New England Key Clubs: Sacred Valley Service

Eye-opening community service, cultural immersion and adventure near Machu Picchu

Welcome to Peru!

Snow-capped mountains tower over ancient Incan ruins and small rural villages in the Sacred Valley. Smoke wafts into the crisp mountain air and through the thatched roofs of adobe houses. Brightly dressed women and men herd goats, tend to crops, and prepare lunch over open fires. Guinea pigs scamper underfoot and children play outside. This is life in the remote villages near Ollantaytambo – get ready to live it!

Service in the Sacred Valley

Step off the tourist trail to Machu Picchu on one of Peru's most popular programs and discover hidden valleys, stunning scenery, and rural villages. You may make guinea pig coops, build an irrigation canal, or help out with various other community development projects. You’ll also get to know the village children while working in schools and playing educational games. The work will be hard, but the sight of the local people’s smiles will be a welcome reward.

Life in camp will be rustic but comfortable, and delicious food will be prepared for you after satisfying days of service. Practice your Spanish and learn Quechua while you integrate into village life. When not working, you can hike into the surrounding mountains and valleys and discover spectacular vistas, hidden ruins, and remote mountain villages that offer further insight into the history of this region and its kind-hearted people.

Adventure in the Valley

A highlight of your group’s time here will be exploring the Sacred Valley. Whitewater raft through the valley, mountain bike down peaceful country roads, hike across giant Incan terraces, and take a dive on the highest bungee jump (optional) in the Americas. After nearly two weeks exploring the valley and village, say goodbye to your new friends and catch the train towards Machu Picchu.

Magnificent Machu Picchu

Whether bathed in sunlight or shrouded in mountain mist, the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu are sure to take your breath away. Summit the peak of Wayna Picchu for an awe-inspiring, bird’s eye view of the city before grabbing a hearty meal in Aguas Calientes. One of the world’s new seven wonders, Machu Picchu is the perfect way to cap off your Peruvian service adventure. Machu Picchu alone makes this trip incredible, but it will be the rewarding service projects, the rugged landscapes, and the gracious, welcoming Peruvian people that will open your eyes and remain in your heart forever.

This trip involves camping, physical labor, and living in remote locations at high altitudes, so you should be prepared for a challenging and physically demanding two weeks.


Day 1 (Tuesday): USA to Lima

Depart the USA for an easy trip to Lima, Peru’s capital. Upon your arrival you will be met by Rustic Pathways staff and transported to a comfortable hotel in one of Lima’s nicest neighborhoods. Those students coming from another Peru program will meet us in the hotel.

Day 2 (Wednesday): Fly from Lima to Cuzco and spend the night in Pisaq

Welcome to your first day in Peru. After a continental breakfast it is off to the airport to catch a one hour flight to Cuzco, the old Incan capital located high in Andes Mountains.

Once we arrive in Cuzco, we will jump on a private bus and be transported to Pisaq, a small town located in the heart of the famous Sacred Valley. In Pisaq we will be staying a step away from the city plaza which on most days hosts one of the most colorful handicraft markets in the region.

Day 3 (Thursday): Welcome to your new home away from home

After breakfast, you will board a bus and descend the valley towards the bustling hub city of Urubamba. Once in Urubamba you will have the opportunity to visit an ancient Incan villa, explore the local market and take pictures in main plaza. During a buffet lunch, we will likely meet up with the provincial mayor and other government officials that make this service project so success.

After lunch, we will head down the valley to the village where they will spend the next few days working and living amongst the locals.

Day 4 (Friday): Community Service Work

Today you will begin work on a project that has been pre-approved by the local inhabitants and is designed to help improve their lives. In previous years, students have built bathrooms and build Guinea Pig hutches. All projects will have students working alongside the local families that will benefit from these projects. This year we are planning on continuing building Guinea Pig hutches to help spark local economic development and sustainability.

While many of the inhabitants still speak the native language of Quechua, many also speak Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish though, don’t worry, we have Spanish speaking staff and with a little imagination it won’t be long until you master the art of non-verbal communication. We also work with local school children and provide donations to these underfunded schools.

Day 5 (Saturday): Community Service Work

Today you will continue work on a project that has been pre-approved by the local inhabitants and is guaranteed to help improve their lives.

Day 6 (Sunday): Community Service Work

Today you will continue work on a project that has been pre-approved by the local inhabitants and is guaranteed to help improve their lives.

Day 7 (Monday): Whitewater Rafting and Mountain Biking adventure

After three hard days of work in the village, you will leave for a day of outdoor adventure. In the morning you will embark on a 2 hour white water rafting adventure down the Urubamba River. The river is popular due to its non-technical nature and has several class 2 and 3 rapids.

After completing whitewater rafting, you will have time to catch your breath while you sit and share laugh over lunch. The group will then embark by bus to the beginning of the mountain bike trail. You will be outfitted with a bike that fits your height and will begin an off-road adventure where the will be able to marvel at the beautiful landscape.

On this night, the group will eat dinner and sleep in a comfortable hotel in Ollantaytambo, one of the last remaining towns where villagers still live in original Inca homes.

Day 8 (Tuesday)

After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, you will return to the village to finish up your community service project.

Depending on the local school’s schedule, you will have the opportunity to visit the school and spend time with the children. At school you will have time play games and teach English and math to the students.

Day 9 (Wednesday): Community Service Work

Today you will get back to work on your community service project.

Day 10 (Thursday): Community Service Work

Today you will finish your community service work in the village. Congratulations!

Work on this day will culminate with an inauguration celebration. The group will share a typical Incan meal with the community and participate in several local dances. On this day, you will also have the opportunity to try the specialty of the region, guinea pig!!!

Day 11 (Friday): Goodbye to our Village and on to Rumira

After saying your final sad goodbyes, you will begin a short hike along the Urubamba River to Rumira where you will spend the night. Students will spend the rest of day visiting the ruins at Ollantaytambo and relaxing along the river.
Dinner on this evening will be Pachamanca, a traditional Peruvian dish buried and cooked by using the heat from smoldering rocks.

Day 12 (Saturday): Train to Aguas Calientes

During the morning, you will take a scenic train ride along the Urubamba River to the Aguas Calientes. Along the way, the group will pass under the majestic Veronica peak and along the intense bottom section of the Urubamba River. Nestled the cloud-forest amidst jagged peaks, it is amazing to think that you are just a short ride from the drier alpine villages of the past week.

The rest of the day will be spent in and around Aguas Calientes. The activities will vary based on the interested of the group, but may include shopping at the local market, visiting the Machu Picchu museum, or hiking to a nearby waterfall.

Day 13 (Sunday): Enter and Explore the Machu Picchu Ruins

You will wake up early in the morning and travel the windy road up the mountain to the world famous ruins of Machu Picchu. The group will be there in time to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu and long enough to explore the magnificent ruins.

In the afternoon, you will re-board the train and return to Ollantaytambo where you will spend the night.

Day 14 (Monday): Bungee Jumping and City Tour of Cuzco

The group will depart Ollantaytambo after breakfast and head towards the city of Cuzco. Along the way you will have the opportunity to either stop in the valley for some exhilarating zip-lining and cliff repelling (about $100) or head up to Cuzco to bungee jump or slingshot (about $65). These activities are optional and are not included in the program cost.

Upon arriving to Cuzco, we will check into the hotel and go on a walking tour of Cuzco. As part of the tour, you will explore the cobble stone streets of Cuzco and visit temples and cathedrals that date back to the Incas and colonial period of Peru.

Day 15 (Tuesday): Goodbye to the Sacred Valley and back to reality

On the final day, we will wake up and visit the local market. At the market you will have a chance to enjoy a delicious fresh fruit smoothie while purchasing gifts and souvenirs.

You will then head to the airport where you will catch their flight back to Lima. Final debriefings and dinner will occur in the airport while we wait for the flight back to the States. Students connecting with another adventure in Peru will say goodbye to their friends and then meet the new students arriving from the States.

Day 16 (Wednesday): Arrive in the United States

After your overnight flight from Lima to Houston, say final goodbyes to friends and exchange email addresses before heading home.

An Important Note about Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

Packing List

Below you will find the packing list for the Sacred Valley Service Program in Peru.  This packing list provides a general guideline to make your packing easier, though please make sure to bring all essential items!  Please see the packing lists for each program that you are participating in.  If you have any questions about this list please contact us at

Peru’s Climate:

What you bring to Peru is important due to its varied climate. Students participating on these programs will experience wide temperature swings during a single day.  It is important that you pack accordingly and be able to layer in order to adapt to this.  While on these trips, expect it to get below freezing during night and up to 60 during the day.   It is not necessary to pack a lot of clothes, but it is essential to pack correctly


Carry-On Luggage:

A small backpack is the best carry-on bag

Essential Items:

  • Passport and Wallet *Travel Wallet or safety wallet is a good idea.  
  • *Make sure that your passport is valid for 6 months after your planned date of departure!
  • Photo Copy of Passport
  • Medications
  • Immunization records (If you have had immunizations)
  • Emergency Contact numbers for Rustic Pathways

Recommended Items:

  • Sunglasses
  • One change of clothes
  • 35mm camera, digital camera, and/or disposable camera * Please don’t bring a extremely expensive camera can easily get broken, lost, or stolen.
  • Journal and Pens  
  •  Good Book (trade with buddies)
  • Toiletries

Note: Make sure everything you pack in your carry-on complies with the new carry on regulations of the TSA:

Checked Luggage:

A medium sized duffel bag or large back pack work best - wheeled bags are OK as long as they are medium sized and can easily be carried like a duffle over rough terrain.

Essential Items:

  • 2 Photo Copies of Passport
  • Contact lenses and accompanying paraphernalia. Pack in PLASTIC BAG
  • A lightweight breathable jacket (Shell) Gore-tex or eVent like materials are highly recommended
  • Sleeping Bag- Sacred Valley Service ONLY (15° F or lower strongly recommended as it will get below freezing during the night.)
  • Flashlight/Headlamp w/ Extra Batteries
  • Sunscreen (enough for your entire stay) Pack in PLASTIC BAG

Recommended Items:

  • Underwear (5 to 7)
  • Socks (5 to 7)
  • Non-cotton hiking socks (2)
  • Long Pants (1 or 2, suggested to have 1 lightweight and 1 jeans or heavier) *Non-cotton pants that zip off into shorts are wonderful for conserving weight and also adapting to the changing temperatures.
  • Short Sleeve Shirts (~4) * having some non-cotton shirts is again advised
  • Long Sleeve Shirts (~3) 
  • Thermal Base Layer- top & bottom synthetic material
  • One nice casual outfit for going out or meeting with community members
  • A soft-shell jacket or winder stopper fleece for nights and cool weather.  The soft shell jackets are windproof and water resistant and are wonderfully versatile
  • Shorts (1 )
  • Swim Suit (1)
  • Athletic Shoes *Shoes that dry quickly and are suitable for light hiking work best
  • Sandals and/or Flip-Flops *it is highly recommended to have a pair of strap on sandals that will not fall off in water (Teva or Chaco brand sandals work great)
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves
  • Toiletries:
    • Bio-Degradable Shampoo and/or Soap
    • Deodorant,
    • Toothpaste and Toothbrush PLASTIC BAG
  • Small travel towel
  • Feminine care products
  • Personal First Aid Kit (suggested)
    • Band aids
    • Triple Antibiotic Ointment
    • Medical Tape
    • Moleskin or preferred blister care
    • Preferred Mild Pain Reliever
    • Antihistamine (Benedryl or preferred type)
    • 2 Non-adherent, sterile dressing
    • 2 Gauze dressing

*Note: See the following link for ideas on small, personal first aid kits:

  • Headlamp
  • Lip Balm (Dermatone© works well!)
  • Hat for sun
  • Hand Sanitizer (1 bottle per week) pack in PLASTIC BAG
  • Watch or Clock with an Alarm
  • 32 oz. Water Bottle *Nalgene© bottle works well
  • Heavy Duty Garbage Bags (2)
  • Large (one gallon) Ziplock© Freezer Bags (2) to keep camera, ipod or other items dry

Other Optional (but helpful) Items:

  • Spanish/English dictionary
  • Leatherman
  • Travel Pillow *a pillowcase can be a great dirty laundry bag or a comfortable pillow if you stuff it with a sweatshirt and easy to pack.
  • Deck of Cards
  • Picture of mom, dad, boyfriend/girlfriend, dog, to share with local students
  • Frisbee, Aerobee, or Hackysack,
  • Musical Instrument (Guitars and Harmonicas - smaller is better)
  • MP3 player or i-pod


Should you choose to bring donations, we would be happy to coordinate distributing these for you.  Below are some suggestions of things to bring.  Please know that it is possible to buy many of these donations in Peru should you choose.

  • ESL Textbooks/CDs for Spanish Speakers
  • Easy games like Go Fish and Uno to learn basic English, colors and numbers
  • Children’s books
  • School Supplies – paints, markers, pens, pencils, paper, notebooks
  • Clothing – for men, women, children, babies
  • Cleats, Soccer balls, and other soccer gear
  • Coloring books, Children’s toys, stuffed animals and Games

Note on Debit Cards:

Debit Cards are wonderful to travel with though there are a few things to remember. 

  • Please ensure that your international block is lifted and that there are no restrictions in using it in any of the countries you will be traveling
  • Make sure to look at your daily limit and decide whether this should be raised or lowered
  • Visa is more widely accepted in Latin America than Master Card, both are fairly widely accepted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to get visas for this program?

Students from the United States will be issued a tourist visa on entry into Peru. Students from other countries should check with their consulate. Please know that it is the student’s responsibility to obtain any appropriate before entering Peru.

What immunizations do we need to get for this trip?

Rustic Pathways highly recommends that you visit your family doctor or a travel doctor, before traveling. They can assist you with deciding which immunizations you should have to travel to Peru. Also, please visit the CDC or WHO websites for up to date advice and restrictions. Below, you will find the provinces that students will be traveling in to help you with this process.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON YELLOW FEVER: While as of September 2011 it is not required that students receive their yellow fever vaccination to travel to Peru from the United States, other countries such as Costa Rica, require that you do have proof of your yellow fever vaccination before entering their county. Please make sure you consider your full travel itinerary when speaking to a doctor and make sure that you have all records of your vaccinations and inoculations on you while traveling.

What Peru provinces or regions does this program pass through?

Students traveling on the Sacred Valley Service program will be traveling mainly in the Sacred Valley and greater Cusco area in the provinces of Cuzco and Urubamba in the Cuzco Region. Students will also be arriving and departing in Lima. While the regions are not overly diverse for this program the changes in weather can be fairly drastic so please make sure to read the program specific packing list prior to traveling.

What kind of food will we be eating?

Students will be eating mostly Peruvian food on their program, but may have a few chances to eat more international fare such as Italian, Chinese etc. Peru is actually well known for their cuisine, which varies from region to region. In fact, due to its Incan and pre-Incan heritage, followed by Spanish settlement and then African, Sino-Cantonese and Japanese immigration, Peru boasts one of the most diverse cuisines in the Americas.

Most of the meals will be centered on traditional Andean food, with a lot of potatoes and grains such as quinoa. In addition vegetables, beans, meat such a chicken or trout are found in most meals. For those that choose, there will be the chance to eat Cuy (Guinea Pig) which remains a staple of rural Andean diets to this day. If you would like to know more about Peruvian diet Wikipedia actually has a nice summery at

Where are our meals eaten?

We will have a cook provide 3 meals a day while at the villages in the Sacred Valley and will eat in local restaurants while not in the village.

Will travelers be drinking bottled water?

Yes, students will drink bottled or purified water while traveling in Peru. It is not recommended that travelers drink the tap water in any part of Peru.

Can Rustic Pathways cater to specific diets on this program?

Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program and the chefs we work with are very accustomed to doing so. There will be ample access to fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and grains for those who are vegetarian. Vegan diets can be accommodated, but with a little more foresight and planning as this is not a diet commonly encountered in Peru. Please know that while we are happy to accommodate alternative diets, many of the special diets common in the United States are not common in other parts of the world and travelers must be patient and understanding in having these needs be met. Vegetarians and other travelers with limiting dietary needs should consider bringing sports bars, such as cliff bars or other snacks to ensure that they have a well-rounded diet if their needs are unable to be met on certain occasions. Please contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with any questions regarding special diets or allergies.

What will the accommodations on this trip be like?

Accommodation on this program ranges from camping to hotels. While performing community service projects in the Sacred Valley, students will be camping in rural villages. In Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu students will be staying in 2 and 3 star guesthouses.

How often can I do laundry?

Students will have the chance to do laundry about once a week while on their program. Please make sure to have enough clothes to last least a week. It generally costs around $1 – $2 per Kilo for full laundry service.

What is the climate like in Peru?

Peru has 3 very distinct climate regions; the desert coastal region, Andean Mountain regions and the Amazon Basin. Students will visit the desert coast in Lima, though most their time will be in the Andean Mountains. During the summer the weather in these parts of Peru are fairly dry, with the chance of rain increasing slightly during the month of August. The day time temperatures generally are between 45 and 60 degrees while nights can reach below freezing. While at Machu Picchu, students will be in the cloud forest which is considerably more humid and hot than the villages in the Sacred Valley. Students need to be prepared to adapt to the rapid temperature changes that occur in mountain environments. Please make sure to refer to the packing list when preparing for this program.

Are there any extremely physical or strenuous activities on this trip?

This program is not overly strenuous, but students should be in at least average physical condition. Activities include, hiking, mountain biking and whitewater rafting. The service work that is conducted can be fairly strenuous as well and student should be prepared to carry adobe bricks, dig trenches and do other physically active work.

Is altitude a problem on this program?

The short answer in most cases is no. The degree to which students experience altitude symptoms though are very dependent on the individual and students should expect to experience some of the symptoms associated with mild altitude sickness such as headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and decrease sleep. Most students experience little to no symptoms beyond shortness of breath upon excursion and a slight headache and it has no negative effect on their experience. We have structured the trip to not be strenuous during the first couple of days and ensure students drink a lot of water to help alleviate these common symptoms of altitude. Students will also have access to the local remedy of cocoa tea which is very effective in alleviating many of symptoms of altitude sickness. Severe altitude sickness is extremely rare at the elevations we will be traveling in for the Sacred Valley Service program and have never been experienced by a Rustic Pathways participant, though local medical care is equipped to deal with these situations should they arise.

Is this a good program for students interested in practicing their Spanish?

Yes! Students will be living in traditional communities in the Andean Mountains and will have ample time to practice their Spanish. Please know that a basic knowledge of Spanish is not required on this program, but students who take the time to at least learn some basic phases may find their time here more rewarding. A small Spanish- English dictionary is recommended.

How often will I have access to email and phones?

Phones and internet will be available occasionally throughout the trip. While in Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Aquas Calientes these services will be available on an almost daily basis. There will not be internet or phone access, while living in the villages of the Sacred Valley.

What costs are not included on this trip?

All meals, lodging and transportation are included in the price of the program. Costs that students should be prepared to cover are internet access, travel insurance, medical insurance, medical expenses, International Airfare, laundry, small donations to organizations, temples, souvenirs and personal snacks. There will also be occasional optional activities which students can participate in which are not included in the program. For Sacred Valley this may include, bungee jumping (About $65) or zip-lining/repelling (About $95). While all materials for our community service programs are included in the cost of the program, students have occasional decided to donate addition funds to supplement projects and materials beyond the projects we are working on. In the past this has included school supplies, gifts for local children and a project to provide electricity to a community.

How much spending money do I need to bring?

Students should bring between $150 and $300 for their 2 week program. Spending habits can vary extensively from student to student, so please consider how much you normally spend when considering this. An average person may spend about $30 on food and snacks and $75 on souvenirs and miscellaneous items, though obviously this be much higher for certain people. There is also the option to bungee jump for around $65 for those students whom choose. Peru is not an overly expensive country, but they are known for their handicrafts and most students enjoy bringing something home for friends and family. If you are considering opening an allowance account with Rustic Pathways, please consider including an extra $150 or so for emergency situations. It is wise to ensure that students have these funds if needed, and please make sure that they are aware of how much has been allocated for spending money and how much for emergencies as students will have access to the full amount of their funds should they choose.

What sort of electrical voltage adapters do I need to bring?

Peru has 220V outlets as opposed to the 110V outlets in the United States. The plug shape is usually the same, so be careful not to fry any of your electronics. These days, most common electronics like cameras, computers and mp3 chargers have built in adapters and can be plugged straight into the wall. For all other electronics, you will need to make sure to purchase a converter. Please make sure to check all electronics before plugging them in!

Is there a language barrier and is this a problem?

The national language in Peru is Spanish, or Castilian, though there are a number of traditional languages such as Quechua and Aymara spoken as well. If you don’t speak Spanish though, you should not be concerned. There will be bi-lingual guides whom can assist with translation when needed. Also, in the highly touristic areas such as Machu Picchu, many menus and other signs are in both English and Spanish. Of course, if you are able to get down a few phrases before your arrival it will only help to interact with locals and make your experience that much more rewarding.

Contact Us: For more information about New England Key Clubs: Sacred Valley Service, email


  • Marvel at the sight of the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the seven man-made wonders of the world.
  • Immerse yourself in colorful, off-the-beaten-track villages near Ollantaytambo and get to know the friendly locals.
  • Help construct adobe buildings and learn this ancient building technique under the guidance of community members.
  • Raft and mountain bike your way through the Sacred Valley.
  • Camp in rural villages and breathe in the clean mountain air.
  • Explore Incan ruins scattered throughout the Sacred Valley.
  • Fly over the snow-capped Andes into colonial Cusco.

Program Details

Ages: 14 to 18 years old

Length: 16 days from the USA

Hours: Up to 52 hours awarded

Cost: $2,995 + $465 Internal Airfare + $1,440 Estimated International Flight Cost

Departures: Students on this program will fly from Boston, MA.

Eligibility: You must be a Key Club member from New England to attend this program


Departs Tue Returns Wed Availability
15 Jul 30 Jul Available

Dates shown are inclusive of travel time from the United States.

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