Cultural Travel and
Alternative Tours in Latin America
Articles on Cultural Travel, Adventure Travel, and
Language Vacations in Latin America
to Plan an Unforgettable Volunteer Vacation
in Latin America
Prepare a turtle hatchery in Costa Rica. Teach English
in Mexico. Build a home in Brazil. Whether you call
it a volunteer vacation, a service trip, or voluntourism,
combining travel and volunteer work is an increasingly
popular way to see the world.
||Top Mountain Towns to Learn Spanish in Latin America and Spain
Schools that Combine Language Learning and Cultural Tours by
Mary Beth Strawn
Six of the top language schools to learn Spanish and experience cultural tours in Latin America and Spain.
or Volunteering in an Eco-Friendly
Guatemalan Mountain Lodge by
Lies Ouwerkerk, Senior
An extraordinary vacation that combined an experience in the lush green of Guatemala and volunteering to help locals with a variety of projects.
||Seeing the Real Dominican Republic: A Stay at Tubagua Eco Lodge by
Lebawit Lily Girma
An illustrated description of an off-the-beaten path stay at a magnificent and award-winning eco lodge in the Dominican Republic, far from the usual all-inclusive beach resorts.
Taste Daily Life in Cuba’s Bed
and Breakfasts by Lies Ouwerkerk
Wandering through Cuba via its network of casas particulares,
even some Americans can now experience the incredible resiliance of the
hospitable Cuban people and the richness of their
culture, despite all that stands in their way.
||Antigua, the Soul of Guatemala
Venture into the world of magical Antigua, Guatemala, where ancient Mayan ritual and culture remains at the core of the city.
||A Guide to Slow Immersion Travel in Playa Samára, Costa Rica by
How to learn to embrace slow immersion travel and living in idyllic Playa Sámara, Costa Rica
Tradition in Mexico by Jim Kane
Homecoming in Mexico by Jim Kane
a Positive Impact with Culture
Xplorers by Jim Kane
Festivals: Getting Into the Local Spirit by
Community Tours Enrich a Visit to Mexico's
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve by
Islands: Fragile and Fabulous by
Travel in Buenos Aires: Exploring the Arts by
Yourself in a Culture while Learning Spanish, Photography,
or Surfing by Shelley Seale
and Nature-Based Travel in Costa Rica: A Group
Trip Provides a Rich Sampling by Amy
and Whitewater Kayaking in Chile by Ann Beman
and Culture Lessons in Mexico by Michele Peterson
Adventure Travel in the Dominican Republic by
Barbara Gail Warden
to a Jungle Lodge in Costa Rica: Indulge in a Sustainable
Adventure by Katherine McIntyre
in Honduras by Kevin Revolinski
in the Yucatan by Lauryn Axelrod
and Tango in Argentina by Andrea Gourgy
and Learn Spanish and Buenos Aires by Catherine
America Adventure Trip
With our many years of in-depth exploration
in Central America, Marvelus Travel can offer you
an exciting focused travel experience with one of
our special package tours and adventure holidays—all
inclusive. Let us show you these countries in a memorable,
life-changing way now. Contact us or visit our web
site for more details.
all year around.
Cost: See website.
Contact: Marvelus Travel, Santander
Ave. Zone. 2, Next to Hotel Dos Mundos, Panajachel,
Tel.: +502 77620694. Emergency: 56949638
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Global Awareness Through Experience
GATE (Global Awareness Through Experience) offers new 2017 cultural immersion experiences.
These programs include El Salvador: January 3-13, 2017. Mexico City and Countryside: February 1-11, 2017.
Mexico-Chiapas: March 7-17, 2017. Guatemala Holy Week: April 5-15, 2017. Peru: April 25-May 5, 2017.
Join us for our 2017 program to Cuba. Encounter people of courage, faith and hope.
Learn of their dreams, challenges and rich culture. Deepen your own solidarity with
our Southern neighbor. The 2016 programs are now full, but email us for more information
about registering for our 2017 program. See GATE website for additional program dates,
registration deadlines, program costs and information.
||Dates of Next Program: El Salvador: January 3 - 13, 2017
Contact: GATE (Global Awareness Through Experience), 912 Market Street, La Crosse, WI 54601.
Proud to be the friendliest Spanish school you
have ever known. Family owned and operated. The program
offers language study at 9 levels, for complete beginners
through advanced. Experienced staff, native Ecuadorians.
Carefully selected host families within walking distance
of school. Exclusive "Cloud Forest and Galápagos" extension
program, volunteer program. U.S. college credit available.
Adventure Life is committed to providing quality small group
tours that have a positive impact on the local culture
South & Central American Travel
Specializing extensively in South & Central
America, Adventure Life has incomparable familiarity with
any destination you select. Adventure Life work under strict
self-imposed guidelines to ensure that each itinerary has
a positive impact on the local culture, environment and
economy staying one step ahead of other travel companies.
Adventure Life and the Rainforest Alliance (www.rainforestalliance.org)
have established a partnership to promote tourism operations
that are part of the Rainforest Alliance’s Best Management
Practices in Sustainable Tourism Program. The Rainforest
Alliance provides tourism entrepreneurs and community-based
businesses in Latin America with the tools and training
they need to become more environmentally and socially sound,
and to gain access to and be more competitive in the marketplace,
while contributing to the conservation of the local culture
Galapagos Tours & Treks
Adventure Life is also an active member of the
International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (www.IGTOA.org),
and together we have created an important way for the travel
industry and travelers like you to help support Galapagos
conservation. We believe that the travel industry and those
who visit the Galapagos Islands must meet the great challenge
of preserving this priceless world heritage.
Eco-Adventures in Baja, Mexico
Whale Shark Diving Quest and Research Project
Dive with a purpose! Enjoy diving the best sites
in the Sea of Cortez while you participate in a once-in-a-lifetime
research project. With a spotter-plane to help locate the
whale sharks, you'll observe and assist visiting guide and
researcher Dení Ramírez during each encounter.
As with all our Live-Aboard Diving programs, you'll visit
dive sites that are out of reach for day boats, where you
can explore underwater worlds few others get to see.
SEE Turtle Monitoring Expeditions
You'll actively participate in projects with Dr.
Wallace J. Nichols, a leader in Baja's turtle conservation
efforts. Projects include monitoring endangered sea turtles
and providing training and alternative income sources to
Digital Photography Workshop and Wildlife Voyage
Enhance your photography and digital workflow
skills on this 5-day workshop led by instructor Neil Ever
Osborne, a passionate conservation photographer who documents
species at risk and environments in peril around the world.
Family Learning Adventure on the Don Jose
This new family-friendly program on the Don Jose
combines fun, adventure and learning. Our experienced naturalist
guide will lead hikes, kayak and snorkeling excursions and
other environmental awareness activities sure to please
all ages. Plus, certified divers can enjoy some great dive
sites in the Sea of Cortez, while non-divers (ages 8 and
up) can learn the necessary skills to safely try scuba diving.
Mexican Camp Cooking and Spanish Language Instruction
You'll enjoy all the activities included on our
standard Espiritu Santo Sea Kayaking Camp program—plus,
practice conversational Spanish and camp cooking with experts
who make learning fun during this new Alternative trip.
Yoga, Massage & Sea Kayaking Retreat
The combination of daily yoga practice, meditation,
massage and spending time in nature will reawaken your senses
and reconnect you with the Earth in this new program. Rejuvenating
outdoor yoga and massage sessions will help you reap the
true benefits of these practices in nature. Plus, you'll
kayak, hike and snorkel to explore both the scenic and the
spiritual sides of Espiritu Santo Island.
Baja Expeditions Educational Explorations
We are going one step farther to customize your
educational exploration in Baja, the perfect place to explore
an ecosystem far removed from any text book or overcrowded
national park. If you are a science teacher looking for
a hands-on field study trip of a lifetime for your students,
a group of retirees looking to learn about the natural history
of Baja, or a group of friends and family full of outdoor
enthusiasts, we will design the perfect trip for you. The
opportunities to connect science with our adventures are
endless and our naturalist guides will facilitate any combination
of activities to fulfill the needs of the group’s
Programs Coordinator, 2625 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA,
92109, USA. Tel. 1800-843-6967, 858-581-3311. Website: www.bajaex.com.
— BELIZE Eco Tours & Programs
Best of Belize Eco Tour
Swim, explore, climb, see exotic birds, relax,
snorkel, dive, and truly help others less fortunate. This
8-day affordable high end eco tour covers the highlights
of Belize, 1) Maya ruins, 2) tropical forests, 3) World
Heritage Site barrier reef, and 4) cave tubing & exploring.
Also included: Meaningful cross-cultural experience that
truly 'gives back' to Indian Church Village, in northern
Educational Student Program - Maya Archaeology,
Tropical Forest Ecology, & Marine Biology
Fun, educational focus everyday, one Leader/Organizer
Free of Charge with 10 paying students. Research station & eco
lodges utilized, ancient Maya ruins (behind-the-scenes at
Lamanai), lectures, field excursions (howler monkey data
collection), and much more. Also included: Meaningful cross-cultural
experience that truly 'gives back' to Indian Church Village,
in northern Belize.
Belize Birding Eco Tour
As you may be aware there are over 540 species
of birds that call Belize home, including toucans, cotingas,
and motmots. This 8-day program includes multiple areas & multiple
habitats, including Lamanai Archaeological Reserve, Tikal
National Park, and Ambergris Caye (San Pedro). Top guides,
scopes, check lists, trip reports and more! Also included:
Meaningful cross-cultural experience that truly 'gives back'
to Indian Church Village, in northern Belize.
Belize Island Eco Tour
Whether your after the beach, snorkeling, diving
or relaxing this trip is suited for you. Aside from numerous
activites on the island you will also spend time at the
ancient Maya site of Lamanai, which includes ruins, birds,
howler monkeys, & a river safari to get there. Also
included: Meaningful cross-cultural experience that truly
'gives back' to Indian Church Village, in northern Belize.
Ancient Maya Ruins of Belize - Eco Tour
This 8-day trip focuses on behind-the-scences
of one of Belize's premiere archaeological sites, Lamanai,
it also offers 4 other sites (Xunantunich, Tikal, Cahal
Pech & Pook's Hill), provides hands-on artifact workshop,
spotlight safari, howler monkeys, birds and much more. Also
included: Meaningful cross-cultural experience that truly
'gives back' to Indian Church Village, in northern Belize.
Contact: email@example.com, www.beyondtouring.com
in Guatemala, Cayaya Birding
Cayaya Birding supports with its tours various
conservation programs in rural communities in Guatemala.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.cayaya-birding.com.
in Buenos Aires
Teresita cooking classes in Buenos Aires are designed
to offer food lovers a unique gastronomic experience exploring
Argentine and Latin American cuisine, sampling local ingredients
and learning Teresita's recipe secrets, with emphasis in
Latin American food preparation and wine paring. Whether
you are a kitchen novice or an experienced cook, you will
find our cooking classes in Buenos Aires to be fun and very
useful in your every day life.
Custom Immersive Tours
Culture Explorers is an award-winning small tour operator that offers small tours in such places as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, and other locations worldwide. Culture Explorers emphasizes participation in the living culture of the countries visited
as part of immersive small group journeys. They will allow you to
explore the traditions, meet local friends, and support
important positive impact projects through their visits.
Each departure coincides with an important local festival
Contact: email@example.com, www.culturexplorers.com
Costa Rica Sea Turtle Ecology Program (STEP)
This tropical hotspot and travel destination contains
an amazing 5% of the worlds biodiversity. Costa Ricas Caribbean
coast where Ecology Project Internationals program site
is located is the fourth most important nesting beach worldwide
for Leatherback sea turtles, a critically endangered species.
Through our Sea Turtle Ecology Program, youth from Costa
Rica and around the world work in partnership with the Pacuare
Nature Reserve to conserve and protect these sea turtles
Baja & the Sea of Cortez Island Ecology Program
and Whale Ecology Program
The Sea of Cortez hosts 39% of the worlds marine
mammal species and was recently declared a UNESCO World
Heritage site. From John Steinbeck to Aldo Leopold, Baja
California Sur has captured the worlds imagination and become
a unique travel destination. Through our Island and Whale
Ecology Programs, Ecology Project International students
from Mexico and around the world work in partnership with
local institutions to conserve Baja California Surs desert
and marine environments.
Galapagos Islands Ecology Program
One of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites,
the spectacular Galápagos Islands host a unique flora
and fauna found nowhere else on Earth. Through our Galápagos
Islands Ecology Program, Ecology Project International students
from the Galápagos and around the world work in partnership
with the Galápagos National Park and local institutions
to conserve the archipelago. Students travel to several
locations on three different islands, studying and experiencing
this magical place.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ecologyproject.org
El Paraiso Spanish
Learn Spanish and Dive in Costa Rica
Improve your Spanish skills (beginner to advanced)
trough immersion classes and learn to dive.
Learn Spanish and Surf in Costa Rica
Learn Spanish and take surf lessons in the beautiful
Contact: email@example.com, www.elparaisoschool.com
Estudio La Aurora
Printmaking, Painting & Drawing Classes in San Miguel
de Allende, Mexico
Estudio La Aurora offers basic and experimental
courses in printmaking, etching, painting and drawing and
is especially equipped for etching on metal and on various
materials. Master teacher, Gerardo Ruiz, welcomes artists
at all levels to take classes in his studio and learn a
wide range of techniques and use a variety of materials.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.gerardoruizart.com
Ibike Tours / International Bicycle
Ibike Ecuador Exploration
Small group, immersion, bicycle tours, designed
to get you out of the box, enrich your life and introduce
you to the rich diversity of the people, their culture and
the environment of the area. IBF programs are designed to
provide participants an opportunity to learn more about
the world at a person-to-person level not usually available
to tourist. Itineraries highlight the cultural, historical,
economic and physical diversity of the area. Throughout
the program there are discussions on history, indigenous
culture, gender rights and roles, music, language, religion,
geology, botany and ecology, great people to meet and scenic
beauty to die for.
Ibike Guyana Many People, Many Waters
Gain a better understanding of the rich ecology,
culture, history, politics, social institutions, sustainable
development projects and beauty of Guyana.
Contact: email@example.com, www.ibike.org/ibike
Patagonia Voluntourism and Adventure Travel
La Confluencia ecolodge and farm runs voluntourism
programs throughout the summer (Nov-Feb.) in Patagonia,
Argentina. Participants will help with an number of projects
iwithn the Rio Azul Protected Area (part of the world's
largest UNESCO Temperate Rainforest Preserve) such as trail
maintenance, footbridge construction, and selective eradication
of invasive species, as well as social assistance projects
involving the local community, such as vegetable garden
development, greenhouse construction, and home repairs.
Depending on individuals' interest and fitness levels, various
wilderness adventure options can be combined such as whitewater
rafting and kayaking, trekking, horseback riding, and climbing
Machu Picchu Tour by Train
This trip gets you to the magical city of Cusco
within a day. Visit important Inca ruins. Get a glimpse
of life in Peru past and present. Explore Machu Picchu.
Try to squeeze in the optional one-day llama trek if you
Amazon to Machu Picchu
Travel from coastal Lima to the Amazon rainforest
to Machu Picchu. Learn about medicinal plants like natural
Viagra! Visit a weaving community to experience life as
it was during the Inca Empire. Learn to make ceviche at
a popular neighborhood restaurant.
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Join the pilgrimage to Machu Picchu on the Inca
Trail! Spend the night before the hike with the porters
who will work your trip. See how they farm using the same
tools as their Inca ancestors. Dine with their families
and dance to traditional music.
Llama Trek to Machu Picchu
Trek with llamas and see how locals live in rural
Peru. Explore Machu Picchu. Support a school that provides
educational opportunities to the most gifted children living
in rural Andean communities.
Horseback Ride to Machu Picchu
This is the ultimate riding vacation in Peru. Experience
the smooth gait of a Peruvian Paso horse. Embark on the
adventure of a lifetime as you cross the Salkantay Pass
on horseback and descend into the Amazon rainforest. Discover
For more detailed information
on each individual tour, visit: www.llamaexpeditions.com
de Jade Ocean-front Center, Chacala, Nayarit
Since 1983, we have been located in the fishing
village of Chacala on its beautiful beach north of Puerto
Vallarta. Surrounded by lush jungle with the warm, clear
Pacific at our door, they enjoy swimming, surfing, hiking,
horseback riding, snorkeling, kayaking, whale-watching,
and other excursions. Our calendar of retreats include yoga,
meditation among other activities.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.mardejade.com.
Mente Argentina’s photography program aims
both at beginners and those who wish to broaden their knowledge
to become more experienced photographers.
The Basic Course of Mente Argentina’s Photography
School combines the teaching of techniques based on analogical
and digital technologies, always focusing on creativity
and motivation so that students can eventually produce images
with their own personal style. The regular Photography program
lasts 1 month and classes are delivered 4 times a week.
The intensive Photography program lasts 2 weeks and both
individual and group classes are available.
The cookery school of Mente Argentina has been
offering courses in Latin-American regional cuisine for
more than 30 years.
The professors have a vast experience in teaching not traditional
but gourmet cuisine. Therefore, you will be taught a new
The school will provide you with the freshest and best ingredients
as well as with all the necessary resources for the classes.
At the end of each class you will be able to taste the dishes,
together with a good glass of wine.
The classes can be delivered both in Spanish and English
and can not be attended by more than 6 students. This is
to keep a quiet and fun environment.
Mente Argentina has designed a program which will
allow you to enter the complex and spectacular world of
wine and discover the secrets of the legendary Argentine
The objective of the program is to introduce you into the
wine world so that you put into practice in your work environment
all the knowledge and skills acquired, and, as a wine lover,
enjoy good wines with friends whenever you feel like.
The program includes a theoretical-practice course about
introduction to wine. Besides, you will have the chance
to taste more than 50 exclusive Argentine and Regional Wines.
Some of the topics included in the syllabus are the following:
visual and sensory analysis of wine, intensity of colors,
vocabulary of tasters, wine production and combinations
between wine and food. The intensive program lasts 2 weeks
and takes place only in the City of Buenos Aires. The regular
program lasts 1 month and includes a wine trip to the province
of Mendoza where you will visit the
most important wine cellars while putting your tasting knowledge
into practice and at the same time tasting the best wines
of the country.
Buenos Aires is known for being the world capital
of Tango; it has several renowned institutions: The regular
Tango program lasts 1 month. The intensive Tango program
lasts 2 weeks.
Mente Argentina offers you a unique experience through a
weekly schedule composed of: 3 group classes, 1 individual
class, 1 milonga evening outing (tango night club).
The courses start every week, have a flexible schedule and
adapt to participants´ availability. This will allow
you to have some free time to travel, meet people, visit
the country and learn a new culture which will certainly
Contact: email@example.com, www.menteargentina.com
Caribbean Winter Semester
This amazing 65-day semester includes tall ship
and open-boat sailing, sea kayaking, hiking, surfing, rock
climbing, snorkeling, service projects and solo, all in
the warm, sunny Caribbean. It's the semester of a lifetime!
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.outwardboundwilderness.org
Parallel 41 Patagonia
Offering specialized ecotourism programs through
the Argentine and Chilean Patagonia for individuals, families
and small groups. Stay in unique lodgings surrounded by
nature with access to wildlife observation, hiking trails,
and other outdoor activities. Spend time with field specialists
and researchers that study local flora and fauna of Patagonia.
Enjoy an authentic cultural experience. Eco-programs for
all ages and interests.
Asis Spanish Institute
Spanish language courses in Costa Rica in an ecological
reserve rain forest, near volcano Arenal, in small groups.
Contact: email@example.com, www.institutoasis.com.
Eco-Friendly Adventure Trekking and Volunteering with Kids
Quetzaltrekkers is Guatemala´s only all volunteer
managed, non-profit trekking/hiking organization. Quetzaltrekkers
offers multi-day adventure treks and one day excursions
in the highlands of western Guatemala to an international
clientele of outdoor enthusiasts. We follow locally sustainable
and eco-friendly tourism practices. Volunteer guides are
We have been guiding hikes for 20 years to support the Hogar
Abierto and Escuela de la Calle. These projects give housing
and education to children in need.
At Quetzaltrekkers, we are all working as volunteer guides
and we manage virtually all aspects of the organization.
In our office you won’t find a boss or a supervisor
but you will find a tight-knit team of dedicated volunteers.
Working as a Quetzaltrekker guide is an incredibly rewarding
experience and a lot of fun!
Diagonal 12, 8-43, Zona 1, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala;
+(502) 776-55895; firstname.lastname@example.org, www.quetzaltrekkers.com.
Explore, Experience, Learn in Costa Rica
Learn Spanish, volunteer and study Costa Rican
culture at a beautiful relaxed lodge setting on the Sarapiqui
Contact: email@example.com, www.rancholeona.com.
The Road Less Traveled
Teen Summer Travel Programs Worldwide
The world is a very big place. Take a deep breath and a long stride, and suddenly you're looking up at Mount Kilimanjaro, running rapids down Desolation Canyon, trading stories with the Hadza by the light of a campfire, or swaying high above Costa Rica's rainforest canopy.
Go to the far places. Work and give with both thought and conscience. Stay open to challenges, meet them head on. Welcome surprise. Value teamwork. Look deeply into the big, bountiful world, and revel in the knowledge that there are still many, many Roads Less Traveled...
A variety of programs are offered for teens, including in Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador & the Galapagos, Guatemala, India, Italy, Norway, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand (see website for more info).
Contact: 2331 N Elston Ave. AVE, Chicago, IL 60614, United States; 7733425200; theroadlesstraveled.com
the World LLC
Run and Explore a New Culture Abroad!
Run the World LLC offers running and culture vacations
to South America. Luxury hotels, beautiful majestic places,
expert guides. Our active vacations are perfect for couples,
singles, friends, families and running club groups
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.runningvacation.com
Spanish, Surfing, Art and Digital Photography in Costa Rica
The School of the World is a traveler's education
school located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in the
town of Playa Jaco. Costa Rica's beautiful countryside,
friendly native Spanish speaking people, and stunning beaches
form the perfect backdrop for studying Spanish, surfing,
art, and digital photography.
Contact: email@example.com, www.schooloftheworld.org
A non-profit organization that functions as mainly
as an information network for South America, with clubhouses
in Cusco, Lima, Buenos Aires and Quito. Since 1977, researchers,
explorers, students and travelers from all over the world
have used SAE clubhouses and online info as a base to network
and plan activities. One thing we do is keep an extensive
database of organizations looking for volunteers, plus reports
from previous volunteers.
Planning to study Spanish?
Raft the Amazon? Volunteer? Hike the Inca Trail? Kayak the
Apurimac? Drive or bicycle around the continent? Look for
birds? Learn about traditional music?
Whatever you want to do,
South American Explorers can help with trip planning, member
recommended guides and outfitters, discounts on lodging,
schools, travel…and much more. We are not a travel
agent or tour operator, rather we specialize in assisting
independent travelers make the most of their experience
without breaking the bank. We are a non profit organization
that provides personal help backed up with over 30 years
of experience. That´s how long we´ve been helping
researchers, students, travelers and volunteers heading
to South America. So have a look at our website and contact
us to see what we can do to help you! Please also see details
of our own volunteer and internship programs!