Mind & Body

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  • Live on an organic farm high up in the mountains, learning about sustainable agricultural methods, traditional medicine, and the real story of the Incas.
  • Try some of the best Latin cuisine in South America while taking introductory Spanish classes in the coastal capital.
  • Discover meditation, breathing techniques, basic yoga, and practical wisdom for daily living and learn about spiritual tourism in the Andes.
  • Participate on a challenging 5-day trek through the clouds up to the world-famous Machu Picchu.
Program Dates


May 27 – July 5

July 15 – August 23 



To Be Announced


Program Fee



Community Contribution



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Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms!

  • Head north to hike the glaciers outside of Huaraz or south into the deepest canyon in the world.
  • Kick back on the beaches or catch a wave off the Pacific coast in Mancora.
  • Swim in the highest elevated lake in the world: Lake Titicaca on the Peruvian or Bolivian shore.


With OG, you live like the locals.

Traveling as much as we do on the Peru program, there will be a number of different styles of accommodation. In cities, we’ll usually be sleeping at clean, safe, and secure guesthouses that will feel like a second home in no time. When we’re trekking or in rural communities, we’ll generally be sleeping under the stars or in the community centre of the town we are staying in. This gives us a chance to better connect with locals and their culture. Western comforts such as continuous electricity should not be assumed. However, cold-water showers and cramped sleeping conditions should be embraced!

Meet Your Program Leaders

Megan WycklendtMegan has been fascinated by different cultures since moving to Mexico at age 10. With a life motto, “Lo bailado, nadie te lo quita” (Nobody can take from you what you’ve danced), Megan collects memories, learns through experience, and takes any and all opportunities to dance like a fool. From traveling to over 30 countries to long-distance biking in her homeland, Megan loves adventure and finding new challenges. She currently teaches yoga, breathing, and meditation as an Art of Living teacher and is pursuing her Masters in Counseling at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.

Gordon DunlopDespite the numerous locations visited along the way, Gordon still considers his home town, in Scotland, one of the most beautiful places on earth!  He counts Spanish, Italian and French as his spoken languages and spent 2011 volunteering and travelling in Latin America.  This experience fuelled a desire for further Latin American immersion, an ambition that will be realised, in 2015, both with Operation Groundswell and when he embarks on a long-held dream to cycle the Americas.  A football (spherical not oval!) is never far from his feet and his hands are increasingly occupied by learning the guitar.

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Sample Itinerary

*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, the 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!


We will have the first of several opportunities to learn meditation, breathing techniques, basic yoga, and practical wisdom for daily living. We will be staying in the coastal district of Miraflores at a backpacker’s hostel whose hosts quickly make it everyone’s home away from home. Planned meetings with the local community leaders and NGOs will help the team 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 in the big city!

Introduction to the Sacred Valley
From Lima, the group will undertake an incredibly long, yet beautiful journey: the (in)famous 22-hour bus ride to Cusco, the capital of the Incan empire. We will spend the first couple of days acclimatizing to the 3,400 m-/11,000 ft-high city and exploring the cobblestone streets of Cusco and villages in the surrounding Sacred Valley region. We will meet with local community leaders and our partner organizations to get an understanding of the effects of mining, the movement of spiritual tourism, and the pattern of development and aid in the country. We’ll also explore our favourite spots in this chaotic city, learning the sheer delight of ponche and choclo con queso.

Volunteer Projects – Maska
The majority of our volunteer work will be with a family farm in the remote village of Maska. The farm, Kausay Punku, serves as a conservatory for ancient grains and seeds, a school of traditional organic agricultural practices, and a place of practice for traditional Andean medicine. Here we will learn about sustainable agricultural methods, cuisine in the sierra, traditional medicine, and the REAL story on the Incas. We will spend a morning hiking up to the magical ruins of Pisac, an ancient Inca village nestled in the mountains at the mouth of the Valley. We will also take weekend trips and hike in other areas of the Andes. Sun salutations overlooking ancient Incan villages, anyone?

Machu Picchu
The group will embark on a 4-5 day journey to the famous ruins of Machu Picchu! The trek begins at 4,600 m as the group hikes over mountains, across rivers, and through the jungle to finally reach the city in the clouds!

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 everyone is urged to travel in pairs or small groups. During this time, you will not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for yourselves. You will be given the emergency contact number of program leaders during ITT for any advice or safety concerns.


ITT is the ideal time for you to learn more about your specific interests, visiting our other partners in Peru, heading north to hike the glaciers outside Huarez, or hitting the beaches on the north coast! Be it volunteering, traveling, or just relaxing, there are options for all.

Prior to flying home, our group will reconvene for a program debrief, known as ‘disorientation’. We will meet up in desert oasis called Huacachina. Disorientation is a time to share stories from ITT around the pool and enjoy our final days together. We will take dune buggies and give ourselves an adrenaline hit as we go sandboarding along dunes that stretch several hundred feet high! We will discuss our accomplishments, how we can stay in touch, and what future projects we can collaborate on before everyone heads off to the airport for some tearful goodbyes.


The Way We See It

Peru isn’t really the country you might expect it to be. While everyone has heard of Machu Picchu and the Incan civilization, very few know that 60% of the country is the Amazon and much of the rest of the country is coastal desert. But that’s just the geography.

For adventure travelers, Peru’s canyons, mountain ranges, glaciers, and beaches are a playground unlike anything they’ve ever seen. For history buffs, the Spanish colonial architecture sitting on top of traditional indigenous temples literally jumps out of the ground at you. But for true backpacktivists, Peru is the place where we prove that “backpacking with a purpose” really works. While most travelers simply pass along the ‘Gringo Trail’, hopping from overpriced tourist trap to party hostel, that isn’t our style.

To experience the real Peru, you need to get lost in the countryside and be invited into a random home while waiting out a storm over coca tea. Because in the end, it’s always about the people.

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