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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.