Earlier this year, Kim from our UK team travelled to our South American destinations to check out our local camps and projects. Read on to find out more about her time in Camp Peru…
When I think of Peru, I think of ancient Incan ruins, the colourful textiles of the traditional clothing and the iconic animal of Peru – the llama. This was my first visit to the country, and it certainly delivered on all my expectations.
Travelling with Camps also gave me the opportunity to explore parts of Peru that most tourists don’t get to see, and meet some amazing local people who shared their rich, vibrant culture.
I started my journey in Cusco, the old Incan capital of Peru.
These days, it’s a charming Spanish colonial city, centred around a plaza in a style typical of all Peruvian towns.
From Cusco, it’s just a short journey (by Peru standards) to Camp Maras, but it feels a world away.
Set high in the Andes mountains, above the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the views are unbeatable. It’s amazingly quiet here, and staying in the simple accommodation alongside the local community it’s easy to slot right in to the calm pace of rural Peruvian life.
I caught up with the volunteers who were on their last day working at the local school grounds. In the past, the local community had lived higher up in the mountains but due to a new road construction in the lower part of the mountain, they have gradually started relocating to a new area with easier access to amenities. The growing population here are now in need of larger and improved education facilities to be suitable for everyone. Consulting with the local people to establish what is most needed, Camps have stepped in to help.
In one large plot which houses the middle school and high school, Camps volunteers have constructed a new toilet block, refurbished a play area and are now completing a brand new building which will be the kindergarten.
It was amazing to see the efforts of volunteers past and present coming together to create these important facilities.
One thing that really surprised me about my time in the Andes was just how warm it was! Living above the cloud level means you’re that bit closer to the sun, and despite the chilly start to the days, by mid-morning at the project site I found myself reaching for the sun cream.
I also never realised how great Peruvian cuisine is – but I soon found out. Sonya, Camp Peru’s head chef, cooks up some truly amazing traditional dishes.
Next stop on my trip was Camp Colca, located in the vast Colca Canyon.
As my visit was during the rainy season, the canyon was luscious green and full of life, with rivers roaring through the valley floor.
Since we started working here 3 years ago, Camps volunteers have completed a large number of projects in three small villages in the area – the evidence of which is easy to see as you stroll around. Our volunteer teams have constructed an elderly persons’ home, multiple children’s play areas, a women’s kitchen and prenatal centre – and this is to name just a few projects.
The people here were some of the friendliest I met during my time in Peru and were really happy to show me round the area. We have three different camps in the Colca region and each of them are colourful and homely with incredible views of the canyon.
Of course a trip to Peru wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its most famous site – Machu Picchu.
Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to do the 4-day Salkantay trek (that’s on my bucket list for my next visit), but the bus ride winding up through the mountains to reach the ancient Inca ruins was pretty spectacular in itself.
My time in Peru was short and sweet, but this beautiful country and the warm and friendly people in it have definitely left a lasting impression on me.
If you’re thinking of discovering this amazing country for yourself, I highly recommend it.
Full of rich cultural experiences and some of the world’s most spectacular natural landscapes, Peru certainly has it all.
You can volunteer with Camps from 2 weeks or up to 4.5 months, with the chance to travel to our other South & Central American destinations in one incredible journey (check out my blog on my time in Ecuador here).
Ready to begin your adventure? Get in touch with us today to start planning your trip.