Mind & Body

Now Accepting Applications!

We’re building a community of “backpacktivists” that are socially, environmentally, and politically aware of their impact in the communities they travel to and live in. We work with our local partners on community-requested projects to uncover the intricacies of each place we go to.

Get ready to discover the complex beauty of Peru – from the bustling capital to the Sacred Valley! As we backpack through stunning landscapes, we’ll examine how diverse communities are grappling with the challenges and opportunities of globalization and rapid change. Our journey will challenge us to think critically about the space we occupy as travelers and how we can leave a truly positive impact on the communities we visit.

Now Accepting Applications!


2019 Fees + Community Contribution

$3,500 USD + $675 USD
$3,900 CAD + $750 CAD

May 21 – June 29, 2019
July 10 – August 18, 2019
  • 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 cobblestone streets of Cusco.
  • Challenge yourself with a trek to the ruins of Wakra Pukura, the region’s best kept secret!
Not the program for you?

Go back to see other programs

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.

**Please note that you must arrive into Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco and depart from Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima.

Orientation – Cusco

Our program starts in Cusco, the capital of the mighty Incan empire. Following pickups from the Alejandro Velasco Astete International 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!

**Please note that you must arrive into Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco and depart from Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima.

Volunteer Projects and Community Connections – 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 and organic agricultural practices, and a place of practice for traditional Andean medicine. In previous years, our teams have helped the family build the physical infrastructure that will serve as a teaching space for the surrounding community and a place where endangered seed species are preserved and brought back to life. Our projects this year will, as always, depend on the needs of the Ccapa family. Our time at Kausay Punku will be full of learning as the Ccapa family is an invaluable resource for knowledge on sustainable agricultural methods, cuisine in the sierra, traditional medicine, and the real story on the Incas.

Beyond all this, we will spend one morning hiking up to the magical ruins of Pisac, an ancient Incan 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?

Cultural Immersion – Chahuay de la Union

Our group will travel by local transportation into the stunning, yet seldom visited, Four Lakes Region of Cusco. And when we say seldom… we mean seldom. We will stay in the village of Chahuay as an introduction to and immersion in traditional agricultural life in the Andes. Only 200 people (mostly local Peruvians) visit this site in a single year, as compared to the four thousand that visit Machu Picchu each day. So if you want a real, off-the-beaten path experience… this is where it’s at! With canyons all around us, breathtaking views, and awe-inspiring ruins, Chahuay makes for the perfect setting to learn more about this beautiful country, the families who will soon be our own, and the agricultural life of the region!

Hiking Wakra Pukara

After enjoying the calming views of Lake Pomacanchi, we’ll challenge ourselves with a two-day hike to Wakra Pukara, a hidden gem of Incan ruins. Our hike will give us mountain ranges that disappear into the horizon and rock formations unlike any we’ve ever seen before. It’s a true archaeological wonder where we’ll learn all about its role in the development of agriculture and astronomical observations in ancient times. It’s simply the region’s best kept secret!

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, visit our other partners in Peru, head north to hike the glaciers outside Huarez, or hit the beaches on the north coast! 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.

Disorientation – Huacachina

Prior to flying home, our group will reconvene for a program debrief, known as ‘disorientation’. We will meet up in a desert oasis called Huacachina. Disorientation is a time to share stories from ITT 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, our wild and wonderful experiences, how we can stay in touch, and what future projects we can collaborate on in the future. Then it’s off to the Jorge Chavez Airport in Lima for some tearful goodbyes!

**Please note that you must arrive into Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco and depart from Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima.

What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


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

  • Climb an epic glacier at Huaraz or hike up to the famous ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.
  • 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. Cold bucket showers are common while continuous electricity can’t always be guaranteed – so come prepared! Though Western comforts should not be assumed, you can expect to better connect with locals and their culture. 

Meet Our Regional Director

Ana was born in San Jose, Costa Rica and has since travelled whenever possible in pursuit of her passion for education, development, and nature! She has worked as an English teacher in public and private schools in Costa Rica, and volunteered in Quijingue, Bahia (Brazil) on community development projects. After completing her Masters in Translation, she worked with Peace Corps, Costa Rica until returning to the world of NGOs as a Program Coordinator in Riobamba, Ecuador. Now, she’s super excited to be part of the OG family and looking forward to establishing new partnerships, working with and training awesome program leaders, and designing more amazing programs in South America!

If Not Now, Then When?

The world is changing. Help change it for the better.
Join the growing community of ethical travellers.