|Volunteer Vacations Peru
Peru: Magical Andean/Amazonian Adventure
Are you ready for the experience of a lifetime? Words like Machu Picchu may already conjure exotic images in the corners of your imagination. Rest assured. Kindred Spirits participants will indeed see, hear, taste and breathe all the wonders of the Andes. The Sacred Land of the Incas awaits you! During this custom tour of Peru, you will be introduced to a vibrant culture where pan flutes play in remote Andean Villages and llamas roam freely among the pastures. Peru’s position in west central South America has made it the meeting place for numerous cultures for thousands of years. Peru is a country of tropical coastline, high sierra and Amazonian jungle. The landscape is punctuated with 50 mountains of 6,000 meters or more above sea level and 1,679 glaciers. 84 of the world’s 103 known ecological zones and 28 different climates are found in Peru. Because it is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, Peru can produce the tenderest corn, the smoothest avocado, the finest cotton fiber, and the most refreshing passion fruit juice. Peru is indeed magical. It is much more than the stereotypical images your see in most travel brochures, though. It is a country of proud and hearty people; a rich indigenous history; a modern outlook; and breathtaking natural environment. Over the course of the time you will spend there, we will provide you with many opportunities to look beyond the surface and get to know the real Peru. We promise it will unlike anything you have ever experienced…Vamos ya!
DAY ONE Arrival!
Arrive Lima. Continue on to Cuzco, the Imperial City of the Incas. Stay at either Hostal Los Portales (mid-
range) or Incatambo Hacienda (top-end). Dinner of typical Andean food & welcome gathering. Orientation.
DAY TWO Cuzco
Acclimatize in Cuzco. Visit Main Square (Plaza de Armas), Pre-Columbian Art & History Museums,
Cathedral, “Golden Courtyard” (Q’orikancha).
DAY THREE Cuzco Area Archaeology Tour
Guided visit to Incan ruins by private car. Sacsayhuaman - The site is considered unique in the world due to its singular architectural characteristics. In building this site of the modern-day “Inti Raymi” Festival, the Incas used stone blocks of up to 9 meters high and 5 meters wide, each fitting perfectly with the other. The archeological park also contains the sites of Q'enqo ("labyrinth", a center for ceremonies worshipping Pacha Mama – Mother Earth"), the Puca Pucara ("Red Fort"), and Tambomachay (the Inca Bath, built to worship the element of Water).
DAY FOUR Sacred Valley Tour
Guided tour of the ruins/market of Pisaq. Visit the local artisan market/ruins of Chinchero, with a buffet lunch on the main square in Urubamba. Visit Ollantaytambo ruins, considered to be the first of the modern Seven Wonders of the World. Yoga class and/or massage to end the day.
DAY FIVE AND SIX Machu Picchu
Early departure on the backpacker train to Machu Picchu. (The 3 ½-hour journey takes you through a breathtaking, diverse landscape. First, there is a steep climb out of Cuzco into the surrounding hillside, by means of a series of switchback turns known locally as "the zig-zag". Soon the train stops at the beautiful village of Poroy, and then descends into the Sacred Valley, passing by lush, green fields and colorful villages in the foothills of the Andes. From here on, there are wonderful vistas of the mountains and, deep in its dramatic canyon, the beautiful Urubamba River. After lunch, we set off for Machu Picchu. A guided tour through the Citadel will introduce you to the fantastic Inca world. Return by bus to Aguas Calientes late in the afternoon to experience the thermal baths. Overnight at the Hostal La Pequeña Casita.
Train to “short version” of Inca Trail (Km. 104). Trek to overnight campsite. Early departure towards the Sun Gate where you’ll enjoy the most spectacular views of Machu Picchu at sunrise. Guided tour of Citadel (Temple of the Sun, Ceremonial Baths, Royal Tomb). Maybe climb Huayna Picchu? Bus to Aguas Calientes. Soak in Hot Springs.
DAY SEVEN Return to Cuzco
Visit salt mines and Moray ruins on the way! Rest, catch up on email/postcards, or simply browse through local artisan markets. Listen to Andean folk music while dining at El Truco restaurant.
DAY EIGHT Cuzco-Cloud Forest
Spectacular private bus journey over the high passes of the steep Andes Mountains. Along the way, we will pass through typical Quechua villages. After lunch, we begin our descent into the Peruvian lowlands, through the swirling atmosphere of the cloud forest, stopping along the way to observe the local flora and fauna. This amazing habitat is home to the rare Wooly Monkey, the Spectacled Bear, a myriad of exotic plants (such as Epiphytes, Bromeliads, Tilandsias, and Orchids), and birds - like the colorful Tanager. In the evening, we will eat dinner and sleep at a comfortable lodge located near the river.
DAY NINE Cloud Forest – Shepitiari (Amazonian Excursion)
Wake up early to walk to an observation platform near the river and watch the intriguing mating rituals of Peru’s gloriously feathered national bird, the "Cock of the Rock". After breakfast we descend into the rainforest and complete our overland journey at the tiny port of Atalaya on the Madre de Dios River. After stocking up on supplies, we travel downstream by large cedar wood canoe (with outboard motor) looking out for snowy egrets, herons, cormorants, monkeys, turtles, caymans (and maybe even an elusive jaguar?) along the water's edge. By early afternoon we arrive at Shepitiari, a small village of Matsiguenka natives, where we will walk a trail with a native guide who will share with us some of his profound knowledge of the rainforest. Dinner and overnight in the basic lodge with mattresses and mosquito nets.
DAY TEN - ELEVEN Manu Biosphere Reserve
After breakfast, we re-board our boat for a 3-hour trip to Boca Manu, a small outpost in the heart of the jungle, eventually arriving to Blanquillo, where we will visit an oxbow lake on an open catamaran. Paddling along the lake to best appreciate the flora and wildlife around the lake, if we’re lucky we might come across one of the most endangered species in Peru - a family of “The Giant Otter”. Accommodation and dinner at Blanquillo Lodge.
The next day begins with an early morning breakfast at the incredible macaw clay lick. Here, the riverbank attracts a mixed flock of hundreds of colorful, vociferous birds that come to feed. The clay lick is considered a natural wonder, the only place where parrots and macaws gather together in such large numbers. When the show is over, we climb atop an observation platform located high in a Ceiba tree canopy. Back to Blanquillo Lodge for lunch, returning in the afternoon upstream towards Boca Manu Lodge to spend the night.
DAY TWELVE - THIRTEEN Matchiguenka Service/Cultural Immersion Program
After breakfast, we will travel up the Alto Madre de Dios River until we reach Shepitiari again. After lunch, we immerse ourselves in the native community, visiting Matsiguenka families, learning about medicinal crops from local Shamans, and working at the “Avirery Center for Traditional Medicine”. (This project has been developed through the years by Mateo Italiano, a Matsiguenka Shaman, who has been working as a field assistant for several years with Dr: Glenn Shepard, an American Etnobotanist.) Alongside local community members, we will learn to weave thatched palm in order to construct the roof of houses, among other meaningful service activities determined by the Matsiguenkas themselves.
DAY FOURTEEN Return to Cuzco, Lima and the US!
OPTIONAL ADD-ON EXCURSION:
DAY FIFTEEN – SEVENTEEN Lake Titicaca
The train ride from Cusco to Puno is awe-inspiring. The first half of the journey is dominated by magnificent Andean mountains, towering over the deep valleys of the meandering Huatanay River. It then reaches the gentler, rolling High Andean Plateau, where vicuña and alpaca are often seen. Overnight at Hacienda Hotel in the folkloric capital of Peru, Puno, which is located in the country’s southeast corner, on the shores of the magnificent Lake Titicaca.
This amazing deep blue lake is the largest lake in South America and the largest in the world above 2,000m. Lake Titicaca was, according to Andean legend, the birthplace of civilization. Wiracocha, the creator god, brought light into a dark world by directing the sun, moon and stars to rise up out of the lake and take their place in the sky. With time, the Sun and Moon had children who also rose from the depths of the lake. Lake Titicaca is one of the few places in the mountainous Andes where you can see the sun sink low on the horizon. Sunrise and sunset on the shores of this beautiful lake can be quite spectacular.
Take a boat ride to the unspoiled, peaceful Island of Amantani. There are six villages and ruins on both of the island's peaks, Pacha Tata and Pacha Mama, from which there are excellent views. The local Quechua-speaking residents make beautiful textiles and sell them quite cheaply at the Artesania Cooperativa. Enjoy an evening of traditional food and folkloric music & dancing. Overnight at the Hacienda Hotel.
The next day, take an early morning tour to Uros and Taquile Islands. Explore the ruins and admire traditional handicrafts. The islanders are famous for producing colorful garments. Although the Uros Indians of the floating islands have intermarried with Aymara Indians, and no pure-blooded Uros still exist, many of the inhabitants of the islands still practice the old traditions of fishing, trapping birds and harvesting the lake plants. The totora reeds, which grow abundantly in the shallows of Lake Titicaca, are used for their boats, houses and to build the very islands on which they live. The result is a strange & springy surface which requires care when walking - it's easy to put your foot straight through! Taquile has numerous pre-Inca and Inca ruins and terracing. The island is narrow and has a cooperative shop that sells exceptional woolen goods.
DAY EIGHTEEN Home!
Fly to Lima from Juliaca, catch return flight to U.S.
Dates and Details:
Dates – To be determined by group. This program can be run any time of the year.
*We can customize the dates and itinerary for any group of 10 or more. (With 13 participants, the group leader’s program is free.)
Other Possible Activity Options:
Spanish Language Immersion Classes
Educational Seminars at Andean Cultural Center
Mountain Biking, Rafting, Horseback Riding
A Visit to a Ceramic Factory and/or Weaving Workshops
Program Fees - $2000-2800 per person (depending on accommodations chosen and length of trip)*
* Price includes all domestic transportation, food & lodging, entrance fees, guides, equipment rental, trail permits. (Does NOT include international airfares, departure taxes, tips, personal expenses, and souvenirs.)
**5% of all program fees go to Kindred Spirits Foundation to support our community projects and provide scholarships.
Rating – Recommended only for individuals of MODERATE to INTENSE physical conditioning (and a sense of adventure!), due to extreme climate changes, high altitudes, basic accommodations, and often unreliable/undeveloped infrastructure.