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PerubannerPeru Mind and Body


Due to high demand and interest, we run two Peru Mind and Body programs in the summer.  Take your pick!

PROGRAM 1: MAY 27 – JULY 5, 2014


PROGRAM 2: JULY 12 – AUGUST 20, 2014




  • Practice and learn yoga from world-class instructors high in the Andes mountains.
  • Get a taste of some of the best Latin cuisine in the world while taking introductory Spanish courses in the coastal capital
  • Volunteer with local NGOs on health and wellness projects in the Sacred Valley.
  • Participate on a challenging 5-day trek through the clouds up to the world-famous Machu Picchu.





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 OGers, 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, be invited into a random home while waiting out a storm over coca tea. Because in the end, it’s always about the people.



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

  • Head north to the hike the glaciers ourside of Huaraz
  • 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

Machu Picchu 2013
Volunteering with Sembrando Semillas
Matt dancing with the Kallpa community



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 center of the town we are staying in. This gives us a chance to make personal connections to the communities that host us. Trusted homestay families have been pre-arranged by OG but Western comforts such as continuous electricity should not be assumed. Cold-water bucket showers and cramped sleeping conditions, however, should be embraced!


*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.

Just click on the headers to read more! 


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: a crash course in Peruvian culture and politics, four mornings of Spanish classes and of course, the cuisine. We will be staying at Casa del Mochilero (“House of Backpackers”) in the coastal district of Miraflores. This is our backpacker’s hostel whose hosts quickly make it everyone’s home away from home! Planned meetings with the local community leaders and NGOs, along with a bike tour, will help participants 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.


From Lima, the group will undertake an incredibly long, yet beautiful journey. We will take a 20-hour bus ride to Cuzco, the capital of the Incan empire.  We will spend the first couple of days acclimatizing to the 3,200m-high city and exploring the cobblestone streets of Cuzco and villages in the surrounding Sacred Valley region. Our first introduction to life in the sierra will be visiting our friends’ eco-farm in the remote village of Maska. Here we will learn about sustainable agricultural methods, “cuy”-sine in the sierra, traditional medicine, and the REAL story on the Incas. From Maska we will spend the morning hiking up to the magical ruins of Pisac, an ancient Inca village nestled in the mountains at the mouth of the Valley.


The group will be working on community-requested projects both on the outskirts of the city and in the countryside. We will begin our work with Sembrando Semillas, an NGO that serves as both a yoga retreat and alternative education center. Last year we helped them with a massive greenhouse project, starting each morning with yoga and meditation and finishing each day working with local children. Next we will head high up into the mountains to  work with Asociación Kallpa Cuzco, a non-profit organization that works to facilitate the building of healthy, sustainable communities in the incredibly beautiful “Four Lakes” region. Projects will focus around community health and wellness in the villages there. Last year we worked in the lakeside village of Chahuay, helping renovate and reopen an old, dilapidated playground using all local materials. Cutting hay in the mountains for rooftops, stripping bark from wood for posts, we spent the days baking in the hot mountain sun and our nights around the fireplace!


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


Team members 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, team members are not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for themselves. Team members are given the emergency contact number of program organizers during ITT for any advice or safety concerns. ITT is the ideal time for team members to learn more about their specific interest, visiting our other partners in Peru, hiking to Machu Picchu or into the second deepest canyon in the world, or hitting the beaches on the north coast! Be it volunteering, traveling, or just relaxing, there are options for all.


Prior to flying home, the group will reconvene for a program debrief known as the ‘Disorientation’. This will likely take place in Paracas National Reserve, on the desert sand beaches of one of the beautiful spots in all of Peru. We will camp out under the stars, relaxing on the beach and enjoying our last couple of days in the country!  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.


Get ready to spend six weeks with some of the raddest people on earth…we’re not even exaggerating! Just click on their name to read more about them. 


Megan Wycklendt - Backpacking with a PurposeEver since moving to Mexico for a few years when she was 10 years old, Megan has been fascinated by different cultures and soon caught the traveler’s bug. 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 long-distance biking in her homeland to having traveled over 30 countries, Megan loves adventure and finding daily challenges. As a former gymnast, she often gets sudden urges to be upside down and rarely resists them.Through volunteering at orphanages since she was a young girl, and promoting poverty relief in the United States and South America, Megan has found meaning in life through serving other people. She currently teaches yoga, breathing and meditation as an Art of Living teacher and is getting her Masters in Counseling at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.


Zack Slouka - Backpacking with a PurposeOn an icy blue morning in Boston, Massachussets, Zack came into being after a heroic forty-eight hours of labor. Upon seeing where he was, and faced with the prospect of growing up on slippery sidewalks among people that didn’t know how to say the word ‘car,’ he fled with his parents in a 16 foot U-Haul to Encinitas, California. His first memory was of seeing pelicans flying over the Pacific, thinking they were pterodactyls, and peeing his pants. After an idyllic childhood of climbing Eucalyptus trees, eating worms and getting stung by jellyfish, he moved to New York with his family, went to high school in the Bronx, and learned how to jump turnstiles. After living in the Czech Republic for a year, he took his first solo trip to Costa Rica at eighteen and fell in love with the smell of bus exhaust and the squeak of fruit bats in the rafters above his bed. During college he studied abroad in West Africa and almost failed his courses because he was traveling too much, and learned how to safely demolish buildings with straps and a sledgehammer while volunteering in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. He graduated an athlete-student and continued to volunteer in disaster-relief, cleaning up after tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes. Something about working in disaster zones made his own chaotic life seem normal by comparison, so he kept at it until he saw the Motorcycle Diaries and convinced himself that it was totally doable, despite it happening sixty years ago and being, well, a movie. He tried and failed to teach English to hundreds of seventh graders in Nicaragua, fell off a cliff in Colombia, and lived in Ecuador for a year, working as a guide for gap-year students.

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