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WMG/POL/MLA 675: The Role of Tourism and its Effect on Women and the Environment in Peru

January 20, 2022

Group study tour picture holding Carthage flag in front of Machu Picchu

Greetings from Peru! Our trip is slowly coming to an end, so I wanted to share a couple more exciting experiences with you all. Since the last blog, we have been busy exploring and learning about Peru’s cultural heritage and its mindblowing natural environment. We ended up staying in Ollantaytambo for quite some time, exploring the town and enjoying the market square.

Students eating ice scream in the Ollantaytambo market square

We then took a train ride to Aguas Calientes for our Machu Picchu day! We learned that Machu Picchu is actually named after the mountain that lies out of sight in the cloud forest behind the ruins, so the mountain visible in all of the postcards is actually called Wayna Picchu. 

Students in front of Machu Picchu

On the second day in Aguas Calientes, we had the choice to go back to Wayna Picchu or Machu Picchu again or go on a 12 km jungle hike to a beautiful waterfall, which is what I chose to do. We admired the exotic flora and fauna while bathing in warm sunlight.

Waterfall in Aguas Calientes

Next, we traveled to Cusco, the capital of the Incan Empire. We visited multiple archeological sites, including Saqsaywaman, Q’enqo, Tambomacha’y, and Pukapukara.

For lunch, we had a typical Peruvian meal of brocheta de Pollo (a chicken dish), chicha morada (a drink made out of purple corn), and choclo (large pieces of corn kernals).

Chicha morada (a Peruvian drink made out of purple corn)

Street dogs in Peru One thing I’ve noticed about Peru is how dogs and cats are everywhere. Every town, every square, every street. Here is a cutie for reference. We were told not to pet them due to fleas and disease, but I would often give them a little greeting and wash me hands right after. I couldn’t resist!

Although we visited many sites throughout Cusco, I want to emphasize our visit to el templo del triunfo. It was a Catholic cathedral in the main square. What made it fascinating was the artwork inside. The majority of the paintings are anonymous because they didn’t want people to know they were by the local Quechua population. Therefore, artists would add special touches to their work to symbolize their culture. For example, Jesus usually wears a loincloth when on the cross, but representations of him in this cathedral have him wearing an ornate, colorful skirt of Incan tradition. Another example is, in The Last Supper, there is cuy (guinea pig) and local fruits on the table and often llamas are painted instead of traditional donkeys.

El templo del triunfo (the Catholic Cathedral in Cusco)

Another life-altering experience was when we met with the girls from Peruvian Hearts. This organization supports girls in their quest for higher education and provides resources like internet, house renovations, clothing, and other supplies to assist in that endeavor. The majority of these girls and their families are living below the poverty line yet express buckets of gratitude, perseverance, and strength. Hearing their stories was inspiring, and it truly shows how vital it is to educate women and how it benefits the entire society.

Group picture with participants from the Peruvian Hearts organization

To wrap up this blog post and the nearing end of our journey, we visited and hiked up to Rainbow Mountain, Vinicunca. At the top, we were 16,000 feet above sea level, and let me tell you, the hike was not easy. With such thin air, I would walk 15 seconds and my lungs and heart would pump as though I had just run a 5K. Nausea, headache, and dizziness were common symptoms of the high altitude, but the views along the way made the pain worth it. The differing colors occur naturally due to minerals in the earth — amazing!

Group picture at the top of Rainbow Mountain in Vinicunca

Thank you for following along with me as I shared our travels and memories of Peru. This J-Term study tour has had an impact on my outlook on life, and I am so privileged and grateful that I could be a part of it.

-Serena Richardson ’24
Read Serena’s first J-Term blog about her study tour in Peru

About the Peru Study Tour


Jan. 11-26, 2022


Modern languages Prof. Maribel Morales
Political science Prof. Jeffrey Roberg


In this study tour, students will have the opportunity to examine the effects of tourism on multiple cultures within one country. The tour includes visits to the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco and the surrounding Sacred Valley, along with Machu Picchu. Ultimately this study tour will serve as an opportunity for students to examine how being “the other” may permanently change themselves, and provide a basis for them to understand their role as a global citizen.