Tick of your bucket list items on this epic summer program in Peru, like hiking to Machu Picchu, sandboarding and going on an Amazon expedition!

Peru is a ‘land of contrasts’. Its people, many of whom are descendants of the Incas, retain rich traditions of language, colorful dress and lively music. It has stunning, diverse landscapes, from the highest snow dusted peaks of the Andes to the lush Amazon jungle. The food is fantastic. The language is surprisingly easy to pick-up. Wild life abounds – you’re sure to see monkeys, flamingos, condor, llamas and the elusive vicuna.

This 4-week summer program gives you the chance to experience Peru’s incredible cultural and environmental diversity. On this program you'll contribute to meaningful community development during our volunteer project in the Sacred Valley. You will trek an Inca trail to Machu Picchu, explore the Amazon while on expedition in Manu National Park, connect with the rhythms of rural life during a community stay on the shores of Lake Titicaca, and wander ancient plazas and markets in Cusco and Arequipa improving your Spanish while bargaining for cosy llama-wool ponchos. To finish things with a bang, you will visit the mysterious Nazca Lines and try sandboarding the dunes at Huacachina.

Who is this summer program for?

This summer program is perfect for high school graduates, college graduates, and gap year students, ideally 17 to 22 years old. Optional transferable academic credit is available to all participants.

  • Rewarding conservation and community development service learning week in the Sacred Valley with Llama Pack Project
  • Community stay with an indigenous Kichwa community on Capachica Peninsula, Lake Titicaca
  • 6-day Amazon jungle expedition through Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve
  • Biking and trekking to spectacular Machu Picchu via the Inka Jungle Trail
  • Canopy ziplining and hot springs in Santa Teresa
  • Explore the Sacred Valley, historic Cusco - former capital of the Incan Empire, and beautiful Arequipa
  • Mysterious Nazca – pre-Inca cemetery and the option to fly over the Nazca lines
  • Sandboarding at Huacachina
  • Very personalized and supportive small group experience – maximum 14 students

**This is a sample itinerary. Activities and specific locations may differ between seasons.**

Week 1. The Sacred Valley of the Incas to Machu Picchu

On arrival at the airport in Lima you will be met by your Program Instructors and transferred to our central accommodation. A comprehensive program orientation commences, before we take an excursion to explore the historic center of Lima, visiting key sites. In our first days together we’ll focus on getting to know each other really well, and creating a supportive group culture from which we’ll each be nurtured to realize our goals and hopes from this experience.

We begin a fantastic journey to Machu Picchu on the Inca Jungle Trail. An early morning flight takes us to Cusco and then by van into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, visiting historic sites and ruins, before we overnight in the town of Ollantaytambo. The next morning we bike downhill through cloud forest and exotic fruit plantations to stay in the small jungle village of Santa Maria.

Leaving Santa Maria, we trek approx. 6 hours to Santa Teresa, enjoying local hot springs along the way. We have a day here to explore and take a ziplining tour through the forest canopy. Our final trekking day is approx. 6 hours traversing jungle, canyons, spectacular waterfalls, hot springs, mountain views and Incan archeological sites. The trail brings us to Aguas Calientes, gateway town to Machu Picchu, and a night to rest our weary trekking legs before exploring this incredible site.

We hike up to Machu Picchu, for sunrise and a breathtaking start to the day. After an informative tour of the sacred site, we’ll have plenty of time to explore independently, and climb Wayna Picchu for birds-eye views of Machu Picchu. Mid-afternoon we depart Aguas Calientes and catch the train back to Urubamba.

Week 2. Volunteering with Llama Pack Project

Based from the cosy Llama Pack House with project founders Alejandra and Jorge and some pet llamas, we spend our time learning about and contributing to the project's valuable initiatives. Llama Pack Project's focus is to recover traditional uses and breeding of carrier llamas. They work with local communities in environmental education and sustainable rural development, and in the conservation of Andean mountain ecosystems in the Sacred Valley highlands.

Our project focus will be helping with the construction of Llama Park – where the goal is to create a replica Andean village, so local and international visitors can come to learn about Andean ways of life, without trekking high into the mountains. It will be home to llamas, typical crops, traditional houses etc., and have an education center for local people. Our volunteer work may include building trails, reforestation, developing crops fields, or building a fence around the area. Proceeds from visitors at Llama Park will go towards funding Llama Pack projects, so this is a really great social enterprise to support.

At the end of the project we head to Cusco for two nights – a chance to rest, do laundry, connect with family and friends back home via Wi-Fi – and to wander the cities fascinating plazas and markets.

Week 3. Outdoor Adventure and Cultural Immersion

Manu National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. It is the largest National Park in Peru, and protects several ecological zones ranging from just 450 feet above sea level to altitudes of 13,500 feet. Because of this it has one of highest levels of biodiversity of any park in the world. More than 15,000 species of plants are found in Manu. It is home to over 1000 species of birds, and is known as having one of the highest abundances of land vertebrates ever found in Latin American tropical forests.

We have a couple of nights in Cusco and the opportunity to participate in a fun chocolate making workshop at the Choco Museo, or to try our culinary prowess at a Peruvian cooking course. Departing Cusco we travel by private bus through the Andean mountains and down through cloud forest to enter the park. Our first night is spent in a rainforest lodge in an area home to the exotic Peruvian national bird, the "Cock of the Rocks".

We spend the morning at the lake of Cocha Salvador spotting heron, capuchin monkeys, and hopefully giant otters. In the afternoon we go hiking in the jungle looking for spider monkeys and taking in the canopy vista from a 60 foot observation tower.

We'll be travelling downriver to Boca Manu scanning the river's shoreline for elusive wildlife, then traverse the Madre de Dios again to return our jungle lodge. This afternoon there's time to relax and absorb the jungle ambience, or hike some trails for the final time.


**Pacific Discovery reserves the right to alter and/or change the order of the itinerary, the focus of the projects or the activities themselves due to dates, availability, and safety precautions.

Suitability

This gap year program is perfect for high school graduates, college students and graduates, and non-students, ideally 17-22 years old. You don’t need to previous experience with travel or any of the activities offered, but it is important you have a positive attitude and to be prepared for some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program. You need to be interested in engaging with local people, pursuing new experiences and pushing personal boundaries.

The program is a shared group experience. Join this program with an open mind and a willingness to work together with your group mates to make the program an amazing experience for the whole group. Additionally, the program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey. We expect you to be open to learning and challenging your ideas and assumptions.

Accommodation

Our accommodation will vary from welcoming lodges and camping with shared facilities, to hotels and guesthouses with private bathrooms. Laundry and Wi-Fi will be available frequently, except while at our volunteering projects, trekking trips and community stays. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.

Meals

Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the program cost. Any snacks are at an additional cost, which we recommend budgeting around $10 per day for.

Meals are a mixture of eating out at restaurants and food preparation shared by students. An average day on program would consist of the following:

  • Breakfast: rice, beans, eggs, toast
  • Lunch: sandwiches, wraps, rice, beans, protein and steamed vegetables, eggs
  • Dinner: tacos, burrito, rice, beans, protein and steamed vegetables, eggs

Camping meals will be adjusted to the cooking equipment at hand

Included in the tuition

  • All in-program travel and transport (not flights)
  • All accommodation
  • All meals
  • All expeditions, activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary
  • Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
  • Environmental education and volunteering projects
  • Experiential core curriculum that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves - working towards a deeper understanding of their values, identity, passions and purpose
  • Individual mentorship from program instructors, supporting you in your personal goals for the program
  • Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism
  • Pre-departure booklet with all information you need in one place to prepare for the program
  • 24/7 emergency contact number for students and parents
  • Global medical rescue and political evacuation insurance
  • Instructors have 24/7 access to a physician and a psychologist for advice and support
  • Pacific Discovery T-shirt

*Note: Free visas-on-arrival are issued for Peru.

Summer Dates 11 Jul - 31 Jul, 2024
Duration 21 days
Program Tuition $6,850 USD Estimated Flight Cost $1,400 USD
Availability Open
Group Size 14 Students & 2 Instructors Ages 14 - 17 ideal Covid-19 Vaccination Requirement Vaccination Strongly Recommended
Optional College Credit Yes Start/Finish Program Start: Lima, Peru.
Program Finish: Juliaca, Peru.