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.
“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.