Arrive in Lima, the capital and largest city in Peru with 10 million people.
Get ready for two weeks of eye-opening community service, cultural immersion, and adventure near Machu Picchu. Immerse yourself in off-the-beaten-track villages in the Sacred Valley and work alongside the friendly locals on important service projects. You will live in home stays and camp in rural villages, and assist on a potable water project under the guidance of community members. Come play with local children, mountain bike through Andean peaks, whitewater raft on the Urubamba river, and hike the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu.
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 meet us in the hotel.
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 Andes Mountains.
Once we arrive in Cuzco, we will jump on a private bus and be transported to Pisaq, a small town located in the heart of the famous Sacred Valley. In Pisaq we will be staying a step away from the city plaza which on most days hosts one of the most colorful handicraft markets in the region.
After breakfast, you will board a bus and descend into the valley toward the bustling hub city of Urubamba. Once in Urubamba you will have the opportunity to visit an ancient Incan villa, explore the local market, and take pictures in main plaza. During a buffet lunch, you will likely meet up with the provincial mayor and other government officials that make this service project so successful.
After lunch, you will meet your host families, where you will spend the next few days working and living amongst the locals.
Today you will begin work on a service project that has been pre-approved by the community members and is supported by the local government. This year, students are continuing work on potable water project that was started in 2015 and hopefully will be completed by 2017. One of our most ambitious service projects, providing access to clean drinking water to multiple villages in the Sacred Valley will help improve health conditions and quality of life.
While many of the inhabitants still speak the native language of Quechua, many also speak Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish though, don’t worry, we have Spanish speaking staff and with a little imagination it won’t be long until you master the art of non-verbal communication. We also work with local school children and provide donations to these underfunded schools.
The next two days will be dedicated to service as you continue work on the potable water project. Work hard to provide access to clean drinking water to your host community members.
After three hard days of work in the village, you will leave for a day of outdoor adventure. In the morning you will embark on a 2 hour white water rafting adventure down the Urubamba River. The river is popular due to its non-technical nature and has several class 2 and 3 rapids.
After completing whitewater rafting, you will have time to catch your breath while you sit and share laughs over lunch. The group will then embark by bus to the beginning of the mountain bike trail. You will be outfitted with a bike that fits your height and will begin an off-road adventure where the will be able to marvel at the beautiful landscape.
On this night, the group will eat dinner and sleep in a comfortable hotel in Ollantaytambo, one of the last remaining towns where villagers still live in original Inca homes.
After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, you will hike up to a beautiful community in the Sacred Valley where you will camp for the next few nights and finish up your community service project.
Depending on the local school’s schedule, you will have the opportunity to visit the school and spend time with the children. At school, you will have time play games and help students with their English and math homework.
Today you will get back to work on your service project.
Today you will finish your community service work in the village. Congratulations!
Work on this day will culminate with a farewell celebration. The group will share a typical Incan meal with the community and participate in several local dances. On this day, you will also have the opportunity to try the specialty of the region, guinea pig!!!
After saying your final sad goodbyes, you will begin a short hike along the Urubamba River to Rumira where you will spend the night. Students will spend the rest of day visiting the ruins at Ollantaytambo and relaxing along the river.
Dinner on this evening will be Pachamanca, a traditional Peruvian dish buried and cooked by using the heat from smoldering rocks.
Hike down from Rumira to Ollantaytambo and 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 villages of the past week.
The rest of the day will be spent in and around Aguas Calientes. The activities will vary based on the interested of the group, but may include shopping at the local market, visiting the Machu Picchu museum, or hiking to a nearby waterfall.
You will wake up early in the morning and travel the windy road up the mountain to the world famous ruins of Machu Picchu. The group will be there in time to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu and long enough to explore the magnificent ruins.
In the afternoon, you will re-board the train and return to Ollantaytambo where you will spend the night.
The group will depart Ollantaytambo after breakfast and head towards the city of Cuzco. Along the way you will have the opportunity to stop in the valley for some exhilarating bungee jumping (add-on activity).
Upon arriving to Cuzco, we will check into the hotel and go on a walking tour of Cuzco. As part of the tour, you will explore the cobble stone streets of Cuzco and visit temples and cathedrals that date back to the Incas and colonial period of Peru.
Enjoy a final dinner with your group and reflect on the last two weeks in Peru.
On the final day, it’s time to say goodbye to Peru. Head to the Cuzco airport for your flight to Lima and then board your flight to Miami. We hope you had an incredible time in Peru and hope you take away more than just souvenirs from your time in the Land of the Incas.
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 email@example.com
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 Sacred Valley Service program will be traveling mainly in the Sacred Valley and greater Cusco area in the provinces of Cuzco and Urubamba in the Cuzco Region. Students will also be arriving and departing in 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.
Students will fly from Lima to Cusco at the beginning of the trip and fly from Cusco back to Lima to catch 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. 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 ranges from camping to hotels. While performing community service projects in the Sacred Valley, students will be camping in rural villages. 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 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. While camping, tent toilets will be used.
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 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 camping in the village, it could take over an hour to access healthcare. For any safety questions or concerns, please visit HX Global or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
While on this trip, healthcare is easily accessible in Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Aguas Calientes. While camping in the village, it could take over an hour to access healthcare.
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.
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.
Bungee Jumping and slingshot (reverse bungee jump). Slingshot is the opposite of a bungee jump in which you are put into a harness and shot straight up into the air. Each activity costs around $70.00.
Between $200-$350 USD is a good amount of spending money for this trip.
Yes, on this trip up to 40 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 on a kitchen improvement project, a continuation from last year’s project. Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders and organizations to identify and prioritize the needs of each community.
Students need to bring a sleeping bag.
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, 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. 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 and help them acclimatize. 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.
A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.
A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.
(travel sized in ziplock bags)
Arrive in Lima, the capital and largest city in Peru with 10 million people.
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.
A small, rural community in the Andes Mountains, where Quechua people trace their heritage back to the Incas. You will camp overnight and work on service projects to provide water security to Markuray’s residents for a total of 8 nights, taking a break half way through to stay at a hotel in Ollantaytambo.
Ollanta for short, you will spend two nights here, one half way through the camping component of the program, and a second on your way back from Machu Picchu.
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.