Colorado Academy
High-Impact Projects
Community Building

Depart Denver Friday, May 17 at 3:34 pm (AA #1817)
Arrive Cuzco Saturday 11:10 am (LATAM #2320)
Return Denver Sunday, May 26 at 2:17 pm (AA #1817)
Provide the following on Customs forms: Primary purpose of trip is “tourism,” since this is not for a job. Address in Peru: Avenida Mariscal Castilla 610 Urubamba 08661 Peru

AccommodationsWe live together in a rented house in a close-knit neighborhood of Urubamba. Accommodations are basic, but clean and comfortable. There are bathrooms and showers, running water, and an outdoor patio for gathering. Read more.

Packing: Check out the packing list & guidelines. Please pare down instead of bulk up… the packing list is the absolute most that you would need.

FoodMeals and snacks are varied and healthy. Members of the group take turns preparing breakfasts and lunches, and a local cook prepares our dinners. Vegetarian options are available and participants with special food requirements provide that information before the program begins (vegan, allergies, etc.).


Your desire to participate in the Peru program indicates a commitment to the profound learning that happens when groups of people undertake meaningful projects in another culture. VISIONS has worked in Peru for 26 years and you will be welcomed like an old friend.

This is an exciting opportunity to explore another culture and develop new ways of thinking while giving back and digging deep with students and teachers from Colorado Academy. Check out some photos from VISIONS summer programs if you want to get a taste for what’s ahead for your time in the Sacred Valley of the Inca!

Program Updates: While VISIONS leaders do not post constant updates from the field (their primary job being to be fully present with the program and kids), a few times a week they do post photos and updates to VISIONS Facebook and Instagram pages. CA will also have their own updating system in place with families.


Our time will be in the cross-cultural context of service projects and spending time with our local friends. Activities will be a blend of cultural immersion and adventure. The following gives an overview of the week. 

Day One

  • Flight arrival to Cuzco met by VISIONS staff
  • Approx. 1-hour drive to our homebase in Urubamba
  • Settle in, program orientation, town tour & fun Scavenger Hunt
  • Bienvenida Welcome Dinner!

Day Two

  • Breakfast at homebase
  • Pachamama Ceremony done in the Quechua indigenous way to bless the land before projects begin
  • Service projects until ~ 2 pm
  • Afternoon pottery & chocolate-making workshops
  • Dinner & group meeting

Day Three

  • Service project rotations until ~ 2 pm
  • Pottery / chocolate-making workshop rotation
  • Afternoon tour of Moray, an ancient Incan site, followed by dinner in town & then stargazing under one of the most darkened skies with incredible night sky views

Day Four

  • Service project rotations until ~ 2 pm
  • Chinchero artisans market, one of the largest in South America, complete with Quechua crafts, alpaca wares, and more. Then a tour of the nearby ruins.

Day Five 

  • Day Stays with local families (done in pairs) from mid-morning until the dinner hour, when you’ll return home to share stories about your unique day with a Quechua family. 

Day Six 

  • Machu Picchu! Full day trip to this Wonder of the World. We arrive and depart by train through the Sacred Valley and then tour this renowned site. 

Day Seven

  • Wrap up our worksites and then have ‘Bamba Time to explore town, the Plaza Central, and an optional hike to a mountaintop looking over our homebase town.

Day Eight

  • Pack up & say goodbye to our local friends before heading to the ancient Incan capitol of Cuzco, where we’ll explore this UNESCO World Heritage Center for an hour or two before heading to the airport for the mid-afternoon flight to Lima, then onward to Colorado (arriving to Denver the next day, Sunday).

Activities And Excursions

  • Explore the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu
  • Learn local crafts including pottery and chocolate-making
  • Visit the Moray and Chinchero ruins in the Sacred Valley
  • Tour the Salineras salt flats, used by ancient and contemporary Peruvians
  • Spend part of a day with a local family
  • Explore the ancient Incan capitol of Cuzco
  • Go stargazing, listen to live music and share stories by a bonfire

A Note About Health

Since VISIONS cannot provide medical advice regarding international travel or vaccinations, we recommend consulting with your family physician or a travel doctor, keeping in mind that some vaccines require a series of shots that take place over several weeks. You can also review the Center for Disease Control website for Peru.

A travel doctor may wish to know the areas we will be while in Peru: the program is based in Urubamba, and excursions to other areas include the city of Cuzco, various sites within the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.

There is a hospital in Urubamba and more serious medical situations also can be treated in Cuzco (about a one-hour drive). To learn more about health and risk management on VISIONS programs, please refer to this FAQ link.

I gained a wider perspective of the world and gratitude for my life. By going on this trip, I have learned so much more about the world, others, and myself, and I feel that it has made me a better person.”

Dylan Ragas

Our service projects are done with community members from indigenous Quechua communities who very much welcome our help constructing water canals that help protect their livelihood as agriculturists. These lovely folks will be with us each day at the worksites. 

After work days end around 2 pm, the rest of the day includes cultural exchanges, recreation and activities anchored in the community. You will experience the “must-see” sights along with activities that come from long-standing relationships in the community.

In addition to the spontaneous and ongoing community building we do with our local hosts, we meet as a group a few different evenings to reflect on the volunteer and cultural experiences, and to listen to what others have to share.

The trip was absolutely amazing. I was surrounded by the most incredible people 24/7, and that really makes a trip like this.”

Sierra O'Brien

The picturesque Urubamba Valley was first settled by ancient Peruvians, who were drawn by the fertile river basin near Machu Picchu. Today, the town of Urubamba bustles with the activities of farmers and producers, artisans and craftspeople,  and a vibrant array of Quechua traditions.

Your Home in Peru

You’ll be amazed by how quickly the cobblestone byways of Urubamba become as familiar as the streets in your hometown. VISIONS has been working with this community for more than two decades, which means our relationships with locals run deep and strong. On this foundation of mutual trust and respect, you’ll make your own connections by hanging out with locals daily, while shopping at the farmers market, working alongside maestros on service projects, making traditional foods with our house cook, Neyda, learning about Incan history from project manager Nico, and playing soccer with “Urubambino” kids. All this conversation means ample opportunities to practice speaking Spanish and, more importantly, listen to the stories of people from another culture.


“I wanted you to know that things could not have been better with the trip. VISIONS leaders were attentive, energetic, intuitive, and kindly firm, just as I would have hoped. We worked well as a team and the students rose to the challenges facing them.”

Anne Weston

Heathwood Hall; Custom Program



Project Coordinator

When VISIONS began working in Peru in 1999, one of our first connections was with Nico Jara. He began as our professional driver that first year, but he quickly proved himself so talented and capable on many fronts, he became our project coordinator. He’s also a close friend, whose knowledge about the Sacred Valley runs deep.

Nico is with our program every day the kids are there, and digs in alongside us at worksites. He’s eager to laugh, joke around, and as a great soccer player, he spearheads plenty of games during the summer. Of Quechua descent (the indigenous people of the Andes), Nico speaks fluent Quechua and Spanish, but he knows only a few words of English, so there are ample opportunities to practice a lot of Spanish when they become his friends.

A professional driver during the rest of the year, Nico is going on 60 but could pass for half that. His wife Berta is a licensed nurse at the local clinic in Cuzco. They have two daughters; their youngest, Patty, worked with VISIONS the summer of 2014.

Nico’s favorite part of the VISIONS summer is helping the rural campo communities in Yanahuara, where we do many irrigation projects. He is particularly passionate about our work with irrigation and water conservation, which helps farmers keep their crops and livelihoods.

Nico loves to say, “Everything is possible.” His tireless physical contributions are matched only by his relentless optimism and positivism. It’s infectious. So much so, there are now countless VISIONS students and leaders who during their time in Urubamba came to share his belief, and have carried the idea that everything is possible out into the world.

Peru Blog Posts

Your Impact Lives On

Your Impact Lives On

Since our inception in 1988, VISIONS continues to offer some of the best volunteer opportunities for high school students there are. Projects are ambitions and real, and have an impact that lasts on the community. And you—our alum—are part of that legacy.

Spotlight: Gillian Madden, VISIONS Alum & Leader

Spotlight: Gillian Madden, VISIONS Alum & Leader

Gillian became a leader for the VISIONS Dominican Republic summer program after volunteering with us as a teen in Peru, and incorporates the experiential learning VISIONS emphasizes into her daily life as a university student in Byron Bay, NSW, Australia. Read on about her adventures!

VISIONS in The New York Times