Peru Cultural Immersion, 13-days

This trip is limited to 8 people who wish to have intimate experiences with the country of Peru and our hosts. While we will travel as a group, you will also have ample time to venture off and explore on your own while on this trip.

What We'll Do
Our program includes these components:

  • Seeing the sites of Machu Picchu, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and other regions.
  • Puno, Lake Titicaca and Amantani Island.
  • Service Project
  • Hike or two, depending on group and individual interest
  • Short Solo

Activities in Ollantaytambo

These opportunties are a sample of what is available during your stay at Ollantaytambo.

  • Basketry: For generations the Carbajal family has been weaving "pispita" stem baskets. You may be able to visit the Carbajal family and learn how to make baskets.
  • Blacksmith Shop: Those interested in metal work are welcome to work on a project of their liking.
  • Bread Oven: The firewood bread ovens in Ollantaytambo provide bread for the entire population of Ollantaytambo. One can learn how to make bread with the local bread masters.
  • Ceramics: The museum ceramics school welcomes anybody interested. Lucho Soler, the schoolteacher and artist has been working in Ollantaytambo using pre-Columbian Andean techniques.
  • You may also visit the local high school. Urubamba Market. Shopping for weekly supplies is done at the Urubamba farmer’s produce and meat market.
  • Art and Journaling. drawing, painting and journaling what one sees is a vital element of experiential learning, One can be coached and practice on the basics of Pen and Ink, watercolor and possibly oils or other mediums, and will also have time to reflect in your journal.

Quechua and Spanish language Learning. Conversational language learning in the cultural immersion tradition, allows the participant to learn by doing, not by translating. You will learn the language with locals to acquire a better understanding of your Peruvian surroundings.

Service Project and Town Work

  • Adobe making, house roofing and field work. River and Inca Path Cleanup and a Tree Planting Campaign are two service programs in the area.
  • There are a number of local organizations that could use a hand in different aspects of their work. Individuals may take time to talk to the leaders of these organizations and see how they can contribute to their work.
  • CATCCO Museum: This is a locally run cultural organization. Aside from managing the local museum and information center, it runs a number of community outreach programs.
  • TROTUH (The Restaurant of the Universal Heart): This is a food shelter for out of town kids who walk for between 1 and 3 hours in order to get to school.
  • ECOAN: works in the communities surrounding whose main objective
    is to protect the endangered native Polilepis "Qeuña" forests.
  • Inca Porter Project: This organization, is working to help porters who work on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu to improve their working conditions, by helping them negotiate with travel agencies in the area and offering them training in basic skills, especially English.

Visiting Important Historical Sites Hiking

You could be hiking at high altitude in the backcountry, along remote parts of the countryside that most tourists rarely see.

We will also visit many of the amazing important ruins in the area.

Indigenous Elders
We will visit with village Elders and learn their perspectives of their place in the world and how Inca and Quechua culture relate to the Pacha Mama or Earth Mother, and may, if you wish, participate in ceremony/ies and prayer honoring the Pacha Mama and Mountain Spirits or Apus in the area.

Solo Experience
A short solo can be part of the expedition, depending on location and conditions. It’s a time to rest on your own in a beautiful mountain location, to reflect on what the trip has meant to you and to start thinking about how you will transfer what you have learned back to your life in the US.

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Guides and Facilitators

Guillermo Seminario: Trujillo and Cusco, Peru

Guillermo the musical director for the band Chimu Inka in Cusco, Peru has all but finished his training as a certified guide in Peru. He will be our host and help organize details about our trip. He is well versed on the history and culture of Peru. He also coordinates the Cusco Music Exchange for MSI and has been in the USA under special invitiation from MSI in the fall of 2008. He is a talented performer, having played various instruments since an early age.
Of course Peruvian folklore music may just be a part of this program too! As Guillermo says, "Just as we depend upon the sun, we can't exist without the strength, warmth and inspiration of music." Guillermo speaks Spanish, Quechua and English.

Randall. Richards

Randall has guided and taught individuals, clients, and participants throughout South America, the European Alps and the Western US since 1981. He has been a senior guide for Alpine Ascents International on Aconcagua, Argentina and four of Ecuador’s major volcanoes, and expedition co-leader on Mt. Huascaran, Peru, as well as a respected instructor on Mt. Baker...read more.

Richard Cari: Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca, Peru

Richard and his parents Sigundino and Marcelina Cari, own the Kantuta Lodge on the Island of Amantani on Lake Titicaca, Peru. Richard is a graduate of the Puno University and studied tourism and hospitality. Since graduating from the University, Richard and his family have been improving the family lodge which lies just meters from the shores of Titicaca. Sigundino is a former town official and assistant to the head shaman on the island. Richard Speaks Spanish, Quechua, English and Aymara.

 

 

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We suggest that you purchase a guide and Spanish or Quechua language book from our reading list, and learn a few phrases of Spanish. Please contact us for our reading list.

Health

Your MS staff on this expedition includes Randall Richards, an Emergency Medical Technician, to take care of you while you're with us. Before you leave, however, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following vaccines; see your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for immunizations to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay >6 months in the region, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Yellow fever vaccination, if you will be traveling outside urban areas.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles.
  • Anti-malarial drugs are not necessary for this trip (per MSI).

For more information on CDC recommendations, please visit their web site.

Our Peru expedition may include hiking at high altitudes; for this reason, you should be healthy and fit enough to endure the hiking/ portions of our program.

Supplies and Belongings

Come prepared with an open mind, bring a journal, and if you like to draw or watercolor, this is the program for you. Wendy Weeks, your host at El Alberque, is an accomplished painter. As a result, oils, watercolor as well as other mediums could be as important as your camera, so bring some art materials.

There are people who have traveled for ten years in Peru and never had anything stolen. There are others who have traveled for one month and have had things taken from them ten times. One can very easily take precautions. We recommend reading Lonely Planet’s instructions about traveling safely.

You can purchase most everything in Cusco that you'll need (shampoo, razors, socks and t-shirts, etc.), so you may want to buy some of these items there. Certainly, traveling light on the plane and buying a sweater in Cusco is a good way to go. However Gore-tex or similar rainwear is better purchased in the US. Consider also purchasing a large colorful Peruvian duffle bag once you are there for taking gifts back to the US.

In short, pack for hiking and camping, as well as relaxing. For suggestions on what to bring along with you, please contact us and we'll be happy to help.

Language

We ask that you study the language before you go. A bit of effort to speak the language goes a long, long way with the local people. We can’t emphasize this enough. Knowing some basic Spanish and a few Quechua words will do more than anything else to put you in closer touch with the people of Peru. Learning the basics is easier than you might expect. Start with Spanish tapes or a fun picture book with removable stickers of Spanish words (which one can put on light switches, night tables, and toothbrush).

Randy speaks fluent Spanish and basic phrases in Quechua. The other staff speaks fluent Spanish, as well as Quechua and English. Some shop owners may speak a little English. If you find yourself in a bind, you probably won’t have a long wait before someone comes to your rescue. However, our expectation is that you will have learned some basic Spanish prior to our expedition, as a courtesy to your hosts.

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Altitude

Taking it slowly the first few days to allow time for your body to acclimate is the most important rule for adjusting to altitude. By the time we embark on any significant hiking or climbing, you will be fairly well adjusted to the altitude. Your guides and facilitators will use the old program of 'climbing high and sleeping low' to properly acclimate. Cusco is at 3362 Meters (about 9500 ft.) and higher than Machu Picchu, so one should plan on taking it a bit easy the first day.

Money, Credit Cards and Debit Cards

Cash advances and debit machines are easily accessed in Cusco and Lima, however we have found that VISA is much more widely used than Mastercard. Have a backup card carried in a separate place. Transfers from Savings to your checking is also possible in some locations but not all. Traveler’s checks may be cashed at some locations. Have a photocopy of your passport in a separate location in your luggage

Communications

  • PHONE: having a calling card will be useful or better yet, you can purchase a Peruvian calling card and use it for calling the US.
  • EMAIL: There are public computer booths/stalls where you can log onto the web for approx. $.50/hour. Having a web-based email such as Yahoo! or Hotmail is free, so you only pay the hourly rate. It can save a bundle on phone calls.
  • MAIL: Peruvian stamps aren’t the cheapest but are works for art. Regular mail’s reliability has improved somewhat, especially for letters, which take about 2-3.5 weeks in delivery time. Mailing valuables, and any packages for that matter, is not recommended.
  • FAX: easily available, but more expensive than email, in many shops in town.
  • SKYPE INTERNET CALLING: Web based program available at all internet booths that allows free high quality international calling and video calling to and from Internet café computers. Simply create your own account and open it on any computer to start calling other Skype users or regular telephones for about .02 cents per minute

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13-day Peru cost is $XXXX (TBA)

International and in-Peru air travel is not included.

INCLUDED

  • All Ground Transportation while in the Cusco/Lake Titicaca Region
  • Three Daily Meals*
  • Experiential Activities in Olltaytambo/Willoc
  • All Accommodations in the Cusco/Lake Titicaca Region
  • Entrance Fees for Ruins of Machu Picchu
  • All Guide fees

*NOT included are 3 meals in Cusco and towns (with an average cost of $3-4 per meal), which allow participants freedom to explore a number of restaurants on their own.

NOT INCLUDED

  • International and In-country air transportation
  • Ground Transport in Lima if you decide to stay in Lima which is optional
  • Accomodations in Lima if you decide to stay in Lima which is optional
  • Compensation for consequences of flight delays or Acts of God
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Trip Cancellation or Travel Insurance (highly recommended)
  • Entry into Cusco Ruins (approx. $15.00)
  • Snacks and sodas or any alcohol
  • Donations
  • Immunizations, medical costs or health insurance, (which includes an international medical evacuation)
  • Peru airport departure taxes in Lima and Cusco ($35.00-$38.00 total)

 

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PHOTO CREDIT: Top and Bottom Image by Joaquin Randall.