Earn 40 hours of community service while living and working in remote, Andean villages. Explore the natural and historic wonders of this vast and colorful country. Raft the thrilling Urubamba River. Discover the Sacred Valley of the Incas and then make a once in a lifetime journey to the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu.
Our programs offer a wide variety of activity options. Explore the activities specific to this program below.
You will meet your group in Miami, check into your group flight together, and land in the Peruvian capitol city of Lima. There will be one more short flight to get to Cusco, Peru, your launching point for the next three weeks! Cusco is nestled within the Peruvian Andes and was once the capital of the Inca Empire. It is known for its Spanish colonial architecture, lively city plazas, local art scene, and archaeological remains. You’ll take part in a day of empowering language instruction. During this inviting workshop, you’ll get a basic sense of conversational Spanish and learn foundational knowledge of Peruvian culture and customs.
The next day, you’ll embark on a journey into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The Sacred Valley, known as the Andean highlands of Peru, formed the heart of the Inca Empire. Stretching roughly 60 kilometers, it’s an area of fertile farmland and Spanish colonial villages like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The route from Cusco follows a winding mountain road with awe-inspiring views of the stunning canyon below, which was formed by the Urubamba River. You’ll feel the temperature rise as you descend into the warm valley and visit the Inca temple of Chokekillka. That afternoon, you’ll arrive in the town of Pachar where you will spend the next four days working with families to make improvements to their homes, to the community school, or to the community garden at the Misminay Service Project. For your 3 full days of service, you will take part in local farming activities, learn ancestral techniques and use farming tools that date back to pre-Inca times. After The locals will even show you how they make textiles from the collection of wool and natural dyes. The Pachar community, part of the greater Sacred Valley community, is home to the world’s most direct descendants of the Inca Empire.
The Urubamba River is the perfect place to experience a rewarding taste of Andean whitewater. After a briefing on safety and rafting techniques by your professional river guides, you will set out on your whitewater adventure, which will take you through the fun and splashy Class III rapids of the Sacred Valley.
After your rafting adventure, it will be time to hit the trail. Your stunning four-day trek to Machu Picchu along the Salkantay Trail will begin in Mollepata. You will travel through snow-capped mountains, ancient ruins, tropical rain forests, and tiny villages. The Salkantay Trail is not “The Inca Trail”, but it is one of the lesser travelled, more traditional Inca trails to Machu Picchu. The trek crosses the Salkantay Pass at 4600 meters (over 15,000 feet of elevation!), descends into the cloud forest and passes the Inca ruins Llactapata, with a view of Machu Picchu. On the trail, the group will have the aid of mules, helping them to carry their belongings while hiking. These mules are treated with love and care, and will be alongside the hikers for the whole day. This will allow the group to travel lighter and faster along the trail, and to adjust to the high altitude of the Andes.
After you finish your spectacular trek, you will board a train for a short ride to Aguas Calientes, the closest access point to Machu Picchu.
Arriving at the entrance to Machu Picchu by 6:00am, you’ll witness a breathtaking sunrise at the ruins. Machu Picchu, which means “old peak” in Quechua, is Peru’s most prominent symbol of its pre-colonial past. Never discovered by the Spanish Conquistadores, this Lost City of the Incas is an authentic glimpse into the past. You’ll explore these extraordinary ruins and visit the industrial area, the Temple of the Sun, the Royal Tomb, ceremonial fountains and baths, and the Sacred Plazas. Finally, you’ll hike to the summit of Huayna Picchu (Young Peak) for a birds-eye view of the ruins.
Following your experience at Machu Picchu, you will spend one last day in Cusco to volunteer with a local school community. You will spend the day at a non-profit school for underprivileged children in Cusco. You will make improvements to the school, teach English through arts and crafts and a number of games. It will be a great day for the group to get to know the students, practice Spanish, and have a ton of fun.
Next, you and your group will travel to Lake Titicaca. You will journey across the Andean Altiplano to Lake Titicaca via private vehicle. You will make several stops along the way including La Raya, the highest pass on the route between Cusco and Puno, perched at an exhilarating 14,222 feet above sea level. Beautiful landscapes await you; you’ll see many of the animals that are symbolic of the Andes including llamas, alpacas and vicunas. This unique region is situated between the Quechua and Aymara cultures. It’s also a composite of two terrains: the more verdant Quechua valleys and rivers and the dry and arid Altiplano. You will arrive early in the evening in Llachón, located on the Capachica Peninsula of Lake Titicaca.
Over the next few days, you will work alongside community members of Santa Mara. You will help with community needs, whether it’s painting classrooms, restoring ceilings of school buildings, putting in new windows, or other infrastructure projects. You will have a lot of time to interact with the community and learn about their way of life, their agriculture, their fishing techniques, the way they produce their intricate textiles, and more.
You will spend your last full day in the area kayaking to Taquile Islands and visiting the Uros Islands. You’ll load up and head southeast on Lake Titicaca from the beach in Llachón. Nearly three hours of paddling on the majestic blue waters will take you across to Taquile Island. About 1,700 people, known as Taquileños, live on this distinctive island. They run their society based on community collectivism and on the Inca moral code “ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla” (Quechua: do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy). After lunch, you’ll continue by boat to the Uros Islands. The Uros began their unusual floating existence centuries ago in an effort to isolate themselves from the Colla and Inca tribes. Sadly, the Uros language has died out, and today the islanders speak Aymara due to intermarriage with Aymara-speaking clans. Today about 300 families live on floating islands built from a local type of reed called “Totora.” Their homes and boats are also made of “Totora.” Although the Uros people maintain a very traditional lifestyle, they do not reject technology as one might think. Many families take advantage of electricity from solar panels, which were a gift from ex-President Fujimori. After getting off the lake in the afternoon, you will transfer to Puno and celebrate the end of your incredible trip with a Peruvian Banquet!
You will bid the islands farewell and travel back to the bustling city of Lima. From there, you will head to the airport and fly back to Miami. Though it will be sad to say goodbye to your new friends, the experiences you’ve shared will never be forgotten.
It was an incredible experience and I really enjoyed all the activities and it was really life-changing.
Fife, 2019 Peru Service
Trip Price Includes
- Group gear
- Personal gear and clothing
- Airfare to and form the trip start and end