PMGY volunteer in Peru participants are based in Cusco, the Incan capital of the world located in the Andes Mountains. As you move through the narrow streets you can’t help but wander into the hidden markets, gaze upon the local artwork and chuckle at the llamas dressed in traditional material.
Peru is full of wonder with the Incan capital, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Rainbow Mountain, the Amazon and the Nazca lines along the coast. Here you can find yourself in a prime spot to visit places like Rainbow Mountain, the Maras Salt Mines, Sacred Site of the Moray, Lake Titicaca and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Participants generally volunteer on a Monday-Friday basis and the weekends are free to relax or travel further afield. As our volunteers will testify, the wider travel opportunities are extremely important to the whole experience and it is something we certainly recommend. Our local team are able to arrange activities, transport and accommodation but please note this is usually an independent experience outside of the core program.
Cusco is the oldest continually inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere. The city will leave you amazed as you learn of its Puma shaped layout, historical ruins, Spanish colonial architecture, Incan temples and indigenous influence. This Peruvian beauty brings excitement and culture into all those that visit. As you live in the homes of the locals you will get an abundant mixture of tradition and tourism. From bustling markets, women in traditional clothes with braids hanging long, Peruvian restaurants, wandering Alpacas and cafes a-plenty.
The Sacred Valley, or Vilcamayo to the Incas, traces its astonishingly beautiful course from Pisac down towards Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and eventually Machu Picchu. Located about 30km from Cusco, it is a steep-sided river valley that opens out into a very fertile but narrow alluvial plain. The river itself starts in the high Andes and is called the Vilcanota, the same name as the mountain where the river emerges from. From here the river is known as the ‘Río Urubamba’, an energetic and magnificent river which flows right into the jungle.
Located in the southern region of Cusco, Vinicunca will satisfy the most adventurous of hikers and create unforgettable memories of breath-taking panoramas of high mountains, formidable glaciers, crystalline rivers, lakes, and peaceful pastoral scenes with herds of alpacas kept by Andean ranchers wearing colourful garments. This is a real adventure through a preserved and wild natural landscape, where you will meet with small communities of Quechua-speaking descendants, trekking between 4710-5200m above sea level.
This river is a rafter’s dream! The day will start out at ‘Cusipata River Lodge’ where professional guides are awaiting groups for an intense raft adventure that will change your life. On this tour, you will raft on Vilcanota river, in the Chuquicahuana section. This section is more intense with adrenaline pumping rapids. The thrill is not finished there; this destination also offers a zip line adventure over Urubamba River reaching heights over 100m. Most participants only join for one day, but you are welcome to stay the night at the River Lodge.
Whether you are trekking for days through the Inca trail or taking the train for a night in Machu Picchu Pueblo, you won’t want to miss the sunrise climbing the mountain. Situated between the many winding roads are hidden staircases to allow visitors to climb to the entrance of this spiritual centre. Be sure to book yourself onto a guided tour where you will be informed of the invasion of Spanish Conquistadors, the hidden city and the architecture. Visitors will find themselves in awe of the panoramic views as they walk among the mountain tops.
There are several amazing weekend trips to get involved in during your time with PMGY in Peru. Travelling over the weekends is a huge part of the experience as it gives you the opportunity to explore the country with fellow volunteers on the program.
With PMGY volunteers being based in the urban environment of Cusco, they are usually able to organise trips independently without the need for our team to travel with them. There are many travel agents based in the city who can provide affordable and reputable weekend trip options to our volunteers, and they also allow for you to meet other travellers in Peru. As a result, we have found participants to prefer the flexibility to explore all the opportunities available to them once they arrive in Cusco rather than pre-organising trips only for people to want to change these plans once they arrive. You can therefore book weekend trips locally based on your budget, travel preferences and once you have met other volunteers on the program.
We have outlined a couple of popular weekend trip options to give you an idea of some of the trips you can get involved in during your time with us. We recommend participants adopt a relatively flexible approach until they arrive in Peru as participants will usually travel in a group and our team are a great resource to help you make plans! Sometimes Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail itineraries need to be arranged in-advance so these may require additional planning before you arrive in Peru.
LAKE TITICACA & ISLANDS WEEKEND TRIP
INCLUDES - TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION, SOME MEALS & ENTRANCE FEES
For those looking to delve further into the Andes, then this weekend trip is for you! Straddled within the border of Peru and Bolivia is Lake Titicaca, the base for your weekend. Referred to as the birthplace of the Incas, it is one of South America’s largest lakes and home to many ruins.
Across the weekend, we will explore a range of fascinating and historic Islands that encompass the famous bright and reflective waters of Lake Titicaca. Amantani Islands, Taquile Island and Uros Floating Islands will all be ticked off across a busy weekend schedule!
DAY ONE - TRAVEL DAY
You will have the day to continue your project commitments as normal as we will not depart Cusco until the evening time. After your evening meal in your homestay in Cusco, you will then report to Plaza de Armas as we group together and make the short journey to Cusco’s bus terminal to take the overnight bus to Puno. It will be a bed-seat bus and Puno will act as the gateway to Lake Titicaca and the islands.
DAY TWO - AMANTANI ISLAND
We will arrive in Puno at approximately 05:30am. You will be collected from Puno’s bus terminal and get a chance to refresh and relax at a nearby partner hostel. After some downtime, we will head to the port of Puno to take a motorboat heading for Amantani Island located around 25 miles from Puno.
The island here is one of the most beautiful islands that are home to Lake Titicaca. Preserving the traditions of the old empire, you will get the chance to soak in one of the most important cultural heritages of South America as you take in climbing plants, cultural relics and large numbers of pre-Hispanic constructions. Amantani Island is home to around 800 indigenous families, one of which you will spend your overnight stay with to further embrace the traditions and customs the island basks in.
DAY THREE - TAQUILLE ISLAND & UROS FLOATING ISLANDS
After a farewell breakfast at the local family house on Amantani Island, we will jump back on the boat and travel to Taquile Island for your guided visit. A remote island located in the middle of Lake Titicaca, it is inhabited by the indigenous Aymara people who have their own special traditions and customs as well as a range of ancient sites and picturesque views to take in. On the island, we will visit the infamous plaza and pop into some textile workshops for any traditional souvenirs you wish to pick up.
We will then finish the tour with a trip across to the floating islands of Uros. The Islands are home to the Uros tribe which existed before the Incan civilization era. You will receive a guided tour of the island as you visit the community and learn about the history and traditions of this unique indigenous race.
MACHU PICCHU WEEKEND TRIP
INCLUDES - TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION & ENTRANCE FEES
A busy two days await you as we head south from Cusco to the iconic and must-see Machu Picchu. Step back in time as we learn about the history of this Incan retreat, take in all the astounding architecture the hidden city holds and be amazed by the jaw-dropping panoramic views that will surround you.
We will also have some free time across the weekend to soak up the laid back atmosphere of the nearby trendy town of Aguas Calientes. The town is known as the gateway to Machu Picchu and you will have the chance to take in its thermal baths with a visit to the popular hot springs or have a wander around some of the many shops, eateries and craft markets.
DAY ONE - CUSCO TO AGUAS CALIENTES
It’s an early morning departure as we take the bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. From here, we will take the train ride onto Aguas Calientes and take in some amazing views as we travel through the Andes! A member from the hostel where we will be staying for the night will meet you as your train arrives and take you to the hostel where you can check-in and relax.
Perched up high in the mountains of Peru, the town is very laid back in nature and more commonly referred to as Machu Picchu Town. Designed to cater for tourists, there are many shops, restaurants and bars to explore at your leisure. If you look to go off the beaten track you can head to the lesser-known Machu Picchu Museum which details the use and function of the Inca site, how it was re-discovered and how it is preserved today.
Also, be sure to remember your swimsuit and head up to the hot springs that the town named after! Spend your afternoon soaking in the curative waters of the springs in an open-air facility with the amazing Andes as the backdrop.
DAY TWO - MACHU PICCHU TO CUSCO
It will be another early morning start as we begin our visit to Machu Picchu. You will receive a guided tour of the ruins lasting around 2 hours. After this, you will have all the time you require to explore Machu Picchu independently and be sure to get all those photos you desire.
The stunning temples that Machu Picchu brings are sure to take your breath away. Machu Picchu is the most iconic symbol of the Incan Empire and was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. No trip to Peru could be complete would visiting Peru’s most visited tourist attraction!
Just make sure you are back to Aguas Calientes at least 30 minutes before your train leaves. We will take the train back to Ollantaytambo and then the bus to Cusco from here as we arrive back to Cusco late evening.