The group is at the airport in Cusco, ready to board their first flight! At this time, all connections are scheduled on time. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions - 303-679-3412. Thank you for your trust and support of the program!
Yesterday, we flew from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco. It was a 1 hour place ride and when we arrived, a bus was waiting to bring us to Sacred Valley where we stayed the night. In the hotel we were all excited to find out that there was hot water. Today, we got time to explore some shops after breakfast and after a brief shopping time we made mini hike to see a great view of some Inca ruins that were built to be in the shape of a llama. Some of the students enjoyed the view so much they climbed higher than the rest of us. After the early hike, we rushed to the train to go see Machu Picchu. The train ride had a great view of the mountains and the river that ran through them. The ride lasted an hour and forty five minutes and was followed by a forty minute bus ride to get to Machu Picchu. Our tour guide told us that the city was first discovered by locals but was later introduced to the rest of the world in the early 1900s. We also saw many of the temples. There was a temple of the sun as well as a temple of the earth. The city also had a temple of the condor bird which held lots of significance to the Incas. We saw many parts of the city and then most of the group hiked up to the sun gate, however, only three of us made it to the top. We met outside the Incan city and took a bus ride to the town closest to Machu Picchu, where we had pizza for dinner. Many of us, if not all, were glad for the change in food. After dinner we were given more time to shop and then took the train home.
- Danny L.
Today we packed up and left Infierno. I got a great start to the day with an early 6am shower. Afterwards, we ate breakfast and got ready to leave. We packed all of our luggage into the van and headed to Puerto Maldonado. When the group arrived, we took time to rest and then traveled to "Ecoaventuras Amazonicas" to go zip lining. Zip lining was really fun and then after a mediocre lunch we completed an obstacle course. Later, we returned to the hostel and were given more time to relax before dinner. Most of us were very tired after a long day and some of the group was not feeling well. After a good dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, we were all eager to go to sleep. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day and people will start to feel better. We plan to leave the hostel around noon and head to Cusco.
Today was a big day for the group. We woke up in the depths of the jungle at a lavish 8am and ate a nice big breakfast. Then we went ahead and said goodbye to our friends at the Tambopata Lodge. The boat ride back to Infierno was around two hours, but it gave us a chance to get some more sleep and enjoy the scenery along the river. When we had reached our destination, Mario was there to greet us and help us carry our stuff up to the shelter. After we settled back in, we headed over to the village to spend time with our homestay families. We collected our clean laundry and walked to the soccer field where teams, along with their fans, from surrounding towns had gathered to play the great sport of fútbol. We watched the games that were going on as well as played our own with some of the local kids. The festivities lasted for about 3 hours, after which we all returned to our individual homestays to enjoy a nice meal. Then we all headed over to the school, where the lights we had helped to put up were running while a group of kids played soccer. The mayor of the village came out to make remarks about his appreciation for our service and guaranteeing that he would take care of the lights after we left. Then we went on to present two locally brewed beer bottles, one of which he opened and poured onto one of the posts. He then passed the other to me, with which I did the same thing. We then played some more soccer and said goodbye to our host families for good, which was a sad moment for everyone. For me, as the leader of the day, I spent more attention on the other group members than I normally would instead of the setting around us. I felt more responsible for them in times of despair and was quicker to volunteer to do something that I normally would have. Today, I appreciated the ceremony at the school and my final moments with my homestay family. Both are moments I will never forget. I am also very grateful for Mario and everything that he has done for us this week. He did not get the recognition he deserved.
My day as leader got off to a great start thanks to my decision of showering at 4:30 in the morning. We were asked to wake up that early so we could leave in time to see the macaws. The boat ride to the sightseeing location was roughly an hour and a half, which goes by fast when you spend your time debating about football. The birds we saw there were absolutely beautiful, ranging from scarlet macaws to green parakeets. If I had to guess how many pictures we all took individually, I'd say maybe 15 each. There we had a pleasant breakfast, minus the many bees that were swarming around our food. After sightseeing, we went fishing for piranhas, but unfortunately we didn't see nor catch any. The experience was fun though; the rugged terrain made for good fun and laughs as many people, including myself, slipped and fell quite a few times. We went swimming afterwards at a small beach maybe 10 minutes away from where we went fishing. With all the talk about some people not wanting to swim prior to arriving at the beach, it was nice to see that everyone got in the water and swam and enjoyed themselves. We came back to the reserve and had an amazing dinner as always, and right after we got back out on the boat again to go searching for caimans. Luckily, we found one on a beach, a rather small white caiman. On the way back, we took some time to look at the stars and the milky way, which was pretty cool. Overall, I'd say my day as a leader was fine. When the concept of having a leader everyday was introduced to us, I initially was nervous and thought there would be a lot of pressure on the leader. But when you have a group of good-spirited people with great camaraderie, being a leader is actually fun and easy.
After breakfast this morning, we went to the school to help finish assisting with setting up the field lights. Today we dug trenches to bury the electrical wire. After finishing the trenches, we went to the homestay and were able to hand wash our clothes. We had an early lunch and then returned to the shelter. After packing for a two night stay at a new lodge, we commenced a 3 hour boat ride. We saw much wildlife on the journey and also saw gold mining machinery. It was sad to learn about the illegal gold mining industry and the negative impact it inflicts on the ecosystem. The lodge we arrived at seemed very fancy, compared to the shelter. After settling in, we went on a short night walk and saw many insects like orb weaver spiders and stick bugs. After the adventure, we had soup, rice, yuca, and beef for dinner, along with chocolate pudding for desert. We then had free time to relax in hammocks, look at the stars, and shower. We were preparing for an early morning the next day.
- Simon W
The group went to the wildlife nature center that's located in Puerto Maldonado. We were introduced to Margali, who founded the center. First, we came to the dining area to take breakfast to the animals. I found myself feeding the toucans, varying with bright colors. Next were the Red Bracket Deer and Tortugas. The deer was friendly and excited as I brought her vegetables. The group was tasked to clean the bins that store the fruits and vegetables. During lunchtime, we had arroz chaufa with plantain chips with lemonade. Soon after, it was time to feed the animals once again. We took the cutting boards and chopped the various fruits. The people who worked there helped with feeding and cleaning their plates. The most interesting part of the day was the different types of monkeys there -- from Wolly Monkeys and Brown Capucin to Bearded Emperor Tamarin and the Howler Monkeys. Another fun part was the baby sloth which was unanticipated. We looked with awe. Lastly, we cleaned out the weeds in their farm project. Simon was able to pull out the small tree root that brought everyone together to watch. Overall, the day was a learning experience about nature conservation in my perspective. Margali's idea about having a wildlife center came with many obstacles and long work. Her story of the center shows her perseverance to preserve the wild. I hope she will continue her work and help others to conserve the environment.
Light rain, crickets, some birds
Light coming through the mosquito nets, sounds of people walking by, showering, brushing teeth, more.
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, fresh papaya, plantain chips, chocolate milk, peach smoothie
Lots of laughter around, games played in the common area, we packed things for the homestay families
Leader of the Day: brings snacks for the group and a suitcase of school supplies
Everyone finished last minute prep, sunscreen & bug spray, walking to the school
Cool in the jungle, hot in the sun, it's a long walk
The school is empty, teachers are on strike, a few kids come by throughout the day to play fútbol with us
Two of the lights are placed, the ground in front of the bathroom is leveled. Pickaxes, hoes, shovels, and a wheel barrow lay strewn across the freshly toiled soil. Rocks and trash lay nearby. It's hot.
We split off for lunch. We went to "la cancha," a giant fútbol field and play with the children.
Report back to the school, one group has already started a makeshift slapjack game with UNO cards. For the most part we are unplugged. Cards are very important.
Johan brings us back to la cancha to start a competition
- Food prep
- Playing with el trompo "a type of top"
- Translating Spanish to ese eja (the native tongue)
Winner yet to be announced
Sun is setting, showers are taken, everyone relaxes in the common room on hammocks talking or playing cards. Hollie hands out glow sticks for everyone. It's dark.
Dinner: egg soup & chicken with peas and noodles
ANCHOR: quote about involvement and commitment
Everyone is playing card games or resting
Arsene is the soul of the group. The community is welcoming, Danny has music. Cards are important.
9:00 or 10:00
-- Matthew Mu
On day 2 we did many exciting things in the heat. One group painted some metal poles for the roof that we are working on at the school for our community project. Another group worked with metal and drilling holes in the poles that one group painted. And finally, the last group taught an English class.
After the group work, everyone played soccer against the school students and also volleyball and table tennis.
Finally, we all worked on putting the metal poles into the previously dug holes and filling it with a cement mixture to keep the poles up for the roof. Overall, it was a busy day, but very fun because all of the students are fun to chat with and are very helpful.
The food is delicious and everyone is very friendly. I think it is safe to say that everyone is enjoying the trip very much!