Machu Picchu Volunteer Vacation

Trip Length 10 Days
Group Size 6–18
Activity level
Starting from $3,395
Departures May 2021-Nov 2021

This 10-day trip combines a love for adventure with a desire to make a difference.

We’re a winner in the first annual AFAR Travelers’ Choice Awards for Trips, 2018.

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. Our trip takes us into the heart of this beautiful place, beginning and ending in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire, with time exploring Chinchero and Machu Picchu in between.

Today, Machu Picchu stands at a crossroads. The thousands of visitors who travel here every year have taken their toll. Our journey helps to reverse that effect with conservation efforts, from archaeological restoration to clearing invasive species and Inca Trail repairs. No experience is required and training is provided. Working alongside park rangers and new friends to preserve this archeological treasure brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that stays with us beyond our trip.

This REI volunteer vacation is offered in partnership with Conservation Volunteers International Program. Find out additional details about the trip on the ConservationVIP® website.

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Trip Highlights

  • 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


This trip is rated Moderate [3], 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 4 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 and work in your yard all day moving plants, shoveling soil and pruning trees.

To maximize your enjoyment of the trip, to build up stamina and to avoid sore muscles, we suggest beginning a regular exercise regimen at least three months prior to departure.

  • Trail Maintenance
  • Archeological Restoration
  • Hiking

What's Included

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. Note: Valid passport numbers are required at the time of booking in order for us to purchase your train tickets and permits.


Hotels, 9 nights.

Your Adventure Itinerary

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, allowing some time to explore, shop, 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 walking tour of the Machu Picchu Museum and a visit to Qorikancha, 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 more than 360 tons and stands more than 20' 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 and walk among the Inca walls and terraces of this little village 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 more than 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.

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.

What to pack

You might also consider

Travel documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Mandatory Evacuation Insurance
  • Valid Passport

Contact Us

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 REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.