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Get to know the Lake Titicaca region of Peru on this two-week service program. Start your experience with a visit to the impressive ruins of Machu Picchu. After taking in the incredible view, explore the city of Cusco before heading to Lake Titicaca where you will stay with host families and work on service projects created by village leaders. Boat to the islands of Taquile and Puno, and admire the view along the way. Next, head to Colca Canyon to see the condors and take a dip in natural hot springs. Spend your last day in Arequipa, exploring the White City and its history.

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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Program Profile

Country
Peru
Community Service Component
Introductory
Community Service Focus
Infrastructure, Economic Development
Get to Know
Adventure, The Sights, The People
Lifestyle
Live Like a Local, Relax at Hotels
Community Service Component
On the Go!

2017 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
June 13 June 27 Limited
June 27 July 11 Limited
July 11 July 25 Available
July 25 August 8 Available

  • Day 1

    USA to Lima

    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.

  • Day 2

    Fly from Lima to Cuzco and spend the night in Ollantaytambo

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

    Once we arrive in Cuzco, we will jump on a private bus and be transported to Ollantaytambo, located in the heart of the famous Sacred Valley. One of the few remaining towns where locals still live in houses made by the Incas, Ollantaytambo is referred to as the “Living city of the Incas.” The town is also home to an important fortress built by the Incan Empire.

  • Day 3

    Train and Hike to Machu Picchu

    The group will wake early before taking the scenic train ride along the Urubamba River. Arriving in the small town of Aguas Calientes, you will spend the remainder of the day hiking through the cloud forest, strolling through the local market or visiting the Machu Picchu museum.

  • Day 4

    Enter and Explore the Machu Picchu Ruins

    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, return to Aguas for lunch and then jump back on the train and return to Ollantaytambo where you will spend the night.

  • Day 5

    Travel from Ollantaytambo to Cuzco

    After a delicious breakfast, gear up for mountain biking amid stunning scenery. Afterward, head to Cuzco for a walking tour of the city. As part of the tour, you will explore the cobblestone streets of Cuzco and visit palaces and cathedrals that date back to the Incan and colonial period of Peru.

  • Day 6

    Travel from Cuzco to Lake Titicaca

    After breakfast you will travel by bus to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Along the way the group will have the opportunity to stop and explore Incan ruins. Watch as the scenery changes from bustling city to expansive countryside. Upon arriving in the evening, students will meet their host families and have a chance to settle in. Dinner will consist of local specialties and probably will include locally caught fresh lake trout. The group will spend the following three days here living and sharing experiences with the locals.

  • Day 7 - 8

    Community Service Work

    The next two days will be dedicated to a service project that has been pre-approved by the local inhabitants and is designed to help improve their lives. These projects depend on the wishes of the local community members and range from working in local schools to building bathrooms and other community development projects. Most elders speak only Quechua, a language dating back to the Incas, but don’t worry, the younger generations also speak Spanish and have mastered the art of communicating with signs and expressions.

  • Day 9

    Community service work

    Today you will finish working on the community service project and join locals in a traditional inauguration ceremony. You will share and enjoy local food while participating in traditional dances and games. By the end of the evening, both the group and the local community will have shared an experienced that they will not easily forget.

  • Day 10

    Taquile Island

    After three hard days of work in the village, the group will head out to explore the lake and experience the wealth of culture and history that is has to offer. After a hour long boat ride, we will arrive on Taquile Island. This picturesque island has remained untouched and true to its customs and traditions for hundreds of years. The island is covered with rows of agricultural terraces dating back to the time of the Incas. Locals wear traditional outfits and are known for their world famous textiles and handicrafts.

    Spend the day with Alejandro, a master weaver, and learn about his craft and try your hand at weaving. Experience another side of life on the lake and take in the truly stunning scenery. Students will spend the night in Alejandro’s guest house.

  • Day 11

    Taquile to Puno

    Wake up before dawn and witness the sunrise over Bolivia and the Andean mountains. After a warm breakfast, the group will walk down to the dock and take a boat to Puno, the largest city on Lake Titicaca. On the way, we will visit the floating Uros islands, learn about their unique way of life and meet the friendly families that have lived there for generations. The group will spend the night in a hotel near the plaza of Puno and be able to explore the towns’ many colonial churches and walking streets.

  • Day 12

    Puno to Chivay

    After breakfast, you will board a private bus and drive from Puno to Chivay. Along the way, you will have the chance to photograph a colony of flamingos in the altiplano region of Peru as well spot llamas, alpacas and vicuna. Chivay is a small town at the mouth of the Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world. You will stay overnight in Chivay, bathe in it’s rejuvenating hot-springs and have yet another chance to visit a town with its own unique customs and traditions.

  • Day 13

    Condor Cross and Arequipa

    The Colca Canyon is famous not only for being the second deepest canyon in the world, but also for being home to a large population of the Andean condors. In order to watch them in the wild, you will wake up early in the morning and head to the “Condor Cross.” There students will have the best chance to photograph these magnificent birds as they soar on the thermal currents out of the canyon.

    After viewing a few more of the valley’s sights, make your way to Arequipa where you will spend the night.

  • Day 14

    Arequipa

    Spend your last full day in Peru exploring the “White City,” Arequipa is famous for its unique architecture and the use of white volcanic rock for it’s buildings. The area is also famous for El Misti, the large volcano that towers outside the city limits. Check out the famous Santa Catalina Monastery and the lively plaza, and make any last minute souvenir purchases. Enjoy a final group dinner and reflect on your last two weeks during a closing ceremony.

  • Day 15

    Arequipa to Lima to Home

    It’s time to say goodbye to Peru. Head to the airport for your flight to Lima and then board your flight to Miami. We hope you had an incredible time exploring this amazing country and that you have fond memories of your adventures for years to come. Buen viaje!

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 be connected to programs in Costa Rica to combine two Rustic countries for one incredible trip.

  • Students from the United States will be issued a tourist visa on entry into Peru. 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.

  • Escorted flights depart from Miami and fly direct to Lima. This is the only escorted flight for students traveling to Peru.

  • Peru is a fairly easy jump from the United States, with direct flights ranging from around 6 to 9 hrs depending on your city of departure. Please note that our group flight departs from Miami and total travel time will depend on your specific routing. From Miami the flight is approximately 6 ½ hrs.

  • Yes, trip length takes into account travel to and from Peru.

  • Students traveling on the Lake Titicaca Service Adventure program will be traveling mainly in the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon. The provinces for these areas are Cuzco and Urubamba in the Cuzco region, Puno in the Lake Titicaca region and Arequipa in Colca Canyon and Arequipa regions. Students will also be arriving and departing from the capital, Lima. While the regions are not overly diverse for this program the changes in weather can be fairly drastic so please make sure to read the program specific packing list prior to traveling.

  • At the beginning of the trip, students will fly from Lima to Cusco. On the way back, students will fly from Arequipa to Lima and then depart on their international flight home.

  • 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.

  • Peru has 220V outlets as opposed to the 110V outlets in the United States. The plug shape is usually the same, so be careful not to fry any of your electronics. 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, you will need to make sure to purchase a converter. Please make sure to check all electronics before plugging them in!

  • Peru has 3 very distinct climate regions; the desert coastal region, Andean Mountain regions and the Amazon Basin. Students will visit the desert coast in Lima, though most their time will be in the Andean Mountains and Altiplano. During the summer the weather in these parts of Peru is fairly dry, with the chance of rain increasing slightly during the month of August. The day time temperatures generally are between 45 and 65 degrees while nights can drop below freezing. While at Machu Picchu, students will be in the cloud forest which is considerably more humid and hot than Lake Titicaca or Colca Canyon. Students need to be prepared to adapt to the rapid temperature changes that occur in mountain environments. Please make sure to refer to the packing list when preparing for this program.

  • Accommodation on this program ranges from basic guest-houses/homestays to hotels. In Lake Titicaca students will be staying with families in guests-houses that are basic but clean and comfortable. During the travel portions of the program, student will be staying in 2 and 3 star hotels.

  • 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 is well known for its cuisine, which varies from region to region. In fact, due to its Incan and pre-Incan heritage, followed by Spanish settlement and then African, Sino-Cantonese and Japanese immigration, Peru boasts one of the most diverse varieties of cuisine in the Americas.

    Most of the meals will be centered on traditional Andean food, with a lot of potatoes and grains such as quinoa. In addition, vegetables, beans, and meat such a chicken or trout are found in most meals. For those that choose, there may be the chance to eat Cuy (Guinea Pig) and alpaca which are staples of rural Andean diet and culture. If you would like to know more about Peruvian diet Wikipedia has a nice summery at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peruvian_cuisine

  • Rustic Pathways has carefully screened the families we use for our homestays at Lake Titicaca and we have been working with the same families for a number of years on this program.

  • Students will have access to Western-style toilets on this trip.

  • Phones and internet will be available occasionally throughout the trip. While in Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Aquas Calientes these services will be available on an almost daily basis. There will not be internet or phone access, while living in the villages of Lake Titicaca.

  • Students should plan to pack enough clothes to last the duration of their trip. Please make sure to have enough clothes to last least a week. It generally costs around $1 – $2 per Kilo for full laundry service

  • As this trip covers a lot of territory in Peru, there will be times when we are quite close to healthcare, and other times when access to healthcare will be over an hour away-mostly when we are at Lake Titicaca. For any safety questions or concerns, please visit HX Global 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 HX Global 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.

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

    As a member you will have access to HX Global’s 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 HX Global webpage.

  • As this trip covers a lot of territory in Peru, there will be times when we are quite close to healthcare, and other times when access to healthcare will be over an hour away-mostly when we are at Lake Titicaca.

  • Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program and the chefs we work with are very accustomed to doing so. There will be ample access to fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and grains for those who are vegetarian. Vegan diets can be accommodated, but with a little more foresight and planning as this is not a diet commonly encountered in Peru. 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 sports bars, such as cliff 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.

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

  • Costs that students should be prepared to cover are internet access, travel insurance, medical insurance, medical expenses, International Airfare, laundry, small donations to organizations, souvenirs and personal snacks (like candy bars and sodas). Other additional optional costs may include activities such as sailing on Lake Titicaca or visiting the Machu Picchu Museum.

  • Between $200-$300USD is a good amount of spending money for this trip.

  • Yes, on this trip up to 40 service hours are 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.

  • Our service work will focus on a community project while we are at Lake Titicaca. Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders and organizations to identify and prioritize the needs of each community.

  • Yes! Students will be living in traditional communities in the Andean Mountains and will have ample time to practice their Spanish. Please know that a basic knowledge of Spanish is not required on this program, but students who take the time to learn some basic phases may find their time in Peru to be more rewarding. A small Spanish- English dictionary is recommended.

  • This program is not overly strenuous, but students should be in at least average physical condition. Activities include, hiking, mountain biking and sea-kayaking. 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. The degree to which students experience altitude symptoms though are very dependent on the individual and students should expect to experience some of the symptoms associated with mild altitude sickness during their first couple of days of acclimation. Symptoms can include 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. We will also begin our program visiting the lower elevation areas of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley before heading to Lake Titicaca which is at about 12000 ft. Students will also have access to the local remedy of cocoa tea which is very effective in alleviating many of symptoms of altitude sickness. 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.

  • The national language in Peru is Spanish, or Castilian, however, there are a number of traditional languages such as Quechua and Aymara also spoken in Peru. If you don’t speak Spanish, you should not be concerned. There will be bi-lingual guides that can assist with translation when needed. Also, in the highly touristic areas such as Machu Picchu, many menus and other signs are in both English and Spanish. 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 for this program.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.

Carry-On

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
  • Visa documentation (if applicable)
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Checked Luggage

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

Clothes

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

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

Optional

  • light sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner
  1. a
    Lima

    Welcome to Lima, the capital and largest city with 10 million people.

  2. b
    Cusco

    A picturesque city nestled high in the heart of the Andes mountains. This UNESCO world heritage site is the former capital of the Incan empire, and where RP bases its Peru operations. Students will fly into Cusco on the second day of their program and fly back to Lima from here on the last day.

  3. c
    Ollantaytambo

    A quaint and beautiful town in the Urubamba Valley, dominated by two massive Incan ruins. You will spend a total of two nights here on your way to and way back from Machu Picchu.

  4. d
    Aguas Calientes

    Located a two hour train ride from Ollantaytambo, Aguas Calientes is a small town at the base of Machu Picchu. It is well equipped for tourists, with many different restaurants, shops, and hotels. We will spend the night here before visiting the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

  5. e
    Perka Norte

    A small and charming rural community located about 1.5 hrs from Puno. Here you will stay with host families, work on the service project, and experience life on the lake.

  6. f
    Taquile Island

    Explore this small island in the Lake and learn from a master dyer on how to make natural dyes from the nature around you.

  7. g
    Puno

    A city on the shores of Lake Titicaca, we will explore the towns’ many colonial churches and walking streets, and stay overnight in a hotel in the central plaza after visiting the island communities of Perka Norte and Taquile.

  8. h
    Chivay

    A town in the colorful Andean Colca Valley, located 12,00ft above sea level. We we will spend the night here after a day of exploring in the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world and more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

  9. i
    Arequipa

    This colonial city is nicknamed ‘the white city’ because many of the buildings are built of white stone. We will explore the streets and visit the famous Santa Catalina Monastery on our last day, before departing to Lima.