Summer or Winter Peru with Optional College Credit, Sample Itinerary

Week 1 Students fly into Cusco and we travel as a group to our orientation site at a nearby eco-lodge. During orientation, we learn more about each other, set expectations for the program, and develop important skills for traveling responsibly in Peru. Students will have a chance to form as a group and build a productive learning community while enjoying some of Peru’s most beautiful and diverse environments.
Closing out our orientation, we visit Mt. Ausangate, revered as one of the most sacred peaks in the Andes, and considered protector of the Andean people. Our group will explore the base of this awe inspiring mountain, learning about the healing power of the area. Our local guides will share how they believe the earth hears their aspirations, hopes, and fears, and we analyse our impacts on the environment. We explore ways to cultivate practices of solidarity and reciprocity with the earth and people around us.
Weeks 2-3 After this short trek, the group will transition to the Sacred Valley and settle into homestays in Urubamba. During our time in the Sacred Valley, students have Spanish language classes 3-4 hours a day. Outside of class, we practice our language with host families and get to know the Andean culture of the area. Weekend hikes or visits to nearby communities might include participating in daily activities of the community, like harvesting potatoes and preparing traditional meals.
Our observations and interactions in Urubamba also raise questions about complex community development issues such as education, sustainability, indigenous identity, cultural preservation, and globalization. Group discussions and lessons both in and outside Spanish classes will also involve eco-tourism and conservation in the region, natural resource extraction, and Andean cosmology.
Week 4 In the final week of our program we say goodbye to homestays, transitioning away from Urubamba. Students have the opportunity to help shape the program and choose from a number of outdoor and cultural activities available in the region. Maybe we choose to camp at the base of Machu Picchu to ascend the original Incan steps at dawn or maybe explore urban life in the historical capital of the Incan Empire, Cusco.
Students take increased ownership over this phase of the itinerary, leading the group through this important group challenge and making use of the skills developed thus far. Throughout the program, we are challenged physically, emotionally, and mentally, and nearing the end, we celebrate the journey that carries us through the mountains of Peru. We end our program outside of Cusco in an ecolodge, where we have time to reflect on our learning and prepare for the transition home.