Peru is a must-see destination in South America. Rich in both geography and history it's an ‘eye opening dream’ of extremes. From the heady heights of the Andes, where the mysterious Machu Picchu lies in the Sacred Valley, to the Amazon rainforest, to the glimmering Lake Titicaca - and that's just the tip of the Peruvian Iceburg.
But Peru is much more than its famous sights, it's about the remote communities whose crops are still planted by hand, where the Campesinos still wear tire truck sandals, where the women work in petticoats and bowler hats, and llamas trot around, tame as pets.
For us the real treat comes from having the opportunity to combine the sights with meeting these communities, who are trying to preserve their traditional way life whilst seeking development in its gentlest form. This is where we come in - through our contacts we have secured the opportunity for Leapers to do just that by stepping into their world to work side by side helping with the harvest and renovating buildings, whilst teaching the young English, computer skills and an appreciation of their lifestyle. It is an amazing and unique opportunity for positive cultural exchange – so don't miss out.
You’ll start in the sun-drenched colonial Andean city of Arequipa where you'll spend the week learning Spanish and exploring this World Heritage Site which is undoubtedly the prettiest of Peru's cities.
Framed by 3 volcanoes, it's filled with baroque buildings constructed from sillar, a white volcanic stone and on a sunny day the city literally shimmers.
The Plaza de Armas represents the historic center over looked by the 17th-century neoclassical Basilica Cathedral, which houses a go-to museum of religious objects and artwork.
You’ll spend your first week in this stunning setting to learn Spanish in the mornings (2 hours) before exploring the culture and local adventures in the afternoons. Visiting the San Camilo Market, meeting the resident alpacas and white water rafting down the Chili River, is just for starters.
Colca Canyon, is one the worlds deepest river canyons. In fact at its deepest point, the canyon falls from its rim to its floor for an incredible drop of 13,648 feet (4,160 meters).
The canyon is a sensation of green valleys, white water, remote traditional villages with terraced agriculture (that predates the Incas), lamas, alpacas and of course the famous giant Andean condor.
After two hard-working weeks of volunteering, you ‘ll be led on a 3-day/2-night hike deep into the canyon to explore its majestic beauty with a local guide.
At the end of the hike you'll return to Arequipa before traveling on to the town of Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire, and is now known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. The Plaza de Armas is the heart of the old city, with arcades, carved wooden balconies and Incan wall ruins.
You will have a day here to explore this beautiful colonial city and have the chance to visit another incredible pre-Inca site at Sacsayhuaman where thousands of huge stones, some weighing hundreds of tons, have been intricately and painstakingly joined together to form a long series of terraces.
Lake Titicaca straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia high in the Andes Mountains. It is one of South America's largest lakes and it is believed to be the birthplace of the Incas.
Steeped in history the shores are a visual feast of crumbling cathedrals, desolate altiplano and checkerboard fields backed by rolling hills and high Andean peaks.
Here you will join the community of Karina, found on a peninsula that juts out into this spectacular lake to help with their development.
Three hours north of Arequipa is the famous Colca Canyon where you’ll join the Coporaque community who are keen for you to help with their development.
Projects will include:
Developing a plot of land at the secondary school to produce corn, vegetables and quinoa to use for school meals.
Helping with the sowing, harvesting and crop preparation.
Teaching English and IT skills at the secondary and primary schools.
Looking after the little ones in the daycare center.
Maintaining the aqueducts and local infrastructure.
Promoting community-based tourism via the internet and developing the cultural center in the village.
You‘ll be busy working in the mornings but in the afternoons you’ll be free to explore the area and its stunning scenery starting with the local thermal pools. Heaven.
The community of Karina is found on a peninsula that juts out into the magical Lake Titicaca.
They are a traditional Aymara community still close to their indigenous roots, however a small group of forward thinking families are developing ecotourism in the community as an extra source of income, to supplement their subsistence lifestyle.
Here you will contribute to:
Working alongside the local families on their smallholdings.
Teaching English,art and IT skills to the kids in primary and secondary schools.
Teaching English to the host families.
Working on community maintenance projects.
In your free time, you’ll have the chance to challenge the school kids to soccer matches, swim in Lake Titicaca and explore the Chucuito Peninsula.
The “Tierra de los Yachaqs” project involves a group of small indigenous communities tucked away in the Sacred Valley. They live at about 3,500 to 4,500m high, in the spectacular Andean landscapes and live largely by traditional agriculture and crafts production.
Like the other communities they are keen to develop through ecotourism.
Projects will include:
Helping with their traditional agricultural processes.
Helping develop the local crafts.
Teaching English in the schools.
Developing local infrastructure.
Teaching hosts English.
Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century, high in the Andean Mountains above the Urubamba River Valley. It’s renowned for its dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, buildings inline with astronomical alignments and stunning, I repeat stunning, panoramic views. Its exact former use remains a mystery.
Now’s your chance to visit this breathtaking and iconic Inca site of Machu Picchu and there are two ways to do it:
You can either catch the bus to Aguas Caliente and hike for just two hours to see this beautiful site for the day. Cost included in the program.
Or embark on a 4-day trek through the winding valleys and stunning scenery, before ascending to the site of Machu Picchu in time for sunrise. You will have the day there to explore the site in all it’s glory before trekking back to Aguas Caliente for the night. This is an extra cost of £480.
Communication is not the easiest in Peru as most people do not speak any English, but don’t panic, as you will have an English-speaking guide with you at all times.
However, it is really useful and less frustrating if you can get by with some basic Spanish up your sleeve, especially in the markets.
Therefore we have included Spanish lessons for you while you are in Arequipa. Before you go, we will ask about your level (most are total beginners) so we can pre-prepare the teachers/lessons. You’ll spend about 2 hours every morning during your first week with a professional language tutor in a group of 3-5 students.
You’ll be pretty busy with your project work and learning Spanish but you will have free time to get stuck into some of these backpacker favourites - all of which can be arranged out there.
4 departures to Peru throughout the year. The January, April and September departures are for the full 10 weeks, taking in all the sights and experiences described above with plenty of downtime for you to explore.
The 6 week program departs in July and aims to pack as much into a shorter period as possible. It is ideal for the gap between A-Levels and results day.
However we are very flexible, so if you need to arrive late or leave early? No problem, get in touch and we'll help you sort something out.