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.
My leaders are two of the most amazing people I have ever met. They were always energetic, patient and in a good mood. All of the activities were a ton of fun, but my leaders were the reason why the trip was such a good experience.
- Katherine Walker, McLean, Virginia
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 three 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. Itinerary may vary by group and is subject to change.
Explore, volunteer and hike in Peru while engaging with local culture.
Students going on Field Studies Peru should prepare for:
- Full days of outdoor activities led by two caring Overland leaders
- A four-day, supported trek with camping
- 8 days of volunteer service for an average of 3 hours each day
- 3 days of Spanish class for 4 hours each day
- A fun, supportive and wholesome Overland experience
We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.
Preparing for the Hiking
On Field Studies Peru, you will do a number of day hikes, as well as a four-day trek to Machu Picchu. For the trek, 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. In the month before your trip, you should break-in your hiking boots (wear them a lot!) and complete the pre-trip training (see below). Once on your trip, you'll find that enthusiasm and a positive attitude will help to make the trip a success for you... and for everyone in your group.
- 4 weeks before your trip: three 30-minute hikes or walks in your boots.
- 3 weeks before your trip: three 1-hour hikes or walks in your boots.
- 2 weeks before your trip: three 90-minute hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 10% of your body weight.
- 1 week before your trip: three 2-hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 15% of your body weight.
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 will work on will depend upon the availability of service opportunities and the needs of the local community.
Preparing for an Overland Experience
Overland trips are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be enthusiastic, positive, helpful and supportive of your trip mates and your leaders. 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. 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 trip!