Dear students and families,
We are so excited to present to all of you our tentative itinerary for the Spring semester! We are really excited to visit every single one of the places listed here and we hope you are going to get as excited as we are thinking about these places. We have selected every single one of them based on the learnings that we want to gain during our time together.
The topic that we have chosen for this trip is “Developing Development.” We decided on this theme because we are all very inspired by the work of many communities in the Andes and Amazon region. Communities in this part of the world have decided to create a new meaning for this word, one that is connected to the land they live in and is friendlier for our planet.
We will be discussing how development can be a tool for bettering the community and learn what the word means for the people in Peru and Bolivia. We will study this term from the perspective of communities and from the perspective of the environment. This will share our conversations with people and academics in Peru and Bolivia, as well as the flow of our program.
With that intro, we present you our tentative itinerary…
Orientation: (February 8th to the 12th) – We will arrive to Cochabamba and have four days of orientation in a beautiful Eco-lodge right outside the city. During these days we will get ready to interact with the country and the places we will be visiting during the semester. We will talk about our group culture and how we want to travel as a group of foreigners in Bolivia and Peru. We will set group and personal goals for our next three months and will start creating our group culture.
Toro Toro National Park: (February 13th to the 17th) – We will start our visit to this national park by trekking into it. Our trek will take us in a three-day journey through the beautiful mountains and rivers leading in the national park. Once in the park, we will get amazed by the many wonders of this park including dinosaur tracks, caves, canyons, and waterfalls. We will use this first trek to work on building our group and strengthening our relationships with one another.
Tiquipaya homestay: (February 18 to March 13th) – On February 18th we will head to Tiquipaya where we will do a three-week homestay, take Spanish classes, work on our independent study projects and have some talks from local academics and activists. We will have the opportunity to create a routine during these three weeks and get to experience personally the way of life of Bolivian families. These will be our families for the three weeks. Tiquipaya is often the highlight of the semester for our students, because this is the part of the trip that offers a personal experience of daily life in Bolivia and its culture.
La Paz: (March 14th to March 16th) – On March 13th we will head to La Paz, the de facto capital of Bolivia. We will learn here about the government and current politics of Bolivia. We will get to experience one of the wonder cities of the world. Here we will also visit El Alto, the largest indigenous city in the hemisphere. There we will collaborate with a theater collective and learn about art as a tool for social change. We will also use our time here to get ready for our next trek in the highest mountain range of Bolivia.
Cordillera Real Trek: (March 17th to 25th) – The Real Mountain Range is the most beautiful sequence of mountains in Bolivia, with peaks reaching 21,000 ft. The sacred lake Titicaca is visible from many points of our trek. We will trek for six days, which will give us the opportunity to practice leadership skills in a group setting.
There are a couple of options for this part of our trip and we will be including you all in the process of making our decision of which of these routes to take.
Amazon excursion: (March 26th to April 2nd) – we will head from our trek to the Pilon Lajas National Park, which is also an indigenous territory and a biosphere reserve. We will visit an indigenous community in this part of the Amazon rainforest and learn about the diversity of flora and fauna in this part of Bolivia. We will have day hikes in the forest and travel by boat along the Beni River, an affluent of the Amazon.
We will take a plane from the Amazon to La Paz and travel the next day to Peru, crossing the border overland.
Cusco: (April 3rd to 6th) – We will visit the city of the Incas to learn about this powerful culture that ruled the Andes five hundred years ago. We will learn about the amazing advancement in astronomy, agriculture, and architecture the Incas achieved. We will visit some ruins near the city. We will also get to see the impressive architecture of this civilization all around the city.
Valle de Sondondo and Ayacucho: (April 6th to 16th) – From Cusco we will travel to the small city of Puquio. Here we will get ready to start our trek into the Valley of Sondondo. Our trek will be four days long and we will end it in a rural community where we will have a three day homestay. We will get to learn about the more current history of Peru and another of the great cultures of Peru. The Wari were a powerful group based in the southwest of Peru. From here we will travel to Ayacucho, the capital of this region, where you will start your expedition phase.
Expedition: (April 17th to 27th) – 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 your 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 most excited about and proud of. It is always rewarding to see how far you have come with your skills in traveling as a group!
Transference: (April 28th to April 30th) – We will ask you to finish your expedition phase in Cusco, from which we will travel to Copacabana, a picturesque town on the shores of lake Titicaca. Here, 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.
On May 1st you will take your flight from La Paz back home.
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!