Dear Students and Families,
Vanessa, Gabriel and I have really enjoyed the process of crafting a travel itinerary that will give our group time to explore the great diversity of landscapes and people in Peru. We will journey from the Amazon river basin to the Andes mountains, getting to know the land by foot, bus, and train and getting to know the Peruvian culture through homestays and other community activities.
At Dragons, we intentionally keep our itineraries flexible so that we can take advantage of unexpected opportunities and craft the trip to your unique interests. We look forward to hearing more about your goals for our time traveling together in Peru and incorporating them into our itinerary.
For now, here is a general overview of our plan:
Students will meet Kaela in the Miami airport to fly to Lima and then to Puerto Maldonado. Vanessa and Gabriel will already be in Peru preparing for our arrival.
Jun 30-Jul 2
We will spend our first three days at Anaconda Lodge in Puerto Maldonado, spending time getting to know each other, discussing goals and guidelines for our trip, and orienting ourselves to the Peruvian Amazon.
Jul 2-Jul 5
We will travel to Boca Pariamanu, a native Amahuaca community. Through homestays and cultural activities, we will experience other ways of living and understanding the world. There, we will get to know about medicinal plants, community-based conservation, and the struggles and victories of indigenous peoples in the Amazon striving to get recognition for their work as stewards of the forests and their cultural identity.
July 6-Jul 7
After saying goodbye to our host families in Boca Pariamanu, we will spend the night back at Anaconda lodge, so that we have time to repack and get organized for travel. The next day we will travel to Cusco by bus alongside local Peruvians. As we drive, we will be able to observe the impressive transitions of the natural environment from the tropical rainforest to the highlands.
We will spend the full day exploring the sights and sounds of Cusco, former capital of the Inca Empire. In Cusco you will see remnants of Inca archaeological remains as well as Spanish colonial architecture.
From Cusco we travel to Parque de la Papa, and stay with Quechua families. The communities of the Potato Park maintain a relationship of respect and harmony with Pacha Mama (Mother Earth), based on traditional principles of reciprocity, equilibrium and duality which form the pillars of Sumaq Kausay or Buen Vivir (to live well). The great cultural and biological diversity found in the Park is a living manifestation of Sumaq Kausay. The area is a recognized centre of origin for native potatoes, housing important domesticated and wild varieties. This diversity is the product of the creativity and innovation of the Quechua peoples. During this time we will also go on short hikes to acclimate to the higher altitude and we will spend a day evaluating our travel experience and learning thus far and make any adjustments to the remainder of our itinerary.
After saying goodbye to our host families in Parque de la Papa, we will travel to Ollantaytambo and prepare for our visit to Machu Picchu. We travel by train to Puente Ruinas, camp overnight, and then hike up to Machu Picchu early in the morning and spend the full day learning about the history and preservation of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. We camp again at Puente Ruinas and then travel by train and bus to Ocongate to prepare for our trek.
In the expedition phase of our course, you will have the opportunity to plan and prepare for our big trek. One option is to hike around the base of Ausangate, the fifth highest peak (6,384 m/ 20, 945 feet) in Peru. The region is inhabited by llama and alpaca herding communities, and constitutes one of the few remaining traditional pastoralist societies in the world. There are other trekking options we will introduce to you and together we will make a plan that is appropriately challenging and inspiring for our group.
After our expedition in the Peruvian Andes, we will travel to Urubamba, a small town an hour outside of Cusco to close and celebrate our time together. We will reflect on all that we have learned about Peru and ourselves as travelers, and brainstorm ways to transfer our learning back home.
Students will fly with Kaela from Cusco to Lima to Miami and then independently home.