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Photograph courtesy of Adventure Life Journeys
The Real Sacred Valley

Long before the term “voluntourism” became etched into the travel lexicon, Adventure Life Journeys was a model practitioner. For years, the Latin America–focused outfitter has made a point of incorporating meaningful volunteer work into each of its itineraries and employing local guides and lodge owners. Now comes perhaps its most compelling offering: a weeklong stay with Inca descendants in the Sacred Valley village of Cachiccata, followed by a trek to Machu Picchu. “We’re not just showing up and dropping off donations and then leaving,” says Adventure Life’s Jonathan Brunger, who spearheaded the project. Instead, you’ll arrive in one of the world’s most spectacular settings—picture millennia-old Inca terraces overlooking a river in the heart of the valley—and roll up your sleeves to work alongside indigenous community members on various tasks. You might help a family restore their traditional home one day and plant native trees with kids the next. The villagers themselves have developed these projects, along with a campground, to stimulate tourism—which in turn will keep the younger generations at home rather than pursuing careers as porters. You’ll be among the first to visit the site (note the Inca and pre-Inca stone structures scattered throughout). Like other Sacred Valley pilgrimages, this trip includes Cusco on the way in and Machu Picchu on the way out. But unlike the others, it also lets you witness the ways of an ancient village—while helping its residents tackle 21st-century challenges.

Outfitter: Adventure Life Journeys;
Price: $1,920 ($)
Length: 10 days
Departs: April–December

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