Day 1 - Travel to Lima, Peru
Start your journey to Peru. Upon arrival in Lima, you'll meet with your Tour Manager and begin your adventure.
Day 2 - Arrive in Lima and Tour the City Center
Today you are off to explore the historical center of Lima where you will have the chance to walk in the main square and visit churches such as the breathtaking main cathedral (the Basílica Catedral de Lima) and the convent of San Francisco with its ancient burial sites in the catacombs below. You will also spend time exploring the area around the hotel. In the late afternoon you will return to your hotel and have an orientation meeting discussing the exciting days ahead.
Day 3 - Lima – Cusco
This morning, you will rise for an early breakfast and head to Cusco. The domestic flight takes approximately two hours. Upon arrival, your bus driver will welcome you and take you to your lodging. Your lodging is run by an organization that works with several development programs and provides lodging and education to indigenous girls who migrate to Cusco to work, usually as maids. Here, you will learn about this organization and their local initiatives to help children of indigenous background improve their quality of life.
During your first day in Cusco, you will spend most of your time acclimating to the high altitude, 12,467 feet above sea level. Activities will involve resting and spending time with the girls at the lodging and neighborhood children. If you are here during a weekday, and while school is in session, you will go to a local high school that is supported by your lodging organization. Here, you will present yourselves and meet the local students, interchanging information and learning about each other’s ways of life.
Day 4 - Cusco and Surroundings
Today you will wake up early to enjoy a tasty breakfast and a tour of nearby archaeological ruins. You will visit Puca Pucara, Sacsayhuaman and Quenko, all amazing archaeological sites built around the city. You will then return to the historical center of Cusco for lunch with time to explore a local market where you will participate in a scavenger hunt activity.
At the end of the day, you will return to your lodging, rest and relax. Before a delicious dinner, you will have a meeting with your Tour Manager about the town and communities where you will live and work. In addition to your service work, you will discuss topics such as the economic and social realities in the community.
Day 5 - Cusco – Host Town and Surrounding Communities
Today, you will travel to your host town and surrounding communities, located approximately an hour from Cusco. This area is considered one of the poorest of Peru, so your presence and help on with a development project is greatly appreciated by all. Here, the economy is based on potatoes and grains, and daily struggles relate to lack of infrastructure, education and nutrition. You will be staying in the town center in group lodging provided by the same Cusco organization. Surrounding the town are multiple rural communities where you will spend your days working on your service project and interacting with community members.
Upon arrival, you will have a tour of the town center and continue your orientation discussion about the service project. After a traditional lunch in the communal dining area of the community, you will visit the Cultural House, a space where children gather for extracurricular activities while their parents are working. Here, children learn the basics of hygiene and nutrition, work on school assignments, and are provided nutritious food.
Day 6-8 - Host Community & Service Project
For the next few days, you will work on a much-needed service project in the community. Potential projects include improving community buildings and agricultural infrastructure, as well as reforestation. You will work between four to six hours per day depending on the project.
Additionally, you may have the opportunity to help at the Cultural House playing with the local kids, helping them with homework and learning a little of the Kechua* language, which will help the children value their indigenous identity. If you work at the Cultural House, you will have a short training in the community before you begin.
In the afternoons and/or evenings, you will continue to participate in local cultural activities such as pick up soccer games with the local children, traditional dance lessons, agricultural activities and learning how to prepare “chuño,” a type of dehydrated potato. You also may have the opportunity to help in the community kitchen, make “adobe,” traditional local bricks used in construction in rural areas and work with local textile makers to learn the process of wool preparation.**
Day 9 - Host Community – Aguas Calientes
During your final morning in the community, you will wrap up your community service project. You will gather with the community members to celebrate the completion of the project.
After the celebration, you will say your heartfelt goodbyes to your new friends. You will then depart from your host community and travel towards one of the most impressive ruins in the world, the ancient city of Machu Picchu. When you reach Ollaytaytambo, the location of the train to Machu Picchu, you will walk around town and enjoy a view of nearby Inca ruins. You will also visit a local museum and learn about the diversity of food in Peru, followed by an early traditional lunch before taking the train to Machu Picchu.
For a few hours, you will enjoy the scenic transition from mountain vegetation to cloud forest as you travel down the highlands to Machu Picchu. You arrive in Aguas Calientes, the closest town to the citadel. If time allows, you will go for a short walk to either a nearby waterfall or a viewpoint from which it is possible to see the local forest. You will spend the night in Aguas Calientes.
Day 10 - Machu Picchu – Cusco
This morning, you will rise very early and enter the tranquil and sacred city of Machu Picchu. You will have the entire morning to enjoy and explore this magnificent place.
Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city that was built between 1450 and 1470 A.D. Considered the former center of the Inca Empire, the site was built 8,000 feet above sea level and is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley. Approximately one hundred years later, at the time of the Spanish conquest, Machu Picchu was abandoned. It was not until 1911, when an American archeologist was led to the hidden city, did the rest of the world become aware of this magnificent city. Excavations soon began to discover what existed beneath the dense forest that grew on top of the city, and still continue today. Machu Picchu was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 when it was described as “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to Inca civilization.” Today you can see the remnants of the ancient city including residences, temples, storage structures, fountains and aqueducts.
After exploring Machu Picchu, you will return to Aguas Calientes for lunch. If time allows, you will enjoy a visit to the local handicraft market. Finally, you will board the train to return to Ollaytaytambo on your way to Cusco.
Day 11 - Cusco – Lima
This morning you will travel to Lima. You will explore the Miraflores area where your hotel is located and also visit a local handicraft market. Tonight you will have a farewell dinner to celebrate your time shared, and memories made, together in Peru.
Day 12 - Departure
After breakfast, you'll journey back home and look back on all the lifelong memories you've made from your trip.
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