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Peru Gap Year

Community + Machu Pichuu

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Volunteer in Peru's Sacred Valley

Step into the Inca Empire

It is a must-see destination if you are thinking about venturing to South America. Rich in both geography and history it is a traveler’s awe-inspiring dream of extremes. From the heady heights of the Andes where the mysterious Machu Picchu lies in the Sacred Valley, to the virgin Amazon rainforest, to the glimmering Lake Titicaca.

But for us Peru is much more than the sights, it’s about the remote communities, living in the heart of the Scared Valley whose crops are still planted by hand, where the women work in bowler hats, and where llamas are as tame as pets.

These resilient communities are trying to preserve their traditional way of life but are keen for development in its gentlest form facilitated through our partners the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD).They are a non-profit NGO located in the Sacred Valley helping implement forward thinking, sustainable projects to enhance and preserve their livelihood.

This unique 4-week leap program provides a unique opportunity to combine an immersive cultural experience in the depths of the Sacred Valley.

Peru Gap Year

Venture out to Peru for an epic journey of adventure and community development before reaching the breath taking Machu Picchu.


Peru's Program Itinerary

This is a journey to introduce you to the remote communities tucked away from the tourists eye who will welcome you into their family and will value your contribution to preserving their heritage.

The following is a sample itinerary.

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Sacred Valley

You will arrive in Cusco and be transferred to Calca which will be your main base throughout this program.

Calca is a colourful little town, nestled amongst the mountains in the Sacred Valley, 9,600 ft above sea level, on the Urubamba River. It is known for its temperate climate, checkerboard fertile fields, tranquillity, and towering mountains. So very pretty.

It is very central which makes it a great location from which to explore and home to Mount Pitusiray – considered as one of the most important mountain gods in the region.

Accommodation

In Calca you will stay in a homestay with a local family. Here you will have your own room and eat with the family providing you with an amazing cultural experience.

Food

3 meals a day provided.

Peru Gap Year
Wk 1

Community Project Farming + Exploration + Spanish Lessons

Your first week will be a combination of Spanish lessons, project work and exploration, which will include:

Contributing at Ecohuella, the local organic farm: Since 2010, AASD has worked with communities to improve their ecological farming practices to address malnutrition via greenhouse construction and workshops at an organic demonstration farm called Ecohuella.:

During your first week, you will work at the farm for a couple of mornings, learning about their sustainable development practices and rolling your sleeves up to help with the daily jobs.

During this time, you’ll watch the documentary about 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.

Sacclio Community: In addition to working at EcoHuella, you will also assist the community of Sacclio, the area opposite Calca along the Vilcabamba River where the farm is located. Some of the activities include harvesting corn, preparing tree seedlings for reforestation projects, participating in youth education and recreation projects.

Exploring Urco Ruins, hikes and jewelry workshop: Intertwined though this week you will visit the Urco ruins, hike to a chapel that overlooks Calca, and along an ancient irrigation canal that leads to an Inca site called Urco, and join a jewelry workshop with the Urco Youth Association; before a friendly game of football.

Spanish lessons: To help with the communication throughout the program we have arranged for you to have 5 x 1 hour informal lessons in your first week to focus on easy conversation.

Food

3 meals a day provided.

Peru Gap Year
Wk 2

Ancient Ruins Trekking + Exploration

Your second week will be focused on adventure - exploring different ruins and hiking through the mountains to get a feel for the remoteness and vastness of the spectacular sacred valley.

Huchuycosco Trek
To kick start this week you will venture off to reach the site of Huchuycosco, which is a stunning location overlooking the mountains. It is one of the most sacred sites in the whole of the Sacred Valley because it was a main water source. Very unknown and off the beaten track – a hidden gem.

Pisac
This is a very well-known archaeological site and home to an epic market, famous within the region. The Quechua communities from the surrounding highlands flock to the market to sell their produce and gather their supplies for the week. Expect to find amazing ponchos, hats, Alpaca products, Andean instruments, paintings and many more souvenirs.

Urubamba
Moray and Salt Mines de Maras are located outside of Urubamba - another town in the Sacred Valley along the Vilcanota river. Some believe that it was used as an experimental agricultural site to help adjust crops to different micro climates while others consider Moray the womb of the Earth used for spiritual ceremonies, to an ancient amphitheatre.

Peru Gap Year
Wk 3

Campesino Communities Cultural Exchange

By the third week you should be fully acclimatised and ready to head off into the depths of the Sacred Valley to find the high altitude Lares campesino (farming) community called Quishuarani, who our partners, AASD have just started a collaboration with.

Quishuarani is located high above the tree line where farmers primarily cultivate potatoes. This community is also part of a government initiative to enhance the nutrition of campesino communities through trout fisheries.

While you are here you will visit meet the president of Quishuarani who will take you on a brief tour of the trout hatchery before taking you on a hike along the Siete Cataratas (Seven Waterfalls) trail to reach a lagoon the community considers sacred. On your way, you will probably meet herds of llamas being corralled them and loaded up with cargo on their backs. Llamas are used primarily to transport harvested potatoes from high in the mountains. However, they are only able to carry around 25lbs at a time, so it takes a herd to transport the many sacks of potatoes in a typical harvest.

Here you will spend a couple of nights with the community work side-by-side the farmers helping them in the fields with whatever is in season. It could be weeding, planting, pickaxing but will always be accompanied by chicha (a fermented corn beer) during breaks.

Accommodation

You will stay in Lares, a larger pueblo lower in elevation to visit the baños termales (hot springs) to warm up after a chilly, rainy morning. This is a favorite spot among locals and tourists.

Food

3 meals a day provided.

Peru Gap Year
Wk 4

Machu Picchu 4 day trek

You will return to Calca to prepare for the big 4-day trek to Machu Picchu.

A bucket list moment – time to immerse yourself in the ancient culture of Peru and venture off for a 4-day adventure to the astonishing Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world.

Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century high in the Andes mountains above the Urubamba River valley. It’s renowned for its dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, buildings in line with astronomical alignments and stunning panoramic views. Its exact former use still remains a mystery.

Now’s your chance to visit the breathtaking and iconic Inca site via a bespoke trail led by our guides who speak many local dialects and will lead you through the winding valleys and stunning scenery before ascending to the site of Machu Picchu in time for sunrise

Please note: The exact trail will be confirmed when you are out there as it is very weather dependent and we need to match the team's fitness with right level of challenge.

Accommodation

Tents and local homestays – depending on the route.


Food

3 meals a day provided on the trek.

Peru Gap Year
Peru Gap Year

Independent Travel

The leap program in Peru is a unique experience in getting you off the beaten track - enabling you to hit the ground running and be so much more than a backpacker - but it also aims to make you travel savvy so if you choose to add on a phase of independent travel you are ready. We find that most leapers are now doing just this, making plans with their new friends from the program.

We recommend this as the two contrasting travel experiences compliment each other and we can support you by finding you a flexible return flight ticket and making you members of our Leap VIP resource - which is our independent travel support guide.

Typical routes involve a few more weeks exploring Lake Titicaca, Rainbow Mountain and Ica for the sand boarding or perhaps travel further afield into Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia.

A local farmer herding the alpacas.
The view from the Andes in Peru.
Peruvian locals in the street.
Working the local farmers on their organic farms.
Traditional wool and textiles from Peru.

Peru's Program Details & Costs

Max team size of 12 per departure - so book in early.
You need to 18 or over to join this program.

Options and costs

Whats included?

Social Life

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

Off the beaten track

Explore the depths of the Sacred Valley.

Cultural Exchange

Through living and working beside indigenous communities you will experience real 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

"You are amazing organising it all"

How exciting for them!! - Trip of a lifetime. Inigo has been stuck at home since last March as I suppose they all have - so what a wonderful, exciting, fun and not to mention horizons broadening time they will have. You are AMAZING organising it all - I don't know how you do it. Huge thanks for everything


- Rose (mum)

"How on earth you have managed to pull this off I don't know!"

But you have all been absolutely incredible. I never could have imagined Charlie being able to take part in such a fantastic project in this, the strangest of years! I have huge admiration in your professionalism and ability to deliver in the toughest of times. Thank you so much, I'm sure the presence of the team will do wonders for the project and wonders for the Team Members..what a fantastic opportunity for them all!!

- Andrew Fairs

"You changed my life"

I love Jakera more than anything and you guys changed my life so much. I am forever in debt to all the things I have learnt here and the people I have been lucky enough to meet. Thank you to every single person at Jakera.

- Jack R

"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

- Julie

"I cannot recommend enough to all of my friends"

To everyone at The Leap

Archie had the most wonderful six weeks, probably the best he has had so far in his life! We are so glad we choose The Leap to begin his adventures traveling. He said all the Leapers were great people and really fun to be with. The experiences were just incredible and learning about the plastic and turtles fascinating. I think he has made some friends for life and if he ever returns from his travels we will hear lots more about it. Archie really liked Amelia and said she was fun, supportive and a wonderful leader. Just a really fabulous experience which I cannot recommend enough to all of my friends. In a couple of years my daughter will be coming to join a trip on The Leap. Thank you so so much.


- Henrietta Mogg

"Best food!"

The best food I have ever eaten in my life

- Jack

"Team were amazing"

Thanks so much for your kind email, I am sorry that I only have just seen it now! That evening was definitely a scary shock but it has now made me so much aware about going out at night.

The leap team were also amazing and I cannot thank Chris and Meli enough for helping me both at the hospital and then the following morning when dealing with insurance. My mum is also very, very grateful that you guys have been there to help the entire time!


- Anonymous

"Insane!"

Hi to all at The Leap,

This is a bit late but a huge thank you to everyone who was involved in organising Herbie Purces Costa Rica trip. In his own words “it was insane”.

So wonderful they had a “normal” experience in abnormal times.

Our thanks again

- Gwen Purce

"​I had the most incredible time in Namibia "

I had the most incredible time in Namibia even though it flew by. We achieved so much in a short month. The conservation activities were fun and fascinating to be a part of.

A particular favourite of mine was invasive tree demolition and obviously white water rafting. Having limited WiFi made it much easier to click with other people and I’ve made some great friends. Red and Andrea are truly inspiring people and I wish them the best of luck and hope to visit soon to see the progress.

- Ivo

"Very professional service"

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

- Abi Crampton

Get in contact

With the covid travel experts

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