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Matt Day - South America Ethical Adventure  Trail

Our Adventure Trails see groups of volunteers travelling across multiple continents in different corners of the world, experience everything from culture to music, food to sports, teaching to conservation. Here's how Matt got on in South America.

1. I chose to go on this trail because South America is always somewhere I've wanted to visit. Also for 4 weeks, it looked like there was so much you could do in 3 amazing countries. It didn't disappoint!

2. We got up to so many different things, including exploring some amazing cities like Quito, Lima and La Paz, getting trains and coaches through the Andes, standing at the equator in Ecuador, visiting a wonder of the world in Machu Picchu, visiting the highest lake in the world, going to the Bolivian salt flats, seeing wild flamingos... and lots of walking!

3. Before I went out, I read about how dangerous some of the places we were going to can potentially be. But at no point did I ever feel in danger, the locals were really friendly always happy to help! A lot of the time, when realising we were tourists, they wanted to know where we were from, what we were doing etc! The culture difference is very noticeable, especially in the more rural areas where there's a lot of indigenous people in traditional dress. In Bolivia in particular, a lot of the woman are dressed in their traditional "cholita" dress which includes a little bowler hat!

4. The accommodation was a lot better than expected! Apart from one hostel in Lima which I won't go into detail about, the hostels where always clean and comfortable. There was only one hostel that we didn't have a private room, but luckily because it was quiet, nobody else was in our dorm. The majority of hostels had wifi too, but there were a few home comforts we missed, like a warm shower that didn't electrocute us. Also in Bolivia, we stayed in one of the world's only salt hotels which was at 4350m altitude... It got to -20 at night!

5. Well obviously having not met any of the people I was going to be sending all of my time with for 4 weeks, I was a bit apprehensive before I went out. Luckily, the 2 other volunteers I was with are some of the loveliest people I've met, that I'd now call good friends. Andy, our trail leader was fantastic! When we first arrived, he went through all the health and safety etc and then went through with us everything that we'd be doing, letting us let him know if there was anything in particular we wanted to do. The whole time we travelled, he was making sure we were happy and enjoying ourselves. You could share a lot of laughs with him too.

6. It's hard to pick a most amazing moment. It be easy just to say Machu Picchu, but as good as that was, I think there's one moment that beats the rest. It was when we were in Cusco, Peru... we'd just climbed up to a viewpoint, looking down on the town, it was getting dark and in the distance you could see the brilliant, massive orange coloured moon rising over the snow capped Andes, it was breathtaking!

7. We didn't really do any work on this placement.

8. The biggest adventure activity was going down death road in Bolivia... The others went by mountain bike, which looked pretty mental but I haven't ridden in 10 years so went down on the bus! At the bottom of death road, we also did a 1.5km zip line! In Ecuador, we went on a swing off the edge of the world! Climbing the 1543 steps up to Machu Picchu at 5am when it's still dark was cool too.

9. I'm not really sure if there was anything in particular I wanted to learn, I just was hoping to have an amazing time, make some great friends and gain some unforgettable memories! Definitely achieved all of those.

10. Definitely don't pack too many clothes, having a heavy backpack is a nightmare at altitude! Take a good camera, there's so many amazing views! Don't eat loads of rice and chips before you go, because it's all you be eating when you're there. Write a journal while you're there, or you forget so many things. Take at least one bank card with you, it's not expensive over there but there's so many cool souvenirs and awesome trips to go on, unless you take loads of cash, you'll probably run out! Luckily most of the ATM's are in English. Oh, and learn a bit of Spanish before you go if you can!

11. Well the day I got back home, the U.K. had me so bored, I already booked to go to Berlin at Christmas! I next want to go backpacking round south east Asia I think... Or go on a safari, but being a student, it might be difficult to afford that!

12. Not really, I think I covered everything!

By Matt Day - South America Ethical Adventure Trail

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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