TRVL 300
Travel dates: March 9-20, 2017
Dr. David Cupery


Experience the rich cultures, storied history and natural beauty of Peru. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts expects to offer a Peru travel course during the spring semester of 2017. The course will help students understand the country’s historical evolution, cultural diversity, and political landscape by visiting ruins, museums, indigenous villages and the capital city.


1. Students will familiarize themselves with unique cultures and be able to contrast their own values, opportunities and experiences with those of these groups.
2. Students will be able to understand the evolution of Peru from one of the world’s most powerful precolonial societies to a fast-growing middle-income country.
3. Students will be able to comprehend the tradeoffs inherent in balancing economic development with cultural and natural diversity.
4. Students will be able to situate the value of their travel within their larger college experience.



This is a 3-credit hour course and prior to and after the trip, students will meet weekly with Professor David Cupery, the faculty leader of the trip, to study and discuss issues related to Peruvian culture, history and society. Students will have required readings and complete written assignments and presentations. During the trip, students will keep a journal, addressing their experiences and daily reflection questions. After returning to MCLA, students will complete a project based on their knowledge of Peru and their experiences in the country.


Students will be evaluated on the following: attendance at on-campus classes, participation in classroom and on-site discussions, quizzes, in-class presentations, travel journals, written reflections, and a final project. Students’ behavior during the travel portion of the course will also play a large role in their final grade.



Lima.jpgThe capital city and inevitable entry point to the country is home to almost 9 million people and an abundance of movement of all kinds. Present-day Lima mixes colonial architecture with high rises and sprawling slums. Amidst (and beneath) it all are the colors, flavors, and ruins of Peru’s rich indigenous cultures. Our time in Lima will be limited to two days: one at the start and one at the end of the trip. Day one will find us in the historic center of the capital, visiting the Plaza de Armas, Palacio del Gobierno, and La Catedral de Lima. This will put students in the political heart – currently and during the colonial period – of the country. To lay the groundwork for our later visits to Incan ruins, we will also visit the Museu Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología, y Historia. On the tail end of our trip we’ll spend a day in the coastal neighborhoods of Mirraflores and Barranco, where students will be able to sample the fares of what many see as the one of the world’s most exciting culinary destinations.


Cuzco_city.jpgCuzco was the heart of the Incan Empire and the center of the struggle between the Incans and the Spanish Conquistadores. Today, while housing numerous historical and cultural sites, it is also the vibrant commercial hub of the south-central Peruvian Andes. During our 2+ days in Cuzco, students will begin their face-to-face introduction to the Incan civilization and its intersections with colonial and present-day Peru. This will include visits to local ruins, such as Sacsaywamán, museums, and religious sites. We will also partake in a night of traditional food, music, and dancing.

Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley

Cuzco_children.jpgJust a quick drive away from Cuzco sits the Sacred Valley, surrounded by majestic Andean peaks and home to indigenous villages and star attraction Machu Picchu. Our three days in the Sacred Valley will begin with a day in the Pisac area. We will explore Pisac’s fascinating terraced ruins and get ‘lost’ in the colors and smells of the town’s open market. Our day will finish with a trip to neighboring Amaru, to learn about the community of weavers and their ancient trade. Day 2 will feature visits to Chinchero – to learn about Incan agricultural techniques – and Salinas – home massive salt fields since the Incan times. We will take an evening train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, the access point to Machu Picchu. Day 3 will be spent at the world’s most famous ruin site. We’ll start early to see the ruins at dawn and give students plenty of time to learn about the site, hike a neighboring peak (optional), and soak in their surroundings.

Lake Titicaca

Lake_Titicaca.jpgOur final destination is the world’s highest navigable lake. To get there, we will take a six hour bus ride through the scenic and culturally-diverse Andean high country. At the lake itself, we will tour the floating Islands of the Uru people. These man-made islands have been inhabited for centuries. Our visit will allow students to learn about the unique traditions practiced there. From the floating islands, we will continue to Taquile and Amantaní Islands, where we will spend a day and a night in a sort of homestay. The students will be divided into small groups and spend a night in the home of a local family. They will share meals with the family and participate in an evening of music and dancing with the community. Back on the mainland, we will fly from nearby Juliaca to Lima, our point of departure from Peru. 

COURSE COST: the estimated cost per person is $2,500 US dollars (subject to change). This cost includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare between New York City and Lima, Peru and roundtrip ground transportation between North Adams and John F Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
  • All required transportation while in Peru. This includes two domestic one-way flights, round trip train travel to Machu Picchu, bus travel between Cuzco and Lake Titicaca, and various forms of ground transportation between our scheduled activities, lodging and airports/terminals. 
  • All lodging during the trip. This includes a one-night homestay on the Lake Titicaca islands and eight nights in modern hotels and inns with 2-4 people per room and a private bathroom.
  • All breakfasts, all but two dinners, two lunches. The covered dinners will include several outings that provide student a chance to try traditional plates and experience the variety of Peru’s famed culinary offerings.
  • Entrance and (sometimes) guide fees for: two-day Lake Titicaca islands tour; the Machu Picchu, Pisac, Ollantaytamo, Saqsayhuamn, Moray, and Salinas archeological sites; several museum and churches in Lima and Cuzco.
  • Travelers and supplementary international health insurance.

Payment schedule:
$400 due on enrollment
$500 due on October 7
$700 due on November 18
$900 (final payment) due on January 27

** All payments are non-refundable, except in the case of MCLA's cancellation of the entire trip. Participation is by permission of instructor only.

Click here for info on MCLA travel course scholarships


Thursday, March 9th: Leave MCLA around 5pm for night flight between JFK and Lima
Friday, March 10th: Lima
Saturday, March 11th: Cuzco

Sunday, March 12th: Cuzco
Monday, March 13th: Sacred Valley
Tuesday, March 14th: Sacred Valley
Wednesday, March 15th: Machu Picchu
Thursday, March 16th: Cuzco to Puno (Lake Titicaca)
Friday, March 17th: Lake Titicaca
Saturday, March 18th: Lake Titicaca and evening flight to Lima
Sunday, March 19th: Lima and night flight to JFK
Monday, March 20th: JFK to North Adams with early afternoon arrival

Dave_Lake Titicaca.jpgFACULTY LEADER: Dr. David Cupery, Assistant Professor of Political Science. Professor Cupery -shown here at Lake Titicaca - has spent nearly 3.5 years in Latin America, has visited all travel course destinations and is fluent in Spanish.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. David Cupery
Department of History, Political Science and Public Policy
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
375 Church Street
North Adams, MA 01247
Phone: 413-662-5493

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