It has been so exciting to co-create our tentative itinerary based on our past experiences in Peru and heartfelt connections with the communities we will be visiting. Tentative, because as travelers we know anything can happen and we must expect the unexpected! Flexibility is key, thus please regard the below as a general guide, which although subject to change will undoubtedly serve to enrich, enlighten and inspire.
Departure (June 28): We will all meet at the Miami Airport and travel together to Cusco, Peru to start our course (stay tuned for more details about travel day logistics).
Orientation (June 29 – July 2): After arriving to Peru, we will begin orientation in a beautiful site located just outside of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. Orientation is an opportunity to prepare for our next 6 weeks together, including getting to know one another, setting goals and expectations for the course, and developing critical skills for the upcoming phases of our journey. This time not only allows us to establish norms and group culture, but also initiates our exploration of Peru through exposure to landscapes, languages and many varieties of food!
Apu Ausangate trek (July 3-9): From Urubamba we will travel to Ocongate, a small highland town where we will prepare for our stunning trek around the base of Apu Ausangate–the highest and holiest mountain in the Cusco region. Traversing the Cordillera Vilcanota, this trek will take us over several high passes down into lower alpine valleys and through traditional Peruvian-Andean villages. After dedicating three full days to soaking up the massive peaks, camping under the stars and learning backcountry expedition skills, we will return to Urubamba by bus.
Urubamba Homestay (July 10-15): The next six days will be spent in Urubamba, a small town in the Sacred Valley situated under the snow-capped mountain Chicón. During the homestay, you will live with families and interact with communities in their daily life. In addition to learning about cultural and spiritual practices, you will receive structured language lessons to feel more confident communicating in Spanish! You will also have the chance to complete an independent study project (ISP) to learn about a specific trade, craft, or form of local knowledge that interests you.
Machu Picchu + Cusco (July 16-21): In this phase, leadership will shift to the students, who will be coordinating our expedition to Machu Picchu (with instructor support as needed)! Based on skills gained during the Ausangate trek, students will collaboratively lead the group to the Inca ruins and surrounding areas, to explore the old city, learn about pre-colonial history, and observe advancements in Inca architecture and scientific research. We will then have our midcourse check-in in Cusco and return to Ocongate, where we will acclimatize and prepare for our visit to Nacion Q’eros.
Nacion Q’eros (July 22-26): Leaving Ocongate, we will embark on a rural cultural experience in Q’eros–an autonomous nation within Peru, home to a collection of Quechua-speaking villages in the high Andes.The people of Q’eros trace their lineage directly back to a group of Inca that fled Cusco during the Spanish conquest and remained in voluntary isolation from the rest of the world for centuries. During the daytime, we will trek to different communities within the nation, and at night stay with families to learn about this rich culture that has preserved traditions through time and history, including the Quechua language.
Amazon Excursion (July 27 – Aug 3): After several weeks in the Andes, we will make our way to a very different yet equally fascinating region: the rainforest. Starting at the biological research station Villa Carmen, we will learn about the incredible diversity of the Amazon, with the help of researchers who continue to discover, year after year, new species in this highly vulnerable ecosystem. To delve deeper into local culture, we will stay with families in Huacaria, a native community located just outside of one of the planet’s most biodiverse areas, Manu National Park. Huacaria’s indigenous people will teach us about their traditional knowledge as well as sustainable agroforestry and fish farming leading to forest conservation. Then we will take a 2-day boat ride on the Madre de Dios River, from Boca Manu to Puerto Colorado for our final stage of the course.
Transference (Aug 4-7): To celebrate our journey and process our learnings as a group and as individuals, we will dedicate four days for transference at Anaconda Lodge in Puerto Maldonado, one of the most representative towns in the Peruvian Amazon. Transference is the period of reflection, expression and introspection during which we will make meaning of our experiences in Peru and prepare to apply our learnings to our lives back home. Although this marks our course ending, it also symbolizes a new beginning of continued growth, exploration and connection with each other and the world’s cultures.
Ultimately, every experience is what we choose to make of it. Our attitudes and actions are what determine the outcomes, and therefore we encourage you to make the absolute most of every moment (on and off course!). We are thrilled that in just a few short weeks, this itinerary will come to life in Peru with all of you!
1. The highest pass on the Ausangate trek
2. The transition from Andes to Amazon along the Madre de Dios River
3. The Santa Rosa de Huacaria indigenous community holds around 60 families
4. We will learn about the Andean spirituality in the Nacion Q’eros
5. Exploring Machu Picchu in a different way
6. One of the lakes in the Ausangate trek