Peru holds a special place in our hearts and we have had over two decades experience offering treks, cycling and touring trips across this amazing country.
We will never compromise on the safety of students to reduce the price of a tour. For example, we only ever utilise private vehicles, rather than public buses, so we can know the maintenance history of the fleet as well as the quality of our licensed drivers.
We will only operate tours in accordance with strict operational standards that have built our reputation as leaders in the student travel industry.
Every tour is underpinned by an industry leading risk assessment plan that exceeds the benchmark standard in Australia, New Zealand, the UK as well as the USA and Canada.
Peru should be experienced by everyone - ask us about our Price & Value Guarantee
The safety of our young travellers is our number one priority.
Thanks to careful management and thorough consultation with local partners our track record is exemplary.
Our industry leading risk management procedures have become a skill that we continue to refine.
All of our school group experts are highly trained and experienced consultants who have safety as their number one priority.
Expert leaders, risk assessments, quality inclusions and your financial security all come standard when travelling with World Youth Adventures.
Learn more about our safety practices on our Safety page.
We have a zero litter policy and several years ago took things further by introducing a unique and innovative system to reduce waste. Before the great influx of tourism, plastic bottles were virtually unknown in Peru. Nowadays however, water and most soft drinks are sold in non-returnable plastic bottles. There exists virtually no infrastructure or facilities for recycling plastic. Plastic bottles at best end up in landfill but vast quantities are washed away with other rubbish into the rivers. We actively support annual clean-up initiatives, however we feel that a far better way to address this increasingly serious problem is to drastically reduce the number of plastic bottles that are used by travellers. We operate a system, which we estimate, to date has saved over 100,000 plastic bottles from being used and discarded. We have invested in refillable water dispensers that have been installed in the reception areas of the hotels we use in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. These dispensers always have a supply of fresh drinking water for our travellers to fill their drinking bottles.
We provide all our porters with basic life and accident insurance. In addition we provide any porter (or any member of their family) full coverage of any medical costs that they incur whether it be work related or not e.g. if they have an accident in their fields or if they get any kind of illness we fund their treatment until they are well again. We are one of the only companies in Peru to care for their staff to this extent.
All our porters earn well above award wages and can also access interest free long-term loans from us as long as they can clearly indicate how those funds will be used.
The World Expeditions Travel Group has completed numerous community development projects throughout Peru. In recent years we have constructed footbridges, water tanks and pipelines and renovated schools in the villages of Qelqanqa, Tastayoq and Huilloq.
The World Expeditions Travel Group is one of the main donors for the Ollantaytambo Medical Centre, which provides medical services to a large region near the Sacred Valley where the majority of residents work in the adventure travel industry. We have worked on innumerable large and small projects over the years. Not only do we provide financial support, we also engage in active collaboration; we meet with members of local communities to discuss needs and ways to execute projects, and engage in detailed interactive planning. We maintain contact for the duration of the project and maintain an ongoing interest.
Peru is a country of rich cultural, historical and environmental diversity. Divided into three broad geographic zones: the Costa, the Sierra and Amazonia, human settlement patterns have been shaped by the abundance and the challenges posed by the rugged terrain of the country. In addition to the shaping forces of the environment, the complex ethnic tapestry of modern Peru is the result of the rise and fall of various civilizations.
Throughout the pre-Hispanic period, populations were largely isolated from one another, with the Andes mountain system providing an enormous barrier to national unity, however, at least three major cultures spread across the Andes during this period and unified the people of Peru, contributing to the mosaic of modern Peruvian culture.
Peru’s earliest highly-developed culture was Chavín, flourishing between 900 – 200 BC. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chavín de Huántar in the northern highlands of the Peruvian Andes may not have been the actual centre of origin of the Chavín culture and artistic style, but stands as an important site of Chavín history. Other important sites can be found throughout the highlands and in the valleys of the northern coast. The Chavín period established more efficient agricultural methods (and the beginnings of urbanisation), widespread religious and cultural ideology and the development of crafts such as weaving, pottery and stone carving. Importantly, the Chavín period was the first time for a common religion or ideology to unify many of the local and regional cultures.
From 300 BC, the increasing regional importance of several local cultures diluted the unifying power of the Chavín culture. Important cultures local to the Paracas and Nazca regions, and the Moche culture of the Trujillo area, have contributed much to modern-day Peruvian culture and the large number of artifacts saved from these areas (ceramics, metalwork and textiles) have uncovered much about life in Peru during this period.
Between 600 – 1000 AD, as the influence of regional cultures waned, the vigorously militaristic Huari (also called Wari) imposed their political and artistic culture upon the people of Peru, and advanced civilization through the development of a more sophisticated terrace agriculture system and a network of arterial roadways. Evidence of Huari influence in art, architecture and technology can be found in most areas of Peru. The influence of the Huari waned as various small nation states thrived from 1000 AD until the Inca conquest of the early 1400s. It was also during this time that the system of chiefdoms began in Amazonia.
The sprawling kingdom of the Inca empire encompassed everything from southern Columbia down to the middle of present-day Chile, imposing sophisticated structures of political, religious, cultural and technological influence.
Recorded history will attest that before the Inca empire, never before had the people of Peru been unified by such a sophisticated and important civilization, but this view is perhaps partly owing to the fact that Peruvian civilizations prior to the Incas had not bothered with written documentation, and so when the Spanish arrived, the Inca empire’s stories of the disorganised chaos and ‘naked savagery’ of their predecessors was taken as gospel by the Spanish and thus written into history. Having said that, it is undeniable that the incredible legacy left by the relatively short-lived Inca empire has shaped all facets of Peruvian history. The beginnings of the Inca civilization lay in the Cuzco area, somewhere in the 12th century, however, serious growth of the empire happened under Inca Yupanqui (who later changed his name to ‘Pachacutec’, ambitiously meaning “transformer of the earth”). In 1438, Pachacutec successfully protected Cuzco from attack from the north and then spent the subsequent 25 years building the empire and erecting victorious sculptures and monuments including the temple and fortress at Ollantaytambo and, it is thought, Machu Picchu. By this time the original population of 100,000 ethnic Incas had swollen to a
Peru is an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country (81.3%), followed by Christianity (12.5%) and Other/Unspecified (6.3%).
Ancient Peru had various polytheistic and pantheistic religions, however, the Hispanic conquest of the Incas brought Roman Catholicism to the region, with the building of hundreds of churches throughout the region and establishment of festivals and patron saints for each village, however, ancient traditions, rites and beliefs have been maintained and incorporated into Peru’s observation of Catholic holidays.
Differences are pronounced in lifestyles and attitudes. Peruvians of Spanish descent (criollos) or mixed Spanish/indigenous descent (mestizos) tend to live along the coast and control most of the country’s wealth, with the majority of the country’s indigenous populations living in poverty and harsh environs in the highlands of the Sierra region and the lowlands of Amazonia.
Peruvians living in wealthier urban centres tend to adopt Western clothing, lifestyles and attitudes; whereas those living in poorer rural areas tend to retain traditional Peruvian clothing and lifestyles.
Social issues include poverty rate (more than 55% in rural areas), child employment, quality of education and increasing domestic drug consumption (locally produced cocaine).
Ask locals first if they mind being photographed (a simple "por favor" and camera actions indicating your intent, will suffice).
Pens, pencils, exercise books and paper are much better than sweets/candy as small gifts for the rural children that you meet on your travels. Sweets create dental issues for the children and pollution issues for the local environment when wrappers are dropped.
It’s considered good manners to take a small gift (e.g., flowers or candy) if you are invited to a Peruvian home.
It’s best to be modest with your clothing. If your clothing is brief or skintight you will miss opportunities to mix with local people and possibly will be the butt of their jokes.
With literally thousands of different festivals happening each year in Peru, colourful fiestas are an important part of life shared by all. Events range from annual patron saint celebrations for each village to secular holidays and huge religious festivals of national importance.
Each village and town has at least one annual holiday celebrating the local patron saint. Depending on where you are traveling, there can be a festival occurring just about every week.
Most festivals follow the Catholic calendar, but many incorporate pre-Columbian rituals, beliefs and themes (e.g., celebrations of harvests and seasons, and polytheistic deities such as the Inca Sun God and apus, or mountain gods).
Inti Raymi—the ‘Festival of the Sun’—is one of the most important festivals in Peru, held annually in Cuzco on 24th June. Cuzco’s streets fill with visitors, parades and street dances, culminating in a reenactment of the Inca winter solstice festival at the Sacsaywamán ruins on the northern outskirts of the city.
Semana Santa (‘Holy Week’) sees the city of Ayachuco come alive for the week and a half leading up to Easter Sunday. 10 days of solemn processions and religious rites, colourful art, music and folk-dancing displays culminates in a huge all-night extravaganza on Easter Saturday with fireworks and notoriously wild partying.
The last week of January sees one of Peru’s most important cultural events take over the city of Trujillo: La Fiesta de la Marinera, the country’s biggest dance competition, celebrating the romantic Peruvian partner dance, the Marinera.
For several days before and after Candlemas (2nd February), the city of Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca celebrates the Fiesta de la Candelaria, one of Peru’s biggest festivals of culture, music and dancing.
Lima turns purple each 18th October, during the massive religious procession of El Señor de los Milagros (‘Lord of Miracles’).
Late May/early June sees the festival of Quyllur Rit'I (aka Q’oyoriti, meaning the ‘Snow Star’ festival) take place in the Andes’ Sinakara Valley, at the foot of Ausangate—the Cuzco region’s highest mountain. Despite its overt Catholic subject matter, Quyllur Rit'I honors a variety of religious beliefs including apus (mountain gods), pachamama (earth mother), stars (especially the Pleiades star cluster) and Jesus, in the one colourful, high-altitude pilgrimage festival. The pilgrimage and its days of music, dancing and elaborate costumes are said to serve as an appeasement to the apu (sacred mountain deity) of Ausangate.
The last days before the start of Lent (the 40 days of fasting/sacrifice leading up to Easter Sunday) sees Catholic countries around the world party like crazy in the name of Carnival. Cajamarca is known as the capital of Peruvian Carnaval festivities, with the city swelling in size as revelers dance, drink and party wildly.
In addition to countless other smaller regional religious festivals and holidays, the predominately Catholic Peruvian people observe many services surrounding Easter and Christmas, as well as Independence Day on 28th July.
Total population is 29,849,303; Peru being the 43rd most populous country in world, growing at a rate of 1%. (est 2013)
The median age is 26.7 years; with 27.6% aged 0-14 and 6.7% aged 65+.
Sex ratio is 0.97 males to 1 female.
The urban population is 77% (2010), with average annual rate of urbanization at 1.6%.
Amerindian (indigenous Quechua Indians) 45%, Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and White European) 37%, White European 15%, Black African, Japanese, Chinese and Other 3%
The main trekking season in Peru lasts from late April - mid October. This is the dry but 'cold' period, with the best mountain views and all passes open.
The Costa dry coastal desert region experiences mild average daily temperatures ranging from 19 °C (66 °F) in winter to 22 °C (72 °F) in summer. Rain-bearing winds from the Amazon Basin are blocked by the Andes mountain system, contributing to the west coast of South America having one of the driest climates on Earth. Despite this, coastal fogs (garúa) provide some areas of the Costa with sufficient moisture to support some vegetation. These fogs cloak the central and southern beaches from April - early December, but coastal cities can be visited all year regardless, and the northern beaches will keep sun-worshippers happy year-round.
Variance in latitude, elevation and local winds all factor into the wide range of climates experienced in the central Sierra/Andean mountain region. Average temperatures in the Sierra vary little between seasons, but there is dramatic daily variance. While the average daily temp may only vary a few °C between January and July, the diurnal (daily) temp range is often huge: you can expect daytime temperatures in the highlands to be in the range of 10-25 °C (50-77 °F), falling as low as -10 °C (14 °F) at night.
Higher elevations in the Sierra receive snow falls, with many peaks having permanent snow caps. In general, temperatures decrease as elevation increases, and rainfall decreases from north to south and from east to west. November – March brings the rainy season to the Sierra highlands, with the heaviest precipitation in the north and along the eastern flanks of the Andes, facing the Amazon Basin. Some trek routes do not operate at these times due to possible wet conditions on the passes, but the heavy rain periods do not usually arrive until late January.
The eastern Amazonia region is characterised by wet tropical conditions. High rainfall is common throughout the year, although somewhat heavier from December - March. As in the Sierra region, there is little variance in seasonal average temperature but relatively large daily temperature variation, with daily temperatures often ranging from lows of 15 °C (60s°F) to highs of mid-30s °C (mid-90s °F). Be prepared to shelter from rain pretty much all year, but be consoled by the fact that downpours rarely last more than a few hours.
Ecuador and Colombia to the north; Brazil and Bolivia to the east; Chile to the south; and the South Pacific Ocean to the west.
1,285,216 square km (496,225 square miles) / (20th largest country in the world), slightly smaller than Alaska; divided into 25 regions and 1 province
Peru is ranked at 110 out of 178 countries (with an improving trend) on the Environmental Performance Index (2014), which quantifies and benchmarks performance of government environmental policies and outcomes.
Environmental issues include deforestation (some as a result of illegal logging); soil erosion of the slopes of the Costa and Sierra (due to overgrazing); air pollution; desertification; and water pollution due to municipal and mining waste.
Natural hazards include earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides and mild volcanic activity. Last volcanic eruption was in 2009 (Ubinas).
Peru is a signatory to various international environmental and conservation agreements.
Peru contains multiple UNESCO World Heritage Listed environments including Manú and Huascarán National Parks, with Lake Titicaca and other areas of high environmental value currently on the tentative World Heritage list.
As with climate and geography, the flora and fauna of the biologically “megadiverse” Peru can be grouped into three broad regions: the Costa, the Sierra and Amazonia.
Plant life is sparse in the barren coastal desert of the Costa, with the exception of lomas (a mix of grasses and other herbaceous species) when fed by heavy garúa (coastal fogs), and some epiphytes and stands of sapote or algarroba (mesquite) in the north coast region. What the Costa lacks in flora, however, it makes up for with an abundance of bird, marine mammal and fish life in its coastal waters and on its islands, including corvine (sea bass), tuna, swordfish, marlin, sea lions, pelicans, cormorants, gannets, gulls, flamingoes, Pacific doves, Inca terns and the endangered Humboldt penguin. With more than 1,800 identified bird species (more than North America and Europe combined), Peru’s diversity of bird life is a tourist attraction in its own right.
The Sierra is marked by two different plant communities, at the lower and higher elevations of the region. The lower elevations support domestic crops such as potatoes, quinoa, corn (maize) and wheat, along with native and introduced trees (such as eucalyptus). More than a 1/3 of Peru’s populations live in this agricultural belt of the Sierra highlands, between 3,000 - 4,000 m (9,843 – 13,123 ft) above sea level. (3). The higher elevations (3,000 - 4,000 m / 13,000 – 16,000 ft) support the puna grasslands; home to native foragers such as the llama, alpaca, vicuña and guanaco. The UNESCO World Heritage Listed Huascarán National Park supports the rare North Andean huemul and important indigenous species including the spectacled bear, puma, mountain cat, white-tailed deer and the vicuña, along with alpine bromeliads, mountain orchids and relict forests.
Thousands of plant, animal and insect species live in the forests, plains and waters of Amazonia. Tropical lowland rainforest, tropical montane rainforests and puna grasslands are the three most widespread vegetation types. Reptiles, insects, birds, fish and mammals abound in Amazonia, many found in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Manú National Park. Interesting species found in Manú include the jaguar, tapir, capybara, various monkeys and the giant otter and giant armadillo.
Peru is made up of three major longitudinal regions: the dry coastal desert of the Costa to the west; the rugged topography of the Andes and the antiplano (“high plateau”) of the Sierra in central Peru; and the great rivers and low-lying tropical rainforests of Amazonia in the east.
The convergence of the South American & Nazca tectonic plates caused the creation of the Andes, the world’s longest continental mountain range, which spans the length of South America. The Peruvian Andes falls within the Central Andes section and contains the country’s highest peak, Mount Huascarán, at an elevation of 6,768 m (22,205 ft).
Huascarán National Park, located in the Cordillera Blanca Range in the Sierra, contains deep ravines, glaciers, glacial lakes, thermal springs and many snow-capped mountain peaks higher than 6,000 m (19,685 ft).
Mountains in the north of the country are relatively gentler slopes, becoming higher and more rugged in the centre where the highest snow-capped peaks are found and changing to a high plateau in the south, with vast tablelands and scattered peaks.
The Andes are young in geological terms, and Peru is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity. At an elevation of 5,672 m (18,609 ft), Ubinas is the country's most recently active volcano, erupting in 2009.
Forming part of the border with Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the second largest lake in South America and with an elevation of 3,810 m (12,500 ft) is the highest navigable body of water in the world.
Amazonia occupies more than 3/5 of the area of Peru and contains the heavily forested tropical lowlands and jungles and 8,600km (5,344 miles) of navigable tributaries of the Amazon Basin.
Peru contains 12 sites currently inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, with an additional 7 sites awaiting inscription on the tentative list.
INSCRIBED SITES (Year inscribed):
Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (1983) One of the most incredible legacies of the Inca Empire, the surreal beauty of the ancient city of Machu Picchu (2,430 m / 7,972 ft) is heightened by its location in the lush cloud forests of the eastern slopes of the Andes. Comprised of 200 separate structures, Machu Picchu exemplifies the grand scale and imperial style of Inca architecture and stands as a testament to the complexity of the Inca civilization. In addition to the remarkable ruins of the city, the site encompasses the rich biodiversity of plant and wildlife supported by the surrounding mountains and the upper Amazon basin.
City of Cuzco (1983) Sitting high in the Peruvian Andes, the city of Cuzco (3,400 m / 11,155 ft) served as the capital of the Inca empire at a time when it controlled most of the South American Andes. By the time of the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, the imperial city of Cuzco was a sophisticated urban centre with its own distinct architecture and religious, cultural and administrative systems. The city today stands as a marriage of indigenous Inca and colonial Spanish architecture and history.
Chavin (archaeological site) (1985) The archaeological site of Chavin (3,177m / 10,423 ft) gave its name to the Chavin civilization that developed in this high valley of the Andes between the 15th and 5th centuries BCE, and stands as an extraordinary record of the lives of the pre-Hispanic peoples of the Peruvian Andes. One of the earliest known pre-Hispanic sites, the structures of Chavin provide great insight into the religion, symbolism, culture and technology of pre-Columbian civilization in the region.
Huascarán National Park (1985) Within the rugged Cordillera Blanca, the world’s highest tropical mountain range, sits Huascarán National Park, containing Peru’s highest peak – Mount Huascarán (6,768 m / 22,204 ft). With 27 snow-capped peaks over 6,000 m (19,685 ft), deep ravines, glaciers, glacial lakes and thermal springs, the park is a site of outstanding geographic variety and importance. In addition to its spectacular landscapes, the site supports a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna, and the Cordillera region has for centuries been home to settlements of various indigenous ethnic groups.
Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (1986) The Chimu Kingdom arose around 900 CE in the region surrounding present-day Trujillo, before falling to the Inca empire in the 15th century, shortly before the Spanish conquest. The capital of the Chimu Kingdom, Chan Chan was a vast and complex city. As the largest city in pre-Columbian America, Chan Chan’s city planning, infrastructure and architecture offer a remarkable testament to the technology, culture and social strata of the Chimu civilization.
Manú National Park (1987) With a staggering land size of 1,500,000 hectares, Manú National Park is —literally—the most biologically diverse place on Earth. Manú’s wide range of altitudes and physiographic conditions supports a dazzling variety of vegetation, and the park is home to over 1,000 different known wildlife species (with UNESCO admitting that scientific classification of life in the park is still only elementary), and at least four different native ethnic groups. The park encompasses the eastern slopes of the Andes and the entire Amazon River Basin, with its heavily forested tropical lowlands and jungles and more than 8,600km (5,344 miles) of navigable water tributaries.
Historic Centre of Lima (1988) Known as the City Of Kings (“Ciudad de los Reyes”), Lima was the capital of Peru’s Viceroyalty and the most important city in colonial South America. Founded in 1535, the city today bears witness to the architectural, political and cultural history of Latin America, with many 17th and 18th century historic churches, palaces and public buildings typical of the Hispano-American Baroque architectural style.
Río Abiseo National Park (1990) Located in the Andes east of Trujillo, Río Abiseo National Park is a site of outstanding environmental and historical importance. The park is renowned for its pristine cloud forest and significant number of endemic flora and fauna, and the site has also revealed evidence of pre-Hispanic human occupation in the area as far back as 6000 BCE. Since 1985, 36 previously unknown archaeological sites have been uncovered, all at elevations between 2,500 – 4,000 m (8,200 – 13,120 ft), providing detailed knowledge about life in the region prior to the Spanish conquest.
Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana (1994) Located 400 km south of Lima in the arid coastal plain, the lines and geoglyphs of Nasca and the pampas of Jumana are vast artistic works scratched into the ground by the pre-Hispanic peoples of the region between 500 BCE and 500 CE. The biggest group of geoglyphs in the world, the site is comprised of crisscrossing lines, geometric shapes and pictures depicting animals, plants, supernatural beings and everyday objects, some several kilometres in length. These enormous artistic works shaped into the arid gravel earth of the coastal plain are thought to have had ritual astronomical functions.
Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa (2000) Founded in 1540 by Spanish conquistadors, the city of Arequipa is an impressive architectural record of centuries of colonial occupation. Set into volcanic sillar rock, the city’s churches, monasteries, palaces, public buildings, courtyards, walls and archways were built between the 16th and 18th centuries and are an impressive marriage of European architectural design styles—including Baroque, Rococco and neoclassical influences—with the craftsmanship of the Criollo and Indian stone masons who built the city.
Sacred City of Caral-Supe (2009) The Sacred City of Caral, set on a dry desert terrace overlooking the Supe River, is a site of great importance in the understanding of human civilization in pre-Columbian Latin America. Dating back 5,000 years, the exceptionally well-preserved city was occupied for over a thousand years and is the oldest centre of civilization in the Americas. The architectural design and layout of the city, and archaeological evidence uncovered from the impressive site, bears witness to the complexity and sophistication of Caral society.
Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System (2014) Constructed over several centuries, this incredible communication, trade and defense network of more than more than 30,000 km (18,640 mi) worth of roads was built by the sophisticated Inca empire, building on some existing pre-Inca infrastructure to cover a huge area extending into Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The roads linked the snow-capped peaks of the Andes mountains to the coast, crisscrossing through deserts, valleys and rainforests, reaching altitudes of more than 6,000 m (19,685 ft), and link many important sites of environmental, archaeological and religious significance.
TENTATIVE SITES (Year submitted):
Historic Center of the City of Trujillo (1996)
Archaeological Complex of Pachacamac (1996)
The Great Inka Trail: state transportation system originally named "Qhapac Ñan" (2001)
The Historic Centre of Cajamarca (2002)
Lake Titicaca (2005)
Kuelap Archaeological Complex (2011)
Chankillo Astronomical Complex (2013)
World Youth Adventures can tailor make a school expedition to Peru to your school’s budget and curriculum requirements.
Talk to us about your next school expedition, or if you need some ideas check out the trips below.