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 rainforests 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 teams work in developing communities in and around the city after taking seminars on tropical medicine and common diseases, vital signs, physical exams, public health surveys, and medical Spanish. Peru has an employed security system named ESSALUD that only covers public and private sector employees and self-employed people who directly contribute to the economy. The unemployment rate is very high with a large population of immigrants struggling with poverty from different provinces of Peru. They could get the Integral System of Health Insurance named SIS, but unfortunately many people are not guaranteed a place for this kind of public insurance because the system is oversaturated. So, ISL serves in these communities with people who are not able to have insurance or those who wait long periods of time for appointments.
Where We Serve in Peru
After working in Lima, ISL Peru teams may have the chance to choose one of three additional locations to work with, such as: the Coastal route, the Amazon, or the Cusco to Machu Picchu route.
During the Peruvian summer (December to March), we work and play in Lima and Pisco / Paracas, two beautiful cities on the Pacific Ocean.
San Juan de Lurigancho Community of Lima
Working first in San Juan de Lurigancho community of the ‘Cono Este’ informal settlements on the east side of Lima, Peru (Lima’s largest barrio), our volunteers’ aim will be to provide health services to the families who live in this sandy mountain and who have slowly turned it into a community. There are no roads up the hill to the communities we are arranging to serve; access is via a series of long stairways. There are schools at the bottom of the hill, but different at-risk situations make it difficult for some children to attend. These are the children we are coming to help educate and provide medical support. Every day, our volunteers, accompanied by the Peru ISL team, travel an hour from their housing to the communities, crossing the busy traffic of Lima Centre. These communities are governed by a secretary, usually a community leader or maybe a coordinator, who is the person with whom we make our arrangements to visit houses and set up our clinics by using churches or schools provided by the community.
Pisco – Paracas Communities
After spending time working for about 5 days in Lima, our ISL teams travel by private transportation or tour bus to areas south of Lima, following the coastline and arriving at the city of Pisco, located in the Ica Region of Peru. Every day, volunteer teams of ISL travel by bus for usually 30 minutes from the hotel to the informal communities in the city of Pisco to provide medical attention and visit houses of those who were affected by the earthquake in August of 2008; these people were relocated to areas where poverty and lack of education persist. The community relied on the Peruvian government for its relocation but was gradually abandoned over time.
The Amazon Route
Teams spend time in the Iquitos area. Work includes time in a precario (informal settlement), an outback field clinic, and with an indigenous tribe community in the rainforest.
Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and the fifth-largest city of Peru. It is also the capital city of the Loreto Region and Maynas Province, located in the Amazon Basin. After that, our ISL teams finish their health work in Lima; they fly approximately an hour and a half from Lima to Iquitos with the purpose of visiting houses and providing health care in tribes or villages, such as the Yahuas tribe or Santo Thomas, located across the Nanay and Momon river. The kind of transportation we commonly use are motorcycles or moto taxis; then we take a boat, locally named “Pequepeque,” which is a small public motorized boat used to cross the Nanay river and reach the village.
Cusco to Machu Picchu Route
After giving primary healthcare in communities of Lima, our ISL teams take an hour flight from Lima to Cusco. Then, our teams usually travel by bus from Cusco to the communities of Izcuchaca, Ancahuasi, Mahuaypampa, or Paucartambo, rural areas of the city of Cusco where we visit communities in which the inhabitants rarely receive health attention. Mainly indigenous citizens of Quechua descent live in these provinces located in the Cusco Region in the southern highlands of Peru, and the majority of the population speaks Quechua. Most of the time, our teams need a local translator of Quechua to help us during our clinic days and house visits. The things the volunteers enjoy most about the communities are the people and the beautiful landscape.
Our Partnerships in 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 international and domestic airport. It is 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 are then transported in a van or bus approximately 9 miles (or 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. The team moves to a third housing site for arecreation 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
Get to learn about different kind of the medicinal herbs.
There are variety of archeological sites to visit around the city, especially in Cusco. Prices depend on the season, between $10 to $40.
Recreation Day for the Coastal Route
Visit Ballestas Island
These islands are accessible from the resort town of Paracas (near Pisco) by tour boat, which typically lasts 2 hours. During the visits, it is not uncommon for the sea lions to approach the boats and show off for the visiting tourists. The sea lions are also responsible for a unique singing performance with their wolf-pack cries that echo around the Ballestas.
Cost for the tour, including entrance ticket, is $15.00.
Visit Paracas Reserve
The reserve is home to many species of wildlife, and it is a great place to see Paracas birds. Near the entrance inside the reserve is the Museo Sitio de Julio C. Tello. Named for the archeologist who made discoveries about the ancient Paracas culture, it features artifacts and interpretation, as well as information about the flora and fauna of this unique region.
Cost for the tour, including entrance ticket, is $5.00
Dune Buggy and Sandboarding in Huacachina
One tour consists of riding in a dune buggy up and down the dunes at fast speeds. Another tour is a chance to try the adventure sport of “sandboarding.” This is just like snowboarding, but instead of snow, we will be boarding on the fine-grained sand of the desert. Sandboarding is faster, lots of fun, and doesn’t require any patience or ability. The tours normally start every day at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. The tours that start at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. are only one hour long, because of the heat in the desert during the day. The 4 p.m. tour is 2 hours long. We strongly recommend that all visitors to Huacachina take the 4 p.m. tour. This is by far the best time of day to take the tour. During some months of the year, the last tour of the day is at 4:30 p.m. This is usually in December – February.
Cost is $25.00.
Recreation Day for the Amazon Route
Full Day Tour
- Depart from the hotel at 8:30 am to Nanay Port. We will take a boat from the port to the first place, which is the Yahuas tribe. Here, we will learn some of the culture and traditions of the tribe.
- Arriving by boat again, the next stop is the Serpentario. We will have the opportunity to see some of the species of animals inhabiting the Amazonas and take pictures with them.
- After taking a boat back to the port, we will take a bus to the Manatees Rescue Reserve. Here, we will learn about the stories of injured manatees, what they eat, and how they are nursed back to health.
- The final stop is Quistococha Zoo. Quistacocha has many different animals to see, including the pink dolphin.
Cost for the tour including entrance ticket is $20.00.
Night in the Reserve
The reserve is located 26km along the only highway from Iquitos to Nauta. We will stay in dorms with bunkbeds. Dorms are separate for men and women. The bathroom facilities are shared. Here in the jungle, this is the opportunity to see different species of plants and animals. We will hike approximately 1 hour to observe what the jungle can offer us.
In Quistococha Zoo, we can see many different species of animals, but we will not be able to touch them. Quistococha also has a beautiful beach.
Visit the Manatee Rescue Reserve, a project that rescues orphaned manatees from within the Amazonas whose mothers have been killed. They are nursed by the passionate employees who dedicate their time to these animals. Here, we can feed milk to the manatees, pet them, and learn about their habitat, eating habits, and rescue stories.
Visit Serpentario, and, lastly, visit the Yahuas Tribe.
Cost is $30.00.
Recreation Day in Cusco – Machu Picchu
Overnight in Machu Picchu Town (2 nights)
- Travel from Cusco to Ollantaytambo (train station); including city tours, visiting some archaeological sites.
- Approximately 6 hours, finishing at Ollantaytambo train station.
- Take the train from Ollantaytambo (train station) to Machu Picchu Town (Aguas Calientes). Approximately 2 hour trip.
- Be ready 30 min before you depart.
- Overnight in Machu Picchu Town.
- Wake up in the early morning next day (approximately at 6 a.m. to take the bus from Machu Picchu Town to Machu Picchu ruins). Approximately 30 minutes.
- Machu Picchu ruins tour: approximately 3 hours. Your ISL Team Leader will be your tour guide during your trip.
- Come back from Machu Picchu Town to Cusco some time that night.
Cost is $300.00. Does not include airfare and meals.
Whether 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 as well as meeting spaces for team 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 team’s lodging in every Welcome Letter that goes out prior to your departure.
Thomas Ramsey 1005
Magdalena del Mar Lima
Ph: 0051 – 1 – 4616166
Próspero 494, Iquitos
Ph: 0051 – 65 – 231123
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.