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!
Volunteering and classes
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)