Peru - BIO210 Cusco track

Program Description

Operation Groundswell’s UTM Peru: Healthcare in Development program examines healthcare from multiple perspectives offering insight into the contrasts between the Canadian and Peruvian health care systems as well as western and traditional Andean approaches to heath and wellness.
So, from the hustle and bustle of Lima to the cobblestone streets of the former Incan capital of Cusco and remote corners of the surrounding Sacred Valley, we’ll trace Peru’s long history of traditional medicine to their more recent transition to “modern” healthcare while exploring Andean ways of life old and new. We’ll visit local clinics, dig into sustainable agricultural, taste highland cuisine, interact with plant-based medicine, and examine holistic approaches to healthcare. We’ll work on innovative community initiatives and learn alongside local practitioners.
The immersive classroom will challenge students physically while pushing them to think critically about healthcare and service delivery in a unique cultural landscape.

Sample Itinerary

Day(s): 1-3

Location: Lima
Accommodation: Mira Flores Hostel – Shared Dormitories (or equivalent)
Transportation: Private shuttle, Taxi
Meals: Local restaurants
General Summary:
We’ll begin our Peruvian adventure in front of Jorge Chavez International Airport in the big, bustling city of Lima. We’ll then take our orientation to the posh suburb of Mira Flores where we’ll get settled and orient ourselves to the sights, sounds, and smells of the region. We’ll learn a little of local lingo, sample some traditional cuisine and then take a not so typical tour of Lima, its history and its many personalities.
The next day after a hearty breakfast, we’ll begin our foray into the Peruvian healthcare system by meeting and speaking with people working on its frontlines. We’ll visit hospitals and private clinics, meet with healthcare professionals and NGO workers. and examine the differences between private and public healthcare. We’ll discuss access, some its social determinants and how it all compares to Canada’s system. Get ready, for jam packed orientation to Peru, it’s crazy capital and healthcare in development.


Day(s): 3-5

Location: Cusco
Accommodation: Apu Wasi – Shared Dormitories (or equivalent)
Transportation: Private bus
Meals: Homecooked
General Summary:
After a quick flight to Cusco, the capital of a once mighty empire, our group will acclimatize to the highland culture (and altitude). We’ll wander the city’s cobblestone streets and learn about the city’s colonial, Incan and pre-Incan past. Then it’s back to our exploration of healthcare in the unique context of the Sacred Valley where identity, geography and inequality add to the complexities.
After a cup of coca tea, we’ll try to unpack some of the many perspectives here. We’ll visit Peru’s National University of Saint Anthony, tour local clinics, and talk with innovative practitioners, NGO workers and community members. We’ll taste traditional Andean food and learn hands-on about the health benefits of native grains and home-made energy bars. Still got room for dessert? To cap it all off, we’ll take a chocolate-making workshop and taste the healing powers of cacao.

Day(s): 5-8

Location: Maska to Pisac
Accommodation: Kausay Punku (Shared bungalows); Guest House (Shared Dormitories)
Transportation: Hiking, Public bus
Meals: Homecooked
General Summary:
Next, our journey will take us to a family farm in the remote village of Maska, about an hour and a half outside of Cusco. The project, known as Kausay Punku, serves as a conservatory for ancient grains and seeds, a school of traditional organic agricultural practices, and a place of practice for traditional Andean medicine. There, we’ll learn about herbal and homeopathic medicine, natural construction, and traditional farming. Our days will be spent getting our hands dirty harvesting eucalyptus, building with adobe and distilling medicinal plants into essential oils. Evenings will be full of traditional cuisine from the sierra and local stories of the Inca.
Then, we’ll set off on a hike deep into the district of Pisac. The Kinsa Ccocha Trek is an off-thebeaten path adventure that will take us past sites rarely seen by tourists, including pre-Incan wall paintings and secret lakes hidden high up in the mountains! We will be guided by our partners at Kausay Punku and our friend Silvestre, who will share with us the history of the region and the stories passed down from their ancestors. Along the way, we’ll spend a night in the town of Paru.
This indigenous community sustains itself on potato’s, corn and quinoa so, we’ll enjoy a delicious traditional dinner and cozy up in this unique corner of the Andes.



Day(s): 8-9

Location: Pisac to Cusco
Accommodation: Pisac Hostel (Shared Dormitories)
Transportation: Private bus
Meals: Local restaurants
General Summary:
A staple of every OG program, disorientation is an opportunity to debrief as a group. So, we’ll find a quiet corner in Pisac, kickback, relax and reflect on our incredible journey. We’ll fill our bellies with ceviche and tell stories, we’ll sip Pisco sours and share lessons learned, we’ll sit under the stars and think about our impact and how we can do to bring it back home.
Finally, we’ll travel back to Cusco and the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport where we’ll say a fond farewell and board a flight back to Lima and onwards to Toronto.