PERU, A LAND OF TOWERING PEAKS AND TROPICAL JUNGLES, OF MODERN URBAN CENTERS AND REMNANTS OF LOST EMPIRES…
- Explore the extreme cultural and ecological diversity of Peru through rural homestays, dramatic high mountain treks, and excursions into the verdant folds of the Amazon rainforest.
- Deepen your Spanish language skills through personalized instruction while connecting closely with a homestay family in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
- Learn about issues in development and conservation in modern Peru by sharing in the daily rhythms of life in urban and rural contexts.
- Hike up ancient steps to the mesmerizing Lost City of the Inca as dawn breaks over the cloud forest.
The land of the Incan is a region of dramatic landscapes and stark juxtapositions, a place where the past and the present collide at every turn. In Cusco, decadent colonial buildings emerge from the base of Incan temples. In remote indigenous communities, the descendants of the Inca resist encroaching mining operations while honoring the mountain spirits that inhabit their land and worldview. Modern cities contrast with enduring cultural traditions, and the most bio-diverse corners of the planet contend with the disparate forces of globalization and preservation. Dragons 6-week Peru program is a journey through the folds of time, offering exposure to critical development issues of today through the lens of the cultures, communities, and stunning backdrops of the past.
Our journey begins in the Sacred Valley of the Inca, a fertile oasis surrounded by the arching peaks of the Vilcabamba mountain range. While setting expectations for our time together, we learn about the historic legacy of the Inca while gradually acclimatizing to the embrace of the mountains. From the Sacred Valley we ascend to Parque de la Papa, a collection of Quechua communities that work to preserve and share their culture, language, and traditional wisdom. Staying with families for several days, we settle into the rhythm of the community and support with daily tasks such as looking after the animals and working the fields. In turn, village members share their brilliant weaving traditions and renowned agricultural knowledge. Our homestay in Parque de la Papa serves to provide a cultural foundation while preparing us for excursions farther afield.
The next leg of our journey takes us to the base of Apu Ausangante – one of the most honored mountain gods of the Incas. During a stunning – and challenging – weeklong trek into the high Andes we develop our trekking skills while deepening our knowledge of the unique land relationships that define Andean worldview. We learn to perceive the sacred elements of a sparkling alpine lake, the healing power of a glaciated peak, and the cultural and spiritual value of the llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas that inhabit the region.
Jumping into the Amazon portion of our journey, we descend to the heart of the tropical rainforest. A small boat carries us along the Madre de Dios River, where we learn about forest ecology while listening to a symphony of tropical birds and jungle calls. We meet with local elders who share their hopes and fears about regional development initiatives, and observe first-hand the staggering diversity of the rainforest and the threats that challenge its precarious balance.
After exploring the city of Cusco for a few days, we return to the Sacred Valley for ten days of cultural immersion with a local family. Settling into a routine, we connect deeply with homestay families, delve into Spanish classes, and explore Independent Study topics. This time allows us to deepen our language skills while learning about the challenges and triumphs of life in modern Peru.
The final phase of the course carries us to the Lost City of Machu Picchu by foot, dropping into the mystical cloud forest that characterizes this region. Along the way, we learn about the rise and fall of the Incan Empire, the ups and downs of regional tourism, and questions of cultural patrimony and identity in a shifting socio-economic context.
Dragons Peru summer abroad course is rugged and challenging. It is ideal for students who want to develop wilderness and leadership skills while engaging with the critical development issues facing Latin American communities. Expect to live closely with remote indigenous communities, trek through awe-inspiring terrain, and deepen your language skills through connections to local people and places.