2021 Vashon Island Peru Service Adventure
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What to Expect
Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.
We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers, but given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but if inclement weather pushes us off course or an unexpected opportunity arises which travelers are excited about, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group.
|USA - Lima, Peru
|Today the group will travel from the USA to Lima, Peru. After arrival, the group will settle into their hotel and rest ahead of our connecting flight the following morning.
|Lima - Cusco
|Today we will leave Lima and travel to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Quechua empire. Once in Cusco, we will hold an orientation meeting at our hotel in the beautiful San Blas neighborhood to discuss the upcoming trip in detail. Later, we will take a guided walking tour of the historic center and marvel at how Quechua, Spanish and modern influences have molded current day Cusco.
|Our day will begin with an adventurous photographic scavenger hunt in the cobblestone streets around the central plaza of Cusco. Next, we will practice our moves in a Latin dance class before touring the famous Quechua ruins of Saqsayhuaman. In the evening, we will enjoy local and international food and the comforts of our quaint hotel.
|Cusco - Homestay Community
|Today we will depart Cusco and arrive at our homestay community. We will meet our families in the central plaza and after a short introduction, we will settle in with our hosts. In the afternoon, we will have a walking orientation of the community and get ready for our first day of service the following day.
|Our service days will be spent in our homestay community, which represent the heart and soul of our program. We will volunteer on meaningful service project(s) during the day while also enjoying sufficient free time to interact with our host families and fellow travelers, practice our language skills and explore the surrounding area.
|Today we will work on our service project(s) and spend time with our host families. Evening activities will vary.
|The adventures continue as we set out for Chinchero, a small town just above the Sacred Valley, where we will enjoy a weaving demonstration from the women famous for these local textiles. We will then make our way to Salineras, where thousands of salt pools cascade down the mountains, and Moray, an ancient Quechua agricultural laboratory. From there we will descend the Sacred Valley in bikes (or vans) and return to our host community.
|Today we will finish our work on our service project(s) and spend time with our host families. Evening activities will vary.
|Pisac - Ollantaytambo
|Today we will head out to the town of Pisac, home to the largest regional market. We will use our Spanish language skills to negotiate good prices on world class crafts in this colorful market! This afternoon, we will either explore the ruins above town or in Ollantaytambo, where brave Quechua warriors once staged a rebellion against the Spanish conquistadors. Tonight we will have a fiesta de despedida with our families to celebrate our time in the community together. The bravest among us can try cuy , the andean guinea pig eaten on special occasions!
|Today we will wake early and make our way to the train station to take the beautiful two-hour ride to Aguas Calientes, the base town of Machu Picchu. We will then either hike or bus to the famous ruins. With our local guide, we will learn about the history and significance of this citadel set high in the Andes, and take time to reflect on our journey thus far. We will head back to our host community this evening.
|Cusco - Lima - USA
|This morning we will say goodbye to our host families and begin our journey back to the USA. We will take an afternoon flight from Cusco to Lima. If time permits, we will leave the airport to explore the capital's historic center, including the plaza mayor and the catacombs under the convent of San Francisco, before catching our overnight flight from Lima to the USA.
|We will arrive home!
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In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three-star equivalent hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.
Situated in the hills of the San Blas neighborhood, Pension Alemana is a beautiful bed and breakfast overlooking the historic center of Cusco. Representative of the city’s history and culture, this hotel blends Quechua and Spanish colonial styles to provide a stunning setting to relax at 11,000 feet. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.
Mami Panchita is a family owned and operated colonial style guest house in San Miguel. Conveniently located between the airport and the attractions of the coastal neighborhoods, this hostel offers a cozy retreat from the bustle of the Peruvian capital that students will surely enjoy. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.
This will be the best part of your trip! Staying with a host family immerses you in the language and culture of the destination, and can lead to deep and lasting relationships with your hosts. Initially intimidating but ultimately unforgettable, there’s no better way to begin to truly understand the place you’re visiting.
Once your flight has been confirmed, the itinerary will appear here.
Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.
Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.
We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, and travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.
FLIGHT INTERRUPTION, DELAY OR CANCELLATION
Air travel can be unpredictable. Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc. Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route. Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night. Our primary role will be to keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a quick and effective resolution.
Host Community and Project Details
An average service project depends completely on the needs of each community and can vary greatly from year to year. Service projects are planned together with the SSA Country Director and community organizers. The project will always benefit the entire community and is chosen and approved by community leaders. Walking Tree staff never decides what service project is done, rather projects are always proposed by local community leaders as they are most in tune with the needs of the community.
Service projects are intended to be both challenging and rewarding for participants and community members. Generally, the work entails renovating or replacing an existing structure (health clinic, community center, school, etc) that needs work. Usually, there are little or no funds available to complete these projects, so Walking Tree plays an important role in the community. Some past projects include renovating health clinics, constructing playgrounds, building sidewalks, reforestation, or repairing decaying retaining walls.
What follows is a sample packing list but you know yourself better than we do so please adjust accordingly. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on daily outings, weekend excursions and shorter activities.
“Less is more” is a packing tip we encourage for all our travelers. The list below should cover everything you would need, but know yourself and what you are comfortable traveling with. We suggest bringing only as much as you would be able to carry on your own.
Finally, we recommend consulting a weather forecast for your destination.
Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT!
CLOTHES: (quantities depend on your trip length)
- T-shirts, tank tops or work shirts
- Long sleeve shirts
- Light sweater/sweatshirt
- Light rain jacket
- Sturdy shoes (appropriate for lots of walking/athletic activity)
- Sports sandals ie Chacos/Tevas etc. (optional)
- Flip flops
- Sun hat
TOILETRIES: (in addition to the basics)
- Sunscreen – you will use a lot.
- Mosquito repellent
- Band Aids and Neosporin, anti-diarrhea meds, basic first aid kit.
- Hand Sanitizer
- Medication in properly marked original container (better to pack this in your carry on luggage)
- Journal and pen
- Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
- Universal adapter
- Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $100-$200, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
- Durable water bottle (optional personal water filtration system – Walking Tree will always provide drinking water)
- 1 quick-dry towel
- Soap for washing your own clothes during community time
- Batteries, if needed
- Deck of cards or other portable games
- Homestay gift
- Student ID
- Spanish/English Dictionary
Travelers often contact us regarding what an appropriate gift might be for their student’s host family. Host families are often curious about where our students come from and their families in the U.S. As such, we recommend a simple gift that describes, represents or depicts your home. Well-received gifts in the past have included calendars or picture/coffee table books from your city or state, a framed picture of your family, paraphernalia from a local sports team, toys, soccer balls, school supplies, or something produced or grown in your hometown, like chocolate, local candy, t-shirts, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to worry about this… Anything, no matter its value, will be well received!
At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.
Country Director, Country Operations Manager - Peru
University of Denver – B.A. Spanish, Minors in History and Hebrew
Currently based in Minnesota, where he is originally from, Tommy works in the Country Operations department at Walking Tree Travel. His hobbies include camping, snowboarding, basketball and traveling. Fluent in Spanish, he first developed his love of languages and Latin American culture at the age of ten on a mission trip in Mexico. This experience and subsequent trips to follow inspired him to study Spanish and pursue development work in other areas of Latin America as well. Tommy gained valuable experience as a middle school Spanish teacher and coach after he graduated. His experience in education encouraged him to combine his two passions of travel and education and join our team full time. He had the pleasure of living in Cusco, Peru for three years as our Country Director and has enjoyed planning and guiding student trips ever since.
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO
Colby College – B.A. International Relations and Government
While at Colby, Gabriel spent a semester in Spain at the University of Salamanca studying contemporary Spanish politics and Spanish language. He also lettered for four-years on Colby’s lacrosse team and earned All-American honors. After graduating, Gabriel hit the road. He fished commercially in Alaska, taught in Chile and China, led programs for students in Spain and Costa Rica, and traveled to over 50 countries and all 50 states in the USA. Regardless of where Gabriel is located, he is constantly haunted by his naive faith and unconditional love for Denver sports teams.
Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.
Blog and Communication
During travel we will work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program. Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.
Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.
Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.
Standards of Behavior
In order to run a safe and successful program, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct.
- Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
- Associating with participants while they are in possession of, or are consuming, or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
- Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety.
- This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.
GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE
- Getting a piercing or tattoo.
- Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
- Threatening physical or emotional harm, or brandishing a weapon.
- Possessing, consuming, or distributing tobacco or nicotine, including vape pens.
- Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
- Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew.
- Breaking group rules.
These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.
Health and Safety
We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Peru website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.
Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.
Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.
We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.
While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.
To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry. Begin by getting a quote here.
IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.