Welcome to your 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. Thankfully we have heard good news in terms of getting to go to Bolivia! As of now we are planning on spending over half of our program in Bolivia. If the situation in Bolivia changes we have a backup Peru only itinerary which is equally packed full of amazing adventures.
Before we dive in, 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 educational 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 an even 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 responsibilities will increase in kind. Throughout the process, you will be guided by us, your instructors, and by our local guides, teachers, homestay families, etc.
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. We’ve included rough dates below but please use these as mere guidelines, as the itinerary will surely change as this adventure unfolds.
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 Spring 2020 Andes & Amazon Group A tentative itinerary!
You all will arrive at the Cusco International Airport on the morning of February 8th. We’ll meet you in the airport (11,200ft/3400m) and drop in elevation to the city of Urubamba where we’ll hold an orientation. Here we’ll stay in a relaxing ecolodge where we’ll spend a few days getting to know one another, learning about Dragons and setting intentions for our 3 months together. During this time we’ll also be preparing for our first trek!
SACRED VALLEY TREK (2/12-2/15)
A trek in the Sacred Valley gives you a taste of the diversity of Peru. We’ll climb over mountain passes and drop down into lush forests full of a wide variety of plants and animals.
This will be our first introduction to Andean cosmovision and Pachamama (mother earth). During this first trek we’ll focus on how to trek as a community of conscientious travelers and will practice our back-country skills.
URUBAMBA HOMESTAYS (2/16-2/29)
Urubamba will be your first exposure to the incredibly warm hospitality of Peruvians! Here we’ll settle in for 2 weeks of homestays, experiencing everyday Peruvian life. Half of the day you’ll have Spanish lessons with local teachers and the other half will be either lessons or your Independent Study Project (ISP), depending on the day. The ISP is where we connect you with local artists, activists, and teachers that work with you independent of the group on a topic that specifically interests you. This topic should relate to Latin America; in the past students have studied hands on things such as Salsa dancing, Peruvian cooking, or local musical instruments to more academic topics such as gender equality, politics or comparative religion. Please come to the program with 3-4 options of things you’d be interested in learning during your ISP and the instructor team will work with you to create a plan. If you’re not sure what you want to study we can help you brainstorm.
AUSANGATE TREK (3/1-3/7)
Considered the most sacred peak in Southern Peru, Mt. Ausangate is an impressive site to behold. On this trek we’ll hike near the base of the mountain, sleeping in tents, cooking our own meals and deepening our connection to Pachamama.
CUSCO & MACHU PICCHU (3/8-3/13)
Our last stop in Peru will be most tourists’ first (and only) stop in Peru. We’ll make our way to the historical Incan capital city of Cusco and then on to one of the wonders of the world, Machu Picchu! Here we’ll study the effects of tourism and how the ancient history of Peru shapes modern day life.
BOLIVIA!!!! TIQUIPAYA HOMESTAYS (3/14-3/29)
After a month of intense travel, we’ll settle into our second extended homestay in Tiquipaya, outside the city of Cochabamba. Tiquipaya, which in Quechua means City of Flowers, is known for its year round pleasant climate. Here you’ll dive back into more formal Spanish lessons Monday through Friday and start the second half of your Independent Study Project.
ANDES TO AMAZON TREK (3/30-4/9)
Starting in the Bolivian Andes we’ll spend a few days climbing over 16,000ft/4900m snowy mountain passes before dropping down into semi-tropical rainforest. Each day we go down you’ll hear more and more animals; your surroundings will become greener and you’ll shed more layers as the weather gets warmer. We’ll end our trek with a 3 day boat trip into the rainforest. The boat trip can be done in one very long day but we like to take our time, stopping in communities and doing day hikes.
ASUNCION HOMESTAY (4/10-4/17)
Our boat will pull into the tiny Amazonian village of Asuncion de Quiquibey near Rurrenabaque where we’ll spend a week living with families. Our days will consist of nature hikes to learn about local medicinal plants, traditional skills workshops and so much more.
EXPEDITION PHASE (4/18-4/26)
Expedition phase or more commonly called x-phase is the part of the program where students work with the instructors to co-create a rewarding educational experience. We’ll talk more about what this looks like during our orientation in Peru.
We’ll end our course in a beautiful natural setting, and where we go for x-phase will determine where we go Transference. Here we’ll take a few days to reflect upon our 3 months together and discuss how we’ll incorporate what we’ve learned in Bolivia and Peru into our daily lives back home.
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!
-Cat, Paola and Zack