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Machu Picchu 1 • June 14-June 27, 2017

Machu Picchu Magic

June 27, 2017

I can’t believe it’s already coming to an end!

The last two weeks have been full of adventure, laughs, beautiful places, great food and great friends. The hardest part about writing a trip update is knowing where to even start! Our Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu began at Soraypampa, where we ate a delicious lunch in the shadow of the impressive Salkantay mountain before a very challenging uphill hike. That night we camped at over 4000m! Our Leaders of the Day Jamie and Martha Wright were troopers to be the first out of their warm sleeping bags to wake us up that chilly morning, but fortunately, we had lots of hot chocolate (ChocoListo!) to keep us warm. That morning we were rewarded for all our hard work by the incredible views at the top of the Salkantay Pass, surrounded by snow capped mountains above the clouds. Margaret and Peyton kept us all entertained with great trekking riddles during the long hike down that afternoon, and by the time we got into camp that night the air was a little easier to breathe and everything was much greener! After two hard days of hiking, we finally got a much needed rest day and soaked our achy legs at the thermal hot springs of Colcamayo. Our day of relaxation got even better when Harrison and Margaret rejoined the group that afternoon! With us all back together that night, we played “family” and Caroline dominated, showing how well she knows the group. The next day Harrison and Martha Ross led us back to civilization as we hiked on the famous Hydroeletrica Railroad in the shadow of Machu Picchu into the little mountain town of Aguas Calientes where the kids were able to peruse the markets for gifts for loved ones and we all walked away jealous of Joe’s special finds. After along days trekking we went to bed early to rise before the sun to see the Machu Picchu ruins! The early morning proved worth it as we watched the sun rise over the ruins, watching the shadows change as the sun moved from east to west. We tackled additional hikes that day up Huayna Picchu mountain and Machu Picchu mountain to see the world around us from even higher vantage points. It took everything we had to keep Avery on his two feet and Maggie from looking off every ledge for the best view. Ana and Martha Elizabeth showed their bravery as they climbed higher and higher in the name of adventure. Our last 24 hours together were spectacular and special as we returned to Cusco and strolled around for freshly made smoothies and delicious sandwiches. This group has been incredible as we have grown together and learned all about the Peruvian culture that has hosted us for two weeks. We can’t believe it’s over and will never forget this special time we all spent together. Thank you guys so much for making this dream come true, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for everyone!


Shout outs!!


Hey Family,

Super excited to come home! I’ve had a ton of fun! Love you guys!



Hey Mom and Dad,

Thank you so much for this trip. I’m having the time of my life! See you soon.

Love, Peyton


Hey Mom and Dad,

I’m excited to get home. I got y’all some presents at the market. Can you bring an egg bagel toasted with cream cheese?

Love you, Ana


Hey Mom and Dad, thank you so much for sending me on this trip, I’ve had so much fun here in Peru. I can’t wait to get back to America! See you soon,



Hey Mom, dad, Hallie, Maggie, and Mollie,

I have had an amazing time in Peru. We are about to start traveling home, I can’t wait to see y’all when I get home. 

Love, Jamie


Hello Family, 

Can’t wait to get back to the USA! I have had an amazing time! 



Hey Mom and Dad, 

Thanks for letting me go on this awesome trip!

Love, Harrison


Hello Family! Can’t wait to see you guys, but I’ve had the best time in Peru. Also, Dad, I got you a really cool sweater! 



Hey everyone! Miss y’all. Mom, if you see this please get me medicine for bug bites. Can’t wait to see you!

-Martha Elizabeth


Hey fam – I’ve had such a great time in Peru and I’m excited to get back home and see everyone!

-Martha Ross


Mom, dad, Thomas, and Charlie – 

Hey! I’ve been having a great time with everyone trying new things and going new places. Can’t wait to see y’all tomorrow! 



Hey fam! This has been the best trip ever and I can’t wait to see y’all soon! Love y’all 

– Martha Wright

Reaching New Heights

June 21, 2017

Hello everyone!

Our last three days in beautiful Ccorca have truly flown by! After spending the afternoon in bustling Cusco, it was nice to escape to the quiet life in Ccorca, which is a sleepy town of roughly 2500 nestled in a scenic valley only an hour outside of Cusco. Each morning after a hearty breakfast we walked along an original Incan road to the Ccorca Community Center, where we worked on sanding and repainting the outside doors of the center. The Community Center in Ccorca is a shared space used for community meetings and forums, storing food from the harvest, and cooking meals for local children. Improving on the work of past Moondance projects, the leaders of Ccorca asked our enthusiastic group of students for help to sand down the faded and worn paint on the center’s wooden doors. In no time, Ana, Martha Wright, and Caroline got to work setting up a rotational system to save energy while still finishing their sanding job before the boys! Jamie helped keep everyone in high spirits with dances and games during breaks. For our first afternoon after working on the Community Center, our outfitter and local contact Marco took us on a short hike up to one of the many green cliffs that surround the town, where we proceeded to rappel almost 300 ft to the ground below! Martha Elizabeth faced her fear of heights and descended the cliff like a pro, and Avery even sang for us while he rappelled. During our second morning of community service, Peyton showed off his skills with a belt sander while the rest of the group began to paint the finished doors red. Joe was a huge help during the painting process, and his height definitely came in handy reaching the tops of those doors! Maggie and Martha Ross had a great time helping teach some young Peruvians hanging out at the community center how to play Ninja, which brought laughs and smiles to the whole group. On Monday afternoon, the whole group enjoyed some free time playing pick-up soccer with some locals on the Ccorca soccer field next to our lodge, where Ana and Avery surprised everyone with their impressive soccer skills. During our final morning in Ccorca, our outfitter Marco took us to his incredible zipline course that stretched across the Ccorca valley. Even though she was a little nervous about the heights, Margaret led the group across and conquered her fears, and had a great time in the process! Harrison has been a truly inspiring model of positivity and toughness even while battling some altitude sickness in Ccorca, and I know he can’t wait to feel better and jump back in with the rest of the group!
Today we set off for our four and a half day trek to Machu Picchu, where we will pass through one of the most beautiful mountains in this part of the Peruvian Andes, Salkantay! Everyone is excited to get started on this last journey, and the reward will be even sweeter when we arrive at Machu Picchu to finally see the famous lost city of the Incas! Stay tuned for more as this incredible group charges ahead!

Rafting the Apurimac with style

June 18, 2017

Hellloo Moondance families and friends!

The last three days we traveled long hours and white water rafted down the Apurimac River. Also known as the Speaker of the Gods, this river benevolently welcomed us to its exciting rapids, sandy beaches and twinkling stars. We went down class 2,3,4 and 5 rapids!! We learned how to paddle rafts in sync as teams and by the end were surfing upstream. Martha Wright took a tumble overboard but was back in action in no time and grinning ear to ear. What a champ! Meanwhile, Martha R. bravely faced every rapid from the front of the boat. Not even a daring cliff jump could phase Caroline, who leapt into the river like a pro! With amazing guides, we made it through deep canyons, saw huge condors and slept beneath the stars. Ana showed the boys up in rock tossing, while Jamie, Maggie and Harrison battled to be the “King/Queen” of the river (pretty sure Segundo came out on top). We learned to “dame cinco” (high five) with our paddles after successfully navigating a rapid and how to sneak attack unexpecting boats with spontaneous splash wars. Peyton loved “riding the bull” and Margaret learned how to ride like a koala. Our campsites along the river made for an even more memorable experience. Even though we were so tired we probably could have slept anywhere, sleeping on a nice sandy beach under the sparkling milky way was a beautiful way to end the day!

After our last morning of rafting on Saturday (there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky!), we were able to spend the evening exploring ancient Cusco. We were able to enjoy some traditional Peruvian music, and watched as the city came alive at night in the Plaza de Armas. On our way home from a delicious dinner, (Martha Elizabeth ordered her favorite – a Peruvian burrito!) Joe and Avery watched an incredible firework show that was as colorful as it was loud. Everyone is beginning to pick up a little Spanish, and Margaret, Peyton, Jamie, and Avery were even using some of their Spanish knowledge to talk with our river guides. Even though it’s only been a few days, this group of amazing people is already beginning to feel like a crazy, hilarious family. We can’t wait to spend the next 3 days in Ccorca, where we will work with the community to help construct, paint and repair infrastructure in the town.

-Margaret & Michael

Safe Arrival to Peru!

June 15, 2017

Hey Machu Picchu 1 families!

We heard from Margaret & Michael this morning that the group arrived safely to Cusco!  They will soon be off on their rafting trip, so stay tuned for updates.

-Moondance Administrative Team 

And They're Off!

June 14, 2017

Hi Machu Picchu Families!

We’ve heard from our leaders and the group has boarded the plane and will soon take off for Peru. The summer has officially started! Once everyone arrives in Cusco, the Moondance Office will call all families to check in.

-The Moondance Administrative Team


  • Avery
  • Margaret
  • Jamie
  • Martha Wright
  • Harrison
  • Joe
  • Peyton
  • Martha
  • Ana
  • Maggie
  • Martha Elizabeth
  • Caroline