Machu Picchu, of course, but more, much more.
There are few places on the planet as captivating as Machu Picchu. Easily one of those places that will always be considered one of the wonders of the world, Machu Picchu rarely disappoints.
But Field Studies Peru is about more than Machu Picchu. It’s about a group of great kids with terrific leaders exploring, volunteering and hiking in Peru while engaging with the local culture. We’ll be based in Cusco and the town of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. Both locations, dotted with Incan ruins, offer excellent opportunities for exploration and cultural engagement. Introductory Spanish lessons and our service projects in a local school will give us the tools and confidence to delve into Peruvian life.
After Urubamba and Cusco, we’ll trek to Machu Picchu. The trek itself is fantastic: we will pass through lush valleys and below breathtaking mountains on a route that reaches elevations close to 14,000 feet. And then, at the end of the trek there’s majestic Machu Picchu—without a doubt one of the world’s most treasured ancient sites.
Beauty, exploration, service—but there’s more. And this final piece—perhaps the most important piece—is how our group grows closer as a result of the friendships and fun, the adventures and challenges of three weeks together in this remarkable place that offers so much—Machu Picchu, of course, but more, much more.
This trip was the best experience of my life, and my group was amazing.
- Anika Vreeken, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
Days 1 & 2: Trip Start & Lima
Lima bustles with 8 million people, and its coastal beauty is unmatched. It is a great place to spend our first days in Peru. After meeting at the airport, we will take a private bus to our hotel in Miraflores, a hub of cultural activity. The next day, we’ll explore the city center, including the Plaza de Armas and the Government Palace, while appreciating the city’s colonial Spanish architecture. At the end of the day, we’ll head back to Miraflores. We’ll watch the sun set over the South Pacific, spot surfers and watch for paragliders overhead.
Day 3: Lima to Cusco to Urubamba
Today we’ll fly over the Andes to the Sacred Valley and city of Cusco. A guide will drive us to Urubamba where we will meet our group homestay family. We’ll arrive at our accommodations and enjoy a home-cooked meal together.
Days 4-7: Urubamba Spanish Lessons, Volunteer Work & Explore Ruins
Our home base gives us freedom to explore the city of Urubamba. We will spend our mornings at a local elementary school helping with restoration projects and engaging with the schoolchildren. We may teach English, paint a basketball court or play a game of pickup soccer (fútbol) in the playground. For two afternoons, we’ll take language lessons from a native, Spanish-speaking instructor. We’ll learn vocabulary and common phrases to establish a strong base for our future travel and volunteer work. We’ll spend the rest of our time traveling to different sites in the Sacred Valley—from visiting nearby Incan Salt Mines, to hiking through the ruins of Ollantaytambo or Moray.
Days 8 & 9: Market Day & Hike through Pisac Ruins
Sunday is Market Day in the Andes. We will make our way to Pisac to explore the market stalls and use our Spanish to bargain with local craft vendors and farmers. After spending some time in the marketplace, we’ll ascend the hillside above the town and hike through ancient agricultural terraces and a series of Incan ruins. From atop the mountain, we will have splendid views of the entire archaeological complex before descending through the Temple of the Sun. The next day, we will spend the morning exploring the town for the last time before heading back to Cusco, where we will spend the next few days.
Days 10-13: Volunteer Work & Cultural Exploration in Cusco
Cusco is the historic capital city of the Incan Empire. We will spend our days visiting nearby sites such as an art center, an alpaca farm or an indigenous artisan market. We’ll also work with underprivileged youth at an afterschool program, teaching English, drawing pictures, making music and playing outside. Toward the end of the week, we’ll meet our guides and prepare for our upcoming trek to Machu Picchu.
Days 14-17: Trek to Machu Picchu
Over the next four days, we will be challenged by hiking between eight and 10 miles per day and over mountain passes nearing 14,000 feet. Though we will carry our own equipment, our guides will help us make meals and assist carrying some of our group gear, like tents and cooking supplies. Our guides will also offer us unique insight to the Incan ruins we pass as we make our way through this spectacular part of the Andes. Our hard work and determination on the trail will pay off as we reach the ancient City of the Incas: Machu Picchu. We’ll spend the night in Aguas Calientes relaxing in the hot springs.
Day 18: Machu Picchu & Aguas Calientes
We’ll wake up early and head up to Machu Picchu where our guides will take us on a tour of the ruins and describe archaeological treasures like the Temple of the Sun and the Intihuatana. In the afternoon, we’ll take a train back to Cusco.
Days 19 & 20: Lima & Trip End
At trip end, we’ll say goodbye to Cusco and the Andes and fly back to Lima. We’ll have one last chance to explore before celebrating our incredible adventure together with a final dinner. In the morning, we’ll head to the airport and fly home.
10 nights in hostels with private group rooms, beds, bathrooms and showers.
6 nights in a private group homestay with beds, bathrooms and showers.
3 nights of camping with limited bathroom facilities while trekking to Machu Picchu.
Things to know
- We travel light on Overland trips; please only bring items on your packing list.
- Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
- Please do not bring any electronics (including your cell phone). See FAQs for more information on our cell phone and electronics policy.
- Do not bring any type of knife or multi-tool (such as a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool).
- Pack everything in your backpack or day pack. Do not bring additional luggage.
- Be sure to bring comfortable clothes that can get dirty and worn while volunteering.
- Linens and pillows are provided at most group accommodations. Students may choose to use their sleeping bag for additional warmth if necessary.
- There are no reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen items.
- Please wear the navy Overland shirt that you will receive from the Overland office to your trip start location.
- Navy Overland Shirt (1)
We will send students an Overland shirt prior to their trip, and we encourage students to wear their Overland shirt to trip start. We highly recommend this for students flying to their trip start location.
- Three-Quarter or Full Length Synthetic Pants (1)
Students may bring skirts (past the knee) if they choose.
- Pants (2)
One pair for traveling and walks through cities in towns. A second pair, synthetic, suitable for hiking
- Fleece Pants
Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
- Synthetic Long Underwear Top & Bottom (1)
- Shorts (2)
Shorts or skirts to wear while hiking, traveling or exploring towns and cities. At least one pair must be an appropriate length for visiting cultural sites (with your arms at your sides, shorts or skirts must extend beyond fingertips).
- Synthetic T-Shirt (2)
Short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top.
- T-Shirt (3)
Short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top.
- Underwear (7)
- Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (3)
- Athletic Socks (pair) (4)
- Winter Hat
- Gloves or Mittens (pair)
Insulated, warm and waterproof. Avoid knit and porous materials.
- Swimsuit (optional)
If we swim, many students will wear shorts (and a sports bra for girls).
- Pajamas (optional)
Students sometimes prefer to sleep in shorts and a T-shirt instead of bringing pajamas.
- Bandana (optional)
- Hat with Visor (optional)
For protection from the sun. Baseball hats are acceptable.
- Packable Synthetic or Down Jacket
Midweight, compressible, synthetic (Primaloft or similar) or down jacket. Full zip or 1/4 zip are acceptable.
- Fleece Jacket or Pullover
Medium to heavyweight and reasonably compact.
- Waterproof Raincoat
Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Rain coats provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer. Your jacket should be large enough to allow layers underneath. We recommend hoods and breathable materials. Gore-Tex is a well-known waterproof and breathable fabric but there are many other quality fabrics. Ponchos are not acceptable.
- Insulated Vest
Insulated fleece, Thinsulate or down vest to wear on cold days and evenings.
- Waterproof Rain Pants (1)
Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Rain pants provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer.
- Internal Frame Backpack
65-85 liters or 4,000-5,100 cubic inches. Before purchasing a backpack, find your backpack size by measuring your torso length and your hips (instructions are available here). We recommend getting fitted at a store and trying on multiple packs.
- Waterproof Pack Cover
If your backpack does not come with a cover, we recommend buying a cover one size larger than your pack.
- Day Pack
Basic two-shoulder backpack large enough to hold your lunch, two water bottles, snacks, extra layers and rain jacket. Use your day pack as a carry-on for your flight and for daily activities or hikes. A standard school backpack is usually fine (no satchels or shoulder bags).
- Synthetic Sleeping Bag
A lightweight, compact synthetic sleeping bag rated to 15 degrees Fahrenheit or less. A synthetic sleeping bag is required for this trip; down is not appropriate as it does not insulate if wet. Your sleeping bag should compress into a stuff sack no larger than 20" in length.
- Headlamp & Extra Batteries
Polarized sunglasses that wrap around to protect from glare are ideal.
- Water Bottle
One 1-liter bottle. A Camelbak or similar water carrier is acceptable.
- Waterproof Hiking Boots
Hiking boots that are low to high cut, depending on your desired ankle support. Choose comfortable boots and make sure to break them in before the start of your trip.
- Sneakers (pair)
Comfortable shoes to wear on daily activities. Shoes should be supportive and have a good tread on the bottom for traction.
- Sandals (pair)
Flip flops or Crocs work well
A passport that is valid until at least six months after your trip end date
- Passport Photocopies
Make at least four photocopies of your passport and visa (if applicable). Leave one copy with your family and put photocopies in both your checked luggage and carry-on luggage for the flight, separate from your original documents.
- Photo Identification
A current school or other kind of photo identification (if you have one).
- Unaccompanied Minor Fee Receipt (if applicable)
For students travelling as Unaccompanied Minors, please print a copy of the UAM fee receipt for your child's leaders to keep on file.
- Baggage Fee Receipt (if applicable)
Some airlines allow passengers to input credit card information to cover checked bag service charges when checking in online prior to the trip. To reduce hassle at the airport, we encourage you to pay for checked baggage beforehand and supply your child with a copy of the receipt for his or her leaders to keep on file.
- Synthetic Camping Towel
A medium-size synthetic camping towel (synthetic camping towels dry much faster than regular towels).
All items should be travel size (if necessary, you will be able to restock during the trip).
- Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
- Package of Moleskin or Molefoam
To protect your feet from blisters.
- Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (10)
To organize and waterproof your gear and small items.
- Large Trash Bags (4)
To waterproof your gear.
- Spending Money
$30 per week in local currency or a debit/ATM card (please notify your bank of international travel before trip start).
- Community Donation Items
A few items of second-hand clothing for children or adults, arts and crafts materials such markers, paint brushes and construction paper or your favorite children's books.
- Spanish-English Dictionary
Travel-sized to use in class and around town.
- Notebook & Pen
To use in class.
- Personal Journal or Book (optional)
- Camera, Charger & Extra Batteries (optional)
A digital or disposable camera and, if necessary, a charger and large enough memory card to accommodate your pictures (4 to 8 GB).
- Health Insurance Card
Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
- What is the weather like on Field Studies Peru?
The weather on Field Studies Peru varies. Temperatures can range from below freezing at night to the 70s during the day. Our packing list takes these variables into consideration. Layering is the best strategy. Please follow the packing list.
- What are the arrival and departure airports for my child’s trip?
You will need to arrange transportation for your child to and from Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM) at trip start and trip end. We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed your child on a program.
- Is high altitude ever an issue for anyone on the trip?
Many locations on this trip are at high elevation, including Urubamba (9,420 feet), Cusco (11,152 feet) and the highest point on the trek to Machu Picchu (15,253 feet). Because of this, your child may experience some form of altitude sickness—usually minor headaches or fatigue. Overland leaders will make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration and altitude sickness.
- Does my child need to have previous international or group travel experience?
While no previous experience is required, we have high expectations of our students. We expect your child—with your help—to select a trip that is appropriate for his or her interests and abilities. You should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the details of the specific program and help your child understand what to expect. We also expect our students to prepare ahead of time: to review the packing list, gather clothing and gear and complete whatever training the trip requires (for recommended training please see the Before You Go tab). Once the trip begins, your child should be ready—and excited—to contribute to a wholesome and enthusiastic group where each group member feels welcomed and valued.
- Please tell me about the currency on this trip.
Peru uses the Peruvian Sole. Soles are often difficult to order from the US. Students can exchange money in airports throughout the US, or leaders can help students withdraw soles using a debit card or exchange US dollars upon arrival in Peru.
- Please tell me about safety at Overland.
Safety and risk management are at the forefront of our decision-making–from trip planning to leader training to supporting our groups in the field. We cannot guarantee absolute safety–no program can. All recreational activities include inherent and other risks. Therefore, we strive to manage the risks that we can, knowing we cannot eliminate them. We work hard to recruit, train and support our trip leaders so they can create the kind of trips that have made us successful for over 30 years. Please click here to read more about our approach to risk management and our accreditation by the American Camp Association.
- Please tell me about Overland’s admissions process.
For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.
When we receive child’s application, if the first choice is available, you will receive a phone call and an email containing a link to our Overland Portal where you will find our Admissions Review Forms. We will accept your deposit to hold your child’s place in the program pending a favorable Admissions Review. If the first choice is not available, we will call you to confirm that the second choice is acceptable. If neither the first choice nor second choice are available, we will call you to discuss options. For those students placed on our waitlist, we will notify you as soon as a spot becomes available.
We seek to admit students who have demonstrated that they possess the personal qualities and experience necessary to succeed on an Overland trip. While Overland is always supportive and nurturing, an Overland program is unlike a traditional camp in that our small groups–12 students and 2 leaders–travel, live and work as a group, making all of their own meals, helping each other and cooperating in ways big and small, and they do all of this far from home. As a result, every student must be able to thrive in an environment that places equal emphasis on:
1. Teamwork and Shared Responsibilities.
2. Independence and Self-Reliance.
3. Support of Others and Consideration for Others.
- What are Overland’s policies on phones, electronics and communication?
To maximize independence and self-reliance, we do not permit phone calls, emails or text messages to or from our campers (the exceptions to this are: your child will call home on arrival and departure with our phones and assistance, and in the case of an emergency). If your child brings a phone for use while en route to Overland, please do not send him or her with an expensive smartphone; instead bring an inexpensive prepaid cell phone. All phones will be collected on arrival and returned at departure. While we will take reasonable steps to prevent damage, theft or loss to phones, we take no responsibility for phones and we will not make any reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen phones.
Cameras are welcome but please do not bring any other electronics (e.g., iPods, iPads, Kindles or other readers, GPS or similar devices). All electronics (except cameras) will be mailed home on arrival (at your risk and expense).
We are committed to providing extraordinary support to you and your child; to that end, the Overland office is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week during the summer (outside of office hours our answering service provides emergency coverage). Our leaders in the field are in touch with our office regularly; they carry cell phones (and in some cases satellite phones). Anytime a camper is treated for an injury or illness by a doctor or medical personnel, parents are notified by our office. A director will call the parents to explain the nature of the injury or illness, the sequence of events leading up to the injury and/or the steps leading to the treatment. Parents are typically able to speak with the medical personnel, with the leaders and with their child.
- What vaccinations and medications does my child need in order to travel abroad with Overland?
Overland strongly recommends that families of students traveling abroad consult their child’s doctor and visit a travel clinic well before the start of the program to discuss options for travel-related vaccinations and medications. These are in addition to your child’s routine vaccinations and regularly prescribed medication.
You and your doctor are encouraged to generally review information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. State Department, the World Health Organization (WHO) or other sources, in addition to the specifics of your selected program, to consider health issues and determine what, if any, travel-related vaccinations and medications are appropriate for your child. Overland will provide a “Travel Vaccinations & Medications” form to assist with this process.
- Can my child get credit for service hours?
You should check with your child’s school about whether or not Overland's service hours meet their requirements. The approximate number of hours of service are listed in the sidebar. We will provide your child with proof of participation after completion of his or her service work.
Explore, volunteer and hike in Peru while engaging with local culture.
Students going on Field Studies Peru should prepare for:
- 4 days of hiking with an average of 9 miles per day
- 8 days of volunteer service for an average of 3 hours each day
- Traveling internationally
- Travel to and from the trip
- An Overland experience
We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.
Preparing for Hiking
Trekking to Machu Picchu is a strenuous physical activity and requires proper training. Your group will be accompanied by professional guides and porters who will carry the majority of your group's gear such as tents, stoves and food. You will carry your own personal gear such as sleeping bags, clothes, jackets and toiletries.
Before your trip, we strongly advise you spend time breaking-in and adjusting to your hiking boots. Please follow our guidelines as you prepare for your program.
- 5 weeks before your trip: wear your boots for 15-30 minutes a day. Walk around your house or neighborhood so your boots begin to conform to your feet.
- 4 weeks before your trip: take three 30-minute hikes or walks in your boots.
- 3 weeks before your trip: take three 1-hour hikes or walks in your boots.
- 2 weeks before your trip: take three 1½ -hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 10-15% of your body weight.
- 1 week before your trip: take two 2-hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 20-25% of your body weight.
Groups typically take multiple breaks throughout the day while hiking—for water, snacks, lunch, to adjust packs, etc.
Preparing for Service
Trips involving service work require a positive attitude and willingness to work hard as a volunteer. You should arrive eager to participate in a variety of service projects. You should expect to work with young kids at local elementary schools and children's centers. Our projects may include art classes, mentoring in English and playing games outside with children. The projects your group work on will depend upon the availability of service opportunities and the needs of the local community.
Preparing for International Travel
International travel requires planning and preparation. You must have a valid passport and the necessary visas, travel vaccinations and travel medications. We will provide additional instructions regarding international travel preparation once we have placed you on a program. More information is also available in the FAQs.
Preparing for Travel to and from the Trip
Families are responsible for arranging flights to and from the designated airport during a specified window (please do not purchase flights until you have received an email confirming our review of your health forms and school reference). Overland staff will be at the airport to welcome you at the start of your trip and to assist with your departure. You may also be dropped off and picked up at the airport. If you are flying to and from your trip, we will have you call home upon arrival and before departure. We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed you on a program.
Preparing for an Overland Experience
Overland programs are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be supportive of your trip mates and your leaders, enthusiastic, positive and helpful. We ask that you leave your cell phone and electronics at home (cameras are always welcome), so you can fully engage with your group and your trip. You will have the opportunity to send letters and receive mail at designated mail stops, which are shared in the spring.
All trips have a range of challenges. You should come prepared and recognize that some days will be more difficult, more challenging and longer—in terms of hours hiking or volunteering—than others. Changes occur due to a wide range of variables beyond the control of you, your group or your leaders. Service projects can change at a moment’s notice due to weather or the varying needs of local communities. You, or someone in your group, might develop blisters while hiking or encounter another issue that could delay your group.
Arriving ready for a challenge—and prepared to contribute to an enthusiastic group—will go a long way toward creating a successful trip. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss preparing for your Overland program.