Travel to Peru as a Teen: Discover the Rugged Beauty and Adventure Opportunities
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Travel to Peru as a Teen: Discover the Rugged Beauty and Adventure Opportunities

Our Sacred Valley Service program and Andes to Amazon program were among the most positively reviewed trips in the summer of 2021 by parents and students. In these programs teens travel to Peru, a country in South America with stunning landscapes and culture.

Peru is most notably home to the Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city high in the Andes mountains designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Both programs allow students to hike the Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu. Our Peruvian program leaders integrate lessons on the Inca civilization. Students can explore ruins and learn about the evolution of trade, local markets, and agriculture of ancient civilizations.

In 2022, a college option was added to our program so more students could embark on a thrilling Peruvian adventure and participate in our Peru service programs.

Why Travel to Peru as a Teen?

Traveling to Peru as a teen offers a unique adventure filled with cultural immersion, breathtaking landscapes, and meaningful service opportunities. Explore the incredible activities and destinations awaiting student travelers, from exploring Machu Picchu and engaging with Peruvian culture to experiencing thrilling outdoor adventures and impactful community service projects.

Visit Machu Picchu and The Sacred Valley

Students who grabbed one of the limited spots in our Peru program hiked up and down the Inca Trail to see the incredible sights of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. They captured photos of the ruins left behind from the ancient Inca civilization, along with the surrounding landscape.

Seasoned Rustic Program Leader Nancy Trujillo, who has traveled to many nations, says the Peru programs are quite a unique opportunity to visit the most iconic sites in a South American country.

A Rustic Pathways student photographs the night sky in Peru.

Rustic student Jonah Gross captures an image of the night sky during the Sacred Valley Service program in Peru.

“Students need to dig deep, step outside their comfort zone, and be comfortable with being dirty and sleeping on the floor,” Trujillo said. “But then you can see all the stars and the constellations that are visible from the Southern Hemisphere – the full moon and all its craters. They really are special programs.”

Rustic Pathways student photo of Machu Picchu

Rustic student Jonah Gross pauses to take a photo of Machu Picchu during his Sacred Valley Service program in Peru.

“I loved the program!” said Hayes Benenson, who traveled with the Andes to Amazon itinerary. “Machu Picchu was my favorite. I’ve seen it in books, and it was amazing to see it in person.”

Aside from the visit to this historic site, our student travel programs differ in many ways compared to other programs. Rustic Country Manager Alex Ball, who has been living in Peru for more than a decade, says the Sacred Valley program in southern Peru has less intra-country travel and more meaningful service with local communities.

A Rustic Pathways student photographs an Incan woman weaving.

A local Peruvian woman showcases her textile skills. Photo: Jonah Gross

Experience Peruvian Culture

“In the Sacred Valley program you get a deeper bond with the place where you’re doing service,” Ball said. “You see really remote, spectacular subsistence farming communities. The Sacred Valley is a special place and you really get to know the region.”

Trujillo echoes those thoughts, saying the program allows students to better understand the South American gem and its local communities and culture.

“Sacred Valley has heart, and you get to know Peru’s soul, culture, and values,” Trujillo said.

A Rustic Pathways students photographs Peru's mountains.

Rustic student Hayes Benenson takes a postcard-worthy photo during his Andes to Amazon program.

The Andes to Amazon program has more travel since students see both the Andes mountains and explore the Amazon jungle at the basin, which is the most diverse region of the jungle. Ball says even after being in the country for a decade there is still so much he has not seen, but this program gives students a taste of everything on this trip.

“It does a good job of showing students different cultures, geography, and microclimates – demonstrating how diverse Peru really is geographically and culturally,” Ball said.

Adventure Highlights

In both programs students get an adrenaline rush doing activities like white water rafting, hiking, ziplining, and rock climbing. In the Sacred Valley program, they also do mountain biking  – weather permitting. In the Andes to Amazon program, our local guides take students on a day trip to glacial lakes, natural hot springs, and a hike through the jungle.

A Rustic Pathways student rock climbs in Peru.

Hayes Benenson enjoys rock climbing in the Andes to Amazon program in Peru.

Along the way, students have fun interacting with each other. Trujillo says during the course of one of the programs she led the group had an impromptu birthday party for one of the students. They turned on music and danced, and then local Peruvian students joined in by playing their music – giving everyone a little taste of different cultures.

The groups’ openness to one another was one of the highlights of the teens’ summer. In one program, the teens were very supportive of another student with autism, rallying around him and doing everything they could to be inclusive. This attitude carried over in the service projects they did.

In the summer of 2021, the groups did many hands-on, meaningful service projects that involved challenging labor. One project was planting trees in deforested regions. These regions were illegally burned by fires set by locals who wanted to plant more crops. The newly planted seedlings will help prevent erosion and ease the effects of climate change in the coming years.

Some of the students also worked on water projects. Trujillo said during one project they had to dig a ditch to lay a pipe that connected a water source with a water tank for storage. She thought the project would take all day and was surprised at how hard the students worked.

“They finished it in two hours. They were relentless and didn’t take breaks,” Trujillo said.

Rustic Pathways students in Peru

Students pause for a photo during one of the 2021 Andes to Amazon programs.


That gung-ho nature was matched by their enthusiasm to ensure they were making a difference. Trujillo said the students asked questions about how they were helping, allowing her to explain the need for such infrastructure in these regions.

Their eagerness may have been enhanced by the general joy of being able to travel again. Whatever the weather or the challenges they faced, the students relished being out and about in the wider world again – leading them to describe the programs as “amazing,” “exceptional,” and a “fabulous and unforgettable experience despite Covid.”

“They really missed traveling and embraced it for sure,” Trujillo said. “It was an awesome, fun, and unique experience and something we once took for granted, but we can’t now.”

Hear from Rustic Alumna, Molly Caffry, who explored Peru this past summer:

For more information on Rustic’s Peru programs, please visit our country page.

About the Author

Scott Ingram

Scott is the Director of Admissions at Rustic Pathways. He has spent the last 15 years in the student travel and experiential education world. Before helping families find the perfect Rustic Pathways program, he led gap year programs that took students around the world and spent three years teaching English in Japan.