Some choose not to visit the world heritage site of Machu Picchu because of the tourist vs. traveler dilemma. With 5,000 sightseers per day and an annual revenue of USD $35.9 million, it is challenging to find “authentic” educational experiences amidst the touristic elements. For social and environmental reasons, our group decided to take the road less traveled by avoiding the trains/buses and instead walking with all our gear from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes, camping outside the sanctuary in a park, and then hiking up to the ruins (totalling 48km roundtrip on foot)! Despite burning calves, reaching the heights of the Incan citadel among stone and forest and exploring the historic centers of urban and agricultural significance was a major highlight for all. Students have since completed scavenger hunts in the ancient city of Cuzco and engaged in mid-course reflection and feedback activities–it is hard to believe we are already halfway through!
Photos: 1) Becky, Tava, Philip, Sofia, Anna and Vanessa in front of Machu Picchu; 2) botanical gardens at the archaeological site where Andes meets Amazon; 3) rainbow over the Sacred Valley.