Peru: Sacred Mountains 4-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.
Week 1 Meeting in Miami we travel together to Peru, getting to know each other along the way and learning more about our travel itinerary. Upon arrival, we will board a connecting flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon Basin. We step off the plane together to the tropical humidity and sounds of the surrounding forest.
Our first days together take place in an eco-lodge outside of Puerto Maldonado, where we learn more about each other, set expectations for the course, and develop important skills for traveling responsibly in Peru. Closing out our orientation, we travel by boat along the Madre de Dios River to a tropical ecology research center, learning form resident scientists about the rich biodiversity of the rainforest and aiding them in their research. We then travel deeper into the jungle, visiting a rural indigenous village. Here we participate in the daily life of the community, immersing ourselves in the culture and taking in the sights and sounds of the forest around us.
Week 2 Closing out our time in the Amazon, we travel overland to Cusco, the historic capital of the Incan empire. After exploring the city we travel on to the Vilcabamba mountains, hiking along Incan trails to the Lost City of the Inca. Along the way we visit natural hot springs, hike through temperate forests, and learn about the rise and fall of the Incan Empire. Group discussions and lessons will also involve eco-tourism and conservation in the region, natural resource extraction, and Andean cosmology. Camping at the base of Machu Picchu, we arise at dawn to ascend the original Incan steps to this mystical archaeological site.
Week 3 From Machu Picchu we travel to the Sacred Valley, exploring the town of Pisac while preparing for our rural homestay in Parque de la Papa. Known for its intricate textiles and agricultural wisdom, we spend several days living with Quechua families in Parque de la Papa. This time offers insight into daily life and culture in a highland Quechua community, and exposure to the more than 3,000 varieties of potatoes that are carefully cultivated in the region. We hike to nearby alpine lakes and participate in the daily activities of the community, including harvesting potatoes, herding sheep, milking animals, weaving, and preparing traditional meals. Our homestays raise questions about complex community development issues such as education, sustainability, indigenous identity, cultural preservation, and globalization.
Week 4 Bidding farewell to our families, we travel east to the soaring peak of Mt. Ausangate. Considered one of the most sacred peaks in the Andes, Apu Ausangate is revered as a deity and protector of the Andean people. We spend five days traversing the base of this dramatic peak, learning about Andean cosmology and the healing power of the mountains. Our local guides show us why they believe the earth is alive and responsive to their aspirations, hopes, and fears. Similarly, we learn about our impact on the planet and how to cultivate practices of reciprocity and solidarity with the earth and people around us.
Students will take increased ownership over this phase of the itinerary, leading the group through this important group challenge and making use of the skills they’ve developed thus far. We will be tested physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and celebrate the journey that has carried us through the mountains and jungles of Peru. We end our journey outside of Cusco in the Sacred Valley, where we have time to reflect on our adventure and prepare for the transition home.