Peru: Indigenous Peoples and Globalization

Educational Excursions

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

The Peru: Indigenous Peoples and Globalization program includes educational excursions designed to directly complement and enhance classroom study and fieldwork. Through excursions, students experience the innovative ways in which indigenous peoples in Peru are working towards their own community development and cultural preservation in the face of shifting global forces.

Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu
Located just north of Cusco, the Sacred Valley was the heart of the Inca civilization during the 14th and 15th centuries on account of its pleasant climate and fertile lands perfectly suited for farming. The valley is defined by its diverse archeological sites, sacred and snowcapped mountains, old colonial towns, and the Vilcanota (Urubamba) River.

Students spend the first week of the program (orientation) in Urubamba town, capital of the Sacred Valley. At the end of orientation, students undertake a one-day excursion by train to Machu Picchu. Built at the beginning of the 15th century, Machu Picchu is located on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba River. It is Peru's most important archeological site and in 2007 was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Peruvian Amazon - Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon is among the world's largest tropical reserves, boasting some of the greatest diversity of bird, mammal, and plant life on the planet. During this six-day excursion, students experience the rich Amazon ecosystem firsthand while trekking through the rainforest and navigating on the Marañón, a tributary of the Amazon River. The excursion is organized in conjunction with SIT's partner organization, ProNaturaleza, a Peruvian non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity in the Amazon. Students sleep in tents or shelters in the 20 de Enero and Yarina communities located in the middle of the forest. A highlight of the excursion is exploring the sustainable communal management of natural resources in the protected area. Students engage with community members and receive training in the monitoring of local production, including the collection of palm seeds and turtle eggs, and the regulated fishing of paiche*.

In the city of Iquitos, considered the capital of the Peruvian Amazon, students engage for the first time with Amazon native leaders, painters, and shaman while discussing contemporary challenges of native Amazon communities.

*The productive activities are seasonal. The collection of palm seeds takes place during the spring term whereas the collection of turtle eggs occurs during the fall.

The Colca Valley
Students spend 5 days in Colca Valley, comprising 13 Andean villages, where they experience the region's rich history, exceptional craftwork, and vibrant festivals. Colca Valley was formerly inhabited by the pre-Incan Collagua and Cabana peoples, and, today, many residents still preserve their customs, such as their use of terrace farming, as well as their distinctive traditional dress and colorful hats. The Colca Valley is well known for its artisans: the region's prized craftwork includes the sophisticated embroidery of hats and purses.

Colca Valley's most famous feature, the Colca Canyon, is the second deepest canyon in the world. (The deepest one is also located in Peru's Arequipa region). The distance from the river down below to the top of the canyon rim is more than 13,100 feet, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Colca Canyon is home to the Andean condor, and students may have the opportunity to observe them at the Mirador de Colca.

Students on the Uros floating islands, Lake Titicaca

Isla de Uros, Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and, by volume, the largest lake in South America. On this excursion, students visit the Uros community who live on floating totora reed islands at 12,494 feet. A night spent at Khantati Island allows students to have firsthand contact with the Aymara Native Tourism Association lead by Cristina Suaña Coila.

When the Incas under Emperor Pachacútec reached Lake Titicaca in the fifteenth century, the Uros then inhabiting the area were forced to withdraw from the inland. Since that time, these indigenous communities have overcome harsh living conditions, with no agricultural or livestock activity possible. The community's income relies on fishing (also their main source of food) as well as on bartering fishing products in local fairs. Increasingly, the Uros community is generating income by selling handicrafts and also from community tourism.

Lima is Peru's capital and largest city. During their 4-day excursion in Lima, students discover the realities of urban migration and examine the various factors contributing to this development.  Students visit Villa el Salvador, which began as a pueblo joven - or shantytown - in the 1970s by indigenous immigrants living in Lima.  It is now largely a self-organizing urban zone home to many local development projects and artistic groups. Lima provides a unique opportunity for students to develop a firsthand sense of "power perspective": as the capital of Peru, Lima is the epicenter of native advocacy activities, initiatives of lobby groups, and policy proposals.

Costs Dates

Credits: 17

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Cuzco

Language Study: Quechua,  Spanish

Prerequisites: 4 semesters Spanish


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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