Upon arrival, after acclimatising to the altitude at 3,600m above sea level, the pupils were given time to explore the chaotic street markets, where several of them enjoyed bartering for colourful ‘traditional’ Peruvian trousers. The group also had time to visit numerous attractions around Cusco including an alpaca farm, Cristo Blanco and the first Inca ruins of many, where they had the delight of being blessed by Patcha Mama (Mother Earth) in a rather hands-on religious ceremony.
Three days after first setting foot in Peru it was time for the pupils to start their trek, a daunting prospect for many of them.
On the final morning of the hike, after trekking for an hour or so, the group arrived at the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu as the sun just rose above the mountains. After spending the rest of the morning exploring the ancient city, the group descended into Aguas Calientes for some pizza and a dip in the hot springs before catching the train back to Cusco.
Trip Leader and Head of Economics, Oliver Butterworth, commented, “This was a fantastic trip that brought together a group of 17 pupils from Oundle’s sixth form – many of whom did not know each other well beforehand. There was a wealth of cultural benefits derived from such an experience – not least in the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco but also, of course, on the trek itself seeing the ruins with all their spiritual secrets unveiled.
“The trip was more about taking on the challenge than any direct educational benefit. Most of the pupils left their comfort zone at some stage and learnt more about themselves and their personal capabilities. Perhaps this was the education,” concluded Oliver.