Peru in review: Travelers share highlights of trip led by experts from Southern Utah University

Illiana Portaro, a trip leader for the Peru 2018 trip, stops to share her knowledge with two group members, Peru, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News

CEDAR CITY – For those interested in exploring the world, a new Southern Utah travel program is pairing hopeful explorers with trip experts to make touring the world easy and educational.

Southern Utah University Community on the Go explorers recently returned from an excursion to Peru led by SUU experts Emily Dean, history, sociology, and anthropology department chair and an archeologist specializing in the prehistory of the Andean region of South America, and Iliana Portaro, an assistant professor of Spanish.

The participants enjoyed embracing and learning about Peru as they dived into various cultural experiences. Trip leader Dean even took four adventurous travelers on a four-day trek through the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Trip leader Emily Dean, and four travelers adventure out on a four-day trek through the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, Peru, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News

“The Inca Trail hike was a challenging but very rewarding experience. The travelers who chose to do the hike all mentioned that it was the highlight of their trip,” Dean said. “We hiked for four days at high altitude along the original Inca highway that once took travelers from Peru’s Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. On our hardest day, when we ascended Warmi Wanuska Pass – literally translated as Dead Woman’s Pass – we gained over 1,000 feet in elevation, reaching just under 14,000 feet.”

While in the “world’s best culinary destination,” groups members indulged in the diverse and flavorful cuisine. The group took a one-of-a-kind cooking class in Cusco and learned how to make a traditional Peruvian dish, drinks and dessert.

It was really amazing to see the intricacy and flavor and how they paired fruits and meats together,” Anthony Piersanti, a Peru traveler, said. “It was great to be able to use SUU Community on the Go as a vehicle to be able to go to those restaurants and engage in the culinary experiences, it was really something special.”

While the trip, food and sights were amazing, travelers said it was the trip leader’s expertise that made the trip such a great educational experience. Dean’s knowledge allowed her to share insights with the group as they visited the ancient ruins, and Portaro’s deep understanding and expertise of the Peruvian culture helped travelers to open their minds to South American lifestyles and values.

“Our university experts were remarkable,” Peru explorer Robert Reid said. “They knew so much about the history and culture of the country. It was fascinating to learn as we traveled together about the current location, its history and people.”

Traveler Jean Piersanti said this trip was a grand bucket list item for her.

“Everyone on the trip was very nice and Iliana was just a wealth of knowledge. The staff was great and were very responsible in keeping us all well informed. I don’t think I could have asked for a better trip or group of new friends.”

Community on the Go trips pair community members with SUU experts for affordable, educational travel to domestic and international destinations around the world. Other trips happening in 2018 include, “Art and Broadway” in New York City in November and “Christmas in the Alps” of Germany and Austria in December. Activities and itineraries are flexible, and trips are open to the public until filled.

For more information, or to reserve your spot on an upcoming trip, click here, email communityeducation@suu.edu or call the SUU Office of Community and Academic Enrichment at 435-865-8031.

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1 Comment

  • DB July 14, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I had a great trip to Peru fifteen years ago, though I took the train to Machu Picchu instead of the hike. Cusco is an interesting city. Two thoughts on that part, though…
    First, unless you look like you fit in (I was a red head, so that option was out) folks will try to sell you something almost constantly as you walk the streets which isn’t uncommon in other countries either, to be fair. Also, keep your valuables very close to you or in the hotel safe. I was the target of an attempted distraction theft. Someone spat on me and attempted to wipe me off. My small backpack was under my arm. I clutched it tighter and kept walking very fast. I emerged with all my stuff. No huge problem, just interesting.

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