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Machu Picchu 3 • July 14-July 27, 2017

Marvelous Machu Picchu!

July 26, 2017

Hola everyone!

After two exciting weeks of rafting, community service, and hiking, we have finally reached the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu! Our Salcantay trek from Soraypampa to Machu Picchu started on a beautiful sunny morning, and our good weather continued throughout the rest of the hike. Our first day of trekking was a tough climb up the valley towards the Salcantay Mountain and Ella’s constant encouragement kept everybody motivated and determined as we conquered the hardest part of the mountain. Jenna and Kathleen couldn’t believe their eyes as we rounded the side of a cliff at the top of the hill and the huge, snow capped Salcantay Mountain came into view. That night we camped at over 14,000ft! The following day we summited the Salcantay pass, and were rewarded with stunning 360 degree views of glaciers, jagged peaks, and the surrounding green valley. After we descended from the pass, our cooks Edward and Daniel prepared a special lunch for us- some delicious tacos and guacamole. Sterling and Ellie claim it was their favorite meal of the trip, and everything tastes better after summiting a 15,200ft pass… We spent the rest of the afternoon telling stories and riddles, and Natalie taught us all a lot about Irish dancing.


After two days of hard core hiking, the whole group enjoyed a day of relaxation at the geothermal baths in Santa Teresa. Olivia started making our group friendship bracelets and inspired others to start making some as well, and Elizabeth made a big dent in her summer reading while we laid out at the baths and soaked up some Andean sun! That night we all had lots of laughs as we plaid “Family” with our guides Marco and Diego, and Catherine taught us a fun meditation game with lots of rhythmic music. On our last day of the trek, Lawson led us at an impressive pace down the railroad tracks of “Hidróelectrica” into the quaint mountain town of Aguascalientes below the Machu Picchu ruins. The sense of satisfaction from seeing this beautiful archaeological site is all the sweeter when you know you earned it, and after braving the cold, the altitude, and the hills- this group certainly earned it! Words will never do justice to the beauty and historical wonder of Machu Picchu and its Incan marvels, but there are many stories and photos to look forward to in the coming days! We’ve had a truly incredible trip, and can’t wait to see everyone!


Michael and Margaret 

Service in Ccorca!

July 21, 2017

Hello everyone!

We just returned to our home away from home, Cusco, after an exciting and meaningful three days in the mountain village of Ccorca. Our motto during our community service section is work hard, play hard! Each morning we walked to Ccorca’s community center, where we worked all morning helping to sand and repaint the community center courtyard. Although it was hard work, our group put in 110% effort and made a huge impact on the space and the community. We even had some young local helpers, who were just as eager to help paint as they were to play games and take pictures! Sterling led a small team of local children painting, showing them how to mix the paint and use the brushes. Elizabeth kept the group smiling and lively by leading group games during our breaks, and showed the locals how to play duck duck goose and ninja. Natalie’s attention to detail really paid off, and she even got on the roof to finish painting the hard to reach nooks and crannies of the courtyard wall. While the rest of the group worked on the courtyard outside, Olivia, Kathleen and Catherine tackled the stadium seating inside the community center’s meeting room, and spent a whole day cleaning and repainting the seats a vibrant neon green.

After a delicious lunch at our lodge, our Peruvian outfitter, and friend, Marco took us on several unique adventures. The first afternoon we went to a local farm to see and let alpacas as well as get a personal look into the farming culture. Lawson was intrigued by the Peruvian history and locked Marco into an in depth conversation in which she learned all about the area and how it has changed over time. Ellie bonded with our host, sharing the beautiful moments she was able to capture during our time with her animals.

The second afternoon we were able to go zip lining from peak to peak across the beautiful Ccorca valleys. The views were amazing as we zoomed across the sky. Jenna really showed her strength by smiling the whole way even though she was initially intimidated. Afterward we played frisbee and Ella dominated the field, and even taught our friend Piero a few skills.

The community service section of our trip was beautiful and meaningful but we are excited to get a good night’s rest and start our Salkantay trek tomorrow!!


Shout outs:

Hola family! Still having a blast in Peru. Next stop is Machu Picchu! Can’t wait to be back in warm weather. Love y’all!

Hello from Peru!! I’m having a lot of fun and can’t wait to get to the top of Machu Picchu!! The service was really fun. We got to sand and repaint the walls of the community center in Ccorca!! Say hi to all my friends and the dogs.
Love, Nat

Hey fam!! Peru is so fun! Community service was so cool! We are headed to Machu Picchu this next week. Can’t wait to see you guys soon! Happy early birthday Ans! Don’t have too much fun without me!

Hey family! I’m having fun here- it’s amazing! Tell Henry his sweatpants are saving me here also. We are about to go hiking tomorrow so wish me luck and I’ll see y’all next week! I have many pictures to show y’all!

Hey Mom and Dad! Peru is awesome and we are all having lots of fun. The service was cool- we sanded and repainted the walls of a community center. We leave go start our trek to Machu Picchu tomorrow. I miss you guys and am excited to show you all pictures.
Love, Jenna

Wassup Mom, Dad, Addie, Grant?! Still miss you guys, still love you too ;)! I’m having an incredible time and can’t believe it’s already half-way through. Hope y’all are having fun in the Sparkle City without me. Well, I’ll see you soon, hold down the fort.

Hey Mom AND DAD! I miss y’all a lot! I’m having fun, and the community service was pretty rewarding and fun too! Tomorrow we start our four day trek to March Picchu, and I’m anxious to get to the top. Would you please maybe text John for me and say: “Hey John, this is from Lawson, she says she’s having a lot of fun, is about to start her four day trek to Machu Picchu and misses you a lot <3!” Thanks! LOVE YOU! See you soon!!
xoxo Lawson

¡Hola familia! Todo está bien aquí en Perú. I’ve been having lots of fun, laughing tons, and eating plenty of avocados. Service was great- we helped paint a community center in a town named Ccorca. Tomorrow we’re off for a four day trek on the Salkantay trail, then head to Machu Picchu. Love and miss y’all lots!
<3 Catherine

Hey Mom and Dad! I am having a blast in Peru. We just finished the service part and it was a lot of fun! today we begin our trek and I can’t wait to see Machu Picchu! Miss y’all!
– Kathleen

Hey Mom and Dad! I have had an awesome trip so far! We’re about to leave for our hike to Machu Picchu and I can’t wait to tell y’all all about it. Love you!!

Rapids Galore! Headed to Ccorca!

July 18, 2017

Hello Moondance friends and family!

Our trip has gotten off to a fantastic start. After getting some much needed rest in Cusco, we set off for the famous Apurímac River. The weather was fantastic, warm and sunny the whole time. In two days on the river, we only saw one cloud!

The girls had a blast on the river with refreshing dips at 8am in order to wake up and lying on sandy beaches after long days of paddling. Everyone got to try something new and exciting, and Jenna spent her first sleeping under the stars! Despite the chilly temperature Ella absolutely loved the water and jumped in whenever she could, while Elizabeth manned the front of the raft, braving the big waves, (especially when Lucho called everyone to the front of the boat). Even when we had to get out and walk around some of the bigger rapids, Kathleen led the way across the rocky shore, literally jumping ahead to find the best path for everyone else.

After rafting we played games all afternoon on the beach, and Sterling bested everyone in the most skilled game of mafia we’ve ever seen. Afterward, Olivia led our Leave No Trace (LNT) lesson on the river, and used her past experience in the outdoors and as a camp counselor to teach everyone how we can help protect our environment on our Moondance trip. Along with Olivia, Ellie did a fantastic job as our first LOD, and even though she had never done it before she set the bar very high for the rest of the trip!

Thanks to our great guides, Lucho and Frank, we all made it safely down the river, and had a lot of fun in the process. Natalie even got to body surf down one of the last smaller rapids! The guides have also been helping Lawson and Catherine get in a lot of language practice, and spent all day on the river talking and laughing with each other in Spanish. Although we’re sorry to leave the river behind, stay tuned for our next update after we visit the beautiful little town of Ccorca as we start our community service!

Until next time, 

Michael and Margaret

Shout outs:

Hey Mom! I miss and love you! I’m having so much fun! I went swimming in the river today during our rafting section and had a blast! Also, I’m buying some fun stuff for Cammy and Heidi and more for me, so can you add like 300 to my debit card? Thanks! XO Lawson

Hey family!! I’m having a lot of fun with my new friends!! All the food is really good and rafting was really fun!! My cough is slowly going away. Say hi to my friends and Mabel & Hazel for me. Love, Nat

Hey family! Peru is really fun, I really like my group! See you soon! Love y’all! -Kathleen

Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having the best the in Peru and my group and the activities are amazing! Love you, Lizzie

Hey family! Peru is so much fun. I love the girl’s trip. I’ll take lots of pictures. Love, Ellie

Hello parentals, Clint, and Rachel! Peru is awesome! The past 2 days we’ve been eating and tomorrow we’re off to do service. I love it here and my group. Miss y’all! PS money in my debit account would be appreciated! Catherine

Hey Mom and Dad, Peru is really cool and we are having so much fun! We rafted and are going to do service tomorrow! Miss and love you guys, Jenna

Hey Mom, Dad, and Ansley. Peru is so fun so far! I loved rafting and tomorrow we start community service in the village! Can’t wait to tell you about it! Love you guys, Sterling

Hey Y’all! I’m having such a blast here in Peru. So far we’ve been rafting with such great guides and we’re about to start our community service in Ccorca our group is absolutely amazing and have grown so close in such a short amount of time! Love y’all so much!

Love, Ella

Helloooooo familia!!

So I miss you guys a ton and love you a lot! This trip is amazing and I’m going to remember every moment forever, so thank you! PS, got your letter mom (you sneaky mom) -Olivia

All Arrived!

July 15, 2017

Hi Machu Picchu Families!

We just heard from the group and they arrived safely in Cusco early this morning! Everyone is in great spirits and is excited to start rafting tomorrow! Stay tuned for more updates.

-The Moondance Team


  • Sterling
  • Kathleen
  • Ella
  • Jenna
  • Elizabeth
  • Natalie
  • Lawson
  • Ellie
  • Catherine
  • Olivia