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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.
Dates listed reflect travel time departing from and returning to the USA. International clients click here.

With our No-Stress Travel 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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Program Profile

Community Service Focus

  • Day 1

    Arrive in Peru

    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 beautiful Miraflores neighborhood. 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

    Flight to Cusco

    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 Cusco, 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

    Welcome to the Sacred Valley

    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

    Homestays in Parobamba

    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

    Textile Workshop with the Local Community

    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

    In the footsteps of the Niña Andina

    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

    Back to the Sacred Valley Project Dormitory

    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

    Service Day

    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

    Train to Aguas Calientes

    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

    The Wonders of Machu Picchu

    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 eat dinner and have a well-deserved sleep.

  • Day 13

    Via Ferrata and Zipline

    Today is chock full of adventure! Get your adrenaline pumping as you scale 400 meters (1,312 feet) 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 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.

  • Day 14

    Souvenir Shopping and Trip Reflections

    Spend the day exploring the city and Peru’s world famous textiles and handicrafts at the local artisanal market. In the evening, catch a flight from Cusco to Lima, where you will enjoy a final dinner as a group, and take time to reflect on the things that we have experienced these last two weeks in Peru.

  • Day 15

    Adios, Peru

    On the final day, it’s time to say goodbye to Peru. Head back to Lima airport for your flight to Miami, and your connecting flight home. 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

Program-Specific FAQs

  • Depending on session availability, this program can easily be connected to our other programs in Peru. This program can also connect to programs in Costa Rica or the Dominican Republic, as long as Peru is done first (for logistic purposes).

  • No pre-trip visa necessary for students from the United States.

    Students from other countries should check with their consulate. Please know that it is the student’s responsibility to obtain any appropriate documentation before entering Peru.

  • Yes. Escorted flights depart from Miami and fly direct to Lima.

  • The flight from Miami is approximately 6 hours.

  • Yes.

  • Students traveling on the Niña Andina program will be traveling mainly in the Sacred Valley and greater Cusco area in the provinces of Cusco and Urubamba in the Cusco Region. Students will also be arriving and departing in Lima.

  • Students will fly roundtrip from Lima to Cusco during this program.

  • Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.

  • Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.

  • Rustic Pathways either purchases bottled water or uses sterilization techniques to ensure that all drinking water for students is potable and safe to drink. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.

  • Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.

  • These days, most common electronics like cameras, phone chargers, computers, and mp3 chargers have built in adapters and can be plugged straight into the wall.

    For all other electronics, please make sure to check if they can be used with a 220V outlet.

  • Peru has 3 very distinct climate regions; the desert coastal region, Andean Mountain regions and the Amazon Basin; on this program, students will mostly spend time in the mountains. Days are usually sunny, ranging from 50 to 75 degrees F. During the nights, temperatures can drop below freezing.

    Please make sure to refer to the packing list when preparing for this program.

  • Accommodation on this program ranges from homestays to hotels. While experiencing the life of a typical Andean girl, students will be staying with host families in the Sacred Valley. In Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu students will be staying in 2 and 3 star guesthouses.

  • Students will be eating mostly Peruvian food on their program, but may have a few chances to eat more international fare such as Italian, Chinese, etc. Peru has been called the “Culinary Capital of the Americas”, so prepare for some delicious meals!

  • Yes, however please know that while we are happy to accommodate alternative diets, many of the special diets common in the United States are not common in other parts of the world and travelers must be patient and understanding in having these needs met.

    Vegetarians and other travelers with limiting diets should consider bringing energy bars or other snacks to ensure they have a well-rounded diet if their needs are unable to be met on certain occasions.

    Please contact us at Peru@rusticpathways.com with any questions regarding special diets or allergies.

  • Western-style toilets will be available while staying at hotels. Most host families should have flushing toilets as well.

    Note: The plumbing in Peru cannot handle flushing toilet paper, so remember to throw all paper away as to not clog the toilets.

  • Cell service and wifi are generally available throughout Peru. The exception is while we are staying in the villages of the Sacred Valley.

  • Students will have the chance to do laundry about once a week while on their program. Please make sure to have enough clothes to last least a week. It generally costs around $1 – $2 per Kilo for full laundry service.

  • While on this trip, healthcare is easily accessible in Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Aguas Calientes. While living in the villages, it could take over an hour to access healthcare. For any safety questions or concerns, please visit International SOS or email peru@rusticpathways.com.

  • Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the International SOS and Centers for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.

    IMPORTANT NOTE ON YELLOW FEVER: While as of September 2011 it is not required that students receive their yellow fever vaccination to travel to Peru from the United States, other countries such as Costa Rica, require that you do have proof of your yellow fever vaccination before entering their county. Please make sure you consider your full travel itinerary when speaking to a doctor and always carry all records of your vaccinations and inoculations on you while traveling. Please also remember to check for updates on U.S requirements before travel to Peru or other countries.

  • International SOS is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to International SOS benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.

    As a member you will have access to International SOS’ extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our International SOS webpage.

  • While on this trip, healthcare is easily accessible in Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Aguas Calientes. While living in the villages, it could take over an hour to access healthcare.

  • Due to the altitude, most bugs are not an issue, but it is still advised to bring bug spray.

  • Personal gifts, internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.

  • None.

  • Between $200-$350 USD is usually a good amount of spending money for this trip.

  • Yes, on this trip up to 10 service hours awarded to students who successfully complete their service. Please refer to our Community Service Hour Awards webpage for more information on how service hours are awarded.

  • Students will have the opportunity to help construction of a the Sacred Valley Project girls’ dormitory in Calca, Peru. Prepare to get your hands dirty mixing cement, laying foundations, or painting the walls of the new home.

  • Students need to bring a sleeping bag.

  • Yes, however it is not required! Students will be living in traditional communities in the Andean Mountains and will have ample time to practice their Spanish.

  • This program is not overly strenuous, but students should be in at least average physical condition. Activities include, hiking, and mountain biking. The service work that is conducted can be fairly strenuous as well and student should be prepared to carry adobe bricks, dig trenches and do other physically active work.

  • The short answer in most cases is no.

    Students may experience some of the symptoms associated with mild altitude sickness during their first few days such as headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and/or decreased sleep. We have structured the trip to not be strenuous during the first couple of days and ensure students drink a lot of water to help alleviate these common symptoms of altitude and help them acclimatize.

    Severe altitude sickness is extremely rare at the elevations where we will be traveling and no Rustic Pathways participant has ever suffered from it. In the unlikely case that a student does show symptoms of severe altitude sickness, local medical care available and equipped to deal with these situations.

  • If you don’t speak Spanish, you should not be concerned. There will be bi-lingual guides that can assist with translation when needed. Of course, if you are able to get down a few phases before your arrival it will only help to interact with locals and make your experience more rewarding.

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Below is your packing list, and for those of you looking for some extra guidance on what to bring, check out the packing guide.

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A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Additional community service forms
  • Travel Documentation

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.


  • Socks (14)
  • Underwear (14)
  • Thermal base layer (1 set)
  • Pants/capris/leggings (2-3)
  • Athletic shorts (1-2)
  • Jeans (1)
  • T-shirt (3-5)
  • Long-sleeved shirt (5-7)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Soft shell jacket
  • Micro puff jacket
  • Fleece/hoodie
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers
  • Hiking boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Quick dry towel
  • Toiletries

(travel sized in ziplock bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam earplugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream


  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • Sleeping bag (15 degree)