end of the course.

El Alto: (October 28th to November 3rd) – El Alto is the largest indigenous city in South America. The people in this city identify mostly as Aymara, a pre-Incan culture based around the Titicaca Lake. El Alto is also the newest city in Bolivia gaining its independence in 1987. Here we will stay at an art and theater collective, which is also the home of your instructor Ana and her husband. We will learn about theater here and understand how the arts have been used in Bolivia as a tool for social change. We will explore different ways to do theater and create a small play as a group.

We will be here for one of the most important holydays in Bolivia, Todos Santos. You might know this holiday as Dia de los Muertos. This is a tradition that has unique expressions in Bolivia and we are happy that you will be exposed to this tradition.

In our last day in El Alto, we will also get ready to start our longest and most impressive trek.

Cordillera Real Trek: (November 4th to 10th) – For this trek we will head into the glittering, snow-capped peaks that surround El Alto and La Paz. Our time in El Alto is going to serve us a time to get used to the altitude and be totally ready to hike in the mountains. We have a couple of options for this trek and we will ask for you input on choosing which of the routes we will take. This will be again an opportunity to practice your leadership skills in a group setting.

We will begin our trek at the base of glaciers and from there will descend into the mystical cloud forest region known as Los Yungas. Ending back in La Paz, we prepare for the journey overland to Peru!

PERU!!

Amazon: (November 11th to 22nd ) – We will head from La Paz to Cusco and from there we will travel to Puerto Maldonado, a small city in the Amazon region of Peru. Here we will work with Fauna Forever, a nonprofit working on conservation in this area. We will head to one of their research stations where we will learn about the work that they are doing and get involved in learning about issues affecting the amazon rainforest and local communities.  During this time we will participate in rainforest walks, fishing trips, cultural nights, fruit harvesting, and studies about the biological diversity in the region.

Expedition: (November 23rd to December 2nd) – On November 22nd we will head to Puerto Maldonado, where we will hand the final phase of the itinerary over to you as a group. Expedition is a time that you get to plan as a group, and with our support and the skills you have developed over the course of the semester you will co-create an adventure with you peers. We will always be there to support your process. As a group you will identify where you want to go and shape the learning that we will gain from those spaces. You all are going to be able to collaborate to include everyone’s expectations and desires.

This is always the time in the program that we feel more excited about and proud of. It is always rewarding to see how far you have come with your skills of traveling as a group!

Transference: (December 3rd to 6th) –  We will take the last three days to reflect on our trip, celebrate our successes, and consider how to integrate our experiences into our lives at home.  The location for transference will depend on where your expedition journey takes us.

On December 6th we will all part ways at the Cusco Airport.

It is always a really exciting process to think through our itinerary and place intention towards the learning outcomes of each phase of the course, and the beauty of each place along the way.  We are really happy with this process and are getting excited to start this adventure with all of you!

Please take some time to prepare for this experience, following the guidance in the other posts here.

We can’t wait to meet you and wait with open hearts!

Ben, Ana and Jhasmany