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Gear up for one of our most independent programs. Become an experienced backpacker by planning your meals, housing, and travel arrangements, and trekking across the diverse Peruvian terrains. Explore cascading waterfalls and small mountain towns, and meet locals who will help you get to your next destination, whether it’s a desert island or the mysterious Nazca Lines. Embark on a three-day trek into the Andes, explore Machu Picchu, sleep under the stars, and gear up for the unknown. These three weeks will make you a more mature and experienced backpacker, and prepare you for future travels for years to come.

*This is an Alumni-Only program for students between the ages of 16-18 who have successfully completed a previous Rustic Pathways program*

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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2018 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
June 19 July 10 Limited
July 10 July 31 Sold Out

Program Profile

Community Service Component
Community Service Focus
Get to Know
Adventure, Nature
On the Go!

  • Day 1

    Welcome to Peru

    Board a plane for the Peruvian capital city of Lima. Arrive into Jorge Chavez international Airport where Rustic Pathways staff and your program leaders will be waiting for you. Head to your hotel for a good night’s rest before your adventure begins.

  • Day 2

    Lima and Logistics

    Today is an essential day in getting acquainted with your new surroundings and preparing for the adventures that lie ahead. During your first full day in the country you will learn about Peruvian customs, get the low-down on the idiosyncrasies of local travel, and meet your fellow team members. After the morning orientations, you will explore the local streets, purchase supplies, break up into teams to tackle food, housing, and logistics, and prepare yourselves for a whirlwind three-week adventure.

  • Day 3

    Journey to Lunahuana

    Depart the capital city and start making your way south along the coast and then up into the Andean foothills. Today’s goal is to make it to Lunahuana, a unique desert valley landscape with stark dry mountains cradling the fertile valley floor. This will be your first test as a backpacker.

  • Day 4

    Lunahuana to Huancaya

    After a good night’s rest, make your way from Lunahuana to Huancaya. It’s a bit of a ride, but totally worth it.

  • Day 5

    Explore Huancaya

    Design your perfect day to explore Huancaya, one of Peru’s least visited yet most spectacular natural gems. Options include boating in turquoise lagoons, exploring ancient forests, and trekking through unique mountain landscapes.

  • Day 6

    Huancaya to Catapalla

    Make your way to Catapalla and enjoy a relaxing day at an eco-lodge to regroup for the next adventure.

  • Day 7

    Explore Lunahuana

    Now that you are rested from the travel of the previous days, take the day to discover Lunahuana. Enjoy this adventure sports paradise and go whitewater rafting on the Cañete River. Afterward, check out the main plaza and get to know this friendly town.

  • Day 8

    Lunahuana to Paracas

    Another big day of backpacking in Peru! Today you and your group will have to get from Lunahuana to the coastal city of Paracas. Traveling like a Peruvian, you (along with your group and program leaders) will have to go with the flow and navigate the local bus terminal, mitigate small towns, and any other obstacles that arise. After dinner, regroup and plan for the next move on your journey.

  • Day 9

    Islands of Ballestas

    Today you can visit the locally famous Islands of Ballestas, considered by many to be a mini-Galapagos. The group will have all day to contract a tour company and visit the islands before making your way to your next destination.

    In the afternoon, visit Huacachina! You will spend the day in South America’s only desert oasis. The group will explore the small village, go sand boarding, and relax in this unique desert town.

  • Day 10

    Paracas to Nazca

    Our adventure continues! You will continue south with a quick ride to the neighboring city of the Nazca. Nazca is a UNESCO World Heritage site and will give you unique glimpse into one of the greatest mysteries in human history. Here, the group will get settled and prepare for the following day’s visit to the Nazca Lines.

  • Day 11

    Nazca Lines

    Spread over miles of an arid plateau in the southern Peruvian desert are the Nasca Lines, huge inexplicable representations of geometric patterns, animals, and human figures whose purpose is unknown. They are so large that the only way to fully observe them is from the sky! The group will have the day to explore the site and take a flight (add-on) over this historical wonder.

    Backpackers aren’t the type of people to waste time, and neither are you. In the evening, board an overnight bus to Cusco.

  • Day 12

    Welcome to Cusco

    Upon arrival in Cusco, figure out where the group will spend the night and then go out and explore the city. The historic Incan capital of Cusco will be a great opportunity to experience the rhythm, tastes and sounds of Peru’s cultural mecca. The group will explore the cobblestone streets, bohemian neighborhoods, looming cathedrals, and ancient Incan ruins. Today the group will also divide tasks and venture out in preparation for a three-day trek deep into the Andes.  

  • Day 13 - 14

    The Sacred Valley

    Today, make your way to Calca, a quiet town in the Sacred Valley. Secure a hotel for the next two nights and then go to a local dormitory for young girls, the Sacred Valley Project, where you will meet the girls you will be helping for the next two days.

  • Day 15

    Lares and Hot Springs

    Say goodbye to the girls and make your way to Lares. Enjoy a relaxing dip in the hot springs before you begin your three-day trek to Machu Picchu.

  • Day 16 - 18

    Lares Trek

    The real trek begins here! Considered one of the alternative Incan trails, the Lares trek will bring the group through the high mountain passes, along the base of glaciated peaks, and past rejuvenating natural hot springs.

    The trek will finish in Ollanta, where you will find a hotel for the night and finalize logistics for your adventure to Machu Picchu. With your train and Machu Picchu tickets booked, the group will be responsible for finding lodging, food, and planning the logistics at the base town of the most popular of the Seven Wonders of the World.

  • Day 19

    Train to Machu Picchu Town

    Board your train to Aguas Calientes, the base town of Machu Picchu. Secure a hotel for the night, plan your meals, and then take the rest of the day to explore the town and great ready for your visit to Machu Picchu the following morning.

  • Day 20

    Machu Picchu

    Waking before sunrise, we will enter Machu Picchu early for the sunrise and arrange 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 formation up close. In the afternoon, we will ride the scenic train along the Urubamba River back to Ollantaytambo.

  • Day 21

    Explore Cusco and Fly to Lima

    After breakfast we will ride back up to Cusco for our last full day in Peru. Grab last minute gifts for friends and family and use our saved budget money for a delicious final group dinner. After a evening flight to Lima, enjoy a final dinner together and reflect on the last three weeks as a group during a closing ceremony.

  • Day 22


    It’s time to say goodbye to Peru. Head back to the airport where you will catch a flight to Miami, and your connecting flight home. We hope you had an incredible time in Peru and take your new skills on your next backpacking adventure.

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.

  • The group flight from Miami to Lima is about 5-6 hours.

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

  • Students traveling on the Peru By Backpack program will be covering a lot of ground, and visiting Lima, Lunahuana, Huancaya, Paracas, Ica, Nazca, Calca, Ollantaytambo, Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu, Cusco and the Sacred Valley.

  • Students will have an internal flight at the end of their program and will be flying from Cusco to Lima, to make their international flight to Miami.

  • 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. During the summer the weather in these parts of Peru are fairly dry, with the chance of rain increasing slightly during the month of August. The day time temperatures generally are between 45 and 60 degrees while nights can reach below freezing. While at Machu Picchu, students will be in the cloud forest which is considerably more humid and hot than the villages in the Sacred Valley. 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 range from guest houses to basic 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

  • Western-style toilets will be available while staying at hotels.

  • 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.

  • Students will have the chance to do laundry once on this program. It generally costs around $1 – $2/kilo for full laundry service.

  • While on this trip, healthcare is easily accessible in Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Aguas Calientes. While camping in other areas of the country, it could take several hours 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 Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Aguas Calientes. While in other parts of the country, access to healthcare can take several hours.

  • Due to the nature of this program, we cannot accommodate all diet restrictions. Vegetarians and those with moderate food restrictions can be accommodated; this is not a program for vegans. 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.

  • Bug spray with DEET is necessary, but bugs shouldn’t be a huge concern as this program spends considerable time at altitude.

  • Personal gifts, internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. The add-on activity of a flight over the Nazca lines is also not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.

  • Flight over Nazca Lines–$200 USD

  • Between $300-$450 USD is 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 be working at a local dormitory for young girls that helps them access secondary education.

  • Students need to bring a sleeping bag.

  • Yes! Students will need to communicate with local vendors to secure buses, hotels, meals, etc. You do not need to be fluent in Spanish to attend this program, but you do need to be willing to try to speak the local language.

  • This program includes the three-day Lares trek, while not technical, will be strenuous and students should be in good physical condition.

  • 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. While at altitude, students will also have access to the local remedy of cocoa tea which is very effective in alleviating many of symptoms of altitude sickness. In the unlikely case that a student does show symptoms of severe altitude sickness, they will be brought to the nearest hospital or clinic for medical attention.

  • 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.


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)
  • 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


(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)
  1. a

    Arrive in Lima, the capital and largest city in Peru, with a population of 10 million.

  2. b

    Tucked into the foothills of the Andes, this city is a national tourism destination for rafting and adventure sports.

  3. c

    A high mountain community on the western slopes of the Andes, Huancaya is known for its cascading waterfalls, turquoise lakes, and delicious trout.

  4. d
    Islas Ballestas/Paracas

    Viewed by many as a mini Galapagos, these islands off the southern coast will give you an opportunity to see lots of wildlife, including sea lions, penguins, pelicans, cormorants, blue footed boobies, and flamingos.

  5. e

    South America’s only desert oasis, Huacachina is a hotspot for sand boarding and adventure sports.

  6. f

    Spread over miles of an arid plateau in the southern Peruvian desert are huge, inexplicable representations of geometric patterns, animals, and human figures. They are so large that the only way to fully observe them is from the sky!

  7. g

    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.

  8. h

    Considered by many to be the alternative Inca Trail, the Lares trek starts at high mountain natural hot springs and brings trekkers along spectacular ridges, over breathtaking passes, and around the base of a looming glacier.

  9. i
    Aguas Calientes

    The base town where Machu Picchu is located. Explore these incredible ruins as the perfect finale to your 3-week adventure.