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Peru: Be inspired!

Guided by our local Peruvian guide and experienced American trip leaders and working under the supervision of local park rangers, volunteers learn about the Inca culture and its impact while helping to preserve the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. ConservationVIP® is pleased to offer this unique and exciting opportunity to one of the world’s most astounding archaeological treasures! Volunteer project sites vary in altitude from 8,000 to 11,000 feet, making this challenging for some, though past volunteers included a wide range of ages and abilities. The rewards far surpass any challenge from working at this elevation!

Machu Picchu Volunteer Dates

November 5 – 14, 2020     May 13 – 22, 2021
November 4 – 13, 2021 
RESERVE MY TRIP
or call 1-800-622-2236

Machu Picchu Volunteer Trip – Details

Help protect Peru’s famous Machu Picchu Sanctuary and environs. Each trip varies, depending on the current needs of local authorities. Past trips included:

  • helping the National Institute of Culture
  • helping archaeologists restore cultural sites
  • helping the National Service for Protected Natural Areas, by
    • removing moss and plants from walls, windows, niches at Incan ruins
    • removing encroaching invasive species
    • planting native trees in areas prone to slides
    • collecting seeds for replanting
    • repairing Incan trails
    • interviewing travelers about their experiences in order to improve visitor management

You must be able to hike with a day pack, move soil or rock with a shovel, pull unwanted vegetation, or carry stones.

Group Size: 8 – 18 plus trip leaders

Scroll through the tabs on the left for details about the itinerary, price and gear list and to read reviews and prior trip reports

Introduction: Listed below you will find a general description of activities you can expect on the trip. Please note, however, that every trip is unique. Because local conditions and the Park’s needs continually evolve, detailed plans are often finalized or revised after the group arrives and the trip leaders review the conditions at the site in light of the capabilities and special interests of the volunteers. As volunteers successfully complete conservation and restoration activities, new activities or areas can be targeted on subsequent departures, which may result in a modified itinerary.

Just prior to each trip, volunteers will be given updated information that includes details about where their specific group will be based, and an outline of the activities which are planned. Although we do our very best to adhere to that schedule, the itinerary is also subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather. A detailed discussion of specific daily activities will take place on the trip.

Day 1: We begin in Cusco, the capital of the New World’s “Roman Empire.” We meet at our hotel in the early afternoon for orientation. The afternoon includes a guided tour of the cathedral, as well as free time to explore on your own, while acclimatizing to the 11,200 foot elevation.

In the evening we enjoy the fine dining of a traditional Peruvian dinner while enjoying the camaraderie of the volunteer group.

Day 2: After a morning tour of the Machu Picchu Museum and the Qorikancha, we board a private bus to Sacsayhuaman, a hilltop stone fortress overlooking Cusco. The largest of the stones used in the construction of Sacsayhuaman weighs over 360 tons and stands more than 20 feet tall.

Day 3: We depart for the Machu Picchu Sanctuary and Machu Picchu Pueblo (also known as Aguas Calientes) via train. On the way, we visit Chinchero, a village where local weavers demonstrate their skills and textiles. We pass by ancient agricultural terraces and remote villages along the Urubamba River. Once in Machu Picchu Pueblo, we check into our hotel and enjoy lunch. During our initial visit, we receive an orientation and safety instruction.

Days 4-8: Each day starts with breakfast at the hotel, and then on to work. Projects vary, depending on the tasks assigned to us by Peru’s National Institute of Culture and the National Service for Protected Area Management. On one of these days, volunteers will enjoy a full-day guided tour of Machu Picchu, followed by time to discover the ruins at their own pace.

Day 9: In the morning, volunteers will board the train for Ollantaytambo. Dating back over 500 years, the Inca city is complete with its narrow alleys, street water canals and trapezoidal doorways. The nearby temples are considered by many to be the best preserved and finest examples of Inca stone craftsmanship after Machu Picchu. Upon our return to Cusco, we will enjoy a farewell celebration dinner together, toasting newfound friends and our accomplishments during the past week. All meals included.

Day 10: The Machu Picchu Volunteer Trip ends with breakfast. You may transfer to the Cusco airport for homeward-bound flights (via Lima), or opt to extend your stay in Peru.

$3,360 in 2020; $3,395 in 2021; for ten days

(Note: Your trip expense may be tax-deductible. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page and consult your tax advisor for details.)

Price includes:

  • Leadership and support staff for volunteer activities
  • guide leadership on tours
  • all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 10
  • hotel accommodations
  • all bus and train transportation as noted on the itinerary
  • group tools
  • all orientation and training excursions as noted on the itinerary
  • park entrance fees

Price does not include:

  • International airfare to/from Cusco, Peru
  • lunch on Day 1
  • medical immunizations
  • insurance (emergency medical and evacuation insurance is mandatory and can usually be purchased for $25 through REI Adventures)
  • excess baggage charges
  • airport taxes
  • alcoholic beverages or soft drinks
  • gratuities or personal items

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. The gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. View the Gear List PDF.

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ConservationVIP
Average rating:  
 56 reviews
by Dave16 on ConservationVIP
Fabulous Experience!!

We went on this trip in November 2019. The trip exceeded all expectations!!

Why did you choose this trip?
This location was a bucket list item.

What would your advice be to potential travelers?
Do this trip!

What was the highlight of your trip?
Impossible to select a highlight as the whole trip was truly amazing! (tours, guides, food, volunteer experience, etc.)

About Me
Avid Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip

by Tatterbug on ConservationVIP
Magical

This trip is truly amazing! Not only is there beautiful sights, but you get immersed in the local culture/customs. Santiago "makes" the trip. His knowledge of the history, customs, people, food is excellent. Speaking of food, be prepared to eat some excellent food and be stuffed each day. Please be aware, this is a very very physically challenging trip. You will be walking continually on uneven surfaces and continually climbing up or going down steps. The altitude (regardless of what you think your physical condition is) is going to have an effect on your endurance/ability (even if you don't have altitude sickness). The amazing part of the trip is to get to spend the amount of time in Machu Picchu that you do so you are able to see it under a variety of weather conditions (clouds, sun, mist, rain).

What would your advice be to potential travelers?
Drink the coca tea non stop and stay hydrated. You literally need to drink on average 2 liters of water per day.

What was the highlight of your trip?
Meeting Santiago

About Me
Avid Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip.

by jujud on ConservationVIP
Prepare to fall in love

I fell in love with Peru, its people, culture, and traditions through an REI adventure with Conservation Volunteer International Program. After a month of returning from Machu Picchu I am still basking in the experience. The trip fulfilled two of my dreams. One of seeing the ancient Inca ruins and two of participating in a volunteer vacation. Upon reflection, my initial dreams were not as big as what I experienced. Not only did CVIP choreograph a superb itinerary but the people I was honored to experience the trip with elevated it to a whole new level. The group was fun, interesting, thoughtful and caring. Together we were immersed and educated by our knowledgeable leaders in the history and beliefs of this part of the world. This allowed us a greater appreciation for the work we’d be doing and a greater reverence for where we’d be doing it. We formed community as we learned and worked, side by side. If anyone is considering an REI adventure through ConservationVIP, there is no need to hesitate. If you follow the trip guidelines, you’ll be ready for an adventure that will go beyond your expectations. If you go, I hope to join you.

Why did you choose this trip?
I went with a dear friend who suggested the trip.

What would your advice be to potential travelers?
REI suggests you be able to walk several miles with a 10 pound backpack. A few months before the trip, I began walking long distances with a weighted backpack. It helped tremendously.

What was the highlight of your trip?
Our visit to the women's co-op where we learned how their textiles are made. Seeing Machu Picchu for the first time. I was breathless.

About Me
Casual Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip.

by MarkN on ConservationVIP
Adventure trip with a purpose

I have wanted to see Machu Pichu but didn't want to be just another tourist, this trip gave the opportunity to learn more about the people, culture and history of Peru and to make a contribution to this unique site. The typical awkwardness of the first meet and greet is quickly replaced by becoming friends. The tour leaders, John and Millie, were very knowledgeable and well connected with the local people and officials. Our guide Santiago! His depth of knowledge about the local flora, fauna, people, history and more was inexhaustable. I will visit Peru again but not without him as my guide.

Why did you choose this trip?
The opportunity to be more than just a tourist, to contribute and learn

What would your advice be to potential travelers?
You don't need to be an olympic athlete but you do need to be in shape. This trip does involve physical activity at higher elevation than most are accustomed to. Read the trip description, do some research and be honest with yourself about your capabilities.

What was the highlight of your trip?
Enjoying the people, culture and scenery.

About Me
Avid Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip.

by MuleSkinninMama on ConservationVIP
This volunteer vacation so exceeded my expectation

I just returned from this trip and it was the best trip I have ever taken anywhere! The days spent with the Cons. VIP group were absolutely amazing! Santiago, the local guide for this trip, is the most knowledgeable and informative guide I have ever had and he really made this trip the amazing trip that it was. Plus you can't discount the scenery in this part of Peru! It's just WOW every time you open your eyes. I stayed an extra 5 days after the volunteer trip so that I could explore more of the area and am so glad that I did.

Why did you choose this trip?
I've always wanted to visit Machu Picchu, and what a better way to do it than to do volunteer work while there and become immersed in it.

What would your advice be to potential travelers?
Be in good health and able to be very active. But don't let age stop you as long as you are an active person in good health. You don't have to do all the extreme climbs that we did, but I pushed myself and did it all and am so happy that I did.

What was the highlight of your trip?
I can't name just one! Every day and new surprises and amazing explorations and sights.

About Me
Avid Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip.

by KevinC on ConservationVIP
Machu Picchu with Conservation VIP and REI

Why did you choose this trip?
It was a life-long dream to experience Machu Picchu. And to do it with a group of like-minded people, who just happened to also be some of the nicest people you could hope to meet, was a delightful bonus. Our guides, John, Millie, and Santiago were extraordinary in their commitment, local experience, and knowledge.

What would your advice be to potential travelers?
If you travel from Lima, Peru (sea level) to Cusco, Peru (elevation 11,100 feet) by air (an approximate 90 minute flight) then there is no opportunity to become acclimated to higher altitudes by ascending in stages. Half of our group took prescription-based Diamox as a preventative against altitude sickness. Those that did not experienced mild and nagging headaches for the first few days. To be clear: the Diamox takers did not share that experience. Conservation and restoration work in the grass and vegetation at Machu Picchu proved to be an excellent opportunity for no-see-ums to wreck havoc upon exposed skin (and sometimes through clothing). My spouse and others used Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent (20% Picaridin) that provided effective protection. It is available in 3 oz spray bottles that meet airline requirements. Others used a DEET-based product that appeared to be effective. For those (of us) who did not apply bug protection the bites are not felt at all when they occur - at some point you look at your arms and legs and see a mass of red bumps. When they intermittently itch like crazy (seemingly at random times) you'll reach for the hydrocortisone lotion and the benydryl.

What was the highlight of your trip?
Highlights included: the experience of everything. The country, the geography, the people, our guides, everyone in the group.

About Me
Avid Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip.

by JeannieG on ConservationVIP
amazing experience

I just returned from the experience of a life time. With 16 fellow travelers, two trip leaders and the best local guide, this was the most impressive way to experience Machu Picchu. After a couple of days of exploring and learning about Cusco, we took buses and the train to Machu Picchu, both to experience it and to help get rid of invasive species (I still dream of that pasture grass). The scenery is so impressive and to be able to give back in such an environment is beyond words. Our local guide, Santiago, not only knows all about Inca history, he also has the ability to relay that information in the most easy-going manner and he clearly loves what he does. Our trip leaders, John and Millie, had come up with an excellent itinerary (so many places, so many photos, too amazing to put into words) and they were both incredibly dedicated to making sure that we travelers were well taken care of and had the opportunity to really get into the work/volunteer mode. All three worked so well together and it was obvious that they had put a lot of themselves and their passion into the trip. They provided enough flexibility to help us deal with weather changes and had not only planned for enough time to see the most important sites without ever feeling rushed but had also given us enough free time to explore a bit on our own. The food was incredibly good; every meal was a culinary masterpiece and we were really fortunate to be able to experience first-hand why Peru is described as a foodie destination. I cannot recommend this trip, this organization and these leaders enough. The work Conservation Volunteers International does is incredible and to have been part of this, even for a short time, will stay with me for ever.

Why did you choose this trip?
to experience Machu Picchu as more than a tourist

What would your advice be to potential travelers?
Take the time to get used to the altitude and when your body says to stop to breathe, listen to it. I arrived a day before the trip and that really helped me get used to it and I did fine without medication (but plenty of coca tea).

What was the highlight of your trip?
everything

About Me
Casual Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip.

by DebR on ConservationVIP
A magical experience!

I have always wanted to visit Machu Picchu but did not want to just have a few hours in the sanctuary which is what most tours or groups do. We are mostly independent travelers and not much into organized tours, but when I came across the REI/ConservationVIP volunteer trip, we just knew this was something we should try.

I loved the idea of getting to visit the site, spend several days there, get my hands into the earth of this magical site, and also get to meet and work with others. We had such an amazing group of volunteers, it felt like I was on a trip with a bunch of life long friends right from the start. I’m so grateful that I got to spend this journey with the people in this group.

Our group leaders, Barbara and Janice truly made the trip run so smoothly and really took care of their flock. They had great advice, they were fun and really elevated our experience with their knowledge and personal experience. Our local guide Santiago was just amazing. He had so much knowledge of everything Peru and a pride in his land and people. He was truly a walking encyclopedia and I learned so much from him. He had such a calm and gentle nature and was an absolute joy to be around.

The weather we had on the Oct./Nov. trip was very mild. We had a little rain but everyone had rain gear and it was not a big problem. The elevation did not seem to be an issue for any of our group, but I saw most drinking the coca tea and it’s good to know your limits and have good self care. I wish I had done more stairs for my physical training to get ready, everything is uphill or up stone stairs, everything! You will get a great work out and the elevation makes you very aware you are going uphill. I was glad I did my 4 mile daily walks prior to the tour.

Take this tour. Have this experience. See and work at this magical site. Meet great, like minded people. Make new friends. Do something so good for Peru and her people. You will love it, I sure did.

Why did you choose this trip?
Gave us several days at Machu Picchu compared to just having a day or even a few hours. Good amount of time for full tour that allowed us to add a few days prior and after tour.

What would your advice be to potential travelers?
Try to get in some stair training to make it as easy as possible during the trip. Bring meds for stomach issues, better safe than sorry. Pick up your sack lunch before heading to breakfast, then you can add some guacamole or extra meat/cheese to your (dry) sandwich. Give any extra foods/juice in your sack lunch to the park worker you are with, they can not bring any food or water into the park.

What was the highlight of your trip?
The people on this tour with us were the best. I really felt I was with long time friends during this tour. The park workers in Machu Picchu, as well as the Peruvian people really appreciated our help. Plus, doing this work in such an amazing place was beyond magical. All the tours were very well done and gave us lots to see and learn.

About Me
Casual Adventurer
✔ Yes,
I recommend this trip.

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About Machu Picchu

In 1911, Yale University Professor Hiram Bingham paid a Peruvian guide to lead him to a nearby ruin. The guide took him up a precipitous slope, straight into the city of Machu Picchu. Conservation Volunteers International Program is the first volunteer organization ever allowed to work within the Sacred City.

One of the Seven New Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. Towering 1500 feet above the raging Urubamba River in Peru’s Andean highlands, the royal retreat and sacred center of Machu Picchu is spectacular by any measure. The Inca ruler Pachacuti began the site in mid-1400 and the site was still under construction when abandoned after the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire circa 1530. For nearly 400 years the jungle reclaimed this mountain citadel and Machu Picchu slowly disappeared.

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