Welcome to the world of the Incas. Explore the beauty, culture and warm, friendly people of Peru on this teen community service trip. From working to improve schools to leading activities for local children, this promises to be a meaningful experience. As part of the service-learning framework of this program, our staff provide guidance and reflection on the impact of the work we do throughout the program and promote the value of empathy and cultural sensitivity. We combine meaningful volunteer projects with incredible adventures in Peru, which is one of the most spectacular and geographically diverse countries in the world. From exploring the Amazon Jungle and marveling at the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu to whitewater rafting the Urubamba River, you’ll experience it all on this high school student program in Peru!
About This Program
What It’s Like
The perfect balance of meaningful service projects, cultural immersion and unforgettable adventures.
45 Service Hours
A letter of completion detailing the program's service hours and projects will be issued after the program.
This program requires an open mind to experience a different culture, new foods and comfortable hotels.
Everybody participates together in each project. Specific projects are confirmed in late spring and are similar to those described.
A professional guide accompanies the group to assist, educate and immerse the students into the local culture.
Basic hotels & rustic Amazon Rainforest lodge.
Includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
Includes all recreation & activities listed.
Chartered, air conditioned motor coach with a professional driver.
Up to 24 participants.
• Make adobe bricks to improve communal buildings and schools.
• Marvel at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu.
• Bring cheer to the children of an orphanage.
• Dune buggy and sandboard Huacachina.
• Work with locals to improve a school in the Amazon.
• Whitewater raft the Urubamba River.
• Work alongside locals on a community development project.
• Kayak on Lake Titicaca.
Meet and work alongside members of the local Cachicata community making adobe bricks. The bricks will be used in the community’s building projects, primarily for repairing their homes.
About Adobe Brick Project
The Cachicata community is located not far from Ollantaytambo. There are around 80 families with over 300 people that comprise this old way of life in the surrounding areas of Machu Picchu. The adobe brick project helps the community expand their resources and thrive.
You will take part in a project that directly benefits the community. Past MEDLIFE projects include installing modernized bathrooms, basic kitchen upgrades, and putting in fencing to separate farm animals from living quarters.
Founded in 2004, MEDLIFE works in undeveloped communities in Latin American and Africa to provide medicine, education and other community needs.
Assist the orphanage by helping with work around the facility to beautify the space in which these children learn and play. Following our projects, you will enjoy spending time with and getting to know the boys and girls who live there.
About Hogar De Niños Especiales
The Hogar De Niños Especiales is a home for children with physical and mental limits who have been abandoned by their parents. The home helps to provide a safe and clean environment for these children while offering them the best services they can with their limited resources.
We will spend time with the Belen community members working together to help improve the school for its students. Painting, landscaping and other beautification projects will make their learning environment more welcoming.
About the Amazon Community Project
The Belen community can be found on the outskirts of Iquitos, which is known as the main entrance to the Amazon Rainforest. These communities have high unemployment rates with limited resources from the government to help their district’s community’s schools and civic centers.
Work with locals to improve their school through minor renovations and beautification of the building. Help improve the surrounding area by planting tropical plants and working on the trails.
About San Juan De Yanayacu
Located deep in the Peruvian Amazon Jungle, this rural community lives on the high waters of the Amazon. This small rural town is comprised of about 30 families with a school and a community center.
Help create green spaces and assist with a variety of projects based on the school’s needs. Your support allows the teachers and community members to focus more on meeting the educational needs of the students. The opportunity to build special connections with the students will be made more meaningful as we join them in games of volleyball, soccer, and basketball.
About the Jose Toribio Polo School
The Jose Toribio Polo School is located outside of Huacachina in the city of Ica along the desert coast of Southern Peru. Schools like Jose Toribolo Polo in remote areas have fewer resources and funding for their students.
Welcome to Peru! After flying from Lima, we begin our adventure in the Sacred Valley. Whitewater raft down the Urubamba River, spend an afternoon horseback riding and enjoy a traditional Pachamanca meal. You will be amazed by the beautiful countryside of the Sacred Valley and the kindness of the locals.
Travel by train to the Inca ruins and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu, one of the seven man-made wonders of the world and Peru’s most famous site. Enjoy the incredible hike to the Sun Gate for beautiful views of the mountains and citadel.
Tour the narrow cobblestone streets of the historic city of Cusco. Explore the Inca capital from Sacsayhuaman to the Plaza de Armas and enjoy the colorful shops of the Pisac Market.
Lake Titicaca is one of the highest altitude lakes in the world and home to the famous islands of Uros constructed entirely of reeds by local islanders. You’ll help preserve these treasured man-made wonders by helping to lay additional reeds. You’ll also learn how these people live, farm and how they prepare their meals while living in the middle of the lake. Enjoy kayaking with the islanders before we depart.
Arequipa, surrounded by 3 snowcapped volcanoes (Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu), is Peru’s second largest city. It is well known for its glistening white buildings made from sillar, a white volcanic rock, which gives the city its nickname ‘La Ciudad Blanca’ or ‘The White City.’ Enjoy lively pedestrian street markets, stylish boutiques, nightlife and an upbeat pulse of city life that best shows modern Peru.
Keep your eyes open for exotic wildlife such as giant otters, monkeys, and toucans. Fish for piranhas and enjoy a nocturnal boat excursion through the Amazon while spotting caymans.
Huacachina is a small oasis surrounded by towering sand dunes nestled next to a picturesque lagoon. Experience the thrills of sand boarding and riding dune buggies with the natural beauty of Huacachina’s oasis in the background.
On your way back to Lima, take a boat trip to Islas Ballestas off the coast of Paracas to visit sea lions and penguins sunbathing in their natural habitat. Your farewell stay is in the chic Miraflores neighborhood overlooking the Pacific. At your final banquet, look back with pride at all you have accomplished and how you have grown together as a tight-knit group during your time exploring the wonders of Peru.
Welcome to Lima! Enjoy your first night in the Peruvian capital at a few carefully selected hotels. Properties include La Castellana and Britania Miraflores. Amenities at all hotels include air conditioning and internet access.
Sacred Valley, Peru
The Hotel Tikawasi Valley is located in the picturesque village of Ollantaytambo, 100 meters from the archaeological center of town. Rooms have comfortable beds, private bathroom, and Wi-Fi.
Aguas Calientes, Peru
As you explore Machu Picchu, you will stay at Hotel Humantay which has Wi-Fi, clean & comfortable rooms and very friendly staff. This hotel has a great view of Aguas Calientes and is a short walk to restaurants and local markets.
While in Cusco, you will relax at the Hotel Tupac Yupanqui. This hotel boasts welcoming rooms with cable TV and Wi-Fi. The hotel is within walking distance to the vibrant city center.
Puno, Lake Titicaca & Uros Floating Islands, Peru
You’ll relax after the amazing experience of kayaking Lake Titicaca at the Casona Plaza Puno. All rooms have a safe, Wi-Fi and TV.
Casona Plaza Hotel Arequipa features rustic décor and a great central location (just 3 blocks from the main square). Rooms feature free WiFi.
The Garden House hotel is the perfect place to prep before we head in to the jungle and to relax after. The hotel has Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool and is a great jumping-off spot to explore markets & the main square.
Amazon Jungle, Peru
Situated in the Amazon Jungle, get ready to be surrounded by exotic wildlife and immersed in the sounds of nature! Experience the rainforest with indigenous guides and unwind in a hammock surrounded by a lush tropical setting. The Muyuna Lodge is outfitted with mosquito nets and showers, and the staff is extremely friendly and attentive.
Welcome to Huacachina where you’ll experience the amazing sand dunes. We’ll check in to El Huacachinero where you are able to rest, relax and use the swimming pool in this gorgeous oasis. All rooms have Wi-Fi.
Flight to Lima, Peru
Participants on this program have the option of joining us on a chaperoned flight to Lima. The chaperoned flight will be from either South Florida and/or Newark, determined in the spring. Our staff will be with you from check-in onward. For our many travelers from outside these areas, you can choose to join the chaperoned flight and we are happy to help you arrange connecting flights into Newark or South Florida as the case may be. If you prefer, you may meet us in Lima and we will help you coordinate your flight times and greet you as you come through immigration and customs.
Separate from the airfare to and from this program, there is an additional $785 USD fee for internal flights between Arequipa, Iquitos, and Huacachina.
Return Flight Home from Lima, Peru
For your return from Lima, we offer a chaperoned flight back to the USA. You may choose to join that flight and arrange transfers (if required) at suitable times after clearing customs and immigration in the USA; or you may fly from Lima to your home city and our leaders help you to check-in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed.
Where We Stay
We carefully select clean and comfortable accommodations with the needs of our students in mind. While our volunteer programs do not stay at luxury resorts, we do know that a good night’s rest, in your own bed, is key to performing your service hours well and having enough energy to enjoy the day’s activities. For this reason, and also to maintain the close group bond and to uphold the quality of this program, we do not offer any homestays.
Meals & New Cuisines
Eating well while away from home is an important part of a summer’s success. Part of your travel experience will be immersing yourself in the local cuisine and culture so please bring with you an open mind and a willingness to try new things. For example, in Peru the food will be a mix of “typical food” including chicken, beef and of course ceviche, and pachamanca are great local options. They also have North American style options on the menu.
We have satisfied the choosiest of eaters and gladly accommodate most special dietary requests including vegetarian, anaphylactic food allergies, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and kosher style. We welcome discussing your individual requirements with you and have extensive experience in this area.
On this program we will have large containers of clean water for you to fill up your own water bottles as needed.
We recommend you follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and consult with your physician for current immunizations and medication required for travelers to Peru. These recommendations may change from time to time. We will send you detailed information in March (or upon enrollment if later) regarding the current recommendations for this itinerary.
This program travels to high altitudes when in the Sacred Valley (9,200’), Machu Picchu (8,000’), Cusco (11,000’) and Puno (13,000’). Travel to high altitudes can pose a serious risk of illness, particularly if you have a condition that affects circulation or breathing. All travelers, even if very healthy, will feel symptoms of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) upon arrival at high-altitude. That is normal. Adjustments to high altitude may not even correlate with how great shape you are in – a marathoner may suffer while a “couch potato” is fine. Most participants will have increased respiration and increased heart rate and need time to adjust. Our schedule considers the change in altitude and allows participants to acclimate before beginning any strenuous activity. If concerned, please call us to review your circumstances and we strongly recommend that you discuss this with your doctor prior to departure as they may recommend the use of a medication that assists with altitude adjustment.
You will only need one week’s worth of clothing as outlined in the packing list that will be sent to you prior to departure. You will have the opportunity to do laundry at your convenience by dropping off your laundry at a local wash and fold service and then pick it up clean, folded and ready to go.
Included in your program tuition is all lodging, breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, recreation & entertainment listed, airport transfers in designated times, gratuities & taxes.
Not included is transportation to and from the program, internal flights, and personal spending money for snacks, souvenirs, and laundry. We also make available optional travel insurance that is not included, but highly recommended.
Please contact us with any questions. We are happy to hear from you!
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I need to contact my teen during the program?
Participants may bring their cell phones so parents may call and message their kids directly. You may also contact our Communication Centers which serve as the official link between programs on the road and parents. We are staffed every day during the summer and have somebody on call for after hours emergencies ready to assist you 24/7.
Who are the staff and what are their qualifications?
Our staff are educators, guidance counselors, coaches, college and university students, former camp counselors, residence life coordinators, community volunteers, world travelers, and other leaders with diverse backgrounds. Many are former participants themselves who couldn’t get enough of the Westcoast experience! Learn more about our summer leaders.
How are roommates assigned?
On our Active Teen Tours, Global Adventures and Community Service programs rooming rotation is as follows:
Giving everyone a chance to make new friends creates a cohesive group and one of the most warm and welcoming social environments in our industry! To promote this we’ve found the best system is for the program director to assign the rooms for the first and second stops. For the first stop, independent travelers room with other independent travelers and any friends who enrolled can room together. All participants will be assigned a different roommate for the second stop. Roommates are assigned based on gender identity. After the first two stops, choice of roommates is always up to you!
On our Pre-College Enrichment programs & Career Experiences rooming is as follows:
We assign independent travelers with another independent traveler for the duration of your stay. Any friends who enrolled together can room together. Roommates are assigned based on gender identity.