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Dive deep into the issues surrounding access to education and opportunities for women on this Critical Issues program. Over the next two weeks, you’ll visit a dormitory that provides access to secondary education for girls, a home and vocational training center for young mothers, and a women’s textile weaving cooperative, and throughout the journey you’ll learn how nonprofits operate and the challenges that they address. Immerse yourself in traditional Quechua culture during your homestay in the Mapacho River Valley, and make lasting connections with the welcoming Peruvian families that you meet. Camp and hike through beautiful high mountain passes as you follow the footsteps of a typical Andean girl on her way to school on a three day trek. Push your limits as you scale up and zipline down a 400 meter rock face, and spend a day exploring the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu to culminate your journey. This is a program for future change-makers and adventurous spirits who believe that education should be a fundamental right and not a privilege.

Components of a Critical Issues Program

  1. Deliberate Focus: Students explore specific global issues as they exist in communities around the world.
  2. Pre-Travel Engagement: Prior to their arrival in the program’s base country, students build an understanding of the issue their program focuses on through readings and film screenings.
  3. Program Content and Discussion: Students progress through a curriculum comprised of activities, discussions, and debriefs designed to expand their understanding and exploration of key topics.
  4. Program Staff: Program Leaders on Critical Issues programs have intimate local knowledge and an academic or professional background in the focus area.

With our No Anxiety Escrow Policy, you cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.

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2017 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
June 20 July 4 Very Limited
July 18 August 1 Very Limited

Program Profile

Community Service Focus

  • Day 1

    Depart from Miami to Lima, Peru’s capital. Upon your arrival you will be met by Rustic Pathways staff and transported to a comfortable hotel in one of Lima’s nicest neighborhoods. After a group orientation, ice-breaking activity, and review of the weeks to come, enjoy a good night’s sleep in preparation for tomorrow’s adventure to the Peruvian highlands.

  • Day 2

    Welcome to your first full day in Peru. After a continental breakfast it is off to the airport to catch a one hour flight to Cuzco, the ancient Incan capital located high in the Andes Mountains.

    Upon arrival we will have lunch, get settled in our hotel, and explore the historical center of the city. In the evening we will head to Casa Mantay, a home for young Peruvian mothers and their children who have escaped abuse and neglect. After a presentation from the Casa Mantay staff and residents, We will share a meal and have an intercultural discussion with the inspiring young women who live there. This will be your first chance to see how the themes of access to education, gender equality, and women’s empowerment play out in the Peruvian context.

  • Day 3

    After breakfast at our hotel, we will jump on a private bus and be transported to Pisac, a small town in the heart of the famous Sacred Valley. Reenergized by a delicious lunch and a visit to the local artisanal market, we will continue onwards to the town of Calca. In Calca we will drop off our bags at our hotel and then head to The Sacred Valley Project dormitory. The Sacred Valley Project provides girls from the rural highlands of Peru with education, skills and resources to become leaders in their communities. We will tour the dorm and learn more about the history of the project, meet the girls who live there, and have dinner together. The day will wind down with a group discussion about the challenges that women in rural Peruvian communities face.

  • Day 4

    Today is a big travel day! After breakfast at our hotel in Calca we will hop on our private bus and drive to the community of Parobamba, located deep in the Mapacho River Valley, which is the last valley before the Andes Mountains slope downward to become the great Amazon rainforest. Journey through picturesque Andean communities and sweeping mountain scenery with a stop for lunch along the way. Upon arrival in Parobamba we will settle into our homestays and get to know our new host families and the community.

  • Day 5

    Today will be spent participating in a weaving workshop with the indigenous Quechuan women from Parobamba’s local weaving cooperative, a partner of Mosqoy’s Textile Revitalization Program. Mosqoy is an organization that partners with weavers to provide a better market price for their beautiful textiles. These hand-woven products are sold abroad at a significant premium and 100% of the profit is returned to the communities through development and educational programs. Textile making is a traditional art in Quechua culture, and the weaving cooperative works to empower women to preserve their culture and traditions through creating these textiles. Learn about the different weaving techniques passed down through the ages, and how to create dyes using natural elements.

  • Day 6 - 8

    Spend the next three days following in the footsteps of a typical Peruvian girl’s journey from a high Andean village down to a larger town where there is access to public education. Begin the adventure in the small town of Lares, and after setting up camp for the night, take a soak in the natural hot springs. On Monday, hike past stunning glacial lakes and over a pass surrounded by snow capped peaks to your camp for the evening. On Wednesday, continue on with a stop for lunch in Cancha Cancha, a traditional Quechua village that Mosqoy also partners with. After visiting Cancha Cancha, complete the final leg to Huaran, where we will settle into a rural community center, rest our feet, and have a group reflection on our journey and the realities of access to education in Peru.

  • Day 9

    Travel from Huaran back to the Sacred Valley Project dormitory in Calca and spend the day working on our service project. The Sacred Valley Project currently rents the house that the students live in, but construction on a new home of their own is in process, and we will contribute to building this brand new dorm. After service work we will help the girls with their homework, and then play games before a group dinner. Many of these girls are the same age as you, and tonight we will have an opportunity for an open cultural dialogue where you can explore the similarities and differences between your lives and theirs.

  • Day 10

    Today will be another full day of service work and activities with the girls from the Sacred Valley Project dormitory. After today we won’t be back to the dorm, so work your hardest to complete your service goals, and then share laughs and goodbyes with your new friends from the dorm.

  • Day 11

    After breakfast at our hotel we will head out to Ollantaytambo. In Ollantaytambo, board the train for a scenic ride along the Urubamba River to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. Along the way, the group will pass under the majestic Veronica Peak and along the intense bottom section of the Urubamba River. Nestled in the cloud forest amidst jagged peaks, it is amazing to think that you are just a short ride from the drier alpine village of the past week.

    The rest of the day will be spent in and around Aguas Calientes. The activities will vary based on the interests of the group, but may include shopping at the local market, visiting the Machu Picchu museum, visiting the hot springs, or hiking to a nearby waterfall.

  • Day 12

    You will wake up early in the morning and travel the windy road up the mountain to the world famous ruins of Machu Picchu. The group will be there in time to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu and long enough to explore the magnificent ruins.
    In the afternoon, you will re-board the train and return to Ollantaytambo where you will spend the night.

  • Day 13

    Today is chock full of adventure! Get your adrenaline pumping as you scale 400 meters up the side of the Via Ferrata rock face in a climbing harness, using bolted holds and ropes to make your way up to the top. Once you arrive, it’s time to fly down! Zip line your way down 6 different platforms, flying over the Sacred Valley and enjoying the breathtaking scenery along the way. Travel back to Cusco and enjoy a traditional Peruvian meal with the group in the evening.

  • Day 14

    Spend the morning shopping for souvenirs and Peru’s world famous textiles and handicrafts at the local artisanal market. In the evening, share a final dinner in Peru with the students of Casa Mosqoy, a Canadian nonprofit that funds both the Textile Revitalization Program and the post-secondary education of up to 20 promising students every year from the rural communities of the Peruvian Andes. After dinner, we will have time to meet as a group and reflect on the things that we have experienced these last two weeks in Peru.

  • Day 15

    On the final day, it’s time to say goodbye to Peru. Head to the Cuzco airport for your flight to Lima and then board your flight to Miami. We hope you had an incredible time in Peru and hope you take away more than just souvenirs from your time in the Land of the Incas.

An Important Note About Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.

The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.

“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email peru@rusticpathways.com