Ordinarily, it wouldn't raise eyebrows for a Niagara University program description to state that "everything you bring must fit into a backpack." When the program takes place in Central America, it presents a different challenge.
The Great Guatemalan Challenge is an affordable, off-the-grid adventure for the spiritually minded traveler. Over eight days in January, 10 participants will find themselves hiking an active volcano, exploring Spanish and Mayan villages, sleeping in hostels and mountain lodges, and coming together as a group to navigate the challenges of backpacking in a foreign country. Along the way, they'll meet with community leaders devoted to alleviating poverty in some of Guatemala's poorest communities, and make time for individual prayer, reflection and journaling.
The trip is led by Dr. Joseph Little, is an associate professor of English at Niagara University, and Sam Lightowler, a training superintendent at the Toronto Transit Commission. Little's travel experience spans 40 countries, including backpacking trips to Nepal, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The 2014 Great Guatemalan Challenge marks his seventh trip to Guatemala. Lightowler has dozens of backpacking adventures under his belt, including trips to India, Cuba, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The 2014 Great Guatemalan Challenge marks his fourth trip to Guatemala.
Participants must be 21 or older and possess an ability to work well in a team atmosphere.
The cost of the program is $2,450, which includes everything except food (airfare, trip medical insurance, accommodations, park fees, etc.). A special rate of $2,150 is available to Niagara University alumni.
For those interested in learning more about this unique experience, an information session will be held Wednesday, April 17, at 6 p.m. on the fourth floor of St. Vincent's Hall on the Niagara University campus. Call the Office of Continuing Education at 716-286-8181 to pre-register for the information session.
A full color brochure is available to download online at http://www.niagara.edu/ce.