Peru: Sacred Mountains (6-Week), Sample Itinerary

This is a sample itinerary. No two Dragons courses are the same. Every itinerary considers the unique strengths of the instructor team and interests of the student group.
Weeks 1 and 2 After flying to Cusco together, we descend into the Sacred Valley to our orientation site in the beautiful town of Pisac. Here we have three days together to set our goals and expectations for the course, learn to travel as a community, and begin to learn about the diversity of Peru.
Closing out our orientation, we embark on the Amazon portion of our itinerary. First arriving to Tres Cruces, a dramatic ridge where the Andes meet the Amazon, we camp for the evening and have the opportunity to watch the sunrise over the Amazon rainforest. We then descend down into the Amazonian tropics, arriving to the tropical frontier town of Pilcopata. Here we have a chance to prepare for our first homestay and adapt to the lowland way of life.
Our first village stay takes pace in Huacaria, a traditional Huachipaere and Machiguenga indigenous community located in the folds of the tropical forest. In Huacaria we live under thatch roofs with village members, learning about issues in conservation, responsible travel, and cultural resilience in the Amazon. As we integrate into the life of the community, we accompany families in tending to the fields and preparing traditional meals, while learning about local crafts and medicinal plants. Afternoons take us to the river to cool down with the local kids, and we’ll be challenged to some volleyball matches on the dirt volleyball court!
Bidding farewell to our families, we travel to Puerto Maldonado in the way most fitting to a river environment—by boat! Heading downriver along the Madre de Dios by canoe, our days will be spent observing the rhythm of the rainforest, learning about resource issues in the region, and camping along the river. Our boat trip gives us a chance to explore the impact of mining in the region and expand our ideas of wilderness and jungle settings. We close out the Amazon portion of our itinerary in Puerto Maldonado, a bustling commercial town and tropical outpost.
Week 3 From Puerto Maldonado we travel overland along the trans-oceanic highway to Ocongate, a Quechua community in the Peruvian highlands. In Ocongate we acclimatize to the mountain environment and prepare for our first trek around the soaring peak of Ausangate. At 6,372 meters (close to 21,000 feet), Apu Ausangate is considered one of the most sacred peaks in the Andes, and this epic mountain will test our trekking skills while providing stunning views of the high mountain landscape.
We spend four days traversing the base of Ausangate, a mystical region home to some of the most traditional cultures in the Andes. Our local guides teach us about the healing power of the mountain deities, introducing us to Andean spiritual belief systems that revere the natural world as a living and breathing entity. We end the trek in Pac’chanta, where hot springs soothe our tired muscles.
Week 4 Returning to Ocongate, we rest from our rugged mountain excursion and prepare for our next village stay in the dramatic Q’eros Nation. Tracing their lineage directly back to the Inca, the Q’eros people continue to live much as they did hundreds of years ago, tucked away in the harsh landscape of the high Andes. We spend a week traveling through Nación Q’eros, staying with families in 3 or 4 small villages along the way. In this mystical and remote region, we further delve into themes of Andean spirituality, colonialism, traditional ceremony and the sacred coca leaf, globalization, and cultural preservation.
Week 5 From Q’eros we travel to the vibrant city of Cusco, once the Incan capital and center of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. While exploring this historic city we prepare for the expedition phase of the course, in which students take on increased ownership over planning and logistics. Our journey takes us through the Vilcabamba mountain range to the spectacular site of Machu Picchu. Camping at the base of these majestic ruins, we arise at dawn to ascend the original Incan steps to the gateway of the Lost City of the Inca. Our time here includes lessons and discussions around sustainable tourism, cultural patrimony, and the rise and fall of the Incan empire.
Week 6 Returning to the Sacred Valley, we spend our final days in the charming town of Urubamba. We reflect on our journey and prepare for the transition home. This time includes day hikes, final visits to local markets, and opportunities to celebrate our adventure together.