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Peru Gap Year Programme

Andes + Amazon


Itinerary Options

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Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain and Amazon

Welcome to Peru, a country boasting ancient Incan culture, brightly coloured textiles, incredible scenery, and of course Machu Picchu. Rich in both geography and history, it is a destination of extremes. From the heady heights of the Andes, to the crazy striped Rainbow Mountain, to the virgin Amazon rainforest, our unique 3-week Peru programme provides the perfect solution to get off-grid so you can see these highlights at their most authentic.

During the course of this programme, you will spend 2-weeks in the heart of the Sacred Valley where you will become immersed in local life - where crops are still planted by hand, women work in bowler hats, and llamas are as tame as pets. Here your time will be a unique mix of community projects, exploration, and adventure – the highlight being to summit Machu Picchu and to live alongside local communities.

Your final week will be a fantastic contrast as you head into the steamy Amazon jungle accessed by boat down the Madre de Dios river to reach your base at Lake Sandoval. From here you will canoe to explore both the primary and secondary rainforest to find the spectacular wildlife.

This is the plan...

peruvian lady

Peru's Programme Itinerary

This is a journey to introduce you to remote Peruvian communities tucked away from the tourists' eye, high in the Andes, who will welcome you into their family and value your contribution to help preserve their heritage, before exploring the depths of the Amazon.

The following is a sample itinerary.


Andes and Amazon

Wks 1- 2 Andes
You'll start your journey in a pretty little town called Calca, nestled amongst the mountains in the Sacred Valley, high in the Andes. It's at 9,600 ft above sea level, on the Urubamba River, known for its temperate climate, checkerboard fertile fields, and towering mountains, such as Mount Pitusiray – considered one of the most sacred places in the valley. Calca is very central which makes it a great location from which to explore Cusco and the other historic towns in the Sacred Valley.

Wk 3 Amazon
Your last week will be spent exploring the Amazon for 4 days, 3 nights, via the entry point of Puerto Maldonado. The plan is to hike and canoe into both the primary and secondary rainforest and around the beautiful Lake Sandoval, seeking out the magical birdlife and wildlife.

You will be looked after by our partners - a dynamic NGO, called the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD), who need your help to implement their projects aimed to enhance and preserve the ancient livelihoods of remote Andean Communities in the Sacred Valley. They are a great team and will show you the real Peru.


In Calca you will live with a gorgeous local family and be treated as a family member. You will have your own room, shared bathrooms and all eat together which will give you an amazing cultural experience. In the Amazon you will stay in a jungle eco-lodge.


3 meals a day provided.

Peru Gap Year Programme
Wk 1

Sacred Valley Projects + Rainbow Mountain + Spanish

Throughout this week you will experience a mix of community projects + Spanish + adventure.

Community projects

You will help AASD with their projects which address malnutrition within the high-altitude communities. You will do this by working at their demonstration farm where community elders come to learn about new practices.It is so inspiring, and now possible to grow strawberries at over 4500m. Another day will be spent with the Urco Youth Association helping at their jewellery workshop – another inspiring project which aims to teach the kids a life skill.

Rainbow mountain and ancient ruins
Throughout this week you’ll also venture off on some local hikes to help you acclimatise to high altitude living, before setting off to climb the famous Rainbow Mountain and explore the stunning archaeological site of Pisac with its epic market selling ponchos, hats, and textiles.

Spanish lessons
Aimed to help you get by as English is not widely spoken in Peru or across South America for that matter. 4 x 1-hour lessons will be woven into your week.


3 meals a day provided.

Peru Gap Year Programme
Wk 2

High Altitude Communities and Machu Picchu Trekking and exploration

By now you should be fully acclimatised and ready to head off into the depths of the Sacred Valley to find the remote high-altitude community called Quishuarani, before seeing Machu Picchu in all its glory.

The Quishuarani are located high above the tree line where the farmers are diversifying through AASD’s projects. You will stay the night here as guests of the community president who will proudly take you on a stunning hike along the Siete Cataratas (Seven Waterfalls) trail to reach their sacred lagoon, passing herds of llamas along the way.

You will be blown away by the scenery up here – utterly stunning and such a privilege to stay with a local community, way off the tourist trail. You will love this unique and special moment, inaccessible to backpackers and the programme highlight for many.

You will return to Calca before heading off for Machu Picchu via train to get to Aguas Calentes and hiking into the National Park the next day for your bucket list moment – you will have time to immerse yourself in the astonishing Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.


Local community and hostel in Aguas Calentes. Homestay in Calca.


3 meals a day provided.

Peru Gap Year Programme
Wk 3

The Amazon Adventure and exploring

Your last week will be spent exploring the Amazon via the entry point of Puerto Maldonado. Here you will spend 4 days at an eco-lodge from which you will explore this stunning environment with the help of local guides and the lodges resident naturalist.

Every day will be different, but all will involve canoeing down the Madre de Dios River to reach the stunning Lake Sandoval. From here you will explore the primary and secondary rainforest to seek out the Red Bellied Macaws as they return to the forest at night (this flock is currently the largest reported in the world - approximately 500-800 macaws), rare black caimans, parrots, parakeets, and monkeys galore.

On your final day you will head back by boat to Puerto Maldonado and return to Calca for your last night, before flying home or further afield.


Jungle eco-lodge.


3 meals a day provided.

Peru Gap Year Programme
Peru Gap Year Programme

Did you know?

Onward travel has never been so easy

Book a programme with us and you will receive a complimentary 12 month subscription to our Backpacking Advice Hub. This Hub is your one stop shop for all things travel advice, itineraries, handy insider hints and tips to really get the most from your travels. It is a must-have resource for independent travel post-Leap.

Our teams never want to come home post-programme and choose to add on a phase of independent travel with their new found friends - making the most of their gap year. Peru is perfectly placed to add on a phase in Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador.

Sunset in the Amazon
The view from the Andes in Peru.
peru lady
Working the local farmers on their organic farms.
Lake Sandoval in Peru

Peru's Programme Details & Costs

Max team size of 12 per departure - so book in early.
Please note you need to be 18 years old or over at the time of travel.

Download Itinerary

Options and costs

Whats included?

Smaller Teams

You will be part of a tight team of between 5-10 like-minded volunteers, who will be on your journey from start to finish.

Off the Beaten Track

Access places that backpackers couldn't normally get to on their own through the NGOs we partner with.

Cultural Exchange

Through living and working beside indigenous communities you will experience traditional Peruvian life and make extraordinary friendships.

Physical Challenge

A journey across Peru which includes trekking, exploring, contributing, and reaching the heady heights of Machu Pichu.

Working Hours and Time Out

Each phase will vary in terms of project hours. Rural communities tend to start work very early and finish in early-afternoon, giving you time to explore in the afternoons.

Peru Gap Year Programme

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.

Peru Gap Year Programme

Watch our videos

Peru Gap Year Programme

Andes and Amazon

Peru Gap Year Programme

"They have the gap year formula spot on"

Speaking only for our experience with Costa Rica, The Leap know and understand the country so well. The team communicated brilliantly-they were always pro active and accessible, nothing felt like too much trouble and they never made you feel like your question or concern was a silly one.

They have the gap year formula spot on. All the reassurance that parents need whilst safely delivering the freedom and adventure that the volunteers want-and all through a Pandemic (!)

My daughter had the absolute time of her life with them and I’m sure has made friends for life, I wouldn’t hesitate in giving them the very highest recommendation possible.

- Frances (mum)

" I can see why you are so highly recommended"

Incidentally, Georgia had a really, really good time on the Costa Rica Adventure trip. It was a fantastic experience for her. In addition, the admin and organisation surrounding the trip was first class. I can absolutely see why you are so highly recommended.

Many thanks for your help.

- Nicola Preston

"Safe, organised gap year travel"

What an amazing organisation. From the minute we first rang to enquire about projects to today (my daughter arriving home from Tanzania this morning) I just can't fault anybody. Emily has had the most amazing time in Tanzania and all the staff have been wonderful at keeping me informed when there were problems (nothing serious thankfully).

I would have no hesitation in recommending the company for safe, organised gap year travel. Emily will have wonderful memories for life and I'm so proud of her and grateful for the support given by The Leap. Thank you so much.

- Tracey Talbut

"​Thank you guys SOOOO much"

Thank you guys SOOOO much for the whole experience I have LOVED it all and couldn’t thank you enough for all the effort you have put into the trip my heart is so full from everything you have helped us achieve!! Enjoy your well deserved break :)

"Very professional service"

I am super impressed that The Leap have been in contact at the beginning of my daughter's trip to tell me she had arrived safely. Very professional service - thanks very much!

- Abi Crampton

"The Leap were very thorough"

I spoke to The Leap and they gave me thorough information regarding what to take and what to expect. If I didn't have anything Chris at Jakera would always help me get what I needed.

- Kit P


My Leaper is just having the BEST BEST BEST time. She was so anxious about going as it is the first time she has been abroad on her own. The lovely friends she has made and the fantastic team leaders that are there, combined with the incredible experiences that you are giving the team meant that worry very soon dissipated.

Everything sounds perfect, from the location of their "houses", the delicious food, the stimulating and varied activities, the fun evenings, in fact from dawn to dusk (and well beyond) is just so brilliant.

Thank you.

- Sara

"The Leap is doing a great job"

The organisation and the briefing on the entire trip was great by "the leap". I felt very well prepared and ready to start my adventure. The people in the office are very friendly and always ready to answer your questions or problems. They take care all over the trip of you and they make everything to give you the perfect time in a beautiful new world.

- Johann Plato

"So helpful with everything..."

Dear Milly

Just wanted to say thank you for the way in which you and your team have looked after our kids.

I was very nervous about letting Sam do this all on his own, but you have walked him though every step and the team has been so helpful with every thing from Visa’s to sun cream.

Thank you for the photos and updates which is very reassuring when they are so far away.

I cannot recommend you and your team highly enough and wish you many more years of shepherding these young people in overseas travel. I have been recommending you to any lower 6thparents whose children are just getting to this stage.

Good luck and thank you again


- Julie

"Best food!"

The best food I have ever eaten in my life

- Jack

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