Wikipedia says that Peru covers roughly 12.8lacs sq.kms of area on earth, but don’t go by the sheer mathematical figures. The ancient Inca region has a lot on its plate than one can imagine. The world knows about the great Machu Picchu ruin located in Andean highlands, but there is a lot more than that for a visitor.
Volunteering in Peru is, certainly, one of the most resourceful ways to explore the destination, and if you have selected this as the option to travel to Peru, you have made (arguably) the best travel decision of your life. A typical volunteer work schedule while volunteering in Peru includes 4 to 5 hours of work for 5 days a week. This leaves the volunteers with two complete days over the weekend for themselves. And, while your in-country coordinator is always there to advise you the best places to visit in this Andean region, here is my pick of 5 best activities to do, to make the most of these 48 hours in hand;
Talking about things to do in Peru and not flagging off with the world famous Inca trek is simply unjustified. Built during the early 15th century, and later abandoned, this mystique area is one of the most beautiful gifts by the Inca community to the world. A UNESCO recognized world heritage site, Machu Picchu is one of the strongest pillars for tourism in Peru. And, although, it may take you a little over 48 hours to complete this trek, it is worth extending your stay in Peru and experience this Inca beauty.
While Machu Picchu takes away most of the commercial attention, Peru is known to sustain several such ancient ruins that are worth exploring and are down right amazing. One such ruin site in Peru is the Sacred Valley, located some 30 miles (roughly) outside downtown Cusco. Stretched over 37 miles of lush green plateaus along the Andean highlands, the Sacred Valley has several small villages where you can encounter the typical Andean lifestyle; such as Calca, Pisac, Lamay, etc.
This is a proper continuation to where it ended in the previous point. The small villages and townships under the umbrella of the Scared Valley are some of the best places to find that perfect Andean souvenir for yourself; especially, Pisac which is known for its special Sunday market. Located at an altitude of 2970m above ground level, the village hosts a typical market place and witness a lot of tourist footfall. All the items are hand made crafts and is one of the only sources of survival for the native villagers. However, if not to buy, you must visit this market for the experience of it. Although, of course, I know you won’t be able to hold yourself!
While the Cusco city, and Peru altogether, is more known for sustaining ancient ruins and a typical Andean lifestyle, one part that adds wonders to its tranquil beauty is the series of various architectural masterpieces; such as the cathedrals and the museums. Most of these architectures are standing tall and strong from the mid 16th century and have been the facade of Cusco’s architectural brilliance. Take a stroll through the city and explore some of these locations to learn about the interesting history of the region. Some of these heritage sites incudes; La Compania, Plaza De Armas, Cathedral, Museo Inka, La Merced, etc.
Oh! this list of food preparations to try out in Peru can go on endless. All the way from Ceviche to Causa, Lomo Saltado, Pachamanca, and of course, the very famous Cuy (guinea pig); Peru has a lot to serve you on a platter. It’s perfectly alright if you don’t get the names at first, since that is the least of your worries and the sheer taste of it will not let you forget the names once tried. A typical Andean cuisine is a blend of locally grown herbs and spices that makes it rich in not just color or taste, but nutrition as well. Whoever said that healthy food does not tastes good, might not have visited Peru yet.
The best part is, you don’t have to make much efforts to experience all this, as your visit to Peru is for volunteering abroad and not a leisure holiday. You will be living more like a native and less like a tourist. You will get to try the most authentic, home cooked food and will get the real insights about the ancient culture and history of this land while living with a local host family. Hope the list helped.
Have you been to Peru before? Was it for volunteering? Share your experience or ask a query, i’ll be happy to respond. Keep traveling!
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