Arrive Cuzco at any time. There are no planned activities so check into our hotel and enjoy the city. A G Adventures representative will hold a general briefing in the evening, normally between 7pm and 8pm (a note will be posted in the arrival hotel with details). Cuzco is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city, and the hub of the South American travel network. The city attracts travellers who come not just to visit a unique destination but also to experience an age-old culture very different from their 20th century way of life; one could easily spend a week just in and around the area. Inca-built stone walls line most of the central streets and you don't have to go far to see other major Inca ruins. It is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend. Every year Cuzco attracts thousands of travellers who come to delve into its noble but tragic past. It is the perfect base for optional explorations around the city and area as well as a range of outdoor activities. Relax and explore this fascinating city, and take time to acclimatize to the high altitude. Cuzco’s numerous colonial churches are one of the city’s most common sights. The Cathedral was started in 1559 and took 100 years to build; it is also one of the city’s greatest repositories of colonial art. Immediately in front of the entrance is a vault containing the remains of the famous Inca historian, Garcilaso de la Vega. Also worth visiting are the churches of La Compañía, La Merced and San Francisco. While most ruins are just outside of the city, the main ruin within is that of the Coricancha, once the Inca Empire's richest temple. Today the ruin forms the base of the colonial church of Santo Domingo. During Inca times this temple was literally covered with gold, but within months of the arrival of the first conquistadors this incredible wealth had all been melted down. It is left to the individual imagination to envision the magnificence of the original structure. There are several good museums in Cuzco, including the Archaeological Museum, which also houses a small art museum, the Regional History Museum and the Religious Art Museum. Our best advice for exploring Cuzco is to wear a comfortable pair of shoes, arm yourself with a city map and set off to explore!
In the morning of Day 2, you will be met by a G Adventures representative who will take you to the volunteer project to make sure that you are settled comfortably. Spend mornings and afternoons volunteering at a drop in center for children supported by Planeterra – the G Adventures Foundation. The home acts as a haven for children and adolescents who live in extreme poverty. It is open during the day and is run by a staff of teachers and social workers. Children are given the opportunity to voluntarily drop-in to receive help with homework, a warm meal and participate in a variety of classes and workshops that teach them valuable skills. While volunteering travellers will spend time with the staff and children while assisting with various activities. These activities may include teaching English, helping children with their homework, participating in the various workshops provided to the children such as leather working, jewelry making, playing games and helping in the kitchen. VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS No experience is necessary but Intermediate Spanish is required. Conversational Spanish to a level of comfort (for example help children with homework) helps you interact and therefore have a more rewarding experience. Please consider whether your level of Spanish would be sufficient to work with children in a workshop and after school program environment. Amidst the mountainous surroundings, stunning architecture and rich culture of Cuzco, you will see the bitter reality of children either working or begging on the streets. Many of these children are unable to cope with the stress of both working and going to school, which results in giving up their studies in order to help provide for their families. Other children leave home because they have been abused, neglected or abandoned, turning to alcohol and drugs or sniffing glue to help relieve their hunger pains. In order to support themselves, some children also resort to begging or prostitution. By providing children who live in poverty a place where they receive guidance and support, we are helping to keep these children off the streets, giving them the hope, confidence and skills needed to create a future for themselves. Through Planeterra, we raised a total of $150,000 which was used to purchase a permanent home to support underprivileged children in Cuzco.
Free weekend to enjoy all that Cuzco has to offer. Free time to explore the city or enjoy some of the numerous optional activities: horseback riding, river rafting, or a Sacred Valley tour.
Spend a second week volunteering at the drop-in center for children and supporting as needed. Play games, help with homework, teach English, help with the cooking, and participate in various workshops such as leather working and jewelery making.
Depart at any time. Add extra weeks to your volunteer experience, please ask your G Adventures agent for details.