Machu Picchu & Quechua Campesinos | 10 DAYS


  • Explore Machu Picchu
  • Visit a Local School
  • Build Clean Stoves
  • Participate in a Pachamanca Ceremony

Explore Peru through the lens of rural campesino culture, a robust yet threatened way of life that has maintained its roots in Peru through relentless resilience and a constant ability to adapt. Combine people-to-people service learning with awe-inspiring visits to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley as you connect across cultures with Peru’s rich rural tradition. Interview artisans in a women’s co-op and learn about sustainable microbusinesses and visit a local school and witness new efforts to improve education in some of Peru’s poorest regions. Participate in Andean Discovery’s Clean Stove Project–a vital public health initiative focused on reducing smoke inhalation in traditional Quechua villages.

Students will travel back in time on this service-learning and adventure program and reflect on the evolution of Peru’s indigenous communities and the proud legacy of the Inca that still permeates into modern Andean societies today. Village visits and workshops are combined with a stay in the indigenous capital of Cusco, where rural tradition blends with urban culture and the charged history of the country is laid bare in the plazas, the battlegrounds, and the ruins.



Itinerary >>

Detailed Itinerary >>

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This evening touch down in Lima to begin your experience in the nerve center of modern day Peru. Colonial, coastal, and cosmopolitan, the City of Kings boasts major industry, historical plazas and cathedrals, fantastic cuisine, and leafy residential neighborhoods. Your Student Expeditions to Program Leader will meet you at the airport and accompany the group to your hotel in the pleasant Miraflores area.

Meals: (no meals)

Visit a local rural community

This morning board a plane and head to the indigenous capital of Peru — Cusco. As you descend into the Sacred Valley, you will pass by snowcapped peaks and rugged Andean terrain before settling into the heart of the Inca empire. Your Program Leader will orient you to the robust indigenous history of the region and the tensions that still play out in Peruvian government and social structures today. Learn about the major initiatives that indigenous rights groups advocate for today, including education, healthcare, and land use.

The first stop is Sacsayhuaman, featuring some of the largest and most impressive stonework of the Incas.  Marvel at the massive limestone boulders and ponder how the Incas transported, carved, and meticulously positioned the stones so that not even a sheet of paper fit between them.  Next, to welcome you to the Sacred Valley, you will visit with local community members and participate in a ceremonial offering to Mother Earth. Learn about the important role of weaving in Peruvian culture and see how South American camelid fibers are used in garments. Meet the alpacas and llamas from which they spool their wool and see if you can distinguish between the two species! Finish the day with a delicious meal made with local ingredients, enjoyed while gazing at the steep peaks of the Sacred Valley.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Activities with local children & professional artisans

This morning head into the countryside of the Sacred Valley, where the agrarian lifestyle endures and the native language of Quechua dominates. Visit a women’s co-op that is dedicated to providing opportunities for economic independence to single mothers in the Sacred Valley. Women from surrounding villages come together to create hand-made greeting cards out of recycled paper and natural materials, which are sold in Europe and the United States. Meet with the artisans who participate in this socially and environmentally   sustainable microbusiness and discuss the  challenges they face, including navigating traditional gender roles, and access to health care and education. Appreciate this art form as you work alongside these women and learn how to make your own cards.

This afternoon visit a school or orphanage in the Sacred Valley and participate in activities with local students. Practice speaking Spanish and Quechua with your Peruvian hosts and teach English through art and games. This is a wonderful opportunity for faculty trip leaders to introduce their own games and activities.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Ollantaytambo Fortress & Aguas Calientes

After breakfast, travel down the valley to Ollantaytambo and walk the wonderfully preserved ruins and stone streets wedged between dramatic mountains. Ollantaytambo was home to the royal estate of the ninth Inca, Pachacuti, one of the most important Inca rulers because of his role in expanding the empire throughout South America.  After lunch, experience one of the world’s great  train rides as you embark on the journey to Machu Picchu. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the views as the mighty Urubamba River carves its way through the Andean peaks outside your window.  Descend into the cloud forest and arrive in Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. Or optional 1-day Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu from Kilometer 104.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Explore Machu Picchu & Hike Wayna Picchu

After a night spent in Aguas Calientes, we head up to Machu Picchu in the morning for a guided tour of this world-famous complex filled with ancient wonder, natural beauty, and cultural intrigue. Delve into the different theories about the purpose of this mountain citadel, and reflect on the way the Inca designed so many of their structures in relation to the sun, the moon, and the landscape around them. After a morning spent in the main complex, enjoy privileged access to a phenomenal hike up Wayna Picchu, the iconic peak that overlooks Machu Picchu (this hike is optional). Enjoy a new angle of Machu Picchu, not to mention breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. We return to the Urubamba in the evening and prepare for the upcoming Clean Stove Project and homestay in the highlands of the Sacred Valley.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Help a community build clean burning stoves

Join hands with community members from a rural village in the Sacred Valley to help with the Clean Stove Project, a special Andean Discovery public health initiative. In many high-altitude communities in Peru, women cook in their homes over an open fire or stove without sufficient ventilation, usually just a hole in the roof for the smoke to escape.  As a result, families live and breathe in smoke-filled homes, which lead to a host of respiratory illnesses, eye infections, and other health problems.  Furthermore, most of the wood used to fuel the   stoves is from native trees, which are rapidly decreasing in number.  The Clean Stove project allows us to work directly with the families of this community, building platforms for the stoves, brick foundations, and then installing the stoves and chimneys. In addition to creating a healthier living environment for the members of the community, you will help the families save money on wood while also helping the environment at the same time. During down time, play soccer and other games or teach English with the children in the community.

During the project, accommodations include homestays with 2-3 students per family.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Community Homestay

Clean Stove Project continued. This afternoon take a break from building stoves and enjoy a stroll around the village to discuss the social and political structure of indigenous communities in the highlands of Peru.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Participate in the Pachamanca Ceremony

This morning participate in an activity with your host families before joining community members for a celebratory farewell feast.

Quechua people from the highlands of Peru still adhere to the beliefs and traditions of their Inca ancestors. This afternoon you will have the opportunity to participate in one of their most celebrated rituals: the Pachamanca Ceremony. Derived from the Quechua words pacha (earth) and manca (cooking vessel), a Pachamanca is a time-honored Andean cooking technique, in which a hearty spread of meats and locally harvested produce is baked in a hole in the earth lined with heated stones and covered with damp grasses and     soil. The food is typically wrapped in banana leaves  and cooked in layers, with potatoes on the bottom, meats in the middle, and corn, cheese and beans on the top. More than just a meal, the Pachamanca celebrates fertility and life, and pays homage to Pachamama (Mother Earth). Join the community leader in a traditional offering to Mother Earth and reflect on your work over the past few days before digging in to your delicious feast. Say “adios” to your new friends and return to Cusco.

Later this evening, head to the hills surrounding Cusco, and enjoy a special stargazing night with a local astronomer. Learn about the stars in the Southern Hemisphere, which make up entirely new constellations, and explore the significance of astronomy in the Inca civilization.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Discover Cusco

This morning continue exploring Cusco as you travel by foot and vehicle down its cobbled streets and narrow passageways with brightly painted balconies overhead. You’ll discover the city’s roots as a battleground between colonial and indigenous forces as you visit sites that testify to the mix of cultures the city embodies today. The first stop is a   local, open-air market where Cusqueños buy their produce, meats, and cheeses.  Discover exotic fruits, and several varieties of quinoa, the Andean superfood, as well as unusual items like guinea pig and live frogs. Sample local delicacies, such as Chuta bread, which is cooked in traditional wood-burning ovens.  Then, travel back in time as you take in the historic Plaza de Armas, and the Coricancha, the Inca’s Sun Temple. This afternoon fly to Lima with yourStudent Expeditions to Program Leader who will assist with your check-in for your international flight to the U.S.

Meals: (B, L, D)


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I have taken two school groups to Peru on trips organized by Andean Discovery, and their level of professionalism and organization were exemplary.  Their fun and knowledgeable guides went the extra mile to ensure we had an amazing trip.  I highly recommend Andean Discovery.  
Peter Kornmeier, Faculty, The New School of Northern Virginia