The narrow desert belt of Peru’s Pacific coastline stretches the length of the country and harbors fishing villages, beautiful beaches, agricultural lands, and Peru’s major towns and cities. The amazing Andes Mountains separate the arid coastline from the lush Amazon Basin. The ecologically rich tropical rain forests of the Amazon encompass some of the world’s most remote and least explored areas. The Amazon Basin is also home to millions of indigenous highland people, who speak the ancient Inca language of Quechua, and live in traditional villages with steeply terraced agricultural fields and wandering herds of llamas and alpacas.
Lima is the capital and largest city in Peru. With a population approaching 10 million, Lima is the fourth largest city in all of the Americas. ISL volunteers work in developing communities in and around this city after taking seminars on tropical medicine and common diseases, vital signs, physical exams, public health surveys, and learning some medical Spanish.
Peru has a good health care system for public and private sector employees and self-employed people who directly contribute to the economy. There is also some health care available for others, but the system is overwhelmed with the needs of so many. The unemployment rate is very high and there is a large population of immigrants from different provinces of Peru who are also struggling with poverty. ISL serves in these communities.
Where We Serve in Peru
After working in Lima, ISL Peru volunteers may choose one of two additional locations to work in: the Coast or the Highlands (Cusco-Machu Picchu) area.
During the Peruvian summer (December to March), service learning volunteers work and play in Lima and in Pisco and Paracas, two beautiful cities on the Pacific Ocean.
Working first in San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima’s largest barrio or neighborhood, our goal is to provide education and medical support to the families who live on this sandy mountain. There are no roads up the hill; access is via a series of long stairways. There are schools at the bottom of the hill, but at-risk situations make it difficult for some children to attend. Volunteers, accompanied by ISL Peru staff members, travel an hour or two across the busy traffic of downtown Lima to set up clinics in churches or schools provided by this community.
Pisco – Paracas
After working for several days in Lima, ISL volunteers travel south, following the coastline and arriving at the city of Pisco. There volunteers provide medical attention and visit the homes of those relocated to this area after the 2008 earthquake. Help from the government to provide services here has gradually disappeared, so poverty and a lack of education still persist. Travel time from hotel to work area in Pisco is 30 minutes.
Highlands Route (Cusco-Machu Picchu)
The southern highlands of Cusco are an hour’s flight from Lima. Here we travel by bus to the indigenous communities of Izcuchaca, Ancahuasi, Mahuaypampa, or Paucartambo, communities which rarely receive health care. The majority of the population speaks Quechua, so we use the services of a local translator during clinic days and house visits. Volunteers develop a great affection for these people and the beautiful highland landscape. Warning: this program is not recommended for those with a fear of heights, asthma or those who are prone to altitude sickness!
Our Partnerships in Peru
As with any great work, it takes great relationships to get the job done well. That’s why ISL Peru is excited to partner with nonprofits, NGOs, governmental and religious institutions to better serve the people of Peru.
Children’s Home and Elementary Schools
Pronoei Niño Jesús- Cunamas
Pronoei Señor de Luren
Escuela Santa Rosa del Sauce N°170
Escuela Niños del Saber en Pisco
Capilla Santa Rosa del Sauce
Capilla Santa Rosa de Lima – San Fernando
Misión CELIM Casa de Retiro Shalom
Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica las Asambleas de Dios del Peru Mahuaypampa
Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica las Asambleas de Dios del Peru Ancahuasi
Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica las Asambleas de Dios del Peru Izcuchaca
Hospitals and Health Centers
San Juan de Dios Pisco
Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Neurológicas
Hospital Regional de Loreto
Centro de Salud Materno Infantil Santa Rosa de Puente Piedra
Centro de Salud Ganimedes en San Juan de Lurigancho
Centro de Salud 03 de Febrero – Ventanilla
What to Expect as a Volunteer
Volunteers arrive in Peru via the Lima Jorge Chavez Airport (LIM), which is Peru’s main airport, located 7 miles from the historic center of Lima. After volunteers pass through Customs, they will be met by one of our ISL staff members holding an ISL sign. They will be then transported in a van or bus (arranged and paid for by ISL) approximately 40 minutes to their first housing location. Volunteers generally travel between 40 to 50 min every day from housing to work sites. After two or three days of work in Lima, volunteers travel from Lima to their next work site, whose location depends on the program they have chosen. Volunteers move to a third housing site for a recreation day, either to the mountains or to the coast.
From Salsa to Huayno, this is an excellent opportunity to learn the basics of local dances.
Walk around the city, exploring parks, old colonial style buildings, theaters, museums, etc.
There are a variety of museums and shows available around the city. Prices depend on the season; some of them are free.
Medical Plant Farms
Learn about different kinds of medicinal herbs.
There are variety of archeological sites to visit around the city, especially in Cusco. Tour prices depend on the season. $10 to $40
Known as the “poor man’s Galapagos”, this protected archipelago, located a few miles off the Pacific coast, is one of the most famous tourist destinations along the coast of Peru. The islands, riddled with arches, tunnels and other wind and sea rock sculptures, are home to huge numbers of wildlife, such as sea lions, seals, penguins and turtles. Over 200 species of local and migrating birds, such as the albatross and the blue-footed booby, inhabit these islands as well.
Paracas National Coastal Reserve
Peru’s only marine protected area of over 1,000 square miles of coastal desert, Paracas has stunning beaches, a myriad of wildlife, and wind and water-eroded landscapes that will take your breath away.
Huacachina Sand Dunes
You will love the dune buggy and sandboard tour near the desert oasis of Huacachina. This tour into the desert has been described as an “‘out of this world’ experience, almost like visiting the surface of another planet”. We recommend the 4 p.m. tour, which lasts 2 hours and is by far the best time of day during the South American summer months of December – February.
Huacachina Oasis The desert oasis city of Ica is built around the famous Huacachina lagoon in the Atacama desert. Here you will find colonial architecture and the oldest winery in South America. Ica is known for having the best wine in Peru, thanks to its dry, sunny climate. Recreation Day is not complete without stopping to sample the wine in Ica!
Highlands Program – One day Machu Picchu Tour
- 6 hr. train travel, city tour, tour of archaeological site
- 2 hr more train travel to Machu Picchu Town, where you will stay overnight
- Take the 6 am, 30 min. bus to Machu Picchu ruins
- 3 hr. tour of Machu Picchu ruins, led by your ISL Team Leader
- travel back to Cusco that night.
Cost: included in your program fee. (A two day tour is available for an additional $300.00.)
Whether lodging at a hacienda on the beach of the Sea of Cortez in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico; a walled convent in the heart of Alajuela, Costa Rica; or an apartment situated above the bustling metropolis of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, ISL’s volunteer lodgings are unique and carefully chosen based on very important criteria.
Accommodations are safe, clean, and within a reasonable driving distance to service sites and recreation opportunities. Volunteers are provided their own bed, easy access to restrooms and showers and meeting spaces for training and fellowship.
Many ISL accommodations are unique and may include retreat houses, guest houses or home stays, all of which provide a distinctive cultural experience. ISL Country Coordinators will provide a description of your lodging in the Final Trip Document, posted to your My ISL Portal prior to your departure.
Mar Azul Hotel
Malecon El Chaco, Paracas
Ph: 0051 – 56 – 534542
Hotel Residencial los Frayles
Ph: 0051 – 56 -531487
Villa Hermoza Hotel
Av. Pardo 1041 – 1079 Cusco – Perú
Ph: 0051 – 84 – 244467
Plaza Andina Hotel
Ave Pachacutec, Machu Picchu Town
Ph: 0051 – 84 – 242758
We love our staff and we are positive that you will too! Each staff member is professional, courteous, and has the same passion as you do: to serve others.