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Inca Archaeology and Community Development Volunteer Projects in Peru


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.

  • Placement location: Huyro, Lucumayo Valley
  • Role: Working alongside expert Peruvian archaeologists undertaking a combination of archaeological, community
  • Areas of Focus: Investigation and mapping of the ancient Inca road network in the Lucumayo area
  • Accommodation: Shared volunteer house
  • Price: From Loading...
  • What's included? Food, accommodation, transfers to and from our specified airport, 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

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 previous 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.

One of the long-term goals 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.

Volunteering on the Inca Project in Peru with Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad volunteer works with ceramic artefacts at the Archaeology Inca Project, Peru

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 and community work.

Volunteers spend time working alongside Peruvian archaeological experts. John Valencia Cordoba is our main archaeologist on the archaeological programme, which was completed in December 2014: “Prospection and investigation in the Lucumayo Valley”, which has been approved by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.

During your time on the Inca Project, you will get involved in the following archaeological activities:

  • Site maintenance: this involves the superficial clearing of weeds and overgrowth from unknown archaeological structures in the Lucumayo Valley, in coordination with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.
  • Site registration: photographing, mapping, and recording GPS coordinates of previously unregistered archaeological structures, trails, and access routes.
  • Site visits: once a month, you will go with the project archaeologist to visit the archaeological sites in the Lucumayo Valley. Here, you will learn and get involved in discussion about the different functions, buildings techniques, and architecture of the structures in the valley.
  • Presentations: Projects Abroad staff and the project archaeologist will hold workshops, talks, briefings, and presentations regarding local and national culture, history, religion, and patrimony. You are encouraged to ask as many questions as you would like regarding these subjects.

At least once a week (usually on a Thursday), volunteers will get involved in the following community-based activities (basic Spanish will be useful):

  • Volunteers will visit a local kindergarten (children ages 3-5) in the morning for educational activities such as balls games, art, music or board games. 
  • Volunteers will spend time in the local library with children ages 6 to 12. Activities will include crafts, logic games and reading.
  • Volunteers have the opportunity to participate in activities with babies (up to the age of 3) at the local stimulation centre. The programme is run in by the municipality and professionals are present as well as the children’s parents. The volunteers’ role is to support the current project that includes building blocks, ring towers, ball games and early stimulus games.
  • As volleyball and soccer are the two most popular sports in Peru, volunteers have the option to play with the locals (usually local teachers).

Once or twice a year, the Inca Project will:

  • Run a dental health campaign in coordination with the local health centre. This programme involves visiting local primary schools with the local dentist and applying a fluoride gel directly to children’s teeth. This campaign runs for approximately three weeks during the school year.
  • Invite professionals from Projects Abroad to visit Huyro and hold workshops to help support the local teachers at the different educational institutes in the district. Volunteers who wish to participate in these workshops may do so.

Gap Year volunteer Archaeology projects in Peru

Where I will live on this project?

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!

Volunteer overseas on an Inca Archaeology project in Peru

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.

All volunteers taking part on any project in Peru now have the opportunity to add a 1 Week Conservation Add-On to the end of their main placement.

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.

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