Inca Archaeology and Community Development Volunteer Projects in Peru
- Placement location: Huyro, Lucumayo Valley
- Role: Working alongside expert Peruvian archaeologists undertaking a combination of archaeological, community and agricultural work
- Areas of Focus: Investigation and mapping of the ancient Inca road network in the Lucumayo area
- Accommodation: Shared volunteer house
- Price: From
- What's included? Food, accommodation, airport transfers, travel and medical insurance, personal webpage, induction and orientation, 24/7 support
- What's not included? Flights, visa costs, spending money
- Length of placement: From 2 weeks
- Start dates: Flexible
Our Inca Project is a great choice if you are interested in archaeology and the history of the Inca civilisation, and don't mind getting your hands dirty! Whilst living the lifestyle of the local Peruvian people, you can gain hands-on experience in a range of archaeological and historically-related work and help with local community projects.
When the Spanish conquistadors discovered Peru in the 16th Century, the land had been ruled for roughly two centuries by the Inca people. During their rule the Incas gained control of an area about one million square kilometres in size, ranging from Colombia to central Chile. The vast Inca Empire had its administrative, political and military centre in the city of Cuzco.
The year 1533 saw an end to the Inca Empire when the Spanish captured Cuzco. Despite years of Spanish rule, Peru has managed to retain a rich Incan legacy which can be seen throughout the country; the majestic ruins of Machu Picchu and the Inca capital city of Cuzco are amongst the most fascinating Inca sites.
Archaeological Activities, Expeditions, and Community work in Peru with Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad work with several local organisations and archaeologists. The range and quality of the sites that our volunteers have worked on is impressive. They include Sacsayhuaman, Zurite, Ollantaytambo, the Historical Centre of Cuzco and some amazing new sites in the local cloud forest.
Since January 2007 we have been working near Huyro, at the site of some newly found ruins, discovered by the Director of Projects Abroad Peru, Tim DeWinter. Due to the site's proximity to Machu Picchu and Vilcabamba, we are sure that the site will become an important area for Inca historians.
Volunteering on the Inca Project in Peru with Projects Abroad
Inca Project volunteers live in our community house near the town of Huyro. The town is located in the province of La Convencion and is a 3 hour journey from our main office in the Sacred Valley. This is a breath-taking journey that takes you up to 4300 metres above sea level and then back down to the heat of the cloud forest. The town itself is in the Lucumayo Valley and the work we undertake on the project here focuses on archaeology, community work and agriculture.
Volunteers spend time working alongside Peruvian archaeological experts. Zenobio Valencia Garcia is our main archaeologist and is responsible for our new archaeological programme: “Prospection and investigation in the Lucumayo Valley”, approved by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture and running until December 2014.
After hiking up to the ruins, the work involves exploration of new areas and clearing and preserving the ancient Inca and pre-Inca walls and terracing systems. You may even discover some new ruins yourself! Volunteers are also involved in mapping the ruins, excavating specific areas, registering finds and placing them in historical contexts in order to better understand the Inca people. Another long term goal of the Inca project is the investigation and mapping of the entire Inca road network in the Lucumayo area. There are strong indications that one of the roads that we have explored leads to Machu Picchu, which is of great interest to local, regional and national authorities.
Due to weather conditions excavations will largely take place only from April to October. We do not rule out excavations in other times of year, but they will be more unlikely. From February to November volunteers will undertake primarily prospection work, whilst during the rainy season from November to February priority will be given to cleaning, classifying, drawing and registering finds.
Workshops will be held on Inca and pre-Inca civilisations and culture throughout the year. It is important to note that work will never be exclusive; for instance, it may be possible to undertake some prospection work in December or January, and cleaning and classifying finds will take place throughout the year.
Volunteers who work in Huyro live in a shared community house with other volunteers and Projects Abroad staff members, who are available 24/7. We are aiming to make the Inca project completely self-sufficient in the future and all volunteers are expected to help out with activities to help us achieve this goal. Examples can include looking after crops, harvesting tomatoes, feeding the chickens and ducks, helping to maintain the out-buildings and taking turns with the washing up after dinner or lunch! You will have plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the local way of life and practice Spanish on a daily basis, as we have close ties with local communities in the area.
Projects Abroad has promoted community meetings in Huyro since August 2006 and they have always been very well attended. They are held order to discuss our work and the ways in which we can continue to have a positive impact on the local community. The meetings have proved to be rich sources of information and, thanks to the close relationship we have with local leaders, we always have new projects for volunteers to be involved in!
We have been working with the local kindergartens, have implemented a library, been involved with dental health campaigns, started building greenhouses, set up nutrition programmes, built ecological stoves and have introduced new crops to diversify the agricultural production. In 2011 a full diagnostic of the whole district was done by Projects Abroad and this information is now used by the local and regional authorities in conjunction with Projects Abroad to target areas in particular need and develop programs.
Throughout the year, outdoor archaeology work is subject to good weather. During the rainy season, from roughly December to March, we undertake less outdoors work due to the weather. We try and do as much archaeology related work as possible during this time and re-schedule work where practical. Workshops, cleaning and classifying our finds and community work continue regardless of the weather, ensuring that you will still have the chance to learn about the Andean, Inca and pre-Inca cultures, no matter what time of year you arrive.
We prefer that volunteers taking part in the Inca Project arrive in Cuzco anytime on a Saturday or on a Sunday morning.
If you have qualifications or experience in this field then we can make use of your skills. Read more about the opportunities for skilled volunteers in Peru.