Explore the cultural and ecological diversity of the Andes: live with local Quechua families, hike amongst snow-capped peaks, explore the ruins at Machu Picchu, marvel at the seemingly endless Uyuni Salt Flats, and off-road through Mars-like scenery in the Atacama Desert along the Bolivian-Chilean border-- the driest place on earth.
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Sep 6-15, 2018
14 Participants (max)
The Andes have provided for the Quechua and Aymara people for centuries. These modern-day descendants of the Inca continue pay homage to Pachamama, the spirit of mother earth, through their actions and rituals. The earth is where they grow their food and raise their alpacas, which are used to provide clothing to the community.
This trek takes an in-depth look at the importance of the Andes through the eyes of her people. We spend time learning about their culture and way of life, and experience first hand their kindness and generosity. We trek amongst the mountains, stay with local families, and off-road through the wild terrain of these vast high-altitude plains.
Then we explore the greater Atacama-- a land lost in time in the shadow of the Andes. Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni forms the largest salt flat on Earth; once an oceanic lake, as the mountains rose tens of thousands of years ago, the lake evaporated, creating a seemingly endless expanse of salt. Just beyond is Chile’s Atacama Desert, a high altitude plateau of rock, sand, canyons, formed by still active volcanoes. The Atacama receives less rainfall than anywhere else on earth, the result of which is a landscape that can only be described as otherworldly.
High altitude overland travel by car, guesthouse accommodation with one night in homestays, hot water showers available most nights, but not all. This trip covers a lot of ground quickly.
Lots of landscape and cultural photography opportunities. Astrophotography is popular in Uyuni and the Atacama. Photography lessons are available throughout the trip.
Significant off-roading in Bolivia, one to two moderate hikes in the Andes, lots of short distance exploration by foot, moderate to very high altitudes (2,000m~4,800m) throughout the trip.
Andean food is rich in meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Cuzco and La Paz are culinary highlights, along with our homestays, where we eat local foods: guinea pig, alpaca, quinoa, and yams.
CULTURE FOCUS: 8/10
Cultural exchange and homestays with Quechua villagers in Peru. Aymara culture in Bolivia. Paired with cultural learning and Inca archaeological site visits.
NATURE focus: 8/10
Uyuni Salt Flats, the Peruvian Andes, geysers and volcanoes in the Atacama Desert, mineral lakes of varying colours, and lots of run-ins with llamas, alpacas and vicuñnas throughout the trip.
“This experience was so real and authentic. It was more than just being immersed in the wonderful traditions and culture of the Peruvian and Bolivian people, it was also about building connections with other people, growth and somehow, through the endless group conversations and funny discussions, I felt more aware of myself and my journey.”
"The places we visited and experiences we had were unique, and things I never would have planned on my own. But it was the people we met who made the trip life-changing. I've traveled with groups before and met some wonderful people, but the leaders on this trip truly made us feel like a family."