Peru

Program Itinerary

Peru

– High School Summer Program Itinerary –

The actual schedule may change slightly due to the flow of service projects, weather or impromptu community events that we are invited to.

Day 1: High school volunteers arrive at the Lima airport, where VISIONS leaders meet participants and fly with them to Cuzco. All teens make a quick call home before the group drives to Urubamba. (Additional calls home happen once a week, but as with all VISIONS locations, this is otherwise a tech free teen summer program.)

Greeted by our professional driver and project coordinator, Nico, we make the gorgeous hour-long drive into the Sacred Valley and our homebase in Urubamba. We settle in and begin our program orientation, including our first Circle meeting to start getting to know each other.

We then come together for a Cena de Bienvenida (welcome dinner) with community members. Our cook prepares a delicious Peruvian meal!

Circle meetings continue every other evening throughout the program.

Day 2: Orientation and workshops to get grounded in the experience ahead! We meet our maestros, who begin to show us how to mix cement and adobe, lay bricks and use tools properly. One of our projects includes building a network of irrigation canales in the rural community of Yanahuara. We also do construction projects at local preschools and work with kids at a primary school.

On the first day of work at the canales, we take part in a Pachamama ceremony (a gift to the earth), led by a local spiritual leader, and involving the entire community.

Day 3: We jump full into our projects and participants get to choose their worksites most days. We also begin our “homebase crew” days with rotating groups that prepare breakfast and lunch, deliver laundry, clean our living space and shop at local markets to purchase fresh produce.

After work ends around 2:30 pm, we do a scavenger hunt to familiarize with Urubamba and our boundaries.

Days 4 & 5: During our first full weekend, we explore the archeological ruins at Moray. We then take a scenic hike downhill to Salineras de Maras, where more than 3000 natural salt ponds that have been mined since the Incan Empire transform the landscape.

On another weekend day, participants are put into pairs or groups of three for day stays with local families. From late-morning until evening, immerse in the culture of agricultural village life with one of our partner families in Yanahuara. You might help on their farm, spend time with their kids, share stories, or even help to milk a cow! (We try to mix participants with varying levels of Spanish skills.)

Days 6 – 10: Worksites really get off and running, as do our afternoon cultural and recreation activities. We begin our rotating workshops (“talleres”) that continue through the program on select days and include pottery, chocolate-making, jewelry-making and carpentry. Afternoon will also include options for short hikes, “Bamba time” to explore town, pickup soccer games and other activities with local friends.

Read more about daily life on VISIONS programs.

One evening we will drive to the open area near Moray for stargazing, which will perhaps be the most stars you’ve ever seen in the night sky.

During Circle meetings, our group transitions into the “working stage,” delving into activities to learn more about constructive feedback and effective community building.

Day 11: Explore the Saqsaywaman ruins in the hills overlooking Cuzco, then head into the bustling colonial city to visit artisan markets and sightsee around the renowned Plaza de Armas. On this special full-day excursion, we will also stop at Cocha Wasi animal sanctuary for endangered and injured animals to learn more about unique species of the Andes and meet some of the people working to protect them.

Day 12: Another fun adventure awaits, as we drive an hour south through the Sacred Valley to the mountainside village of Pisac. We begin at the Pisac archeological ruins and then make a two-hour downhill hike to town, passing other ruins and farms along the way. Once to town, we have lunch and take time to explore the large artisan market and shops, featuring traditional Peruvian textiles, crafts and jewelry.

Day 13: We put in a full work day—a bit longer than others—in order to make additional progress at the worksites.

Days 14 & 15: Our Machu Picchu excursion! After putting in a few hours of work in the morning, we head to the town and archeological site of Ollantaytambo to explore and then hop on board the train to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. After a two-hour trip, then settling into our hotel and having dinner, we hit the sack early!

We wake early the next morning for a sunrise hike to the world-famous ruins. We learn the history of the Incas with a guide before having some time to walk around on our own. After an exhilarating day, we take an evening train back to Ollantaytambo, make the thirty minute drive to Urubamba.

Days 16 – 18: A packed few days of service projects with our community partners, who have now become good friends. In the afternoons, we continue with our talleres, practice salsa dancing, listen to an Andean folklorico band, have a Talent Show, and make time for some of our favorite Urubamba activities.

By our final week, you know how to mix cement, pass baldes down the line at the irrigation site, properly lay bricks, and how to understand and be understood by new friends who speak little or no English. We complete our projects and reflect on our successes together.

Circle meetings and our time bonding as a group also take on new meaning as we transition into thinking about how the summer experience might continue to play into our lives back home.

Day 19: A trip to the Sacred Valley wouldn’t be complete without visiting the impressive artisan market at Chinchero. One of the most traditional in all South American, with Quechua people adorned in their beautiful clothing, we have time to buy alpaca sweaters, blankets, weavings, and more.

Return to homebase for a Cena de Despedida celebration to say goodbye to friends in the community.

Day 20: Pack up, clean our living space, and head to Cuzco for late afternoon flights to Lima, where most departures begin late-night and continue to the next morning. Two leaders accompany the group in order to see everyone off from Lima.

Day 21: Program departures continue.

Hasta la proxima!

Celebrating 34 Years