Ecuador & Peru Community & Culture Experience
– Duration: 2 months –
The South American countries of Ecuador and Peru have long been a favourite with travellers and it’s easy to see why. On this varied 2 month programme you’ll get to experience both of these incredible destinations whilst making a measurable impact on the local communities.
Wake up to sunrise over the peaceful shores of Lake Titicaca, explore ancient Incan archaeological sites in the Colca valley and enjoy life in a vibrant Ecuadorian beach town. Living alongside local people, you’ll gain a deep understanding of the rich cultures and traditions of these rural communities, whilst supporting sustainable project initiatives that are designed to improve living standards and empower locals. You’ll get to stay at four of our authentic camps, each with their own unique character and boasting some of the best views of all our camp locations.
Of course, no South American adventure would be complete without a trip to the world-famous Machu Picchu. Trek the spectacular Salkantay route to the ancient Incan city – a bucket list experience you’ll never forget.
This programme is designed to impact the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:
The impact that you'll make
Community Infrastructure Improvements (Costa)
The community around Camp Costa is in need of development. You’ll be working on a number of projects that will help the community, such as, building a community and children’s centre, or helping out in the communities organic garden.
Community Development (Colca)
The small community near Camp Colca sits on the edge of the mighty Colca Canyon at 3,600 metres above sea level. Due to its remoteness and relatively harsh environmental conditions, the community here is very poor. We have a number of ongoing project initiatives within this community and you could be helping with anything from primary school development to building guinea pig houses.
Community Development (Titicaca)
The communities surrounding Lake Titicaca remain some of the poorest in Peru. The remoteness and inaccessibility of this region means that there is little or no help available from surrounding regions. You’ll help by continuing to build community facilities such as a restaurant for the community so that they can recieve a sustainable income from passing tourists.
Toilet Building Project (Moray)
The small rural community in Moray is extremely poor with no basic sanitation or sewerage. We are helping to construct toilet blocks in each of the houses in the village, providing families and vulnerable elderly residents with proper sanitation facilities.
Camp Costa is a wonderful camp set within a sleepy fishing village along the Ecuadorian coast. Only a short walk away (300m) you’ll find a quiet golden sand beach overlooking the warm and sunny Pacific Ocean. Here you can kick back, look out to sea and you may be lucky enough to spot dolphins, sea lions and even humpback whales cruising past.
The camp is located within the village where the locals are so friendly and welcoming that it will become your home away from home in no time. The football pitch is next door so you can challenge some of the locals to a friendly game after a hard day’s project work.
Location: 160 km (4 hours drive) from Guayaquil International Airport
Accommodation: Rooms in a converted community centre & tents with comfy mattresses & bedding. Flushing toilets & long drops, cold showers & sinks
Power: Mains electricity. US standard plug.
Signature dish: Ecuadorian ceviche, breaded prawns & patacones (fried plantain)
Social: Open sided chill out space with hammocks, volleyball court & football pitch. Bamboo gazebo and fire pit on the beach
Camp Colca is a wonderful camp set in the heart of a humble and friendly community on the edge of the great Colca Canyon, the world’s second deepest canyon (and only second by a couple of metres!).
This very special location is peaceful and offers you a feeling of space and remoteness. The camp’s elevated position (3,600m) offers spectacular views and encompass some big sweeping landscapes, from the surrounding alto plano desert, to Inca terracing and huge jaw-dropping mountain ranges.
The village is very charming, with little adobe buildings everywhere and donkeys strolling along the dirt roads. Camp Colca is sure to transport you to another world making you feel like part of the community in no time.
Location: 200 km (5 hours drive) from Arequipa Airport
Accommodation: Rooms within a converted building with comfy mattresses & bedding (including thick blankets!). Flushing toilets, cold showers & sinks
Power: Mains electricity. US standard plug / European round 2-pin plug
Signature dish: Alpaca en jugo – Alpaca cooked in fruit juice
Social: Chill out zone with fireplace
Camp Titicaca arguably offers the most spectacular views of any camp. Located on the shore of lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake (3,800m above sea level), you’ll be rewarded with gobsmacking views of the lake and surrounding mountains from your accommodation the minute you wake up!
The camp itself is situated in the heart of this small and charming lakeside community where you’ll get the privileged opportunity to spend time with the Quechua people and learn about their extraordinary way of life.
Location: 380 km (7 hours drive) from Cusco/Arequipa Airport
Accommodation: Brick & adobe buildings with comfy mattresses & bedding. Flushing toilets, warm bucket showers & basins
Power: Mains electricity. US standard plug / European round 2-pin plug
Signature dish: Chicharron de trucha – Lake trout, battered & fried
Social: Chill out spaces with wood burning stove, camp fire, volleyball court, lake beach
Camp Moray is situated on a beautiful high plateau (3,600m) close to the world famous Sacred Valley of the Incas.
This unique wilderness camp gives you a true taste of what it’s like to live in the Andes, with spectacular mountain views across the valley and a real feeling of space and remoteness, allowing you utter peace and a chance to get away from it all.
Location: 50 km (2 hours drive) from Cusco Airport
Accommodation: Tents with comfy mattresses & bedding. Flushing toilets, warm bucket showers & basins
Power: Generator (between 06:00 – 10:00 & 16:00 – 20:00). No power sockets
Signature dish: Cuy dorado – guinea pig
Social: Large social/dining tent, camp fire, volleyball court
Day to Day
Welcome to Ecuador!
Arrive into Quito airport where you will be greeted by a member of our Camps crew who will take you to your accommodation in the city for your first night’s stay.
Welcome and Orientation in Mindo
We will travel from Quito to Mindo (journey time approx. 2 hours) where you will meet the rest of your volunteering group. Mindo is a charming pueblo (small town) which is well known for its many bird species. You have some free time to explore and acclimatise to Ecuadorian life before we head to our first camp and get started on projects.
Head to Camp Costa
We travel down the coast to our awesome Camp Costa. You’ll be welcomed by the Camp Manager who will show you around the projects, community and camp.
Community projects start
Over the next few days you’ll get stuck into projects in the local area. You could be involved in a number of community development initiatives such as the building of a Children’s Centre or a Village Community Centre. You could also be involved in planting native plants in the Organic Garden or contributing to Marine Conservation by clearing the coastline of plastic and debris.
Chill out in Puerto Lopez
This weekend you’ll have the chance to explore more of your amazing surroundings. We’ll head up the coast to the small beach town of Puerto Lopez – from here you are able to book a boat tour of Isla de la Plata, home to blue footed boobies, turtles and the Frigate bird. Depending on the time of year you may also be able to spot whales, or you might just want to relax on the beach and enjoy a few days off. We’ll head back to Camp Costa in the late afternoon giving you some time in the morning to explore the town before we head off.
Back to community projects
Your final few days at Camp Costa will be spent finishing off your project work here before handing this back to the local community.
Bye Ecuador… Hello Peru
Say your goodbyes to Ecuador as we transfer you to Guayaquil airport in time for your flight to Peru.
Welcome to Peru
Welcome to Peru! You will arrive into the ancient beautiful white city of Arequipa, where you will be met by a member of our Camp Peru team and taken to your accommodation in the city. You will have a day to relax, acclimatise to the altitude and explore the bustling city. Arequipa has some great bars and restaurants and is a very popular stop for backpackers from around the globe.
Travel to Camp Colca
Today we embark on the epic 4 hour road trip to Camp Colca. The journey ascending into the Andes is wonderful. You’ll be sure to see Alpacas and Vicuñas on the way, as well as climbing to almost 5000m above sea level before dropping down onto the sides of the canyon. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening settling into your new home at Camp Colca.
School improvement projects
We have a number of ongoing project initiatives within this community and you could be involved in anything from primary school development to building greenhouses and creating an environmental cycle from guinea pigs!
We are building and repairing guinea pig houses which allow us to collect guinea pig waste to add to our compost bins. We will eventually use the compost to harvest vegetables in our volunteer built greenhouses, securing a vital and nutritious food source for the community.
Today we’ll embark on a 3-4 hour Condor Trek with breath-taking views across the canyon and a chance to view the magnificent condor bird. There are few places in the world that offer the chance to see these birds at such close quarters.
Complete school improvement projects
Spend the next few days putting the finishing touches on the school improvement projects before we finish our time at Camp Colca.
Free time in Cusco
Head back into Cusco where you’ll have some free time in the city before we start the next stage of your Peru adventure tomorrow.
Transfer to Puno
Take the 5 hour journey to Puno where we’ll be meeting some new volunteers who will be joining the team. You’ll have some free time to explore Puno, the folkloric capital of Peru, before we enjoy a welcome dinner as a new group.
Head to Camp Titicaca
Today we hit the road and take the 2 hour journey to our Camp Titicaca, located right on the shores of the stunning Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. After settling into your accommodation you’ll be given a brief orientation of the camp and surroundings to prepare you to start project work tomorrow.
Community project work
Spend the next few days getting stuck into projects designed to support community-based rural tourism. The area you will be working in is renowned for its spectacular views of the lake, and many tourists come to stay here. You will help the community by building a restaurant so they can receive visitors and obtain an income.
Explore Uros floating islands
Enjoy a boat ride to the unique Uros floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca and gain an insight into the traditions and culture of the indigenous community who live here. Hike up the top of Taquile Island in time for lunch, enjoying impressive views over the lake. Spend the night camping under the stars on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in a wonderfully peaceful setting.
Continue community projects
We take the boat back to Camp Titicaca and continue with our work here for the next few days before handing the projects back to the community.
Chill out in Cusco
Today we embark on the 8-hour journey to Cusco, a fascinating city of great historical significance, once the capital of the Inca empire. Your visit will give you the chance to explore the many museums, archaeological sites, restaurants and bars it has to offer.
A 2-hour journey takes us to Camp Moray, a beautiful tented camp above the Sacred Valley with spectacular views over the countryside.
Community project work
Projects here are varied but largely focus around the local primary school. You will work with us on a number of initiatives to improve infrastructure and provide safe and productive learning environments for local children. In addition to the projects in the school, we are building a toilet for each house in the community to improve sanitation.
Hike to ancient Inca sites
Today we will take you on a guided hike to a breathtaking viewpoint above the Moray archaeological site. We will also take you to the Maras Salt Pans and you will learn about the fascinating Inca history that this area is steeped in.
Return to Cusco
Return to the beautiful city of Cusco and spend the day getting ready for your Machu Picchu trek. We will deliver a briefing to let you know exactly what to expect from your upcoming five-day adventure.
Machu Picchu Trek
Embark on your trek to the iconic Inca city of Machu Picchu. You’ll take the Salkantay Trek route, journeying through the spectacular Andes mountains, with breathtaking views at every turn, before arriving at Machu Picchu. You may have seen hundreds of pictures of this famous site but nothing will prepare you for the magic of seeing it in real life – and the challenging trek of the last few days will make the experience even more rewarding.
Today is your final day in South America! Say your farewells to the team before we take you back to the airport in time for your flight home.
Top up your trip
If you’d like to add in some extra adventure, we offer the opportunity to book some exciting add-ons which can be included within your trip duration or added on to the start or end of your journey. Speak to our team to find out more about how to add these awesome adventures to your programme.
Don’t forget… flights, travel insurance, visas and vaccinations. Please note, you must be over 18 years old at time of departure.