After not being able to welcome any new Volunteers in almost a Year Intiwawa is more than happy to start working with international volunteers on site again soon. Already in march or April traveling will hopefully be possible again. Volunteering with Intiwawa and living in Arequipa for a while also gives you the opportunity to discover more places that are easily to reach, maybe before, after or during your stay. To prepare you not only for your work for Intiwawa but also your travels to South America in general I want to tell you about my Trip to Cusco.
Going to Cusco and its surroundings isn’t only a must-see in Peru or Southamerica but also a super easy trip for beginners, in case you’re afraid of traveling through the continent or even travel by yourself. You can use Cusco as a base to visit all the beautiful places around it. And there is a whole bunch of them and as many ways how to get there. That’s why I can only tell you what we did and how it suited best for us.
We took a night bus from Arequipa to Cusco, which is the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to go. Arriving in Cusco in the morning gave us a full day in the city. We used our time to book some tours for the following days and do some sightseeing. Accommodationwise, we’ve only reserved a room for one night in advance, as we weren’t sure, which nights we would actually spend there.
Some people fall in love with Cusco and could stay there for a week and even though the town is really pretty, we found that one day was really enough to get an impression. After the main plazas we had a look at San Blas. San Blas is the creative and artistic part of Cusco and it’s really worth it to enter all the cute little shops.
Due to the exhausting bus ride we got tired really fast and went to bed early to be ready for our first tour. One of the main reasons to go to Cusco is, of course, Machu Picchu. Many people decide on a three to five-days hiking-trip but as trekking isn’t completely our thing, same with an expensive one-day-train-trip, we chose the three-day-Inka-jungle. And this was the perfect choice.
The first day led us to the highlands behind Ollantaytambo, where we startet mountainbiking for 50km and 3000m downhill. Going down, the landscape changed really fast into the rainforest, which we weren’t really aware of before, but yes, going to the Machu Picchu includes an adventure in the jungle.
After lunch (all the meals were provided) the activities continued and we went rafting in the Rio Urubamba, which later leads to the Amazonas. That was really fun but all the impressions were tiring as well, so we were really happy to fall into our beds in Santa Teresa that night.
Adventures moved on next morning and we went to a ziplining-pacour, that existed out of six different ziplines, with which you flew over or right into the jungle, one suspension bridge as well as one rockclimbing station. Having done all those fun things, we couldn’t avoid having to walk. We were dropped off in Hidroelectrica from where we had to follow the train rails for 2,5hours.
Spending the night in Aguas Calientes, the Machu Picchu village, we were ready for the highlight on the last day. We had to get up at four to be early enough. If you don’t want to take a bus, the way to the top consists of 1500 Inka steps, it was a collective suffering but as always: it was definitely worth it.
Arriving at the peak of one of the world wonders it was completely covered in clouds. The guide told us, that it was normal, so we waited for two more hours before the fog suddenly cleared up and in this magical moment we got to see the ruins for the first time, wow! Although this place is really really touristy, is has something special to it. It’s this mixture between stunning history and a crazy surrounding, that takes your breath away.
The rest of the day was rather unspectacular, we had to walk all the way back and took the bus back to Cusco. And although we had decided, that we didn’t like trekking, our step counter counted almost 30.000 steps that day.
Luckily, we could sleep in the next morning, as the tour we booked only started in the afternoon. We decided to leave out other sights in the Sacred Valley and booked a Quadbike tour to the Salineras de Maras. Suiting our adventurous week, this was the perfect thing to do and so incredibly much fun! After driving through some traditional and poor villages and feeding some alpacas, we arrived at the salt mines. For some reason, nobody really wants to know, there’s a stream of warm water coming out of the mountain, that contains three times more salt than the ocean. The Inkas used this water to harvest salt by creating over 4000 little pools where it evaporates with the sun to become salt. This place is really impressive and you can get your beloved ones some salty presents.
Coming to an end, there was the trip’s last highlight waiting for us. Having already seen some places in the jungle as well as some historical Inka sights, this one was more of a nature one: We were going to the “Montaña de siete colores”, the Rainbow Mountain! This crazy creation of mother nature can be found at over 5000m above sea level, that’s why you should acclimatize in Cusco first before going in such hights. Luckily, we didn’t struggle with altitude sickness at all as you have to walk for 1h each way, getting really steep at the end. You can also choose to ride a horse up there for 80 soles. I did not regret it but wouldn’t do it again as the job seemed to be really stressful for the horses.
The views on the way up there as well as on the top were priceless, whenever the clouds disappeared for a second, they revealed a whole bunch of beautiful colours. It is not only the famous picture of the Rainbow Mountain itself but rather the panoramic sight of all the directions, that make it so special.
Later that day, we recharged ourselves and our phones in a restaurant and took the nightbus back to Arequipa. This trip is a perfect get-away as you can also make it shorter or longer by choosing your own favourite sights to visit.
And one last tip for your perfect trip: Don’t book the tours in advance and know what they should cost. We met people on the same tour that paid for times our price. We paid 150USD for the Inka jungle and around 160 soles for the rest.
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Volunteering with Intiwawa not only gives you the opportunity to get to know the Peruvian culture but also other southamerican countries either before, after or even during your stay in Arequipa. Having traveled through this wonderful continent for several months, I tried to sum up the most breathtaking places for you. Due to Latinamerica’s diversity and mixture between vivid megacities, stunning landscapes and interesting historical landmarks, I separated our highlights into different topics.
8. Titicaca Lake
Titicaca Lake is the world’s highest navigable lake and can be found at the boarder between Bolivia and Peru. It contains several ancient islands, some of them are called floating island as they are simply made out of reed. Hopefully, you’re lucky enough to discover the lake’s real beauty: in the sunlight the water turns into a deep blue colour and if the sight is good enough you will see the Andes in the background, wow!
7. Vulcano Villarrica
This volcano stands for every volcano in Southamerica. In ancient beliefs volcanoes were seen as warriors while mountains represented beautiful women. Visiting this continent you should definitely climb one of these warriors, as they shape the majority of the picture of the Andes. I chose this active volcano in Chile, and even though it was one of the most exhausting things I had ever done in my life, it was completely worth it. The view inside the crater is absolutely stunning and maybe you’ll even be able to catch some magma.
6. Geyser Sol de Manana
I visited this geyser on our Jeeptour in Bolivia. It is over 5000m high, but that isn’t the only thing that will take your breath away. Other than most of the geysers this one doesn’t spit water, but mud. The sound, the smell and also seeing pieces of silt jumping out of the small craters are really disgusting at first. But for some reason you’ll discover a special beauty in that place looking at its strong colours, some are blue or green, one of them is even bright red
5. Salar de Uyuni
I don’t know a single travelguide that would leave out this salt flat when talking about Southamerica, deservedly so. You really don’t know what to say driving for hours straight and all you see is salt. You won’t even meet a single tourist, the expanse of this place is simply impressive. Don’t miss out on the sunrise on the Isla Incahuasi, where you’ll sit between hundreds of beautiful cactuses!
4. Iguazu Falls
Same with this highlight. Although it is pretty touristy you shouldn’t think about leaving it out. This waterfall system, that is shared between Brazil and Argentina, is the biggest in the world, as it contains around 280 single waterfalls. Being located in the rainforest you’ll also be able to spot some exotic animals and plants. This visit is an unique experience, as you’ll get wet, can barely talk because of the noise and see the masses of water running down the edges on which you are standing
3. Perito Moreno glacier
This glacier in Patagonia, southern Argentina, is one of the view glaciers left on earth that are still growing. By walking on different paths you can either get really close to this icy monster or get an overview of the whole scenery. You can also just find yourself a spot and observe the glacier, I promise, it won’t get boring. Due to its calving, big pieces of ice break and fall into the water making incredible noise, you will have the impression that it is a living creature.
2. Atacama desert
The Atacama desert in the north of hile is the world’s driest desert, here you would need one year to fill a small cup of water with rain. Knowing this you’ll expect a Sahara-like desert only made out of sand, but it is so much more diverse. You can find volcanoes, lagoons, geysers, valleys of rocks and last but not least the clearest night sky in the world. Don’t miss out on an astronomic tour, especially when you’re from the northern hemisphere, you’ll discover stars and galaxies that you cannot see at home.
1. Torres del Paine
At the other end of Chile you can find this impressive Nationalpark, that I still can’t believe it’s true. It’s famous for its three remarkable mountain peeks, the ‘Torres’, but even though they aren’t always visible, this park has so much more to offer. There are four different micro climates and due to the strong wind, the weather changes crazily rapidly. Honestly, I’ve never experienced a wind like this: Busses started shaking and sometimes you couldn’t even stand straight anymore. Next to the glaciers and the cute guanacos, they belong to the family of the llamas, that can be found everywhere, the most stunning thing for me were the lakes. Made out of water from the glaciers, every lake has their own tone of colour, but all of them are so bright and almost artificial blue, that you’d believe you’re part of a picture in a travel magazine that writes about some paradise oceans. A must-see in Southamerica!
Southamerica might be a completely new world for most of us when coming to this continent for the first time. You’ll get used to it really fast, though, and knowing some things, some are necessary some are only recommendations, before you leave will definitely make it easier:
The most important thing is to not be afraid! Some people and books create an impression of this really dangerous continent, it is not, at least if you follow the most simple rules like not taking a cab when it is dark outside, carrying your personal belongings in a fanny bag, avoid the more risky parts of city (like everywhere else) but most crucially, don’t loose your common sense! If you trust your good judgment, you’ll be safe most of the time.
Depending on where you’re from you will have to get used to a different mentality. Everything will be more relaxed, everything works slower, don’t worry that much, just go with it, maybe it’s good for you, too, to leave the stressful environment at home.
In case you plan on traveling around, pack light and functional! You won’t need that many clothes, and especially nothing uncomfortable. Be prepared to layer as the weather can change really fast some times.
Coming from more western countries, we always assume that the price we’re told to pay for something is fix. It’s not. Most of the time, especially because you will look like a tourist, there’s space to bargain: with taxi drivers or tour guides. But attention, it is inappropriate to negotiate the price of food!
Talking about touristic tours: don’t book them online and in advance, it will be significantly more expensive! Just go to that place and visit some tour operators. Do some research on how much a tour like this should cost, we’ve been on tours where we’ve paid a fourth of what other people had to pay!
Looking for accommodations, I would always go for AirBnBs. If you’re not alone, it is really cheap but most importantly, you get to live like the locals, which brings you closer to the culture.
If you haven’t already noticed, buses are the way to get around, but they work differently than at home. Basically, they stop whenever you want them to stop, no matter if you want to get on the bus or get off. It can be confusing at times, you may always find the right bus to use but you never know when to get off. That’s why I’d recommend you to download an offline map (I was incredibly happy with maps.me), so that you can follow along.
A great way to save some money is changing of where and what you eat. Many restaurant have special promotions, if you follow those, it will be way cheaper. But especially, don’t shy away from food trucks or old ladies cooking in the streets. I had my best and most traditional meals eating at places like this, sometimes for not even 1€!
You cannot throw the toilet paper into the toilet!!! And you should always carry some with you, as it’s not provided everywhere.
And one last recommendation for all the German volunteers: In case you don’t have a credit card yet, go for the DKB Visa. You can use it everywhere without having to pay fees for the card itself. Once you’ve arrived in Arequipa, there are banks that won’t charge you anything with this card!
IntiWawa gives the opportunity to carry out unpaid internships in the different areas that the organization offers.
On this occasion, two Colombian interns shared with us their wonderful experience with IntiWawa, in the beautiful Peruvian territory. It is worth highlighting that they were able to contact the organization through a macro cooperation agreement with the Colegio Mayor de Antioquia. This agreement was initiated thanks to Darwin’s interest, one of the interns, who heard about the Organization thanks to a former volunteer who used to work with IntiWawa through AIESEC. They noticed that the area and missions of IntiWawa were very relevant for the students from the undergraduate program of Planning and Social Development. They saw the opportunity of a partnership between the two institutions to further internships for the students. To do this, they underwent a selection process and the protocol management at the University. The latter approved the mobility and resources for more students, to have the opportunity to live their experience in Peru together with IntiWawa. We will now go deeper into the experience of each one.
“Many small people, in small places, doing small things, can change the world” Eduardo Galeano
Let’s see the experience of Darwin Hoyos Palacio, who is 26 years old. Besides his student’s life in planning and social development, he also works as a social and youth leader in the municipality of Entrerrios – Antioquia. That’s why he feels so close to the quotation from the journalist and writer Eduardo Galeano.
His experience in Peru began on November 7, 2019 and can be divided into two main moments. First, when he used to live with most of the Intiwawa international volunteers for 2 months. Then, when he decided, in January, to live and work in a hostel as a volunteer, in order to get economic support to be able to extend his stay in Peru.
At IntiWawa, he has contributed in different areas and projects, related to the fundraising area. He has worked on the establishment of an inter-institutional cooperation project with the Katari Hotel and helped for the ‘Madres Luchadoras” project, so that they could get an income for their work. In December, he was also the coordinator of the Christmas Party in San Isidro, Mollebaya and Coporaque in the Colca Canyon, while supporting the realization of the tournament and barbecue for the IntiWawa fundraising. He recently supported the project to take the Intiwawa children to Cineplanet.
Lessons learned and contributions from the experience
This experience enabled him to fulfill his personal and professional development and get out of his comfort zone. He also learned to cook and to get more self-esteem. Visiting the communities where IntiWawa operates also enabled him to face and understand the reality of others societies, to draw conclusions and later to re-use and apply these learnings in Colombia.
Regarding Peru and Arequipa, he adapted easily as it is a similar culture that in Colombia, he just faced difficulties at the beginning with some specific words. He considers Arequipa as a beautiful, safe, peaceful and very cultural city. He visited several places in Arequipa and other Peruvian cities such as Cuzco.
Darwin told us an anecdote regarding the length of his stay and budget. Initially, he only planned to stay until January 30, 2020, but since he ran out of money to support himself in January, he decided to work as a volunteer in a hostel and thus be able to extend his stay until March. This personal choice drove his experience much more rewarding.
He thinks that IntiWawa is a very well-structured organization with a high social impact thanks to the different projects. He has a huge admiration for the structure and all the persons he worked with or for. He got along with most of the members and learned a lot from them. He confided that he found it difficult to communicate with some volunteers sometimes, since most of them come from Europe and their common language is English -a language he used to struggle with at the beginning, but finally it helped him to improve his skills.
“Travel, because travel opens up horizons and expands your mind…” Robinson
Now, let’s see Robinson Rúa Gómez’s experience and expectations. He is 27 years old, and has worked with the NGO Niñez, has a 4 year old son and sees this as an experience of personal growth as well as academic and professional development. His peruvian experience began on February 3, 2020. He decided to stay in a hostel where he also works as a volunteer to obtain lodging and economic support.
He is currently working on generating alliances with the municipalities’ mayors to expand the impact of IntiWawa in the communities, and helping in the planning of events and forums where children’s scenarios are played. He also works with the Parent’s School and with groups for young people, to generate continuous processes to help them seek working life, while working in their future projects, goals and dreams to fulfill. Likewise, he is working on the sustainability project to obtain sponsorship for families, to take advantage of the fact that IntiWawa is a German NGO based in Peru and to be able to obtain monthly contributions from foreigners in order to generate more resources and have a greater reach for the communities. As he has previous experience working with vulnerable communities, this new experience has shown him that there is still work to do in Latin America.
He thinks that Peru is a wonderful country, just as Arequipa since it is a very cultural place. This city has allowed him to generate bonds with foreigners, to carry out cultural exchange and have an other vision compared to other countries. When he climbed the Misti volcano, he met four communities in Arequipa not very known and since this day he enjoys a lot the city and its culture.
Robinson tells us that when he climbed the Misti volcano, he felt that he was overcoming his body fatigue and managed to connect mind and body. Besides, this experience helped him realize that he is stronger than he thought.
He has very high expectations for this trip and all this adventure, he believes it will be a very enriching professional experience for his resume, thanks to the reputation of the organization. In addition, he considers that being a volunteer and being able to give happiness to people without expecting anything in return is very rewarding for his personal growth. Sometimes he has very intense days so he has become more organized with his time. He hopes that this experience will help him have a broader vision of reality, understand other contexts, have the opportunity to learn other languages, and in addition to learn a lot, also be able to contribute much.
He sees IntiWawa as an organization with good intentions and very good people, kind and helpful. He believes that there is a lot to do and a lot to contribute on a professional level. He appreciates the independence that he has been given to carry out his work, the good communication with the directors and the property that they have given him to make decisions and to execute his projects in the best way.
As we saw before, IntiWawa is an excellent organization that allows you to live a wonderful personal and professional experience in Peru, so come and join us! You won’t regret it!
IntiWawa ofrece la oportunidad de realizar pasantías o prácticas no remuneradas en las diferentes áreas que posee la organización.
En ésta ocasión dos practicantes colombianos nos compartieron su maravillosa experiencia con IntiWawa en el hermoso territorio peruano. Es de anotar que ellos pudieron contactarse con la organización por medio un convenio de cooperación macro con el Colegio Mayor de Antioquia, dicho convenio se inició gracias al interés de Darwin, uno de los practicantes, quien conoció de la organización por una voluntaria que trabajó con IntiWawa por medio de AIESEC, ellos notaron que la labor de IntiWawa era muy pertinente para que los estudiantes del programa de pregrado de Planeación y Desarrollo Social realizaran sus prácticas profesionales y vieron una oportunidad de alianza entre las dos instituciones, para ésto se sometieron a un proceso de selección y una vez realizada la gestión protocolaria en la Universidad, ésta aprobó la movilidad y los recursos para que más estudiantes tuvieran la oportunidad de vivir su experiencia en Perú junto con IntiWawa. A continuación ahondaremos en la experiencia de cada uno.
«Mucha gente pequeña, en lugares pequeños, haciendo cosas pequeñas, puede cambiar el mundo» Eduardo Galeano
Primero veremos la experiencia de Darwin Hoyos Palacio quien tiene 26 años y además de ser estudiante de planeación y desarrollo social, también se desempeña como líder social y juvenil en el municipio de Entrerríos – Antioquia, por eso se ve muy identificado con la frase del periodista y escritor Eduardo Galeano
Su experiencia en Perú inició el 7 de Noviembre de 2019 y se ha dividido en dos momentos; primero cuando residía con la mayoría de voluntarios internacionales de IntiWawa, estuvo ahí por dos meses, posteriormente, desde el mes de Enero decide vivir y trabajar en un hostal como voluntario para obtener un sustento económico y así poder prolongar su estadía en Perú.
En IntiWawa ha aportado en diferentes áreas y proyectos, actualmente se encuentra en el área de recaudación de recursos; ha trabajado en la gestión de un proyecto de cooperación interinstitucional con el hotel Katari y el proyecto “Madres Luchadoras” para que ellas obtengan un ingreso económico por su trabajo,en diciembre también fue coordinador de la Navidad en San Isidro, Mollebaya y Coporaque en el cañón de Colca, a la par apoyó la realización del torneo y parrillada para la recaudación de fondos de IntiWawa y recientemente apoyó la gestión para llevar a los niños de IntiWawa al cine en conjunto con Cineplanet.
Aprendizajes y aportes de la experiencia
Está experiencia le ha aportado mucho tanto para su desarrollo personal como profesional, le ha hecho salir de su zona de confort, ha aprendido a cocinar y también le ha hecho valorar más lo que tiene en Colombia; visitar las comunidades que interviene IntiWawa le ha servido para entender la realidad de otras sociedades, aprender sobre estas y así mismo tener motivación para aportar lo máximo posible y más adelante llevar estos aprendizajes a Colombia y aplicarlos.
Respecto a Perú y Arequipa, se adaptó fácilmente ya que son culturas similares a la de Colombia, sí tuvo algo de dificultad con algunas palabras al principio pero con el pasar del tiempo se han adherido a su vocabulario. Considera que Arequipa es una ciudad hermosa, segura, tranquila y muy cultural, ha conocido varios atractivos turísticos en Arequipa y en otras localidades como Cusco.
Darwin nos cuenta una anécdota respecto al tiempo de su estadía y presupuesto, ya que inicialmente sólo pensaba quedarse hasta el 30 de enero de 2020, pero dado que se quedó sin dinero para sostenerse el mes de enero, decide trabajar como voluntario en un hostel y así poder prolongar su estadía hasta marzo, éste suceso ha hecho su experiencia mucho más gratificante.
Piensa que IntiWawa es una organización muy bien estructurada y qué tiene alto impacto con sus diferentes proyectos, es una institución que admira mucho, se lleva bien con la mayoría de sus integrantes y ha aprendido mucho de ellos, nos cuenta que se le dificultó un poco la comunicación con algunos voluntarios, ya que en su mayoría provienen de Europa y su idioma en común es el inglés, idioma que no dominaba mucho al principio pero destaca que ésta experiencia le ha ayudado a mejorar sus habilidades.
«Viaja, porque viajar te abre horizontes y expande tu mente…» Robinson
Ahora veremos la experiencia y las expectativas de Robinson Rúa Gómez, él tiene 27 años, ha trabajado con la ONG Niñez, tiene un hijo de 4 años y ve esto como una experiencia de crecimiento personal además de académica y profesional. Su experiencia en Perú inició desde el 3 de febrero de 2020, decidió hospedarse en un hostel en el que también trabaja como voluntario para obtener hospedaje y sustento económico.
Actualmente está trabajando en generar alianzas con las alcaldías de las municipalidades para ampliar el impacto de IntiWawa en las comunidades, ha ayudado en la planeación de eventos y foros en donde se tocan escenarios de niñez. También ha trabajado con la escuela de padres y con grupos procesos con jóvenes, que trata de generar procesos continuos en el tiempo para el desarrollo, la preparación para la vida laboral de dichos jóvenes, además de trabajar en sus proyectos a futuro, metas y sueños a cumplir. De igual manera, está trabajando en el proyecto de sostenibilidad para conseguir patrocinio para las familias, aprovechar que IntiWawa es una ONG alemana radicada en Perú y poder obtener aportes mensuales de extranjeros y así generar mayores recursos y tener un mayor alcance para las comunidades. Como ha tenido experiencia previa de trabajo con comunidades vulnerables, esta nueva experiencia le ha rectificado que todavía hay mucho trabajo por hacer en Latinoamérica.
Piensa que Perú es un país maravilloso y sobretodo la ciudad de Arequipa ya que es un lugar muy cultural, que le ha permitido generar vínculos con extranjeros, lo que le ha permitido realizar intercambio cultural y tener otra visión respecto a otros países. Hasta el momento ha escalado el volcán Misti, ha conocido cuatro comunidades de Arequipa que no muchos conocen y disfruta mucho de la ciudad y su cultura.
Robinson nos cuenta que cuando escaló el volcán Misti, sintió que superaba el cansancio corporal y logró conectar mente y cuerpo, además, ésta experiencia le sirvió para darse cuenta de que es más fuerte de lo que pensaba.
Tiene las expectativas de éste viaje y toda ésta aventura muy altas, cree que será una experiencia profesional muy enriquecedora para su hoja de vida, gracias al renombre de la organización, además, considera que el hecho de ser voluntario y poder dar felicidad a las personas sin esperar nada a cambio es muy gratificante para su crecimiento personal. A veces tiene días muy intensos por lo que se ha vuelto más organizado con su tiempo, espera que ésta experiencia le ayude a tener una visión más amplia de la realidad, entender otros contextos, tener la oportunidad de aprender otros idiomas, además de aprender mucho, también poder aportar mucho.
Piensa que IntiWawa es una organización con buenas intenciones y muy buenas personas, amables y serviciales. Cree que hay mucho por hacer y mucho por aportar a nivel profesional, agradece la independencia que le han dado para llevar a cabo su trabajo, la buena comunicación con las directivas y la propiedad que le han brindado para la toma de decisiones y ejecutar sus proyectos de la mejor manera.
Cómo pudimos observar anteriormente IntiWawa es una excelente organización que permite vivir una experiencia maravillosa en Perú, así que anímate y únete a la grandiosa labor de IntiWawa.
I never really had Bolivia as a travel destination on my mind, but after hearing only good feedback of other volunteers and having to leave the country anyway to extend our visa, we decided to spend one week there. After staying one night on the island Amantaní on Lake Titicaca, we went for two nights to La Paz and took another overnight bus to Uyuni to do a tour through the Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni) to see the salt desert, flamingos and take a bath in hot springs.
Just click on the video to see more of what to do in Bolivia!