OG & Upper Canada College present…


Secrets of the Sacred Valley

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Program Description

Operation Groundswell’s “Secrets of the Secret Valley” program explores Peru’s historic (and scenic) Cusco. Once the cradle of the Incan empire, El Valle Sagrado figures prominently in Peru’s mythology and modern identity. From the cobblestone streets of Cusco to Incan citadels and remote farming villages, we’ll experience Andean ways of life old and new. We’ll taste highland cuisine and hear about traditional medicine. We’ll get our hands dirty in sustainable agriculture and examine local approaches to health and wellness in the altiplano. We’ll work on innovative community initiatives and learn alongside local movers and shakers who may share with us some of the secrets hidden within this world-famous valley.

Program Basics

Program Sponsor

Program Fee + Community Contribution

$1,850 CAD + $70 CAD

$1,700 CAD + $70 CAD

Program Airfare

$900-1300 CAD

Program Dates

March 13-20, 2020


  • Wander the cobblestoned streets of Cusco, where ornate Spanish cathedrals conceal ancient Inca temples in one of the world’s oldest cities.
  • Experience life on a family farm deep in the altiplano and get your hands dirty learning about sustainable agriculture, traditional medicine, and hearing the
    real story of the Incas.
  • Trek through the Andes and pass pre-Incan wall paintings enroute to the hidden lakes of Paru Paru high up in the mountains!
  • Climb the citadel at Pisac, see Incan cemeteries and count the titanic terraces of these ruins that once stood guard at the door of the Sacred Valley.

Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experiences with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Orientation – Cusco

We’ll begin our journey in the modern city of Cusco, once the capital of a mighty empire. There, our group will acclimatize to the sights, smells, sounds, and altitude of the region. We’ll hit the city’s cobblestone streets and learn about the country’s colonial history before hiking to the Temple of the Sun and Moon for a glimpse of the valley’s Incan past. We’ll spend our nights in Aldea Yanapai, where we’ll share a dorm and share meals with our hosts. We’’ll start our mornings with a cup of coca tea and then its time to explore tasty traditional Andean food and do some hands-on learning about the health benefits of native grains and home-made energy bars. Still got room for dessert? We’ll take a chocolate-making workshop and hear about the healing powers of cacao.

From there we will switch gears and dig into mining and development with Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras. DHSF is dedicated to working with communities affected by multinational mining so, we’ll talk human rights and get the dirt on multinational mining in the altiplano and what local communities are doing to respond.

Andean Traditions – Maska 

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 agriculture, and a place of practice for traditional Andean medicine. There, we’ll stay together in cozy adobe huts and 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 pure essential oils. Evenings will be full of traditional cuisine from the sierra and local stories of the Inca.

Incan Trails – Paru Paru

Then, we’ll set off on a hike deep into the district of Pisac. The Kinsa Ccocha Trek is an off-the-beaten path adventure that will take us past sites rarely seen by tourists, including pre-Incan wall paintings and secret mountain lakes! 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 community guesthouse in Paru, an indigenous community that still sustains itself on potatoes, corn and quinoa. So, get ready to challenge yourself and cozy up in this unique corner of the Andes.

Our first day will be spent learning from the Ccapa family about sustainable agricultural methods, traditional medicine, and the real story of the Incas.

Disorientation & Departures – Pisac

Finally, after an incredible journey, we’ll make our way down into an ancient Incan village which is now the famous home of one the finest remaining Incan archeological sites. The ruins of Pisac cover vast agricultural terraces and the country’s largest known cemeteries encompassing 20,000 caves carved into the side of the mountain. We’ll spend the night in town where we’ll celebrate disorientation. This is a staple of every OG program and provides a space to debrief as a group. So, we’ll kickback, relax and reflect on our incredible journey. We’ll fill our bellies with ceviche, sit under the stars, recount our tales of adventure, and reflect on all the lessons we found in the Sacred Valley. Then it’s back to Cusco where we’ll say “a la proxima!”






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What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


With OG, you live like the locals.

While exploring the Sacred Valley, there will be a number of different styles of accommodation. While in cities or small towns, we will be sleeping and eating as a team in clean, safe, and secure hostels and guesthouses that reflect a backpacker’s ethos. When we are staying on the farm we will be living in small adobe huts, without electricity or warm showers. Creepy crawlies are common while comfy beds can’t always be guaranteed — so come prepared. Wherever we are, we’ll make it home in no time!

Meet Our Regional Director

Ana María Umaña

Ana was born in San Jose, Costa Rica and has since travelled whenever possible in pursuit of her passion for education, development, and nature! She has worked as an English teacher in public and private schools in Costa Rica, and volunteered in Quijingue, Bahia (Brazil) on community development projects. After completing her Masters in Translation, she worked with Peace Corps, Costa Rica until returning to the world of NGOs as a Program Coordinator in Riobamba, Ecuador. Now, she’s super excited to be part of the OG family and looking forward to establishing new partnerships, working with and training awesome program leaders, and designing more amazing programs in South America!

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