Every semester our study abroad program includes three excursions to make sure students return home with the most holistic glimpse of Peru. As one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world, it has 84 of the 108 ecosystems and 28 of 32 possible climates. Wouldn’t you want to see and experience as many as possible?
We always save Cusco for the end because it’s a special way for our local staff at EdOdyssey to wrap up an emotional semester abroad with our students. As a final touch, this past semester our study abroad students took an amazing trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu with Patty Valencia, our Peruvian Program Coordinator.
We want to give you all a quick look back at what our end of semester trip with our students looked like this past fall semester because we wanted to leave our students with a fantastic send off with the most authentic look at life in Peru.
Day 1 - The Arrival: Mental & Physical Preparation
During the first day in Cusco, the students and our team took it easy and stayed in the city of Cusco. At an altitude of around 11,000 feet, they got adjusted to the local feel. This first day, they acclimated to the local climate. The next five days involve an emotional roller coaster packed with visiting more than five cities, two trains, countless hours of hiking, an experience with a shaman and a meal that they’ll never forget.
Day 2 - Hospitality & Haggling: The Local Experience
They visited one of the nearby local Amaru communities and saw what it’s like to live like a location. They saw a presentation in Quechua - the local language in the village - and the community members had the students dress in the local attire. During their day in the community, they learned how to harvest beans and how the locals add their bright colors and designs to the typical clothing.
It wouldn’t have been a trip to the local community without some local hospitality. The locals had them try some of their famous local potatoes, natural teas, and quinoa to later show them some local goods in case they wanted to buy anything.
After the students learned how to live like the locals, they put a semester’s worth of Spanish to the ultimate language test: bargaining and buying at the local artisanal market. Patty told us that it was the first time that she saw such a big group of visiting students haggle over prices, and her reaction was priceless:
After they bought an assortment of goods that ranged from fun pants to Peruvian-style sweaters the group visited a farm with alpacas and llamas where they got to feed them! As they took the road to Machu Picchu, they made a few stops along the way. Now, if you go by yourself or with an agency, you would probably go straight to the town where Machu Picchu is, but you’d miss a wild ride!
Day 3: Four Cities, Marching Toward Machu Picchu
On the third day, the group went to see the famous salt pools in Maras that are world-known Peruvian pink salt, as seen above. Later, they had lunch in Urubamba and saw the ancient ruins in Ollantaytambo before catching the train to Aguas Calientes. While on the train, everyone started to look over their pictures taken during their jam-packed trip, but one of the students stopped Patty to ask:
Needless to say, everyone put their cameras away as they began to leave the mountainous region of Cusco and approached the wilderness and jungle on the way to Machu Picchu.
Day 4 - Finally Arrived: Machu Picchu
Some students woke up earlier and took another route up to Machu Picchu known as “La puerta del sol”, or sun gate. They communicated with Patty through WhatsApp as they took an alternative route with marked signs that lead up to “The Old Peak”, which is the translated name of Machu Picchu from Quechua to English.
After they arrived to the peak, they learned about the ancient history behind the ancient Incan civilization and how it was rediscovered. After hiking all day, they took their market haggling to the next level to get some local souvenirs before taking the ride from Aguas Calientes to Cusco where they slept.
Day 5 - An Evening With A Shaman & Guinea Pig dinner
In the morning, some rested while others others enjoyed going to the seven-colored mountain. In the afternoon, the farewell was a special event with a local shaman that performed a ritual that read into their respective futures in private that left them as happy as well as fascinated.
After they enjoyed partaking in ritual, they went to try one of the local delicacies - guinea pig. They tried it but we think that one time was enough!
Day 6 - The Final City Tour, The Predestined Farewell
They did a quick tour of Cusco before heading home to the United States. As fate would have it, their flights got delayed. They took that time with Patty to recount their orientation, their trips, and to reflect on everything that they learned during their time in Peru. One of the students reflected in their excursion to Ica where the students spent the nights in tents in the dessert and under the stars as one of their favorite moments of the semester.
We hope that all of our students come away with moments that make them feel the magic of another culture. Whether they enjoy the more quiet moments or the unsettling moments that challenge their comfort zone, the entire experience has taught us that we have to appreciate the moments with the people around us.
Ready to take the leap to see Peru with us?
Check out our EdOdyssey Study Abroad Page for more information!