The Andean Homestay Project is an
initiative aimed at promoting tourism in the rural communities in
the mountains surrounding Cusco. Although Cusco receives almost
750,000 visitors each year, the principal beneficiaries of this
income are the owners of hotels, tour companies, restaurants and
shops. Very few people from the surrounding countryside are given
the opportunity to share in the real financial benefits of
tourism. The Andean Homestay Project aims to address this problem
by giving visitors the opportunity to stay with local Quechua
families and learn about their rich culture and traditions as well
as bringing direct economic help to the people who really need it.
We are currently running the
project in the mountain community of Amaru:
village of Amaru is located high up in the Andes at an altitude of
3800m. It is a 45 minute drive north from Pisac along a narrow
track that winds up into the mountains. The village has a pleasant
microclimate sheltered from cold winds with plenty of sun allowing
a wide variety of crops and wild flowers to grow. Hummingbirds can
often be seen. The community has formed an Association for Rural
Tourism and offer a warm and inviting welcome to visitors who are
adventurous and interested in learning about the culture and
traditions of this community. Visitors can stay with these
families on any Saturday night from May to December.
Typical Program and Costs
The cost of staying with a local family is 20 Peruvian Soles per person.
This includes an evening meal (vegetable soup, bread, herbal tea) and
breakfast (bread, jam, herbal tea or coffee). The price does not include
transport to the community. Visitors to Amaru can take local transport to
the village (see the section below on how to get to Amaru).
The Andean Homestay Project is sponsored and
promoted by the trekking company Peru Treks. All payments are made
directly to the families. Peru Treks takes no commissions or payments for
its services. Ten families have been carefully selected by the community
to participate in the initial phase of the project (pilot scheme). The
families have been chosen on the basis of financial need rather than the
biggest and best houses. Peru Treks has donated money and equipment to
make home improvements to these houses (new outside toilet dedicated for
the use of visitors, new beds, mattress covers, glazing and wood flooring
Please note that the homestay program cannot be reserved in advance.
Reservations can only be made by going to the Peru Treks offices in Cusco
preferably at least one day in advance.
Peru Treks & Adventure Tour Operator
Calle Garcilaso 265, interior patio, 2nd Floor, Cusco, Peru (See Map of
(located between Plaza San Francisco and Plaza Regocijo, just 2 blocks
from the Plaza de Armas (main square)
Departures every Saturday afternoon (May to
12:30pm - 1:00pm Meet in the Peru Treks office
1:15pm Taxi to bus station. Local bus from Cusco to Pisac
2:15pm Transport from Pisac to Amaru
3:00pm Arrive at Amaru. Introduction to host family
4:30pm Group activity / short trek / football with village kids / weaving
6:30pm Evening meal with family (vegetable soup, corn, herbal tea)
7:30pm Group reunion in selected family house, local music and dance with
8:30pm Try to find your way back to your house !! (donít forget to bring a
9:00pm Tucked up in bed. Lights out!
8:00am (the following day) Breakfast with
8:30am Trek to Pisac (Sunday market) via Inca ruins or take local bus back
to Pisac. The spectacular trek to Pisac is mainly downhill and takes 2hrs
30mins walking slowly. The trek passes the Inca ruins at Pisac so you will
need to have your Boleto Turistico handy.
What to Bring
Warm sleeping bag, warm clothing, flashlight, toilet paper, snacks and
water. You can also bring fruit for your host family
How to Get to Amaru
During the first six months of the homestay program (June to December
2007) we thought it best if people wanting to visit Amaru go to the Peru
Treks office to meet up first. People interested in participating in the
homestay project should come to our office between 12:30pm and 1:00pm
(Every Saturday afternoon, June to December). We can then take a local bus
to Pisac and either a local bus or a taxi from Pisac to Amaru depending on
how many people there are in the group.
A taxi from our office to the bus station in Avenida Tullumayo costs 2 or
3 Soles (shared between up to 4 persons). Buses depart every 20 minutes to
Pisac. The cost is 3 Soles and the ride takes about 50 minutes. In Pisac
we have a couple of options to take us to Amaru. A taxi is probably the
quickest method costing 35 Soles (shared between up to 4 persons).
Alternatively we can take a local minibus costing 3 Soles per person but
the departure times can be a bit unreliable (basically they depart when
full). If there are 6 or more persons in the group we can make
arrangements for the local minibus to meet us in Pisac and take the group
to Amaru, this service costs 5 Soles per person. Final arrangements for
transport can be agreed upon when we meet in our office. Peru Treks plan to send a
representative from their company with the group to help things run smoothly.
The representative may have only very limited English speaking ability and
will not be a trained guide. However this service is provided free of
charge, you only have to pay for your accommodation and meals (20 Soles
paid directly to your host family) and transport costs.
More Information and Photos
We are currently producing a website
to promoting the homestay program and culture and traditions in
the Andean communities surrounding Cusco. The website can be
viewed in a draft form online. The design and contents are still
in their early stages but hopefully will be completed towards the
end of August. You can view information about Amaru at
www.myperu.org/amaru We hope to include photos of the homestay
program together with your feedback and experiences so if you want
to send any photos or email us please use the email address firstname.lastname@example.org
We will try to print out all photos that we receive and take them
to the families. However please try to keep the total size of the
email and attachments below 1MB.
If you have enjoyed your stay with the family
please try to help promote the project by telling other travellers.
Leaflets are available in the Peru Treks office.
Basic Do's and Don'ts when staying
with local families
The price of S/.20 per person that has been agreed with the
families is a fair price for their services. It is important that
the families provide a good quality and friendly service in return
for this payment and the payment is not seen as a hand-out. We do
not want the local families to get into bad habits or grow lazy so
it is important that the local families and visitors follow some
1. Fixed price. The cost of staying with a family is 20 Peruvian
soles including evening meal and breakfast. Please do not leave
tips or extra payments.
2. Please do not leave gifts such as clothing, money, school
equipment, Swiss-army knife etc. We recommend taking smaller gifts
such as fruit, coca leaves, long-life fruit or milk drinks, tins
of tuna etc.
3. Please don't give any money or school equipment directly to any
town official or school teacher. At the beginning of the school
year Andean Travel Web has donated school equipment (pens, books,
crayons, paper, rulers etc) to the school in Amaru. If you want to
donate school equipment for use in other communities then please
talk to the staff in the Andean Travel Web / Peru Treks office in
Cusco. (Calle Garcilaso 265, office 11)
4. There is no problem taking photos of members of the host family
you are staying with. You do not have to pay any money to take any
photos although it is always polite to ask before taking a photo.
Photos cannot be used for commercial use or financial gain. When
outside the family house please try to limit taking photos of
people as much as possible. Landscapes are fine and general views
that include people in them are also OK but try to avoid close ups
of people who are not members of the Andean Homestay Project.
5. If you do take photos of the family and you promise to send the
photos to them please try to keep your promise and maybe include a
postcard of yourself and your own hometown as well. Photos can be
mailed to the Andean Travel Web office. See section 12 below about
sending photos or feedback by email.
6. Don't give the kids candy, sweet things etc.
7. In the evening there may be the opportunity to buy a beer or
two. If you have been accompanied by a member of your host-family
it is fine although not obligatory to invite them for a drink as
well. Please enjoy the occasion but try not to drink too much and
please don't invite each member of your host-family to more than
one drink. Donít stay up late.
8. The best way to help the community is to buy one of their
weavings. However there is absolutely no obligation to buy
anything. We have encouraged the community to produce some smaller
inexpensive items as well as the usual ponchos, rugs and larger
textiles. Only buy items from the communal shop / stall. The
prices and names of the family should be clearly marked on each
item. These are fixed prices. Please don't buy any weavings or
other handicrafts in the homes of your host family. The only
exception being woven friendship bracelets made by the children
which should cost no more than 2 Peruvian Soles.
9. Please bring plenty of small change as it is often difficult to
change larger bank notes of S/.50 or higher.
10. Please do not leave valuables in your room. Keep them with you
at all times.
11. If you have enjoyed your stay with the family please try to
help promote the project by telling other travellers. Leaflets are
available in the Peru Treks office.