The stories in this blog covers the experiences of our interns and volunteers being with us here in Cusco, Peru. They talk about their work, adventures, the tours they take and help you with tips & tricks for when you are planning to come.
We are Proyecto Peru and we can help you organize your stay here in Cusco. We will coordinate your internship or volunteering, your language course and your accommodation. You can take Spanish classes, live at a home stay guest family or at an apartment. You can volunteer on a project or do your internship through us. And we have some really nice and alternative and unique tours available as well
We are an organization with a long history of helping students find that right project. Proyecto Peru started in December 2005. From a little school with only 2 classes, we've grown rapidly into a language and project institute with more than 10 classes, not just teaching Spanish but English as well. We also have virtual classes and offer online classes in order to get prepared before you get here.
Our goal is to continue helping the projects we work with and to make your stay a worthwhile and rich experience.
We hope you enjoy our blog and get an idea about the life here in Cusco.
Saludos Coen and Dora.
Tips and tricks on how to prepare your trip to Peru
Travelling to Peru?
If you follow the Tips and tricks in this blog, you will have a great time without any trouble or problems!
Just lean back and enjoy your trip to Peru!
Most European and North American visitors with a valid passport are permitted to stay in Peru for 183 days without any visa requirements. ALWAYS ASK CUSTOM AGENTS FOR 183 DAYS IF YOU PLAN TO STAY LONGER IN PERU. However, travelers from all African countries (except South Africa), Middle Eastern and Eastern European countries must pre arrange their tourist visas: You can visit this web site to know exactly for which country you need a visa to visit Peru:
If you leave Peru during your stay, you can reenter Peru without any problems, as long as your total stay doesn’t exceed the permitted 183 days per calendar year. A traveler must show his or her passport upon entry, which must be valid at least 6 months from the date of your arrival. An onward flight ticket is officially required to enter the country. Upon arrival in Peru, you will be given a tourist visa ticket which you should keep in a safe place. You will need to show this ticket when you exit the country.
All international flights arrive at the airport in Lima, the capital of Peru. There are plenty of available flights from Lima to Cusco. Be aware that your luggage will never go directly to Cusco. You always have to retrieve your luggage in Lima, go through customs and then check- in for your flight to Cusco. Some (inexperienced) airport personnel will tell you that your luggage will go straight to Cusco but that is not always possible.
If you want to stay in Lima for a few days, never trust the taxi drivers outside the airport. Always choose a reputable, secure taxi. Make sure you that make a reservation at a secure hostel before you arrive.
The Peruvian currency is the “Nuevo Sol”. However, some big companies use U.S. dollars. Local shops and markets only accept Soles. We recommend exchanging money in banks or in “casas de cambio” because they offer more security and guarantees. NOTE: If you plan to exchange U.S. dollars, try to bring the newest and cleanest bills possible. Most places (even banks!) will NOT accept dollars that look old, dirty or torn. There are only a few companies that accept credit cards.
I am used to being on the ground floor working with community development. In schools, institutes, and non-profits, I have dedicated a lot of my time in teaching and empowering children in low income communities to improve their opportunities. In my experiences, I have seen a lot of really great things get done. I do this type of work because it is incredibly gratifying to see the development of these children and communities. Community centers, vegetable gardens, and libraries have been built. I´ve had students improve their grades, become leaders, and pass tests to study in universities abroad.
As the Volunteer and Internship Coordinator at Proyecto Perú I no longer get to experience these things first hand. I take volunteers to projects, see the kids for about 10 minutes, and then head back to my office. It was a difficult adjustment for me at first, not being on site, talking through project coordinators to see how the projects are advancing. I would drop volunteers off and try to stay as long as I could to soak in the environment before returning to my desk. I have learned to appreciate the work done in the projects from a distance. Instead of just working in one place, with 20-100 children, at Proyecto Perú I get to work with more than 30 different projects, that serve more than 1,000 children overall, give job training, measure and combat malnutrition for over 100 families, offer healthcare to people without health insurance, and provide a home and opportunity for adoption for over 70 dogs. In my 8 months here, we have had a project install a water collection system for a community without running water, we have raised funds for and installed computers in after school projects, created a sports field out of an abandoned yard, painted murals, and donated thousands of dollars of materials to improve the infrastructure and teaching environments of various projects. While it might be hard to see the progress in just a few short months for individual volunteers, I get the benefit of seeing the impact of all their work over time.
The advice I always give to our volunteers, is to be proactive and open-minded. Your experience is what you make of it. There are many projects that do not have the organizational structure to give volunteers constant supervision; it is important that the volunteers see an opportunity to help, and react to it. When the volunteers do this, murals get painted, yards get fixed and made safe for children, learning materials get bought, fundraisers get created and carried out successfully, and the volunteers have a positive experience. If a volunteer waits to be told how to be helpful, they usually feel underutilized. Volunteers need to be open-minded because the cultural differences are drastic in some circumstances. Children do not resect authority like they might in other places. Projects might not have running water or electricity. Sanitary standards in medical projects would be completely unacceptable in the United States or Europe. Staff members at projects may be unhelpful or seem uninterested towards volunteers. If the volunteer can overcome these cultural shocks, the interchange with the beneficiaries of the project will be worthwhile.
Tyler Compere (Projects and Volunteer Coordinator)
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. (John Lennon)
After five weeks of working as an intern in the marketing section of Proyecto Peru and being able to visit a few places in Peru, it was time for me to say goodbye to this wonderful country.
I wasn't gone that long, but nevertheless Peru changed my world, at least the way I look at it and definitely something inside me. I just felt this overwhelming feeling of gratitude and to be honest (although there are a few people I miss in Germany) it didn’t feel like it was already time to go. Somehow it felt like leaving a party that had just begun to get crazy and crowded and unforgettable.
To make the long story short: A lightning hit my plane in Cusco. Believe it or not!
Everybody with an international flight connection was put on another plane to Lima in order to catch our connection flight. But no chance. After a back and forth of “Iberia doesn’t wait for any passengers” and “Iberia has delay as well”, four other people and me weren’t allowed to go onto the plane as we weren’t able to do the online check in.
So that was it: Final destination wasn’t Frankfurt anymore, but Lima.I guess this was the moment when it hit me.
Thinking about all the “spiritual” and intensive talks I had with several people (that by the way, I will never forget!) on the Salkantay trek, I saw “the sign”. Guess what?
I didn’t book the next possible flight home, but decided to stay two weeks more!
After a one day luxury-stay at the five-star Sheraton in Lima with rooms, restaurants etc. I never imagined to see myself in, I strolled around Lima for a day and then arrived back to reality: 27 hours in the bus back to Cusco.
It should only take you about 19 to 20 hours, but if you drive at a speed of 20km/h (not kidding)… well... let’s just say: it takes you just a tiny bit longer.
But seeing the faces of my two really close friends I made here (thanks for making this time so unforgettable chicas!), made everything okay again!
So life goes on – even if you stumble sometimes.
And I am enjoying the working-hours at the office again, using the weekends to discover more beautiful places in Peru and as I used to say it in Germany “dance till the clouds are purple again”!
Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.
NO EXACT AMOUNT OF MONTHS IS ENOUGH TO EXPLORE PERU
Exactly 2 months ago I arrived in Cusco for the very first time to start my internship and I can’t believe that it’s already over of having the chance to explore Cusco and its surroundings. The last weeks were jam-packed full of adventures, new experiences and incredible friends.
If anyone is reading this article, still thinking about whether to come to Cusco or not, I can only say: what are you waiting for?!
Where do I start with this city? It’s bursting with life! The sight of Cusco from a bus window as you’re winding down from a mountain road is incomparable and I can assure you that you’ll feel at home faster than you can say “llama”. I was welcomed by my host family as well as by my colleagues at Proyecto Peru warm-heartedly and with open arms. I had my one room, they helped me with all my struggles I had the first days, showed me around, gave me advice and on top, my host mum Violeta was an incredible cook!
Of course there’s a large presence of tourists in Cusco, but we’re obviously one of them and there is a benefit for us through this: there are countless opportunities for day trips, treks and other activities in and around Cusco, as well as a huge number of shops to buy alpaca sweaters, colorful bags, hats, handicraft jewelry and other Peruvian souvenirs for your family or friends (or yourself, let’s be real). And it’s a city with a rich history, which definitely deserves more than just a stopover before heading to Machu Picchu. The local food is delicious and you can buy a menu turistico including a soup, a main dish, a dessert and a juice for 15 soles on nearly every corner.
Even though it’s difficult to summarize my first month here, let me tell you about some of my most memorable days in Cusco so far:
- Salkantay Trek: an alternative multiple-day trek to the Inca trail, where you hike over passes and into valleys until you reach the ruins of Machu Picchu. The landscape around you changes incredibly fast and in those 5 days you’re able to see snow-peaked mountains, glaciers, herds of alpacas as well as a deep-green jungle full with exotic fruits and parrots.
- Rainbow mountain: you probably already saw countless pictures online, and I can only confirm that pictures don’t do this place justice. And as long as you take your time, bring snacks and take enough breaks, I think everybody is able to hike those 5030m.
- Cloud forest: living in the middle of the cloud forest, surrounded by plantation of bananas, maracuyas etc, relaxing in hammocks, hiking up to waterfalls and learning more about the Incan culture was definitely worth it!
Of course there is so much more to do and my bucket list even keeps getting longer the more time I spend here.
I met other volunteers and interns of Proyecto Peru during the weekly activities or the volunteer dinners (Pisco Sour Night, Salsa lessons, quiz nights etc.) and we are having a great time: having dinner together in the evenings, going out and enjoying Cusco’s night life (there are so many bars and clubs you should be checking out) or simply exploring Cusco, getting fresh juices at the local markets or hiking up the surrounding mountains to enjoy Cusco from above. I just wanted to say thanks here to my little familia cusqueña, I’m so happy I met you all!
During my internship I got to see a lot of different projects Proyecto Peru is working with: orphanages, after school projects, working in local hospital or dog shelters – if you want to volunteer, Cusco offers you so many different opportunities and they will be incredibly thankful for your help and assistance.
In my first weeks I took classes to improve my Spanish skills and my teacher Geraldine is the best! We talked so much, we visited different museums in Cusco together (Inka museum, choco museum etc.) and I really enjoyed every single lesson with her.
As you can see, you won’t be lonely or bored if you’re staying in Cusco. Step out of your comfort zone and visit Peru!
By Carolin Schwager (Volunteer Coordinator Intern)
…and suddenly my experience in Peru is over…“El tiempo pasa volando”!
I definitely learned a lot within the last 4 months. Not only did I gain a lot of experience within the working life, I also met people from across the world, and visited around this amazing country.
First off, a little about myself. My name is Idriss, I’m from Paris, France, currently studying Master Management & International Business. I enjoy travelling, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures. As part of my degree, I had to do an internship abroad this year.
I knew immediately that I wanted a total change of scenery as soon as possible but also to improve my Spanish. So South America seemed to be the perfect place for me. Fortunately, my internship search didn’t take long as I found Proyecto Peru very quickly. And between the moment I applied and landed in Cusco, less than one month had already passed.
I worked at Proyecto Peru as an Assistant Coordinator, more precisely as an Assistant Volunteer Coordinator. The Coordinator is the main contact between the volunteers, their projects and the host families. Basically, my job was to assist in organizing of volunteer projects and ensure its follow-up. For someone who likes to meet new people from all over the world, this is the perfect job, as every week there are new volunteers arriving!
I learned a lot during my stay. First, my Spanish definitely got better. I also learned a lot about business management and its functions.
As for my experience in Cusco and Peru in general, it was just great! I think Peru has something for everyone. It was rare for me to stay home during the weekends, considering all of the activities I could do!
If you like history and culture, well, Peru and, specifically, Cusco is known as a historical center, the fusion of pre-Inca, Inca and Spanish heritage, we can count thousands of its ruins, museums and historical churches.
If you like sport and adventure, Peru is known for its diverse landscape, mountains, beaches, jungle, and desert. It’s possible to do hiking, biking in the mountains, rafting, exploring nature and many other things.
If you like to eat, like I do, there will always be something new to try! And one thing I’ll miss the most about Peru and that I had to highly recommend is that you can eat street food for 4 soles (1euros!). You can get a soup, a main dish and a drink! 4 soles!!!
I am very thankful for the opportunity Proyecto Peru team has given me, and the things I learned during my internship and my stay in general.
Time to say goodbye, and hopefully see you soon Cusco!
Nos vemos! Saludos,
Idriss (Past Volunteer Coordinator Intern).
Lucas shows you around at his crib in Cusco!
Proyecto Peru offers an unforgettable experience with homestay guest families. We work with 30 Peruvian families all over Cusco, Peru, offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, your own room and a friendly hospitality. This way you get a good taste of the Peruvian culture and you are a big help for the family as well! Learn more...
Ceviche and Pisco Sour
Twenty-four hours later I finally arrived at Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport. My luggage arrived surprisingly fast and it didn’t take me long to stand outside, waiting for my host-mum to pick me up. “Taxi? Taxi?”… I think I was asked that about a million times, until finally I heard a friendly looking woman shout my name. I was really happy to finally meet her and when I put down my backpack in my room that was very clean and decorated in a nice Peruvian style (very colorful) I was surprised that I already actually felt like being home.
But how could that have been any different, when your host-mum (Chlorinda) and her son, my host-brother (Martin), greet you as if you were already part of their family, make you a great meal (delicious sopa de Calabaza, adobo de pollo con arroz and chocolate cookies) and show you around Cuzco.
The altitude was a bit of a knock out in the beginning, but seriously not as bad as it says in all the lonely planet books you read at home. I felt a bit dizzy and nausea, had a bit of a headache, but Chlorinda gave me lots of té de coca (better than any pills you can buy at the pharmacy) so every hour I felt a bit better. I spent my first days here strolling around Cuzco, going to a few markets (especially the Mercado de San Pedro is really great to buy local stuff),
woke up early in the morning (damn jetlag) and walked up to Christo blanco (you can’t miss it, it’s a big white statue of Jesus on top of the mountain), Tambomachay (do it before 7 am and the you don’t have to pay any entrance fee or walk along with other tourists)
– to sum it up: whatever you do or wherever you look at, there is always something interesting to see, something new to learn!
So don’t hesitate, and just do it! It will be an experience of a lifetime!
By Josseline Ross