Bolivia: Climate Change

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Applications are Open Apply Now!

The Program

Explore Bolivia through the theme of Climate Change with other students, a UTM staff member and our partners from Operations Groundswell. From the trendy centre of Cochabamba to the highland circus of La Paz and the iconic shores of Lake Titicaca, the “Land & Livelihoods” program will explore Bolivia’s varied geography and examine how this landlocked country is tackling the world’s biggest challenge, climate change.

First, we’ll visit two of the world’s fastest growing cities and examine how communities are carving out sustainable livings on their peri-urban margins. Then, we’ll work with grassroots organizations who are coming up with innovated solutions to some of the toughest challenges from water and energy to sanitation. We’ll ride the teléferico to see the chaotic ingenuity of the world’s highest capital and then get our hands dirty on the shores of the world’s highest navigable lake to see how communities are working to conserve this important resource.

This isn’t the Bolivia you see in postcards. The unique mix of service-learning, cross-cultural collaboration, and adventure will push us to think critically about climate change and what, we as a global community, can do to live more sustainably.

Program Themes

  • Join Bolivian artists and activists in the shadow of Andean glaciers and unpack the
    implications of climate change for this landlocked country. Learn about the water wars, land reform and human migrations while you visit highland lakes, Amazonian jungles and everything in between.
    • Learn Spanish in Cochabamba, the city of eternal spring, and savour the best Bolivian food in the world from saltenas to silpancho.
    • Work with CECAM and see how a little family NGO is digging, welding, and cementing its way to positive change on the margins of one of Bolivia’s richest urban centres.
    • Dip your toes in the world’s highest navigable lake, soak in the colour of Copacabana, and immerse yourself in Bolivian culture with on the shores Lake Titicaca.
    • Ride a subway car in the sky and scavenge the markets of the world’s highest metropolis, El Alto. Then descend into the diverse neighbourhoods of La Paz and dig into urban agriculture + food sustainability with Fundación Alternativas!


  • Dates: April 26 to May 6, 2018
  • Estimated Cost: $3500 to $3800

Important Dates

The UTM Abroad GIP is a comprehensive program that is a semester long committment. Students interested in completing the program must participate in all components. Successful completion will result in three entries on the Co-Curricular Record!

Payment Timeline

Safety Abroad Workshops

Trip-Specific Sessions & Deadlines



November 25th, 2018

Applications Close

February 2019

Workshop 1: UTM Abroad and OG Philosophy

February 2019

Community Engagment Initiative

March 2019

Workshop 2: Theme and Location

April 2019

Workshop 3: Safety and Logisitics

April 26 - May 5, 2019 Travel Dates

May 2019

Workshop 4: Storytelling, Reflection and Connection



Day(s): 1-4
Location: Cochabamba
Accommodation: CECAM
Transportation: Private shuttle, public bus
Meals: Local restaurants; homecooked

General Summary:
We’ll begin our journey in one of Bolivia’s fastest growing urban centres. Also known as the city of eternal spring, Cochabamba sits at a height of 2560mt or 8,400ft. So, we’ll start by getting acclimatized to the sights, sounds, smells, and altitude of Bolivia’s pampa. We’ll explore the city’s trendy downtown and savour saltenas, humitas and silpancho in what some say is the country’s best culinary strip! We’ll also use Bolivia’s young boom town as the backdrop for our orientation into land, livelihoods and climate change.
We’ll spend time on Cochabamba’s peri-urban periphery with hosts, Rosio & Freddy. This power couple is also known as CECAM, a small NGO dedicated to the creation and implementation of environmental technologies that can improve life in Bolivia’s underserved semi-rural communities.
So, for a couple days, we’ll talk shop and play with solar ovens, bicycle blenders and eco-toilets. We’ll visit with local families while getting an inside look at the urban-rural divide and how people on the margins of big cities are producing lots of innovative solutions to common challenges like income generation and sanitation.

Learning-Service component pt.1:
There will be a limited amount of project-based volunteering on days 2 and 3. In additional to a language class and community engagements, OG’s partner, CECAM, has suggested that the group could participate in whatever projects they have underway e.g. solar/closed stoves, bicycle machines, etc. but the specific task and number of hours will be conditional on arrival times and schedules

Day(s): 4-6
Location: La Paz
Transportation: Private bus
Meals: Homecooked

General Summary:
After a little road trip, we’ll arrive in Bolivia’s city in the sky, La Paz. Despite the thin air, cool
breeze, and apparent chaos, La Paz is rich with culture and teeming with life. So, we’ll explore the diverse neighbourhoods of the world’s highest capital. We’ll ride the high-flying teleférico, learn the lingo, and get a crash course in Bolivian history, culture, and eat for delicious FOOD!
We’ll also connect with local change-makers like La Casa de los Ningunes and Fundación
Alternativas, who will help us unpack the connection between land and livelihoods along with the unique challenges posed by climate change for a big city that’s already busting at the seams.

Learning Service component pt. 2:

There will be no project-based work on Day 4 and limited volunteering on day 5. Instead, OG’s partners’ in La Paz generally ask that participants serve by participating in a variety of workshops and activities oriented towards exploring Bolivian arts, history, culture and identity as well as the role of climate change in the migrations that are feeding Bolivia’s urban boom.

Day(s): 6-9
Location: Lake Titicaca
Accommodation: Possible homestays
Transportation: Private bus
Meals: Homecooked; Local restaurants

General Summary:
After being cooped up in two of Bolivia’s biggest cities, we’ll escape to Latin America’s most
famous highland lake, Titicaca, and dig even deeper into sustainable living in a time of incredible change. To help, we’ll team up with Agua Sustentable and one of their community partners near the colourful shores of Copacabana where we’ll learn how local initiatives can tackle global climate change while generating sustainable livelihoods for those that live around the world’s highest navigable lake. So, get ready to get your hands dirty working with water systems, playing games with the kids, and exercising your español with your family.

Critical Service-Learning component pt.1:
As OG’s oldest Bolivian partner, Agua Sustentable is excited to have participants join them for both community-engaged learning and project-based volunteering. In this regard, some time will be spent with staff and/or community members discussing challenges for the communities around the lake before getting involved in a community development project selected by Agua Sustentable.

Day(s): 9-11
Location: Las Yungas
Accommodation: Community Guesthouse
Transportation: Private bus
Meals: Local restaurants; homecooked

General Summary:
The last stop on our adventure is a crossroads where Bolivia’s highlands meet its jungles and the Andes fall away into the Amazon Basin. Here in Las Yungas, the Aymara, Moseten, and afro-Bolivian cultures persevere alongside coca, coffee, and cocoa. So, in the rainforest of Alto Beni, we’ll connect with our friends at Renace, a community-based organization that promotes environmental sustainability and “self-help” solutions in Las Yungas. Together, in their beautiful Centro Yanapiri, we’ll celebrate our adventure with “disorientation”. A staple of every OG program, this is a chance to both relax and reflect. To share stories and think about what we’ve seen, done, thought and felt. We’ll sip fresh coffee, wander the nearby trails, float in the Rio Beni and taste fresh cacao. Then after a proper despedida and fiesta, we’ll return to El Alto International Airport in La Paz for a hug-filled farewell.

Critical Service-Learning component pt.2:
The Centro Yanapiri is the perfect place for participants to continue their community engagement while synthesizing the learning of the previous 10 days. In this regard, OG and Renace invite participants to engage with a number of their pilot projects aimed at improving productive capacities and creating sustainable livelihoods for the communities of Alto Beni. Accordingly, time will be dedicated to service-learning with Renace and a number of exercises that will help students connect their local experience in Bolivia to the global context and their lives at home and on campus.