- Volunteer at Machu Picchu, one of the world's premier archaeological sites
- Perform trail maintenance and archaeological restoration alongside park rangers
- Enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu and visit other Peruvian sites
- No trail maintenance experience needed; all training provided
Towering 1500' above the raging Urubamba River in Peru's Andean highlands, the royal retreat and sacred center of Machu Picchu—now considered one of the Seven New Wonders of the World – is spectacular by any measure. Abandoned in the 1530's and rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu has become one of the most sought after travel destinations in the world.
Today, Machu Picchu stands at a crossroads. The thousands of visitors who travel here every year have taken their toll. The Machu Picchu Sanctuary needs volunteers to help with conservation efforts, including archaeological restoration and Inca Trail repairs.
Volunteer trips are focused on helping Machu Picchu, while also providing rewarding and memorable experiences for volunteers. Working alongside park rangers to preserve this archeological treasure brings a terrific sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. REI is pleased to offer this exciting opportunity in partnership with Conservation Volunteers International Program.
Our adventure begins and ends in Cusco, Peru and includes most meals and all hotel lodging throughout.
Want to make the most of your stay in Peru? Check out our Lima, Paracas & Nazca Lines; Lake Titicaca; Northern Peru; Peruvian Amazon – Sandoval Lake Lodge; Peruvian Amazon – Heath River Wildlife Center and Peruvian Amazon – Tahuayo Lodge extensions.
- Route Variation - Please note – Specific work locations may vary with each volunteer expedition.
- Day 1 - Begin in Cusco, historic capital of the Inca Empire, with a city tour.
- Day 2 - Visit Sacsayhuaman, a masterpiece of Inca stoneworkers.
- Day 3 - Visit Chinchero and take a scenic train ride to Machu Picchu Pueblo.
- Days 4-8 - Perform archeological and trail restoration; guided tour of Machu Picchu.
- Day 9 - Return to Cusco, stopping at the ruins of Ollantaytambo en route.
- Day 10 - Depart Cusco for home or extend your stay in this marvelous country.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Route Variation - Please note – Specific work locations may vary with each volunteer expedition.
Work locations may vary according to the needs of park rangers at the time the expedition takes place. Every Volunteer Trip departure is unique because, as volunteers successfully complete conservation and restoration activities, new activities or areas can be targeted on subsequent departures. Volunteer Trips offer the opportunity to experience the Park in a unique way not available to the average tourist. This trip is a good fit for adventurous travelers who are comfortable with a flexible itinerary and truly want to make a difference.
Day 1 - Begin in Cusco, historic capital of the Inca Empire, with a city tour.
Our volunteer expedition begins in Cusco, the capital of the New World's "Roman Empire". We meet in our hotel in the early afternoon for an orientation session. Our centrally-located hotel is near the central Plaza de Armas. Here, churches dating from 1539 overlook the plaza. Nearby are the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, The Sun Temple, numerous art galleries, the central market and scores of craft stores. The afternoon will include a guided city tour including a visit to the Cathedral and to Qorikancha, and some time for self-guided exploration, shopping, and to further acclimatize to the 11,200' elevation. In the evening we will enjoy our welcome dinner together. Dinner and hotel included.
Day 2 - Visit Sacsayhuaman, a masterpiece of Inca stoneworkers.
After a morning tour of the Machu Picchu Museum, we board a private bus to continue our orientation and training for our volunteer work. We spend the afternoon at Sacsayhuaman, a hilltop stone fortress overlooking Cusco. The largest of the stones used in the construction of Sacsayhuaman weighs over 360 tons and stands more than 20 feet tall. All meals included.
Day 3 - Visit Chinchero and take a scenic train ride to Machu Picchu Pueblo.
On the way to Machu Picchu Pueblo, we visit Chinchero, a high Andean village known for its weavers and textile cooperatives. Here, we watch some of the local weavers demonstrating their skills before boarding the train to Machu Picchu Sanctuary and Machu Picchu Pueblo (also known as Aguas Calientes). Rural Andean scenery fills our train window as we pass by ancient agricultural terraces and remote villages built along the Urubamba River. In the afternoon, we receive an orientation and safety instruction before beginning our volunteer work together with park rangers. All meals included.
Days 4-8 - Perform archeological and trail restoration; guided tour of Machu Picchu.
For these five days, volunteers will start with breakfast at the hotel and then set out to begin our work. We expect to participate in a variety of tasks assigned to us by park rangers in the protected areas surrounding the Machu Picchu ruins. These tasks may include: restoration of archeological features by removing exotic or unwanted vegetation from along the trails or the stone walls of buildings and agricultural terraces, maintenance of Inca trails, restoration of areas impacted by visitor use or fire, planting trees, collecting native plant seeds to be used in restoration projects, or monitoring restoration study plots. On one of these days a guided tour of the Machu Picchu ruins will be provided, followed by time for volunteers to discover the ruins of Machu Picchu at their own pace. All meals included.
Day 9 - Return to Cusco, stopping at the ruins of Ollantaytambo en route.
In the morning, volunteers will board the train for Ollantaytambo. Dating back over 500 years, the Inca city is complete with its narrow alleys, street water canals and trapezoidal doorways. During our guided tour of Ollantaytambo, we will explore the buildings and temples considered by many to be the best preserved and finest examples of Inca stone craftsmanship after Machu Picchu. Upon our return to Cusco, we'll enjoy a farewell celebration dinner together, toasting newfound friends and our accomplishments during the past week. All meals included.
Day 10 - Depart Cusco for home or extend your stay in this marvelous country.
The Machu Picchu Volunteer Expedition ends with breakfast this morning. Volunteers can transfer to the Cusco airport independently for homeward-bound flights (via Lima) or can opt to extend their stay in Peru. Breakfast included.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, the itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather and terrain conditions.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 10; hotel accommodations; guide leadership and support staff; group tools; all bus and train transportation as noted on the itinerary; all orientation and training excursions as noted on the itinerary; park entrance fees.
International airfare to/from Cusco, Peru; lunch on Day 1; cost of medical immunizations; insurance of any kind (emergency medical and evacuation insurance is mandatory for these expeditions and can usually be purchased for less than $75 through REI Adventures); excess baggage charges; airport taxes; alcoholic beverages or soft drinks; gratuities and items of a personal nature.
In order to ensure that hotel reservations and additional support services for our volunteer expeditions are confirmed well in advance of each departure, we do make non-refundable financial commitments to local service providers. By making these commitments, we are taking a step towards ensuring the highest level of customer service and organizational efficiency possible so that you can enjoy your travel experience to the fullest. In conjunction with these practices, your initial $400 deposit is completely non-refundable at time of sign up. All other standard cancellation/transfer fees will apply as noted in our booking guidelines. Please take note of this special policy when planning your trip and feel free to contact us with any additional questions.
This trip is rated Moderate , in a large part due to visiting areas located at 8,000-11,000' in elevation. Trip members may be novice volunteers in good physical condition. Volunteers should be comfortable hiking up to 2 miles each day on steep, uneven stairs or on mountainous terrain with some steep ascents and uneven trails. To assess your fitness, you should comfortably be able to hike stairs with a day pack weighing approximately 10-15 pounds or work in your yard all day moving plants, shoveling soil and pruning trees. To maximize your enjoyment of the trip and to avoid sore muscles, we suggest beginning a regular exercise regimen at least three months prior to departure. No previous trail maintenance or restoration experience is required.
Our lodging in Cusco is at a centrally-located hotel in the city's historic district. Our lodging at Machu Picchu is centrally located in the village of Aguas Calientes just a short shuttle bus ride from the ruins of Machu Picchu. Hotel rooms feature private bathrooms, television and Internet access. Laundry services are available in both properties.
On this expedition, meals are included beginning with dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 10. Many travelers agree that Peruvian food is some of the best in the world. We have selected restaurant locations known for excellent fare and healthy foods. Meals are available with a variety of fresh meat and fish as well as vegetarian/vegan selections. Breakfasts at the hotels will all be served buffet-style and consist of eggs, cheese, toast, fresh fruit, cereal and safe beverages of fresh fruit juices and coffee/tea. Lunches will include both restaurant meals and box lunches on days we are working or traveling. In Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), we enjoy dinners selected from a menu each evening at a restaurant close to our hotel. During our nights in Cusco, we are scheduled to eat at some of the city's most popular authentic Peruvian restaurants.
Average daytime temperatures in and around Machu Picchu and Cusco generally range from 55-75° F with Andean evenings cooling down into the 40s and 50s. The itinerary takes place in the mountains where weather can change very quickly. Days are generally clear and pleasant, with clouds occasionally building up and leading to small amounts of precipitation. All day rain is unusual. Volunteers work every day except in unusually severe weather conditions. Please come prepared for all possibilities and equipped with good quality raingear.
Our host country requires that all volunteers have medical ($50,000) and emergency evacuation ($500,000) insurance valid in Peru. If you do not already have this coverage, reasonably priced (generally under $75 per volunteer) short-term travel insurance is readily available through REI Adventures.
If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Machu Picchu Volunteer Vacation Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff.
Average daytime temperatures in and around Machu Picchu and Cusco generally range from 55-75° F with Andean evenings cooling down into the 40s and 50s. The itinerary takes place in the mountains where weather can change very quickly. Days are generally clear and pleasant, with clouds occasionally building up and leading to small amounts of precipitation. All day rain is unusual. Volunteers work every day except in unusually severe weather conditions. Please come prepared for all possibilities and equipped with good raingear.
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- Proof of emergency medical and evacuation insurance
- Suitcase, duffle bag or backpack. Best to have two medium-sized pieces of luggage for more even weight distribution or for leaving extra personal items behind in Cusco.
- Daypack (approx. 2,000-2,500 cu. in.) to carry your lunch, camera, water bottles, extra clothing
- Luggage tags
- Passport pouch or money belt
- Rain jacket, waterproof and breathable
- Rain pants, waterproof and breathable, side-zip pants are highly recommended
- Bring a few lightweight, easily washable items for travel and eveningwear during nights spent in hotels
- Midweight fleece or wool sweater
- Synthetic fleece pants
- Midweight thermal underwear tops and bottom, synthetic or wool
- Hiking pants, lightweight, synthetic and loose-fitting
- Hiking shorts, lightweight and synthetic
- Long-sleeve shirt(s)
- T-shirts, synthetic
- Hiking socks
- Liner socks, synthetic
- Casual socks
- Sun hat
- Wool or fleece hat
- Wool or fleece gloves for warmth
- Leather gloves for work, two pair
- Safety goggles (or similar eye protection)
- Sturdy hiking boots, waterproof, lightweight, broken in, aggressive tread
- Comfortable shoes for travel and eveningwear
- Two (2) one-quart water bottles or hydration system
- Flashlight and spare batteries/bulb or headlamp and spare batteries/bulb
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sunblock and lip balm
- Toiletry kit with biodegradable soaps
- Personal prescription medication
- Small, non-breakable/reusable containers (e.g. Tupperware) to pack daily lunches in
- Camera, film and spare batteries
- Small binoculars
- Hiking stick or trekking poles
- Electrical adapter plug
- Watch with alarm or travel clock
- Travel pillow
- Small thermos
- Insect repellent
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Baby Wipes or hand sanitizer gel
- Water purification tablets or filter
- Rain cover or large plastic bag for your daypack
- Reading and writing materials
Things to Consider
- Please remember to always pack essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, a change of clothing, hiking boots and medications in your carry-on baggage, in case your luggage is delayed.
- Wind chill can be a significant feature of this trip. Air temperatures can be relatively warm, but when the wind is constant you can be robbed of body heat quickly. Adequate wind/raingear is very important.
- Cotton is wonderful in warm weather. However, once it becomes wet, it will drain your body heat. Bring wool or synthetics such as Capilene, MTS and Thermax.
- Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
- Make sure boots are broken in. Bring moleskin for foot treatment. Thin liner socks worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters. The liner sock should be synthetic, not cotton.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.