The Road Less Traveled
2331 N. Elston Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
June 24 - July 7, 2018
Pachamama, the Quechua word for “Mother Earth,” is the perfect name for our teen community service trip and Spanish exposure program in the terraced countryside of Peru.
This experience inspired me to live in the moment and then search for my next adventure.” -Katie D., RLT Alumna
We venture through the famous Incan empire, whitewater raft through the Sacred Valley, soak in the hot springs of Santa Teresa, visit the agricultural Pallata community, hike in the striking Vilcanota range, and explore the ancient city of Machu Picchu.
Our service initiatives include construction, maintenance, and protection of a village’s water source and pipeline in order for the community to have access to clean water. We also teach and assist in local schools, and help sow fields for the growing season! In addition, we experience the community’s alpacas and llamas and work in the fields, giving us a deep understanding of what life is like in the Andes.
Keep scrolling to learn more about this enchanting teen community service trip and Spanish exposure program!
Red howler monkeys are one of several primate species that live in the forests of Tambopata. The primates clamber along branches to chew on leaves, paying little attention to people watching them from the rainforest floor. And then they fill the air with a wildly odd, windy roar.
Andean markets serve as community centers where local ceramics, jewelry, and textiles share the shelves with fruits, vegetables, and grains. This market is an ideal place to experience the colorful wares and smells of Peru.
Embark on the adventure of a lifetime! Enjoy the fresh mountain air as we trek in the unforgettable Vilcanota Mountain Range. Our journey takes us past organic potato farms, over stunning ridges, and allows us to exchange stories with local farmers as we begin our ascent to the iconic Melo Pass. On the back half of our trek, we descend to camp Challhuacocha (nestled in the mountainside), where we camp alongside llamas and alpaca and enjoy the crisp alpine air.
#4 Andean Agricultural Terraces
Andean terraces show the impressive organization of pre-Conquest Andeans. Now ghosts of the Incas’ farming achievements, the terraces cast shadows in lines of green across the mountainsides along with former irrigation canals that carve hollows into the land. Today, Andeans are rediscovering these ancient practices and reclaiming traditional crops and methods of planting.
With mysterious temples and palaces nestled among hundreds of terraces, this fabulous Inca citadel is awe-inspiring. A UNESCO world heritage site, it holds a lot of history within its stone walls.
The two main influences of native Peruvian culture are Hispanic and Amerindian traditions. As a result, in every aspect of music, dance, festivals, literature, and other art forms, these lively influences are visible. Join us as we stay in the agricultural community of Pallata to learn and trade stories with local children and farmers.
American archeologist Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911. The Incan ruins make up the largest empire in pre-Colombian America and reveal how advanced the Inca were for their era.
The Urubamba River, Rio Urubamba in Spanish, flows across the famous Sacred Valley of the Incas. In the north of the country, it meets with the Apurímac and Ucayali rivers to form the legendary Amazon.
At the northern end of the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo is rare if not unique in Peru. This citadel served as both a temple and a fortress. At a time and for reasons unknown, work mysteriously stopped on this huge project.
Cusco is a beautiful city with well-preserved architecture that serves as evidence of a rich and complex history. It represents the center of indigenous Quechua culture in the Andes, and the layers of history become clear when walking the streets. Spanish colonial buildings erected directly atop Inca walls line the square while modern tourist nightlife flourishes in their midst. The city is surrounded by a number of ruins including the ancient Incan fortress Saksaywaman.
Lima, also known as the “City of Kings,” is traversed with tidy streets and handsomely landscaped parks with sweeping ocean views. Compelling rich pre-Columbian heritage, ethnic diversity, and emerging art and fashion scenes – as well as remarkably great food – make this cultural capital a must for exploration.
Construct and maintain a water pipe to provide clean water to the community, teach and assist in local schools, and help sow fields for the growing season!
Exposure within community and country
Explore: Lima, Machu Picchu, Incan ruins, Cusco UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ollantaytambo, Chaullacocha, and the Pallata community
Trek: Huacahuasi to Challhuacocha, Day hike at Machu Picchu
Whitewater Raft: Urubamba River, Sacred Valley
Cultural Exchange: Andean, Quechua, Willoq, and Pallata Community
While in Peru, we stay in hotels and in tents. Showers are available; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability. During the service section and the hike, we are camping in tents. Bathrooms are flush toilets at the hotels and a mix of latrine and backcountry bathrooms during the service section and trek.
Miami, FL or Lima, Peru
A leader escorted round-trip flight is available out of Miami, FL (MIA), or meet in Lima, Peru. Please contact our office for additional information.
A Certificate of Community Service indicating the total hours worked will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
Please Note: The trekking portion of Pachamama is adventurous and at times, a strenuous yet incredibly rewarding challenge. Participants must be comfortable with camping and be physically fit enough for long, active days. Weather will vary; to be successful, it is imperative participants follow the program packing list.
Join in on the fun! Check out #PachRLT for a behind-the-scenes look at photos from past participants and leaders.
We arrive in the Andes, the world’s longest continental mountain range, and immediately sense the thin, clear, mountain air. One of our first memorable views is of the rare, awe-inspiring Incan walls. Miles of these enormous granite blocks are carved to fit together perfectly without the aid of mortar, and so precise not even a credit card can be inserted between them.
We descend into the Sacred Valley along the Urubamba River, traveling through snowcapped peaks and rolling terraced hills where we set up camp and acclimatize. We whitewater raft past eucalyptus trees, beautiful flowers, and cacti in the Sacred Valley and enjoy unparalleled views of Incan ruins perched high on the hilltops.
Departing to the mountain community of Huacahuasi, we stop along the way for a soak in the thermal springs at Lares to rejuvenate and prepare ourselves for the adventure trek ahead.
Trekking from Huacahuasi to Challhuacocha, we pass organic potato farms and exchange stories with local farmers as we begin our ascent to Melo Pass. On the back half of the hike, we descend to camp Challhuacocha in the stunning Vilcanota mountain range, where we camp alongside llamas and alpaca and relish the crisp alpine air.
In the agricultural village of Pallata, we begin our service work. Using conventional methods of Peruvian construction, we help with the maintenance of the community's water pipeline, helping improve both overall access and health. Afternoons and evenings, we teach English, play games with the local schoolchildren, help in the fields, and meander through the surrounding terraced hillsides and understand more of Andean life.
After sharing a final meal and a celebration with the community, we transfer to the enchanting Agua Calientes for a soak in the healing waters and then on to explore the ancient secrets of Machu Picchu. Taking the road less traveled, we hike the magical Incan steps and explore the ruins of the age-old citadel.
Back in Cusco, we explore the historic downtown, travel to a local crafts market, wander through rows of woven textiles (tegidos) and local produce, before we explore the old town of Cusco and share in a closing banquet before heading to the airport.
An Important Note: Pachamama fills rapidly. In addition, special time sensitive permits are necessary for the trek. If you are interested in this adventure, we suggest you reserve early.
Leader-escorted flight from Miami, Florida or meet in Lima, Peru. Board group flight to Cusco, Peru, the next morning. Settle into lodging along the Urubamba River surrounded by the Andes Mountains.
Spend time in the Incan village of Ollantaytambo and explore the Temple of the Sun.
Bike downhill or bus to the banks of the Urubamba River for an afternoon rafting down to Rumira. Early dinner at the campsite.
Refresh and rejuvinate with a dip in the thermal springs of Lares before transfering to Huacahuasi to prepare for our hike.
Treking from from Huacahuasi to Challhuacocha, we pass organic potato farms and exchange stories with local farmers as we begin our ascent to Melo Pass. Later, we descend to camp Challhuacocha in the stunning Vilcanota mountain range, where we camp alongside llamas and alpaca and enjoy the crisp alpine air.
Move to the agricultural community of Pallata to assist with the maintenance of their water source. The project will help improve the health of the community and expand access to clean water. We will also teach english and attend classes in the local school, and help sow the fields for the growing season. During our downtime, we will participate in communal activities that make up life in the Andes, helping in the fields, and playing fútbol and other games with kids.
Hitting the road early, we climb to the majestic Incan city of Machu Picchu. Here we hike and discover city's ancient and mysterious history, while snapping some once-in-a-life-time shots.
Explore the craft center in Awanacancha and wander through rows of woven textiles (tegidos), carvings, local produce, and animals (like vicuña). In the afternoon we explore the old town of Cusco and share in a closing banquet before heading to the airport.
Say final goodbyes and head home. Fly back to the U.S. via a leader-escorted flight or other arranged flight.
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please visit the CDC’s website to read more about recommended vaccinations for travel to Peru. The decision to get some, none, or all of the recommended vaccinations is a personal one, and should be discussed with your family doctor.
Please click below to view your program’s equipment and packing list!
For an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200 and we’ll happily send you one!
The trekking portion of Pachamama is adventurous and at times, a strenuous yet incredibly rewarding challenge. Participants must be comfortable with camping and be physically fit enough for long, active days. Weather will vary; to be successful, it is imperative participants follow the program packing list.
The Pachamama program offers an Escorted Flight for all of its participants. Any student who wishes to fly with an RLT leader will meet that leader at the Miami International Airport (MIA) on the first day of the program. All students who wish to fly directly to Lima (LIM) will have the option to meet the rest of the group upon arrival in Lima. In addition, all participants will fly with all leaders on an in-land Group Flight from Lima to Cuzco and back at the beginning and end of the program. On the last day of the program students are welcome to either fly directly home from Lima or fly back to Miami with the leaders (and fly home from there).
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare or making their own travel arrangements to get their student from home to (either) Miami or Lima on the first day of the trip, and from (either) Lima or Miami back home on the last day of the trip. If you chose to fly from Miami, families will also be individually responsible for booking the flight from Miami to Lima and back. RLT is responsible for booking the flight from Lima to Cuzco and back for all students and leaders.
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT directs them to do so. We will provide directions to our clients, including timing specifics and airline details, at the appropriate time of year (usually mid-spring).