It is the multiple layers of great civilizations that make Peru so fascinating. One can wander around colonial cities, which have preserved the legacy of the Spanish conquistadors, visit the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, or explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
All of this exists in a country with some of the most spectacular and varied scenery in South America. The Peruvian Andes are arguably the most beautiful on the continent and the mountains are home to millions of highland Indians who still speak the ancient tongue of Quechua and maintain a traditional way of life. But you don't have to be a zoologist, an anthropologist or a mountain climber to enjoy Peru, all you need is a keen eye, a love of landscape, and a willingness to meet the people.
Over half of Peru's 25 million people live in poverty, making it one of the poorest countries in South America. Peru faces many troubling social and economic challenges including high unemployment and even higher underemployment. These conditions lead to poverty for many Peruvians, and make it difficult for the country to provide its citizens with basic health care, education, sanitation, and other social services.
A Country in Need
Urubamba (Internship Base)
The town of Urubamba is situated next to the voluminous Rio Urubamba in the heart of the sacred valley. This peaceful and intriguing town is surrounded by both historic ruins and snowcapped Andean peaks. Nearly 18,000 people call Urubamba home and it serves as a central point and major market for the surrounding communities. While there are several indigenous communities that are a short distance away from the town of Urubamba, Urubamba itself offers several comfortable amenities such as hot water, electricity, restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Cusco (Semester Base and NGO Summer Base)
Cusco is the archaeological capital of the Americas and the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent. Its legacy as the seat of the Inca Empire is readily apparent. Many of the city streets are lined with original stone walls and crowded with Quechua-speaking descendants of the Incas.
The word Cusco is the anglicized spelling of the Quechua word Qosqo. According to Inca mythology, when Manco Capac, the first Inca emperor saw the lush Sacred Valley, he struck a staff into the ground and declared the spot Qosqo which means "navel of the universe".
The climate in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Peru is generally mild. Days are warm and sunny with an average high temperature of 66°F (19°C). Nights are cooler with an average low of 37°F (3°C) with temperatures generally 5° warmer in the Sacred Valley. The rainy season runs from November to March. The dry season runs from April to October. During the rainy season afternoon showers are common. There is rarely rain during the dry season.