SPRING 2017Machu Picchu_Matt & Sabrina
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 offered a Peru travel course during the spring semester of 2017. The course helped students understand the country’s historical evolution, cultural diversity, and political landscape by visiting ruins, museums, indigenous villages and the capital city.


1. Students familiarized themselves with unique cultures and were able to contrast their own values, opportunities and experiences with those of these groups.
2. Students understood the evolution of Peru from one of the world’s most powerful precolonial societies to a fast-growing middle-income country.
3. Students comprehended the tradeoffs inherent in balancing economic development with cultural and natural diversity.
4. Students situated 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 met weekly with Professor David Cupery, the faculty leader of the trip, to study and discuss issues related to Peruvian culture, history and society. Students had required readings and completed written assignments and presentations. During the trip, students kept a journal, addressing their experiences and daily reflection questions. After returning to MCLA, students completed a project based on their knowledge of Peru and their experiences in the country.


Students were 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 also played a large role in their final grade.



Lima_studentsThe 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 was limited to two days: one at the start and one at the end of the trip. Day one found us in the historic center of the capital, visiting the Plaza de Armas, Palacio del Gobierno, and La Catedral de Lima. This 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 also visited the Museu Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología, y Historia. On the tail end of our trip we spent a day in the coastal neighborhoods of Mirraflores and Barranco, where students were able to visit the beaches and markets and sample the fares of what many see as the one of the world’s most exciting culinary destinations.


Group above CuzcoCuzco 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 3 days in Cuzco, students began their face-to-face introduction to the Incan civilization and its intersections with colonial and present-day Peru. This included visits to local ruins, such as Sacsaywamán, museums, and religious sites. We also saw a demonstration of local music and dance, and sampled loads of delicious food, including alpaca and guinea pig. 

Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley_groupJust 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 began with a day in the Pisac area. We will explored Pisac’s fascinating terraced ruins and got ‘lost’ in the colors and smells of the town’s open market. Part of the group even hiked down the steep mountainside between the ruins and the market. Day 2 featured visits to Chinchero – to learn about Incan agricultural techniques and the massive fortress of Ollantaytambo. We will then took an evening train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, the access point to Machu Picchu. Day 3 was spent at the world’s most famous ruin site. We started early - some students hiked up the steep trail with headlamps! - to see the ruins at dawn and gave students plenty of time to learn about the site, hike a neighboring peak (optional), and soak in their surroundings.

Lake Titicaca

Titicaca groupOur final destination is the world’s highest navigable lake. To get there, we took a six hour bus ride through the scenic and culturally-diverse Andean high country. At the lake itself, we toured the floating Islands of the Uru people. These man-made islands have been inhabited for centuries. Our visit allowed students to learn about the unique traditions practiced there. From the floating islands, we continued to Taquile and Amantaní Islands, where we spent a day and a night in a sort of homestay. The students were divided into small groups and spent a night in the home of a local family. They shared meals with the family and participated in an evening of music and dancing with the community. Back on the mainland, we flew from nearby Juliaca to Lima, our point of departure from Peru. 

COURSE COST: the total cost of the trip in 2017 was under $2,000 per person. This cost included:

  • 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 included several outings that provided student a chance to try traditional plates and experience the variety of Peru’s famed culinary offerings.
  • Entrance and guide fees for: two-day Lake Titicaca islands tour; Machu Picchu, Pisac, Ollantaytamo, Saqsayhuamn, and Chinchero archeological sites; several museum and churches in Lima and Cuzco.
  • International health insurance.

Payment schedule:
The fees for the trip were paid in 4 installments between late September and late January. 

** 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

Cupery_Machu PicchuFACULTY LEADER: Dr. David Cupery, Assistant Professor of Political Science. Professor Cupery -shown here at Machu Picchu - has spent over 3.5 years in Latin America and has been to 36 countries in all corners of the globe. He has visited all travel course destinations and is fluent in Spanish.


"I've gone on travel courses before, but my trip to Peru with Professor Cupery was the best. He ensured we experienced and learned as much as we could, while still providing time for us to relax or explore independently. I also loved how he planned it so we weren't just tourists, but really allowed us to immerse ourself in the culture by attending local events and markets. All around, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything."

~Samantha Giffen, Peru 2017, class of 2018

"Professor Cupery took a group people who were pretty much strangers and gave us something to bond over for the rest of our lives. He found ways to get us all to connect and really cherish the time we had with each other. But it's not just his way of bringing people together that made traveling with him a great time. Professor Cupery is loaded with information and made it so easy to fall in love with the history and beauty hidden within Peru."

~Edith Sherburne, Peru 2017, class of 2018

"Traveling abroad with Professor David Cupery was one of the greatest experiences I have had the joy of embarking on. From his knowledge of the cultures, his strong interpersonal skills, to his well-thought out and detailed itinerary you’re sure to enjoy every step of the trip and learn a great deal about a culture very different from our own."

~Anthony Corbett, Peru 2017, class of 2018

"Traveling abroad with Prof. Cupery will be the most memorable three credits you’ve ever earned. Prof. Cupery is well-organized and meticulous in planning his trips, so you’ll experience beautiful and electrifying destinations in a way that won’t keep your mom awake at night. In the classroom portion he’ll impart you with interesting and important information about the country. Then all you have to do is pack your bag, make some room in your camera, and have a bon voyage."

~Anika Pommers-Dear, Peru 2017, class of 2017

"Professor Cupery’s Peru travel course was exciting, well-balanced, and efficiently planned from start to finish. I felt completely safe under his supervision. His ability to communicate with locals and the depth of experience he has traveling in South America make him the perfect person to run a travel course like this. I had an amazing time in Peru and wish I could join the Cuba course as well!"

~Diana Faulkner, Peru 2017, class of 2017

"The trip to Peru was one of the most educational things I could have done in my undergraduate career. It brought some really amazing folks together; people I'll be friends will forever, and memories I will always cherish. Professor Cupery was the best travel guide ever! He kept it real and was responsible and fun. I felt save and secure at all times. I knew I was in good hands." 

~Sabrina Superneau-Gilman, Peru 2017, class of 2018

"Travelling abroad was one of the biggest highlights of my college years. Going to a foreign country allowed me to explore cultural differences we rarely notice. When you go, try the food, speak the language (the best you can), and be open-minded"

~Matt Luz, Peru 2017, class of 2017

Professor Cupery’s travel course to Cuba was by far the most memorable and impactful experience of my time as an undergraduate student. Pulling from all aspects of the liberal arts, we first studied and then experienced the art, history, culture, economics, and the authentic day-to-day lives of the Cuban people we stayed with. Professor Cupery ensured that the trip was safe and exciting, while encouraging us to be both mindful of our surroundings and allowing us to explore and tailor our free time to our individual interests. This trip was a life-changing, mind-expanding experience that I would recommend for anyone!

~Henry Ayles, Cuba 2018, class of 2018

Going to Cuba with professor Cupery was a life changing experience. The trip struck the perfect balance between learning about the history of Cuba and experiencing the culture firsthand. Every day we had new unforgettable experiences, whether it was attending a lecture from a Cuban University Professor or snorkeling by the Bay of Pigs. Professor Cupery’s planning made the wildly new experiences feel fun and comfortable. I would highly recommend a trip with Professor Cupery to anyone who wants to experience the history and culture of a foreign country.

~Sam Payne, Cuba 2018, class of 2018

For more information, please contact:Titicaca_group
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

Personal website