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Peru

Community + Culture + Machu Picchu

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Itinerary Options

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Looking for something more flexible? Get in touch and we'll chat through options more suited to you.

Step into the Inca Empire

A Bucket List Moment

Having just returned from the first Midlife trip to Peru - I can honestly say that this is an amazing, humbling, and exciting adventure. It is indeed a physical and mental challenge but so rewarding as you head off the tourist trail to trek through hidden valleys, stay with local families, feast on delicious food, and marvel at vistas that take your breath away. Best thing I have ever done.

It's a journey of two parts - the first being the project, ruins and acclimatisation phase. Here you will live in the pretty little town of Calca, which sweeps along the Urubamba River, and is surrounded by dramatic mountains. Everyone lives together with a gorgeous local family to fully embrace the culture whilst helping our Peruvian partners with their community projects, exploring Inca ruins, and completing local hikes so you are fully acclimatised for phase two.

Phase two, is of course, the 3-night, 4 day bespoke trek to Machu Picchu, carefully crafted by our NGO partners using their local knowledge, guides and community elder friends. Through their contacts you will access magical mountain valleys, mystical glacial lakes, and generous Andean farming families tucked away from tourist's eyes. I promise this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience which will reboot and invigorate.

The last night will be spent in the stunning city of Cusco, where you will all celebrate your achievements in an oh-so chic style hotel/hostel, head out for a delicious supper, and explore all the architectural treasures and a market or two.

This is how it rolls...

Venture out to Peru on an epic journey of adventure and community development in the Sacred Valley, with the grande finale of reaching the breath-taking Machu Picchu.


Trip Itinerary

Join this journey which will take you to the heady heights of Machu Picchu whilst introducing you to remote communities tucked away from the tourist's eye who will welcome you in and will value your contribution.

Phase one

Calca, The Sacred Valley project, ruins and acclimatisation

Project, ruins, and acclimatisation

Phase one of your adventure will be based in a pretty little town called Calca (2950m), a hidden gem in the Sacred Valley nestled along the Urubamba River and protected by the sacred, and spectacular Mount Pitusiray.

Here you will be looked after by the gorgeous Kerri and her team, who run a dynamic NGO called the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD) responsible for spearheading solutions for the high Andean communities to address their reliance on potato production, malnutrition, and climate change.

During the course of your time in Peru you will learn about their projects and of course, where possible, will be rolling up your sleeves to help, firstly at their organic demonstration farm called EcoHuella and then with their high-altitude reforestation project.


Accommodation

You will all be picked up from Cusco airport and driven to Calca and dropped off at the homestay for the full cultural experience. We work with 2 families who can take 6 guests at any one time. Everyone has their own room which are clean, comfy but basic.

Gleny and Edmundo

Gleny and Edmundo have been hosting since 2017. Gleny has a store (bodega) built into the house and sells fresh produce, honey, and cacao. She is so sweet and caring and will always make an herbal concoction for altitude sickness. Edmundo is a taxi driver and is the AASD's go-to taxi driver for any emergency. Gleny and Edmundo have one son named Edmundito that is 20 years old. He is sometimes around but is currently studying engineering at a university in Cusco. Gleny is an amazing cook.

Maritza and Lucho

Martiza and Lucho have been hosting clients with the AASD since 2012. Both are teachers around the Calca area. They have 2 sons that are young adults and one daughter that is 10 years old.

Food

All meals will be a family gathering experience at the homestay. Utterly delicious food - fresh and so healthy.

Day 2

EcoHuella Farm Community development

Community Project

Due to jet lag and the new noises of homestay life you will up early. So, everyone will meet at the AASDS office (5 min walk from the homestays) to meet the team and learn about the projects whilst drinking locally produced coffee.

In short - part of AASD's objectives are to widen the variety of crops and productivity of the Andean communities which historically have relied heavily on potatoes, which are now under threat as the glaciers are retreating, rivers are drying up and the soil less rich. AASD has developed a pilot farm called EcoHuella in the Calca Valley, where they practice new techniques and invite high Andean elders to visit and learn. They are currently introducing the greenhouse technology to these communities who are now huge producers of organic strawberries - a huge result at 4500m high.

EcoHuella farm is run entirely by volunteers, so on your first morning, the plan is for you to roll up your sleeves and help with the daily jobs, such as harvesting, watering corn fields, preparing tree seedlings for re-forestation projects, or feeding the guinea pigs.

In the afternoon, you’ll walk back from the farm to Colca along the Vilcamba River to watch the documentary about Julio Hancco, the now famous potato farmer so you can further understand the challenges, resilience and resourcefulness required to make a living in this environmentally hostile environment. For more information: here is a link to the documentary Opening the Earth: The Potato King , which AASD’s co-founder, Aaron, and his brother collaborated on.

Day 3

EcoHuella farm and Urco Ruins Community + Culture

Project, Ruins and Jewellery

The day will start back at the farm before an afternoon hike along the ancient irrigation canal to explore Inca site and caves of Urco, a gentle hike with stunning views.

Whilst you're at Urco, the local Youth Association will invite you all to join the students at a jewellery workshop. This is an amazing and inspiring community project which teaches jewellery design and crafting skills. Fully expect to be shown how to cast a silver ring, weave and link lots of stones and trinkets together. There is a gallery onsite where all the students sell their creations - receiving half of the amount paid (the other half helps fund the project). This is a lovely community moment.

Day 4

Q'engo Community High Andean Culture

High altitude community and reforestation

Brace yourself for this day as it it truly spectacular and will be your first experience of the breathtaking high-altitude mountains. The journey to get here will take about about 1.5 hours but so pretty as you weave your way higher and higher reaching 4000m.

The Q'engo community is an example of where AASD's greenhouse technology has been successfully integrated. They are now one the main producers of flowers and strawberries to the Sacred Valley - supplying many of the hotels and restaurants in the area. This has been life-changing for them as, you will see.

Just above the village you will be taken to the very scared "Lake of Gold" tucked away in the barren landscape. You will be welcomed with a stunning petal ceremony, and be taught about the area - which is where the Incas fled during the Spanish invasion. It is believed that the Incas threw all their gold into the lake and to this day it all remains.

However, not all rest, after lunch you will help with AASD's reforestation project around the lake. Lots of trees need pruning and planting depending on the time of year. They are an incredibly warm and welcoming community so expect to be treated to a delicious lunch, before being roped into helping.

Day 5

Weaving and Pisac Market Culture and shopping

Weaving, Ruins and Market

You will see that Peru is known for its stunning textiles, all beautifully hand woven, so to get a feel for this ancient tradition you will be taken to visit friends of Kerri's who live in a village called Chaywatiri, just along the valley, who raise alpacas for their weaving business. It is amazing to see the process, using complicated looms which require huge skill to operate. If anyone wants fabric, ponchos, belts etc - this is place to buy it.

After lunch you will head down to Pisac to find their famous market, where the Quecha communities from the surrounding highlands flock to the market to sell their produce and gather their supplies for the week. Another great shopping opportunity - this is the place to buy the Peruvian cowboy hats.

Day 6

Urubamba Culture

Exploration

Today will be a peaceful day as you head back along the Vilcanota river, to find the ancient site of Moray and the famous Salt Mines de Maras.

Moray is an archaeological site and there are a lot of theories of what it was used for. Some believe it was used as an experimental agricultural site to help adjust crops to different microclimates, while others consider Moray the womb of the Earth used for spiritual ceremonies.

The salt mines are fascinating - stunning salt pools that were used 500 years before Incan times. There is little information about how the pools were built but some historians believe that the Wari civilization, pre-Inca, built the pools 500 AD-1100 AD. Salt was important to the Incan Empire and was used in food, food preservation, livestock, and even human mummification.

Phase Two

Machu Picchu Adventure and challenge

Journey and challenge

Your second phase of this adventure is of course the journey and challenge to reach the infamous Machu Picchu site, via high mountain trails and passes - which I can guarantee will be a life-enhancing moment and you will be ready for after the first phase of acclimatising. However embarking on this pilgrimage will require a combination of stamina, determination, and fitness.

Built around 1450AD, Machu Picchu was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. It is at 2430m surrounded by towering mountains covered in lush cloud forest and home to thundering waterfalls. Utterly spectacular. Its exact former use still remains one of the world's great mysteries.

The physical challenge to get there will be so worth it, I promise.

Days 7 -10

High Altitude Trek Adventure and challenge

High Altitude Challenge

The proposed route has been carefully crafted using AASD's local contacts which enables us to head off-grid to experience a unique and bespoke trek, made possible by knowledgeable guides, creative cooks and hardy mules.

The first 3 days of trekking will be through the Lares Valley, visiting local communities, before catching the train which will connect us into the last day of the official Inca trail - which is the only way to access the Sun Gate. The Sun Gate is about a mile from the main site - but it provides the iconic view of Machu Picchu in its dramatic setting. This is the bucket list moment.

The Lares area is known as the 'weavers route' and is more remote than the traditional Inca Trail. This route will enable you to meet families who keep alive the traditions of yesteryear, and the making of Inca fabrics. They have remained unchanged over centuries.

It will be a gritty, yet awe inspiring challenge, as you wind through the hidden valleys and stunning scenery with guides and mules in tow. Expect to be walking about 8 hours a day, at altitudes up to 4000m, following ancient paths and sleeping in a combination of tents (2 nights) and hostels (1 night).

Day 1
Lares Valley: Quishuarani (3700m) -> Cuncani (3700m)
This day is a steep upward trek and steep descent over a 4200m pass.
(Camping in Cuncani)
7.7 miles

Day 2
Lares Valley: Cuncani - Iskaycocha (4450m)
This day is the longest but the gradient is more gradual than the previous day despite walking over 2 passes at 4450m and 3750m
(Camping in Iskaycocha which is the most beautiful campsite beside a stunning lake, surrounded by llamas)
11 miles

Day 3
Lares Valley: Iskaycocha - Ollantaytambo (2792m)
This day will feel easier as it is down hill. What is lovely about this day is that the scenery changes as you move to lower altitude.
(Hostel in Ollantaytambo - picture perfect town)
10.9 miles

Day 4
Inca Trail – Sun Gate
6:00am train to km104
8:00am Short Inca Trail
3:00pm Sun Gate to Machu Picchu (2430m)
Return by train to Calca for the night
10 miles.

Accommodation

Hostels and tents.

Food

3 meals a day provided.

Day 11

Cusco Culture

Cusco City

Having completed your challenge you'll all travel back to Cusco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to celebrate your achievements. Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire and is now known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. Plaza de Armas is the central square in the old city with arcades, carved wooden balconies and Incan wall ruins.

San Blas is the traditional old quarter of Cusco and is the city’s most picturesque district, characterized by narrow and steep streets, colonial houses built with walls of Incan stone, and amazing restaurants and shops.

Here you will have time to explore the Centro Historico, followed by a well-earned Pisco Sour class, a final dinner and then back to a funky hostel in San Blas.

Perfect ending to an awesome adventure.

Accommodation

A simple but stylish hotel in San Blas - name of which is a surprise :)

Food

Supper not included.

Day 12

Departure

After breakfast at the hotel, everyone will have time to spend the morning exploring Cusco before catching the flight home. Cusco is a super cool city, lots of winding streets, amazing architecture, and fabulous shops.

Program Details & Costs

2023
2nd October 2023

2024
6th May 2024
30th September 2024
4th November 2024

Min 6, max 10 per team.

Costs

Peru
Sacred Valley + Machu Picchu
2024: £2995

Dates Don't Suit?

Please call us if you would like to organise a bespoke trip and dates. Min number of 6, max 12.

Remote Environment

Head off the beaten track in the Sacred Valley

Physical Challenge

Experience the challenge of reaching the heady heights of Machu Pichu.

Cultural Exchange

Through living with Gleny and her family, you get to experince real peruvian life and delicious food.

Community Projects

Work alongside high Andean communities to adapt to climate change and cultural needs.

Daily schedule

Every day will be busy but we promise some down time to explore independently.

Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD)

AASD was created in 2010 to support community-led agriculture projects in the highlands of Peru. Ecohuella is their (Ecological Footprint) farm. Co-founded by three siblings, Ecohuella, can also be considered a speciality school for campesino farmers because they provide hands-on trainings and workshops that respect the Quechua language, local learning styles, and traditions.

The spectacular landscapes of Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu form the backdrop for this program in this larger-than-life country, but look beyond the stunning environment and you will find evidence of long gone empires and current cultures who are just managing to adapt to the demands of globalization without losing their values and cultures.

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our Mid-Life Leapers will get up to....

"Quality time with girlfriends, old and new. "

Having not been backpacking at the traditional backpacking age this MidLife Leapers' trip was an opportunity too good to pass up. It was a chance to leave the husband and kids behind, to experience a little bit of what kids do while travelling and to spend quality time with girlfriends, old and new.

I was initially attracted by the opportunity to help conserve the turtles and, despite being there in the turtle ‘low season’, we were exceptionally lucky to be involved in locating and moving a nest of recently laid eggs and to watch newly hatched turtles being released into the ocean. A totally unforgettable experience. At Cirenas we met some inspiring young Ticos and I would love to go back in a year or two to see where their vision and hard work has got them.

Thank you Milly, and Chris on the ground, for organising such a fabulous trip for us. We loved it all - the zip wire, the cloud forest, the baby sloths and the anteater, the turtles, the absolutely delicious food wherever we went, and the scary light aircraft to get us home. An amazing trip.

- LIza Curtis

"The value for money was incredible and The Leap is plainly a great company – not only to deal with buy also to travel with."

Having just returned from the mid-lifer trip to Peru ( Nov 22) at the age of 55, I genuinely didn't think I would get the opportunity to backpack again and feel like an intrepid teenager. We were able to stay, visit and get involved with local NGO projects in areas not usually accessible to the average traveller. Meeting, walking and talking with the locals we met (using my basic O’level Spanish) gave me a deeper understanding of the history and beauty of Peru and just how fascinating a country it is. The trip was beautifully organised by the NGO team in Peru, the homestay experience although very basic was a delight with wonderful food at every meal. The value for money was incredible and The Leap is plainly a great company – not only to deal with buy also to travel with.

Thank you Milly and your team!

Sign me up for the next one....

- Lucy Schoonhoven

" I would not hesitate to recommend The Leap to any midlifer who wants to challenge themselves and make lifelong friends in the process."

I booked the midlife trip to Peru to fulfil an ambition to see Machu Picchu, to set myself a physical challenge by completing a high altitude trek and to have fun with like-minded people. Well the trip was an unqualified success. Owing to The Leap's association with AASD, we learnt about sustainability and farming in Peru, we worked on their farms and visited indigenous communities that we would not otherwise have had access to. During the first week in Peru, we stayed with Peruvian families while acclimatising to the altitude. These families were incredibly hospitable and the food was delicious. Week 2 meant the high Andes trek - thank goodness I packed everything on the kit list as we certainly needed it - this was undoubtedly the toughest trek I have ever done but also the most rewarding - we did not see any other tourists, we were superbly looked after by our Guide, Ruben and chef, Edgar. We spend 2 nights camping and 1 night in a hostel and we thought that was it but the icing on the cake of our trip was the short Inca trail - another demanding hike but with the reward of the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu at the top - this was truly incredible and a momentous moment of my life. I would not hesitate to recommend The Leap to any midlifer who wants to challenge themselves and make lifelong friends in the process.

- Annie

"It was the perfect combination of challenge and fun."

Dear gorgeous Milly,

Just wanted to drop you a note and say from the bottom of my heart how fabulous our trip to Peru was. It was the perfect combination of challenge and fun, mixed together with a group of amazing women and life- affirming experiences. It was a privilege to be part of the group and I am so grateful that Claire asked me to join you all on the adventure, but more importantly the planning that you (very specifically) and your team put into the trip made it so special. Your dedication and hard work, together with your amazing team - Kerri, Reuben, Jo-Lyn (to name but a few) made the trip most memorable.

So grateful for all of it and still remembering the laughs….when’s the next adventure?

Lots of love

Tash xxx

- Tash

"Reflect and Reset"

Although I had been promised true wilderness, it wasn’t until we finally arrived in camp that I properly understood that this was exactly what we were getting. Completely off grid, in beautiful surroundings, we were made incredibly welcome by Red and Dre, who then proceeded to put us to work!

What was so extraordinary about the trip was that not only did we feel that what we were doing, along with all the other volunteers, really would make a difference in helping to transform and rewild the landscape in this remote corner of Namibia, but also that by being there as individuals, with no other halves or children to worry about or manage, it was a chance to reflect and to reset. I came home a changed person and cannot recommend the experience highly enough. If you can, just do it!

- Lucy Walsh-Waring

" I would highy recommend this trip"

This was the first time either of us had been to a Middle Eastern and/or desert country. The Leap prepared us very well both culturally and practically - we were advised what kit we would need, what the temperatures and terrain would be like and consequently we had everything we needed.

From the moment we landed in Amman we were swept up in the special Leap cocoon - totally safe and supported but with a sense of adventure and wonder. We had the ease of being part of a group but the luxury of our individual needs being met - at one point, the group split due to fitness differences and both groups enjoyed and experienced the wonder of Petra. Owing to the Leap's Jordan-based contacts, we were able to change and adapt our itinerary on the go and never was this too much trouble. After Petra and Wadi Rum, we ended our trip in indulgence at the Dead Sea having had a fabulous adventure. I would not hesitate to recommend this trip to anyone.

- Charlie and Annie Redmayne

"It was freedom, stillness, exhilaration"

‘There were a thousand reasons why I absolutely couldn’t or shouldn’t take my ‘Leap' to Namibia. The most pressing and logistical reasons were my two boys at day school (one only 8) and my husband being half way across the world for work at the same time. However I just couldn’t let it go. There would always be reasons why not. I HAD to make it work. I had wanted to go to Namibia for years and was just really desperate for adventure. Needless to say it was worth every second of the UN-like logistics to get myself out of the door. It was a strike out of my comfort zone (in many layers not perhaps immediately obvious), it was switching off into proper wilderness (no phone reception or WIFI here, just miles and miles of echoing desert), it was back to brilliant basics in our sleeping bags and tents, it was physical work and walking and climbing and rafting, and it was with a group of people, some I knew, most I didn’t with whom we laughed and laughed, nattered and confided, supported and explored with.

It was freedom, stillness, exhilaration. What can I say? DO IT, DO IT, DO IT! Strike out, press your reset button, be BOLD. For all us it was life-affirming, for some a game changer.’

- Sacha Kent

"We took in the breathtaking sights of Petra arriving on horseback and foot"

We have wanted to visit Jordan for a long time, but weren’t quite sure how to go about organising the right type of trip. One taking into account the culture, the temperatures, terrain and distances between places. So when we came upon this trip we knew it covered all we needed and more. It had just the right mix of history, sightseeing, adventure, new experiences and rest and relaxation at the end.

We took in the breathtaking sights of Petra arriving on horseback and foot. Our group had split to take into account differing abilities, giving everyone in the group the support they needed. From walking in wadis to a night in the desert, the thrills and adventure continued. The Jordan based team that the Leap have, meant that we were supported at all times and given information that we would not have been party to had we been travelling alone. The trip was rounded off with some rest and relaxation in a Dead Sea resort. Time to reflect on what had been an amazing adventure. Memories made to last a lifetime.

We would highly recommend this trip and the services of Midlife Leap.

- Mark and Tina Foster

"Extraordinary and inspiring"

On arrival the trepidation and pre-match nerves soon disappeared and I realised it was the best decision I had ever made. The photos are amazing, but to be there is even better. Having never had a gap year, been camping, been away without family, been to Africa or known anyone on the trip beforehand I was taking a big Leap into the unknown…..and I LOVED every minute. It was a wonderful and unique experience.

I now miss waking up in camp every morning, chatting and laughing with a very special group of now lifelong friends, being inspired by the amazing Dre and Red, looking at the beautiful stars, trekking to the top of mountains to admire the never ending breathtaking views.

The white water rafting and camping on the side of the Orange River towards the end of the 9 days enhanced what had already become the most phenomenal trip. I feel everyone should now make that Midlife Leap and then truly understand why it is so extraordinary and inspiring….

- Alice Fisher

"Meaningful adventure has been a wonderful experience"

Going on The Leap MidLife was a great decision for me: spending time with a very entertaining and engaging group of people in the amazing and ancient landscape of Namibia on a meaningful adventure has been a wonderful experience.

Oana is a very special conservation reserve, and the passion, vision and determination of the camp managers has inspired a long term make-a-difference approach in us all. Although I have left Namibia and am now back in England, the memories of a fantastic and happy community thrown together for a purpose under the African skies will stay with me for ever.

- Carrie Watson

"The most rewarding and valuable trip of my life"

My trip to Namibia will be the platform for the rest of my life. It was vitally important for me to be challenged, tested and taken far away from home. The environment in Namibia is so far removed from the privileged life I lead in England and the enormous personal strain from family illnesses and teenage demands. Namibia was so utterly dramatic in its beauty and so humbling in its simplicity. To be ‘unplugged’ from my life was incredible. It made me ‘regroup’ amongst nature that is so pure - I felt honoured to be there.

Living in tents and being part of a group was fantastic fun. Getting to know myself in that environment was valuable and liberating. So many fears were dispelled by the whole experience.

Thank you for organising a fantastic trip with love and laughter! Thank you for letting me rest when I needed to and encouraging me to ‘push on’ when it mattered. Thank you for the most fabulous memories and happy times.

- Sara Koe

"Soul and mind rebooted and the most amazing group of new friends"

I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with the sleeping arrangements and roughing it, especially as I’m a contact user and need clean hands and a mirror to get them in, but it wasn’t a problem and all the things I worried about before I left were forgotten once I was there.

I had to pinch myself that we actually swam with manta rays and whale sharks and saw the most perfect beaches and yet balanced this with making other peoples lives better on ‘work days’, when we painted a school and health clinic and made bricks for a school build project.

- Emma O'Grady

"An extraordinary and memorable trip"

If you are feeling motivated to make a difference and looking for an off grid adventure, have a look at The Leap’s website.

If you enjoy a challenge and want to feel intrepid, you can join a group of like minded individuals for an extraordinary and memorable trip, organised for you by experts. I cannot recommend The Leap more highly.

- Penny Mountbatten

"Incredible camaraderie and kindness"

During our time we slept in dorms, washed out of a bucket, painted a school, planted shrubs and trees for nesting turtles, swam with whale sharks and manta ray. What struck me through all of our incredible experiences was the camaraderie and kindness of everyone. No-one thought of themselves first. Mosquito spray was given to your pal before you used it yourself. And we're tough old birds! No whingeing at all which was quite something for a bunch of mums who have got used to a comfortable way of live back at home.

The Leap's people on the ground are vital to the smooth-running of anything so off-grid and they found the dream team who were largely locals and knew exactly how the islands ticked and what would work. I think it's brilliant to 'take the leap', venturing outside your comfort zone and realising that at 40/50/60 you've still got what it takes.

- Emma Cripwell

"The trip exceeded my expectations."

When I signed up I was a little apprehensive as I only knew one person and wasn’t sure how the dynamics of the group would work. As it turned out the group could not have gelled better. The trip exceeded my expectations. I felt we had the chance to give something to the local communities as well as have some fun.

I would highly recommend doing a MidLife Leap – super-duper organised, with attention to detail which meant we were all able to relax and enjoy every minute as we had nothing to think or worry about. It was the most fantastic amazing opportunity that I feel blessed to have experienced.

- Nicci Caswell

"How we laughed .. I felt reinvigorated"

It was all I had hoped for and with much more. I felt I had a glimpse of a gap year which was exactly what I had wanted. I loved staying in the hostel at Monteverde, testing my nerve on the zip wires and finding I could do it. A great mix of fun and learning.

Throughout we were looked after with kindness and thought. Gently pushing us out of our comfort zones from where I feel we all flew away from our cosy safe nests! In all this I think the Midlife Leap is very clever. We were able to experience a country, get under the skin of it and see it properly, feel comfortable without it seeming we were on a ‘holiday’. Which we weren’t . Volunteering and meeting locals and having Chris guiding us through it all made the ordinary extraordinary . Milly you are brilliant and cajoled and encouraged us keeping up any flagging spirit.

- Nicola Hussey

"Their passion and committment was infectious."

Being at Oana really was one of the happiest and best experiences of my life and I am going back in 2020.

The hands on conservation work included removing old fencing to enable wildlife migration, building a wildlife hide, putting out hay mangers and setting camera traps for wildlife monitoring - all of which was great fun. On our last day we visited the local village where we had a soup kitchen and had 90 children come along. The children were unforgettable, singing and dancing with huge smiles on their faces.

- Elaine Mackensie Yates

"?Jordan was more than I expected in so many ways"

The Jordanians we met were friendly, polite and cheerful and helped us at every stage of the journey. After a whistle stop tour of Amman where we visited roman temples and markets with a huge variety of spices and the largest radishes I have ever seen (the size of apples), we headed down to the desert and at one point below sea level.

This was our first encounter with the Bedouin tribe as we were led on a trek by a Bedouin tribesman who taught us how to make soap from a rubbing a natural plant with water on a rock. As we headed further to Wadi Rum we went past a re enactment of the famous railway attack from the Lawrence of Arabia film, complete with Bedouin horseman attacking the train.

After a night in Petra we left early and started our 15 kms trek from Little Petra to Petra through the desert and along the rock cliff tracks which were stunning due to the scenery and the peace of being alone with a small group and our lovely guide Annas. Petra and the various temples is incredible, justifying the 40 years it took for the workers to build it.

My favourite experience however was Wadi Rum, arriving in the back of a Toyota pick-up truck driven by a 13 year old Bedouin the scenery was like nowhere else I have ever been. Desert flanked by incredible huge rocks and cliffs .. camel trains, completely magical and I wish we could have stayed longer here.

Loved it - add it to your bucket list.

- Guy Whitehead

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