The Quechua, the native dwellers of the Andes region in Peru, call their home “Pachamama” or Mother Earth. On our 25-day excursion to that very place, our group of students grades 9-12 will explore the vast beauty, culture, and history of a small village outside Ollantaytambo in South America—and find out why the Quechua people love Pachamama so much.
The first breathtaking views we’ll notice as we enter the Andes region are the sharp peaks of mountains and the thin, crisp air. We’ll literally be living on top of a mountain for the next 25 days, just as the Incans did so long ago. In fact, views of the ancient Incan walls and stair-stepping pyramids are not far off. Depending on the weather, we’ll first acclimatize while racing rafts down the Urumbamba River or by climbing the beautiful Via Ferrata. Later, we’ll explore the stony Incan ruins (including Machu Pichu) as we trek through the lost empire.
In the middle of the trip, we’ll spend nine days volunteering by helping construct a medical outpost for visiting physicians, local meetings, and celebrations. We’ll use traditional Peruvian construction methods by using adobe bricks and a mortar that’s mixed by squishing together the mud mixture with our feet. Other times, we’ll help teach English and play futbol with the local school children, practice our own Spanish language skills, and soak up the view.
Our time here is loaded with adventure, too. After exploring the Incan ruins, we’ll sea kayak and go sailing on the world’s highest lake, Lake Titicaca. In a basin high above sea level, it will feel like we’re floating close to the sky. At the tail end of the trip, relaxed from our peaceful kayak and sailing session, we’ll wind down with a night on Taquile Island and a delicious farewell banquet of Peruvian cuisine, watching the sun set over the water.
Some of our past travelers have walked away from this service trip feeling like a changed person—and changed for the better. Victoria Dempsey said, “I left [this] trip with a feeling of self-accomplishment, appreciation for the smaller things such as running water, and just a better sense of who I am, who I want to be, and what makes me click.” We hope you find that same sense of purpose, too.
While this journey impacts the people of the village we’ll visit, its length and immersion also mean we’ll get a realistic experience, and not just a 2-5 day trip that only gives a mere taste of what real life is like within this culture. After a few weeks, it starts to feel like home. And that’s when profound learning happens—when you truly feel like a part of the surroundings, not just a visitor.
This July, find out why Pachamama is beloved for its views, its kind-hearted people, and its culture. Let’s make a difference. Let’s get some fresh air. Some new scenery. Experiences that last a lifetime. Peru is the place where all of those things come together. Why don’t you join us?