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*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.
Orientation – Lima
Our program starts in Lima, the capital of Peru and the gateway to the colonial Spanish empire of South America. Following pickups from Jorge Chavez Airport, our group will have an in-country orientation: Spanish classes, a crash course in Peruvian culture and politics, and, of course, our first taste of Peruvian cuisine!
While staying at a backpacker’s hostel in the coastal district of Miraflores, our lovely hosts quickly make it everyone’s home away from home. We will explore the city in unconventional ways, greeting the grand ocean that runs along the city district, and even embarking on a bike tour. Through our initial explorations, our team will begin to understand the complexity of Peru’s tragic colonial history. We will also hit the streets learning how to bargain hard in local markets and how to navigate local transportation – all while experiencing true Latino hospitality!
Off the Beaten Path for Dance and Acrobatics!
Tourism rarely reaches this far-flung barrio of Ventanilla, so it makes for a perfect off-the-beaten path adventure! After only a short journey north from Lima, our group will be greeted by the awesome Asociación Casa Juvenil Pachacútec (ACJP). This incredible group of creative youth express themselves through dance and acrobatics, using their talents to empower and promote positive change in their community. We’ll learn more about their unique work and witness their creativity firsthand!
**Our December 2017 – February 2018 program will be ringing in the new year with dance and acrobatics! What could be a better way to wrap up 2017 and ring in the new year than spending time under the stars with our friends in Pachacutec?
Journeying to San Roque de Cumbaza and Ecoaldeas
We’ll undertake an incredibly long (but rewarding!) journey from the coast, over the Andes, and into the Amazon! Our 32-hour bus ride follows the winding road to Tarapoto, where we’ll begin our journey into the upper Amazon to work alongside Ecoaldeas in their mission to support more environmentally and socially sustainable initiatives in rural Amazonia.
A short combi ride will take us into the jungle town of San Roque de Cumbaza, where we will settle in for a few days getting our hands dirty on diverse projects, before hitting the road on our 3- to 4-day trek with Ecoaldeas. Get ready to explore the incredible biodiversity of this region! It’s a tough trek, but we are continually rewarded by the incredible views and the comforting food our amazing guides will prepare for us. And of course, be prepared for late night sing-alongs and storytelling time!
To the Amazon!
After our week with Ecoaldeas, we’ll head to the port town of Yurimaguas where we board a 2- to 3-day ferry ride into the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, a boat ride which varies in length depending on water levels and river traffic! Interspersed with interesting jungle meals and some incredibly fun activities, the trip is spent getting to know each other, sleeping in hammocks, and enjoying the amazing view of the river and jungle shoreline. Expect jaw-dropping sunset and sunrise views on this unforgettable journey!
Rights and Resistance in the Heart of the Jungle
We’ll disembark in Nauta, where we’ll continue our journey in low jungle. We’ll meet with several organizations working to challenge the discrimination, threats to culture and language, and growing threat to the environment that affect the Kukama peoples’ living in this part of the Amazon. We’ll be immersing ourselves in a variety of forms of resistance through public radio, education, and art. Get ready to swat away those bugs, share meals, and tell stories with the local people living in the small town of Puerto Miguel.
Community Connections in the Northern Amazon
We’ll be living in Iquitos, the largest city (400,000 people) in the world not accessible by road, or El Estrecho, another city deep in the jungle! We’ll visit local markets and learn about issues of mining, conservation, and human rights while engaging with community-requested projects in the city or out in the jungle. We will work with multiple organizations that fight in defence of indigenous rights, strive to keep their cultural practices alive, and work to strengthen their communities.
In the past, we’ve helped build community centres with youth groups, lugging wood out of the jungle, and learning the 29 ways to use a machete around our work site from our new local friends. Always prioritizing community-requested projects, our work this year will depend on the needs of the communities when we arrive!
Apart from this, we’ll also have the opportunity to meet with Tsanwa, a youth LGBT group, to learn about their work and speak with our Peruvian counterparts about issues that affect all of us. Combined with all of this, there will also be day trips where we’ll be actively exploring the wildlife in the Amazon jungle. It’s sure to be an unrivalled experience!
Independent Travel Time
Our crew will also have Independent Travel Time (ITT) – a staple of all Operation Groundswell programs. You can travel independently if you desire, but we encourage everyone to travel in pairs or small groups. ITT is the ideal time for you to learn more about your specific interests – visiting our other partners in Peru, hiking the glaciers outside Huaraz, or heading over to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu! Be it volunteering, traveling, or just relaxing, there are options for all.
**Please note that you are not under the auspices of the organized program during ITT. Team members will be given the emergency contact number of program leaders during ITT for any advice.
Prior to flying home, our group will reconvene for a program debrief known as ‘disorientation’. After our independent explorations, we will meet up in Peru’s third unique geographic region: the coastal desert in Paracas! We will camp under the stars, and discuss our accomplishments, how we can stay in touch, and what future projects we can collaborate on.
Then before we know it, it’s off to the airport for some tearful goodbyes! Adios and Adelante!