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
An unforgettable trip full of challenge, adventure and friendship.
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 underserved 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.
We travel light at Overland.
- 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.
- Navy Overland T-Shirt (1)
We will send every student an Overland T-shirt prior to the trip. Please wear this T-shirt to trip start.
- T-Shirt (3)
- Synthetic T-Shirt (2)
- 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).
- Pants (2)
One pair for traveling and walks through cities and towns. A second pair, synthetic, suitable for hiking.
- Fleece Pants (1)
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)
- Underwear (7)
- Athletic Socks (4)
- Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (3)
- Winter Gloves or Mittens (1)
Insulated, warm and waterproof. Avoid knit and porous materials.
- Winter Hat (1)
- Hat with Visor (optional)
- Bandana (optional)
- Neck Gaiter or Buff (optional)
- 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 pajamas.
- Fleece Jacket or Pullover (1)
- Midweight Synthetic or Down Jacket (1)
- Insulated Fleece or Down Vest (1)
- Raincoat (1)
Waterproof material (e.g., Gore-Tex, or similar) is required. Your jacket should be large enough to allow layers underneath. Ponchos are not acceptable.
- Waterproof Rain Pants (1)
- 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.
Please bring an extra battery/batteries.
- Water Bottle
One 1-liter bottle. A Camelbak or similar water carrier is acceptable.
- Adjustable Trekking Poles (optional)
To add stability, reduce strain on the knees and improve balance while crossing unstable surfaces.
- Bowl, Mug & Utensils
6" to 8" plastic dish or bowl with top, insulated plastic mug, spoon, fork and knife. These don't need to be special camping utensils (a Tupperware dish and regular utensils are fine).
- 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.
Comfortable shoes with good traction.
Flip flops or Crocs work well.
- Synthetic Camping Towel
A medium-size synthetic camping towel (synthetic camping towels dry much faster than regular towels).
- Travel Size Toiletries
- Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
- Insect Repellent
- Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (10)
To organize and waterproof your gear and small items.
- Large Trash Bags (4)
To waterproof your gear.
- Package of Moleskin or Molefoam
To protect your feet from blisters.
- 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.
- Travel-sized Spanish-English Dictionary
- Notebook & Pen
- Camera, Charger & Extra Batteries (optional)
A digital or disposable camera.
- Personal Journal or Book (optional)
- Health Insurance Card
Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
Please bring 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.
- Spending Money & Miscellaneous Expenses
Each student should bring a debit card, an ATM card or a prepaid Visa card to cover spending money and miscellaneous expenses. Some prepaid cards do not work internationally (notably, Visa); please ensure you purchase one that does. Spending Money: While all meals and activities are included in the trip fee, we recommend $25/week for spending money (for example: for souvenirs or an occasional drink or snack beyond what is provided to the group as a whole). Miscellaneous Expenses: Most Overland students will incur some expenses while traveling (for example: an equipment repair or baggage fees at trip end). Please add $100 to the debit/ATM/Visa card (in addition to spending money), to cover these expenses.
Things to know
- We travel light at Overland; please only bring the items on this list.
- Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
- Please do not bring your smart phone (or any other electronics).
Please visit the FAQ tab 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 schedule expensive items—phones, cameras, bicycles, etc.—on your homeowners insurance policy.
Questions? Call us: 413.458.9672.
- What is the weather like on Field Studies Peru?
You can expect typical summery weather with lots of sunshine, some rain, warm days and cool nights. During the trek to Machu Picchu, the nights can be especially cold.
- 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 trip.
- 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 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.
- Does my child need to have previous 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 their interests and abilities. You should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the details of the specific trip 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 Overland's admissions process.
When we receive your application, if your first choice is available, we will: (1) call you to acknowledge our receipt of your application, (2) send you an email with a link to our enrollment forms, and (3) charge a deposit of $795 to your credit card. If your first choice is not available, we will call you to discuss options. For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.
- 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. 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 an expensive smartphone. Instead, an inexpensive prepaid cell phone will do. All phones will be collected on arrival and returned at departure. While we will take reasonable steps to prevent damage, theft or loss, 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 other 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.
- Can I send mail to my child during a trip?
Getting a letter, card or postcard while on an Overland trip is always exciting. Please keep in mind that sending mail to your child on an Overland trip is different than sending mail to a traditional camp because your child will be on the move. Our experience has been that mail often does not arrive on time, and, sometimes, even when it does, post offices, campgrounds and other mail stops do not reliably deliver mail to our groups. For these reasons:
1. Please do not send anything valuable – please send letters, cards or postcards only. If mail is late, lost or misdirected, Overland’s leaders and staff are not able to return to the post office (or other mail stop) to collect it.
2. Please use the US Postal Service first-class mail only; do not use UPS, FedEx or DHL (many of our mail stops accept US Postal Service mail only).
3. Please do not send overnight letters: many overnighted letters arrive before or after we arrive and are then sent back. For this same reason, please do not send mail that requires a signature upon delivery.
4. Please allow one week for postal delivery to U.S. mail stops.
5. Please allow two weeks for postal delivery to international mail stops.
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.