South America Explorer

Visit two of South America’s most iconic countries - Peru & Ecuador – and discover the lost lands of the Incas! 

With the awe-inspiring spectacle of Machu Picchu; the sensation of waking up to the sounds and sights of the Amazon rainforest; or intimate encounters with incredible animals, you are sure to encounter something to astound you at every turn of this journey. Volunteering projects in wildlife conservation mean you can leave your mark and give something back as you travel this vibrant, surprising corner of South America

Perfect for: Adventure TravelSummer Programs and Wildlife Conservation.



  • Stunning 5 day Andean trek to Machu Picchu, one of the seven modern wonders of the world;
  • Surf the pacific waves off the coast of Mancora, Peru's best known beach town;
  • Navigate your way through the rapids with some white water rafting near Baños, Ecuador's adventure sports capital;
  • Get up close and personal with a vast range of animals whilst volunteering at an Amazon Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary;
  • Trek the Quilotoa Loop, arguably one of the best multi-day trekking routes in South America and one of Ecuador's most popular treks! 

Week 1: Cusco

Begin your journey in Cusco, historic capital of the Inca Empire and cultural heart of Peru. Spanish lessons, homestays with friendly local families, city exploration and a Sacred Valley tour with your fellow travellers are the perfect way to acclimatise - both to the altitude and the laid-back South American way of life.

Week 2: Trek to Machu Picchu 

Step up the adventure level with an epic trek across the Andes to Machu Picchu. Follow in the footsteps of Inca roadbuilders on the remote Salkantay route over icy mountain passes and through mysterious cloud forests to the remains of a fallen civilisation. This is the way to the Lost City of the Inca for those who prefer the path less travelled.

Week 3: Peruvian Beach Days & Quilotoa Loop

It's time to sling on your backpack again as you fly to Lima and then travel onto Punta Negra, a small town just a short distance south of the city, for a few chilled days on the beach. Enjoy a surf lesson in the Pacific waves and visit the Inca ruins of Pachacamac. After this brief stop, you'll head north, flying to Quito and your first taste of Ecuador! A country of diverse landscapes and a reputation for friendly, welcoming people, your time in Ecuador will begin with an incredible 3-day trek of the Quilotoa Loop. The Quilotoa Loop offers breathtaking landscapes, indigenous culture, and the stunning Quilotoa Crater Lake, providing a unique and immersive trekking experience in the Ecuadorian Andes.

Week 4: Jungle Adventures

Your adventures in Ecuador kick up a gear in week four as you explore the adventure tourism hotspot of Baños in the jungle-clad eastern province of Amazonas. This mountain town has restaurants and bars, as well as white water rafting, hiking, canopy tours, canyoning, rope swings, hot springs, cycling and many other adventure activities! It’s the perfect place to refresh and revitalise yourself before heading to the Animal Rescue Sanctuary in Puyo. 

Weeks 5 & 6: Animal Rescue Sanctuary Volunteering & Indigenous Culture in Tamandua

Weeks 5 and 6 will be split between your volunteering placement and your indigenous culture immersion in Tamandua. Set to be a real highlight of your trip, get face-to-face and hand-to-paw with rainforest inhabitants at the animal rescue sanctuary. Macaws; boas; monkeys; ocelots and even caiman crocodiles are just some of the creatures the centre works to protect and rehabilitate after abuse by the black-market trade in wild animals as pets.

Alongside your truly rewarding volunteering experience, you will also venture further into the jungle and stay with an indigenous community. Learn the secrets of life in the rainforest – hike to a local waterfall and spot medicinal plants; craft beautiful bracelets and make delicious chocolate; try to keep up with the locals' dance routines; teach children at the local school and dare to go on night-time walks into jaguar territory!

Week 7: Mindo, Otavalo & Quito

To bring your adventures in Ecuador to a fitting conclusion, your final week will include ziplining in the Mindo cloud forest and soaking up the sun with some river tubing! Once dried off, you’ll head to Otavalo to browse the vibrant, bustling markets and enjoy a pleasant hike around the shores of Lake Cuicocha, in our view one of the most underrated crater lakes in all of Ecuador! As a final treat, you’ll return to Quito for the final few days of your adventure where a guided tour gives you the chance to explore this wonderful, historic city. Finally, a visit to the Mitad del Mundo, zero degrees of latitude and the centre of the world is a fitting finale to a once in a lifetime South American Adventure!

*Please download the program brochure for full details!

7-weeks: €4750

For available start dates check out the 'Dates & Availability' section below - you may need to scroll right to view the prices and book on! You can secure your place on your chosen adventure with a deposit of either £300 or 10% of the trip price, whichever is higher. The remainder is paid leading up to the trip departing.

What's included:

  • Pre-departure support
  • Airport pick-up & return transfer
  • Gapforce Expedition Leader
  • Local project staff
  • All accommodation for the duration of the trip
  • Breakfast & Dinner each day
  • Some lunches
  • Trips & activities as listed in brochure 
  • All internal transport
  • 24/7 emergency back-up 
  • Financial failure protection 

What is not included:

  • Flights to/from destination
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa & Vaccinations
  • Some lunches
  • Spending Money 
  • Tipping & Gratuities

How much spending money do I need?

You will need money for extra meals, drinks & snacks, as well as for any activities not on the itinerary. We advise you to budget for £70 / €80 / $100 per week (this is a guideline only).

What is the food like?

You will be provided with breakfast and dinner daily as well as lunches during the trek and project work. Typical South American food includes lots of rice, meat, beans, vegetables and fruit, regional dishes vary and local specialties will always be made available! Vegan and vegetarian diets can be catered for, please check with us regarding further dietary requirements and/or allergies. 

What type of transport will I be using?

You are responsible to getting yourself to and from the start point of the expedition. During the expedition, program transfers are included. Travel is a combination of day and overnight journeys using a range of transport including public and private buses, trains, internal flights, boats and taxis. As is common on local road transport, seatbelts might not be available on all journeys. Please give us a call for more information on individual journey details.

Where will I be staying?

You will stay in a variety of diverse accommodations throughout your trip including: local hotels and hostels, camping, volunteer guesthouses, cabins in the Amazon and homestays. Most accommodations will be dorm style with shared bathrooms.

Who takes part in this program?

This program is for anyone looking to explore two of South America’s most ecologically and culturally diverse countries. There is no prior experience required although the minimum age is 18 and you must also have your doctor sign our medical form confirming you are medically fit to participate. A reasonable level of fitness is required to participate, and if you plan to take part in any open-water based activities without a life-jacket eg beach swimming or surfing, you must be able to swim 200m.

Who will be supervising me?

Throughout your expedition you will be accompanied by a Gapforce Expedition Leader. At various stages of your expedition we utilize the services of local support staff including project coordinators, drivers and guides.

If you'd like help planning your trip to Peru and Ecuador, read our essential backpacking guide to South America!

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Download Brochure

Or call us on 0800 1800855

View dates
  • Ecuador
  • Dauer: 7 weeks
  • Termine: Februar, Juni, September

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