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Join us on a two-week adventure to explore the diverse regions of picturesque Peru. This whirlwind tour will bring you to some of the country’s biggest attractions while moving off the beaten path to traditional villages and hidden treasures. Get your heart racing as you go mountain biking, bungee jumping, zip lining, and whitewater rafting. From Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, to Apu Agusante and down to the Amazon rainforest, get the full Off the Map Peru experience.

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 4 July 18 Very Limited
July 18 August 1 Limited

Program Profile

Country
Peru
Community Service Component
Introductory
Community Service Focus
Infrastructure
Get to Know
The Sights, The People, Nature, Adventure
Lifestyle
Live Like a Local
Travel Component
On the Go!

  • 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. Those students coming from another Peru program will greet you upon your arrival at the airport.

    (Please note that this program does not involve community service)

  • Day 2

    Fly from Lima to Cusco 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 the old Incan capital of Cusco.

    Upon arrival in Cusco, 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. The group will get to know each other and discuss the upcoming two weeks, and settled into a comfortable hotel for the night.

  • Day 3

    The back door to Machu Picchu

    Today will start our back door adventure to Machu Picchu. Rising early with a cup of tea, today will start off with a picturesque ride above Ollantaytambo past old ruins to Abra Malaga Pass at over 13,000ft. After quickly stopping to spot alpaca and llama, we will hop on mountain bikes and descend about 8,000ft to the small town of Santa Maria located in the high cloud forest. The descent takes about 4 hrs at a leisurely pace along the road and will be lead by bike guides and our transport will remain with us if anyone needs to take a break or is not comfortable on a bike. After descending through the different ecosystems and entering the upper cloud forest we’ll transport to the small town of Santa Teresa. After getting settled in for the night we’ll enjoy a typical meal and may even have the option to soak in local hot springs. Tonight the group will camp by the hot springs for a night under the stars.

     

  • Day 4

    The back door to Machu Picchu

    The back door adventure continues with and exhilarating morning of zip lining across a river valley outside Santa Teresa. After a quick lunch we will walk through the high jungle on an easy 6 miles hike to Aguas Calientes, the gateway city of Machu Picchu. After arriving into Aguas, we will end the day with a delicious gourmet buffet and then check-in at a comfortable hotel.

  • Day 5

    Enter and Explore the Machu Picchu Ruins

    Waking before dawn, we will enter Machu Picchu for the sunrise and have a guided tour of this amazing Incan complex. One of the new “Seven Wonders of the World,” Machu Picchu is the main reason many travelers visit Peru, and it is easy to see why after taking time to explore the amazing stone ruins up close.
 After the group is done exploring the famed citadel, return to Aguas Calientes for lunch and some time for souvenir shopping. In the afternoon, we will ride the scenic train along the Urubamba River back to Ollantaytambo.

  • Day 6

    Incan Culture

    Today we will hike up through the breathtaking mountains, passing rural villages and Incan ruins to some traditional Quechua communities. We will arrive in the afternoon to set up camp and spend a memorable night under the illumination of the vibrant Andean night sky.

  • Day 7

    Farewell to the Valley and off to Cusco

    After a short morning hike to get our blood moving we will hop on a bus for a half day tour through the stunning Sacred Valley of the Incas as we make our way further up the Urubamba River on our way to Cusco. On our way to Cusco, students will have the opportunity to bungee jump (add-on activity). Once in Cusco we will have time to explore the imperial city’s 15th century cathedrals, ancient Incan temples and colonial streets. Our night in this increasing metropolitan city will give us the opportunity taste some of the delicacies from Peru’s growing international community before we head back out into the Andean countryside.

  • Day 8

    Whitewater Rafting and Apu Ausangete

    Today we will journey to the rural community of Pacchanta at the base of the Ausengate Mountain. The ride to Ausangate will be split up with an exhilarating white water rafting trip on the class II and IV rapids of the upper Urubamba River. After the 3 hrs rafting trip and lunch along the river, we will continue to climb into to the Andes to Abra Cuyuni. At the top of the pass lays the small town of Cuyuni. During the afternoon we will have a cultural demonstration of Andean life before setting up camp for the night in the town.

  • Day 9

    Ausangate Trek

    Today you wake to the view the magnificent peak of Ausengate. With a warm breakfast the group will gear up for the day’s adventures. Leaving Pacchanta we will hike to a few of the glacial lakes at the base of glacier. At an elevation of over 12,000ft we will walk slowly, but have the chance to see turquoise lakes, towering glaciers, and wildlife such as Andean geese, deer, and with luck an Andean condor—the biggest flying bird in the world. After a rewarding day outside we can relax our muscles in the all-natural hot springs before climbing into bed.

  • Day 10

    Tinque to Puerto Maldonado

    After spending our last night at altitude we will journey down the eastern slopes of the Andes through many microclimates and deep into the Amazon Basin. Students will watch as the landscape changes dramatically as the group loses altitude on the descent into the basin. In the evening after a long drive through breathtaking panoramas students will spend the evening in a hotel in the Amazon city of Puerto Maldonado.

  • Day 11

    The heart of the Tambopata

    Today it is straight into the heart of the Amazon Jungle. We will wake up early to head up the Tambopata River to our secluded jungle lodge located on the buffer zone for the Tambopata National Reserve. Upon our arrival to the lodge, we will get settled into our accommodations. After having the opportunity to relax and listen to the sounds of the jungle we will prepare for our first excursion into the jungle in search of animals and insects. The accommodations at the lodge are basic but very comfortable and their excellent staff makes sure we are well feed with amazing buffet meals. After dinner, we’ll head out on a guided tour in search of the forest’s nocturnal life.

  • Day 12 - 13

    Sights and sounds of the Jungle

    Each day will head out on excursions to learn about the forest and those that live there. The daily schedule will vary based on weather and local conditions, but below are some activities you can expect to do during your time on the Tambopata. These excursions will be led by experienced local guides excited to help you explore the jungle:

    Sachavacayoc Lake: One of highlights of the program, hike out to a remote jungle lake and camp at on an elevated platform. This definitely qualifies as a once-in-a-lifetime experience as you spend the night in the heart of the Amazon basin. During the day, be on the lookout for macaws and monkeys. After the sun sets, go out onto the lake in canoes to hopefully spot some nocturnal wildlife.

    Colpe Visit: Rising before sunrise, head to the local clay lick, where parrot and macaws come to feed on the mineral rich clay to help counteract the toxins in the fruit they eat. Listening to the forest come alive with sound and movement is truly an unforgettable experience.

    Jungle walks: Head into the forest in search of local fauna and learn about the medicinal uses of the plants and insects in the forest. The local guides are incredibly knowledgeable about the rainforest and you will be amazed by all the uses they have for almost every plant and animal in the forest.
 Tread lightly as you look for animal tracks and hopefully you will spot a few on your excursions.

    Floating down the Tambopata: Constructing a raft and floating down the river as macaws fly overhead and the sun sets over the Amazon is the perfect way to end the day. There will always be a support boat with us as well for safety.

    Visiting with local communities: The forest is home to amazing wildlife, but it is also home to people who make a meager living off the land. Learn about how they live their daily lives and the challenges they face in this remote area.

  • Day 14

    Return back to Lima

    Say goodbye to your local friends at the jungle lodge and board the boat for the return trip to Puerto Maldonado. Upon arrival, head to the airport to catch your flight back to Lima. Enjoy your last full night in this vibrant city with a final dinner with your group and time to reflect on the last two weeks.

  • Day 15

    Farewell to Peru and Return Home

    In the morning, return to the airport and say goodbye to your guides and board your flight to Miami. Upon arrival in Miami, say goodbye to your friends and board your connecting flight home. We hope you had an incredible time in Peru and have fond memories of your time here for years to come.

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 time is 5-6 hours.

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

  • Students traveling on the Off The Map: Peru program will be traveling from Lima to the department of Cuzco where they will visit the citadel of Machu Picchu located on the eastern edge of the Andes in the high cloud forest. They will later be travelling east into the low-lying Amazon jungle in the department of Madre de Dios. These are two very different regions with a diversity of plants, animals and climate.

  • At the beginning of the trip, students will fly from Lima to Cusco. At the end of the trip, students will fly from Puerto Maldonado to Lima before boarding 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 on this trip will visit the high Andean Mountains, cloud forest and low jungle rainforest. During the summer the weather in mountains is fairly dry with warm days and chilly nights while the jungle is usually humid, hot with some rain.

    This trip travels through a variety of climates and weather conditions so please pack to dress in layers and make sure to read our packing list carefully while preparing for this trip

  • Students on this trip will spend the majority of their staying in hotels, rural guest houses and a comfortable jungle lodge. Please note that students will spend at least 2 nights camping. Students must bring an easy to pack, warm sleeping bag.

  • 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

  • Students will have access to Western-style toilets on this trip. In Peru, toilet paper is thrown out instead of flushed.

  • Phones and internet will be available occasionally throughout the trip. While in Lima, Cuzco, Ollantaytambo and Puerto Maldonado these services will be available on an almost daily basis. There may be limited phone access but no internet when outside of these cities.

  • Students will have the chance to do laundry about once 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Bugs and mosquitoes are not an issue at altitude, however this trip does go to the Amazon jungle and bugspray with DEET is mandatory.

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

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

  • No, there is no service component on this program.

  • 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.

  • The Off The Map: Peru is open to all students. Students should be prepared to participate in activities such as biking, hiking, swimming and light manual labor. If a student has an injury or health condition that prohibits them from taking part in these activities, alternatives will be provided.

  • 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)
  • Shorts (1-2)
  • T-shirt (3-5)
  • Long sleeve 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

Miscellaneous

  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • Sleeping bag (15 degree)
  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.

  3. c
    Ollantaytambo

    A quaint and beautiful town in the Urubamba Valley, dominated by two massive Incan ruins. A hub for RP students and the starting point of your backdoor adventure to Machu Picchu.

  4. d
    Santa Teresa

    Enjoy the night camping on the half way point on your back door adventure.

  5. e
    Aguas Calientes

    Aguas Calientes is a bustling small town at the base of Machu Picchu. You will spend the night here before visiting the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

  6. f
    Ausangante

    One of the most magnificent and culturally important mountains in Peru, located in a region inhabited by llama and alpaca-herding communities. You will hike to a glacial lake at the base of this massive peak for spectacular views.

  7. g
    Puerto Maldonado

    A remote jungle city and the jumping off point for all Amazon expeditions. You will spend a relaxing night here before heading to the Tambopata Reserve.

  8. h
    Tambopata Reserve

    A nature reserve in the Peruvian Amazon basin home to 165 species and 41 families of trees, 103 species of mammals, 1300 species of butterflies, and 90 species of amphibians. You will call a secluded jungle lodge and research center home as you explore one of the most pristine primary rainforests left in the world.