Summer is coming to a close meaning it’s time to switch gears, break out your fresh notebooks for the school year (Moleskines are our go to), and start planning your next big adventure. We should confess, we’re planning them too, and we can’t hold in our excitement any longer.
We are thrilled to share that we have added SEVENTEEN new programs this year in addition to extending THREE preexisting programs! Among this list includes trips to Nepal, more Critical Issues programs, and extended options in the US.
Will you capture Cuba’s beauty from behind your camera lens? Research the impact of climate change on marine life in Fiji? Trek in Nepal? Study women’s rights in the Andes of Peru? Whether this is your first time out of the country, or you are a seasoned traveler, we feel confident that we have a program that’s just right for you.
Now comes the exciting part! Read on to find out more about our new programs:
NEW PROGRAMS (17)
Myanmar | Documenting Democracy
- Calling all creatives! Dive into Myanmar’s rich and unique history by capturing stories from locals. Engage with local storytelling masters including artists, documentary filmmakers, political party members, monks, and village leaders. Spend time exploring a remote village where you’ll play soccer and cane ball, ride oxen, and share a traditional dinner with village members. Guided by professionals, you’ll learn filmmaking techniques and leave with your own story of Myanmar to share.
Dominican Republic | Bats, Hats, and Gloves: Baseball and Service
- Baseball is life in the Dominican Republic. Join the dialogue with local leaders about the role baseball plays in Dominican culture. Experience first hand the passion that is found at all levels of Dominican society as you play bitilla with local children, scrimmage against community teams, and play full fledged games at professional baseball camps. Contribute to the construction of baseball fields in underserved communities, and play games in the manicured fields located just outside of the each of them, highlighting the disparities between those who make it to the big leagues, and those who don’t. Then take some time to experience the hidden gems of the Dominican Republic as you travel to the Bahia de las Aguilas; considered by many as the most beautiful beach in the Dominican Republic.
Cuba | Off The Map: Cuba
- Off the Map: Cuba will take you through several of Cuba’s Central and Western provinces to some of the island’s most remote destinations, allowing you to explore its valleys, beaches, and forgotten villages while allowing you to develop your own perspective of local Cuban culture and society that has been closed off to the U.S. for nearly 60 years. Hike, camp, horseback-ride, and climb through Valle de Viñales and Guanahacabibes National Parks and the Sierra del Escambray. Participate in mangrove restoration and sea turtle conservation efforts along the Rio Zaza and in Maria de la Gorda. Relax on the beaches of secluded keys only accessible by boat and snorkel in the infamous Bay of Pigs. Wander the streets of Havana and Trinidad as you marvel at Cuba’s extensive history and architecture that spans over five centuries. Returning home, you will have stories of an adventure that you’ll be telling for the rest of your life.
- This program is designed to give students an up close and personal (“through the lens”) look at Cuban life, architecture, and natural landscapes. You will begin your Caribbean adventure by spending three days capturing life in Havana’s old city and its surrounding neighborhoods. Each afternoon you will have a workshop and exposition, sharing your photos with your group and guides, learning techniques that will help you develop your skill. Next, you’re off to explore the west (occidente), where some of Cuba’s most impressive natural landscapes are found. Hike to natural falls and soar through the forest as you participate on a canopy tour at Las Terrazas’ eco village. Wander the Viñales Valley on horseback as you learn about its iconic geological formations called mogotes and then go underground to explore the area’s extensive cave system. End your week as you capture the sunset and wildlife on the shores of Cayo Levisa, one of Cuba’s most spectacular northern keys.
- Spend three weeks traveling through Peru, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba on an adventure throughout Latin America. Hike to Machu Picchu, spend a night with a Peruvian family, sleep behind a waterfall in Costa Rica, rappel down a 150 foot waterfall to the jungle below, raft down one of the top rivers for whitewater rafting in the world, chill on a catamaran through the turquoise waters of the Dominican Republic, snorkel among the marine life of the Caribbean, explore the historic streets of Havana Vieja and ride an antique car along its famous malecon. Only one word can describe this; Epic! As you travel throughout these countries you will tap into our local partners, staff, and friends as you take in the local culture. Every country will help you broaden your view of the diversity of culture, landscape, and people present in Latin America.
Fiji | Ridge to Reef Expedition
- The Ridge to Reef Expedition is the ultimate exploration of the Fiji Islands. Your adventure begins with a four day trek along mountain trails used for generations to travel from village to village. Stop in welcoming communities, swim beneath waterfalls, and take in sublime mountain vistas along the way. Conclude your hike in the village of Nasivikoso and share in the relationship Rustic has built over several decades. Spend the final leg of your journey kayaking the blue waters of the heavenly Yasawa Islands. Swim with Manta Rays, add-on a scuba dive, and snorkel remote coral reefs that are essential to life in the islands. You’ll return home having experienced the diverse landscape and welcoming nature of Fiji and seeing places few visitors even know exist.
- Spring to Fiji is a chance to experience the magic of Fiji in one action-packed week. Get a taste of what Fiji has to offer through a combination of service projects and daily adventures. Zip line, kayak, and island hop with our happy-go-lucky staff then spend some time helping the community with education- and infrastructure-based projects. You’ll enjoy the laid back, relaxed pace of island life with plenty of time to lounge in the sun and share laughs with your fellow Rustic travelers. You’ll wish you had more than a week to enjoy incredible Fiji!
- Our Critical Issues programs are themed learning and service programs designed to immerse students in global challenges as seen in communities around the world. In this program, we take a deeper look into Fiji’s marine ecosystem and the impact that climate change has had on this fragile habitat. If you’re interested in marine biology or love spending time in the ocean, this is the program for you! Learn about the various strategies in place to protect, conserve, and restore Fiji’s marine environment. Learn to identify tropical fish and coral species. Get a chance to swim with manta rays and observe spinner dolphins and sharks. When not working in the water, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy island life as well as get to know Fijian culture by visiting nearby villages.
Nepal | Yeti Expedition
- Nepal is a Himalayan wonderland full of snowcapped mountains, tropical jungles, gorgeous valleys, exciting rivers, and never ending opportunity for adventure. You’ll start in Kathmandu and get oriented to Nepali culture on a tour of the city’s most famous heritage sites. Then it’s off to the Trishuli River for two days of rafting from the middle Himalayan range down to the tropical jungles of the Nepali plains. Ride into the jungle on a Jeep safari through Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO heritage site. Keep your eyes peeled for rhinos, leopards, crocodiles, elephants, and the elusive Bengal tiger. Next, you’re off to the adventure capital of Pokhara and the incredible Annapurna Conservation Area. Take in Phewa Lake in Pokhara and get ready for your Himalayan trek into the Annapurnas with stays at small Nepali villages along the way. Finish your trek back in Pokhara and head to Kathmandu for a program wrap up at one of the most famous Buddhist stupas in the valley.
Nepal | Himalayan Village Life
- Journey to the land of Himalayan peaks, gorgeous valleys, and monsoon showers. First, you’ll experience the culture of the Kathmandu Valley and surrounding area, then head to a nearby village in Kavre district. You’ll live with a local family and work on a service project selected by the community. After long service days, recharge with home cooked dal bhat at your homestay. Take a break from service to learn about the history and culture, how to cook Nepali food, and how to milk cows. Learn local dance steps and games with Nepali students at the village school and on the weekend trek up the ridges surrounding the village. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a spectacular view of snowcapped Himalayan peaks. At the end of your program, complete the experience with a visit to the the famous Hindu and Buddhist UNESCO sites of the Kathmandu Valley in the ancient towns of Bhaktapur and Patan.
Laos | Wonders of Laos
- Experience the best of Laos in this action-packed week based in the charming town of Luang Prabang. Float across the Mekong River to explore the Pak Ou limestone caves adorned with dozens of Buddhist statues. Climb the steps of Mount PhouSi for a panoramic view sweeping all of Luang Prabang, taking in the temples, french architecture, and Mekong River that wraps around the city. Wake up with the sun to give alms to the monks who wander the town with their traditional bowls collecting offerings. Venture out to western Laos for two days spent at the Elephant Conservation Center, learning about their approach and best practices in elephant conservation and veterinary techniques accompanied by a night in a lakeside bungalow.
- Dive deep into the issues surrounding access to education and opportunities for women on this Critical Issues program. Over the next two weeks, you’ll visit a dormitory that provides access to secondary education for girls, a home and vocational training center for young mothers, and a women’s textile weaving cooperative, and throughout the journey you’ll learn how nonprofits operate and the challenges that they address. Immerse yourself in traditional Quechua culture during your homestay in the Mapacho River Valley, and make lasting connections with the welcoming Peruvian families that you meet. Camp and hike through beautiful high mountain passes as you follow the footsteps of a typical Andean girl on her way to school on a three day trek. Push your limits as you scale up and zipline down a 400 meter rock face, and spend a day exploring the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu to culminate your journey. This is a program for future change-makers and adventurous spirits who believe that education should be a fundamental right and not a privilege.
- Discover hidden valleys, stunning scenery, and rural villages on our most popular program in Peru. Rooted in service, this program partners with Peruvian communities on sustainable projects designed to address economic development, public health, and educational needs. Alongside the physical service work, you’ll enjoy time to play games of fútbol with new friends, learn traditional dances from children, practice Spanish with villagers, and explore Incan ruins. Experience Peru’s adventurous side while whitewater rafting and biking through the valley. Climb the ruins of Machu Picchu for an awe-inspiring end to your once-in-a-lifetime journey.
- Jump-start your spring break with three days of incredible skiing or snowboarding in the Wasatch mountain range near Salt Lake City. Whether you’re a newbie or advanced, challenge yourself in various terrain and sharpen your skills. Then put the skis and snowboards away and head south to explore the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon and the narrows of Zion National Park. Escape the cold in a relaxing hot spring, the perfect way to end a day on the trail. Return to Salt Lake City for a final night of fun with your new Rustic buddies before heading home from your epic week exploring Utah!
- Spend a week in Key Largo discovering an entire world under the ocean’s surface with MarineLab. You will spend part of your day learning about the complex ecological systems of coral reefs and lagoons. Then, hop on a boat to head out to the crystal clear blue water to put your new knowledge to work. Snorkel through lagoons and coral reefs to see first hand the beauty, structures and systems of the ocean floor. This program is jammed packed with new experiences, new information and plenty of time to soak up the sun.
- Young Explorers: Key Largo MarineLab is designed for students ages 12 to 14 with a passion for travel. The week will be spent learning about marine ecology in Key Largo as you participate in classes built by our partner, MarineLab. This programs will allow the young adventurer to step outside of their comfort zone, make new friends, and learn about the world around them.
- Designed for students ages 12 to 14, this program allows you to explore the diverse terrain California has to offer during the ultimate road trip. Start your journey in the iconic city of San Francisco – home to the Golden Gate Bridge. Camp under the stars in the redwood forests, surf the waves on the coast, hike through the Sierra Nevada mountains, kayak in Lake Tahoe, dive into the waterfalls of Big Sur, and prepare for the breathtaking views of Yosemite in an incredible journey of a lifetime.
UPDATED PROGRAMS (3) – The following programs have been updated significantly from previous years. Each have been extended in length with new adventures planned. We’re excited to offer more time to enjoy these popular programs!
Australia | You, A ‘Roo & Australia Zoo
- Take an exceptional opportunity to volunteer at Steve Irwin’s famous Australia Zoo! Go behind the scenes and perform zoo tasks in various animal departments as a team. Learn from the zookeepers as you assist them with their duties and participate in conservation workshops. Get up close and personal with wombats, wallabies, echidnas, and kangaroos! Then, enjoy fun in the sun on a sand island, explore the magnificent east coast of Australia, and use your new skills at a grassroots wildlife rehabilitation center.
Australia | GBR Dive Expedition
- Join this extreme two-week, 21-dive expedition on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. In your first week, learn-to-dive and get certified as a PADI open-water diver. If you’re already a diver, get advanced certification during a three-day liveaboard dive trip! After 9 dives, enjoy a couple days back on dry land and learn about environmental issues threatening the reef. Then, venture out to sea again on another four-day live-aboard dive expedition to partner with marine biologists and swim with Dwarf Minke Whales! During this exclusive 12-dive expedition, you’ll venture to the far reaches of the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel with whales and record observations on their behavior, which directly contributes to the ongoing research of James Cook University. Disembark at Lizard Island, take a low-level flight over the reef, finish the trip whitewater rafting class III & IV rapids, and have the option to add-on a bungee or skydive!
Thailand | Community Health and Wilderness First Aid
- Get certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR and practice basic medical skills in the communities surrounding the Ricefields Service Base in northeastern Thailand. Learn about rural healthcare through hands-on medical assessments alongside trained professionals in a village clinic. Then, explore the world of holistic medicine while you learn the basics of Thai massage, reflexology, and other ancient wellness techniques. Take home tangible skills, accredited certifications, and a greater understanding of community-based medicine.
Originally from a small town in Massachusetts, Emily realized her dreams of living in the mountains when she moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the fall of 2014. Prior to that, Emily lived and worked in NYC after graduating from Colgate University with a dual degree in Spanish and Environmental Studies. This is Emily’s first experience working with Rustic Pathways but has done a number of service and travel programs in the past including trips to the Dominican Republic, Spain, and Romania. Emily is passionate about playing in the mountains, yoga, cooking, and art.