AIM Overseas’ partner in Peru, Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, teaches this fascinating program on Biodiversity in Peru.

The course takes place in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire, a world heritage site located in the Urubamba Valley of the Andes Mountain Range.

Peru is home to a diversity of ecosystems offering a variety of climatic, geologic and ecological environments. Peru hosts about 25,000 plants species (10% of the world total) and is first in number of fish species, second in bird and fauna, third in amphibians and in mammals, and fifth in reptiles. Peru’s mega biodiversity is one of the pillars of its national economy, and the goal of this program is to give students the skills to analyse the components of the Peruvian biodiversity and to identify the tools to make sustainable use possible. Peru is known as one of the world’s top 12 most biodiverse countries in the world.

The course takes full advantage of the location and is a great mix of 45 hours of lectures, plus additional sites visits, field trips and cultural activities, making for a very dynamic program.

Over four weeks you’ll study topics such as conservation, biosphere reserves, the rainforest ecosystem, Peruvian species and biodiversity, uses of biodiversity (in crops and medicine) and much, much more.

** Details to the program are still subject to final change **

Hear What a Returned Student Says About the Program

Site Visits and Cultural Activities

One of the highlights of the program is the diverse range of field trips, site visits and excursions. Through these you will get a detailed sense of the biological, cultural and historical diversity of Peru.

The program visits:

Mandor Waterfalls and Ecological Reserve
The day begins with a pleasant hike through both the butterfly park and waterfalls which are located within the Reserve. This is a highly sought after trip for biologists and naturalists alike. The park is located about 1 hour from Aguas Calientes and is a brimming with the many species of birds, butterflies, and wildlife that live in the high forest.  This unique hike will allow students to see aspects of the park unseen by the average visitor.

Machu Picchu and Huanya Picchu

This excursion, following on from Mandor Waterfalls the day before, begins at 6:00 AM with a guided sunrise trip to the enchanting HuanyaPicchu, and then on to the famous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu.  The guided trek includes cultural and ecological insights as well as the once in a life time views and experiences that are the trademarks of this important excursion.  Entrance fees, hotel accommodations, box lunch, breakfast, and tour guides are included.

Sacred Valley of the Incas

This full day trip departs at 7:30 AM in order to begin its journey at the Archeological Park of Pisac.  After a pleasant 2 hour walk participants will arrive in the small artisanal market of Pisac.  The journey will then continue onto Ollantaytambo, and then to Urubamba for lunch.  The journey then winds its way to Moray and Chinchero, ultimately returning to the city of Cusco. The trip includes private transportation and all necessary entrance fees.

Biodiversity Tour in Tambopata National Reserve (Four Days)
Over three incredible days you will canoe, boat and hike through one of Peru’s most spectacular and biodiverse regions. Caimans, turtles, capybaras, giant otters, butterflies, birds and monkeys are just some of the animals that you are likely to encounter! There will be day and night walks, as well as time to relax and take in the beautiful Amazonian rainforest. This is jungle and river territory like you have never seen before!

University and Faculty

Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola

In Lima, USIL has three main campuses located in residential areas where undergraduate and graduate students take different programs. The campuses have a library, a restaurant, pastry shop, WiFi throughout, academic services, sports areas, a social responsibility office, and more. USIL hosts more than 350 international students per year and local faculty and students are used to having them in class.

USIL also has its Culinary Arts School with different programs that amaze local and international chefs and students. The building has several demo classrooms, pastry and baking labs, and kitchens where classes are held, plus its own restaurant and pastry shop open to the public, an auditorium, and more.

In Cusco (where this program is held), the USIL International Centre (Extension Centre) was created to offer different programs to local and international students in Peru’s most important city. USIL has different academic programs designed to provide education in fields such as Business, Hospitality and Tourism; Spanish as a foreign language; cultural courses such as History of the Inca Civilisation and Latin American Literature; and it continues to create more customised programs.

The USIL International Centre belongs to the San Ignacio de Loyola Organisation, which has over 40 years of experience in education with an entrepreneurial perspective that is also at the heart of all the programs designed in Cusco.

The USIL International Centre facilities are the following:

  • Fully equipped classrooms with WiFi
  • Fully equipped computer and language lab with WiFi
  • Fully equipped conference room
  • Library
  • Faculty lounge
  • Student lounge
  • Emergency area


Professor Oscar Ortega holds a Master’s of Science in Genetics from UCDAVIS-California. He has been a University Professor for more than 10 years, teaching subjects related to Andean Biodiversity, Climate Change, Environmental Studies, Sustainable Development and Indigenous Knowledge. Additionally, Prof. Ortega is an Associate Researcher in a Peruvian NGO that is currently working on Biodiversity Conservation and Traditional Knowledge.


Accommodation is provided both during the program in Cusco and whilst on field trips.

In Cusco, you’ll stay in a twin-share room at the lovely Casa Don Ignacio.

Casa Don Ignacio in Cusco is strategically located 5 minutes from the airport, and 5 minutes by taxi or 10 minutes on foot from the Main Square, Cathedral or USIL International Center. There is a clinic next door, and shops, restaurants, ATM’s, banks, handicraft stores, and more nearby.

How to get there
If you are at the Main Square (in front of the Cathedral), go to corner of the square where El Sol Avenue starts. Then, just walk three blocks down El Sol Avenue to Garcilazo Avenue (on El Sol Ave., you will pass the Court House, banks, the Koricancha temple, the Immigration Office, and the post office). Turn right on Garcilazo Avenue (the post office is on this corner) and walk one block to Pardo Ave. and turn left. Casa Don Ignacio is halfway down the block.


Student Blogs

Hear the experiences of other students on this program

“Huayna Picchu is certainly an underrated component of the Machu Picchu experience, it is the mountain standing tall behind those cliché selfies, but it was easily the highlight of the trip. The 2-hour round trip up and down the mountain was a crazy journey with steep drops, tiny Incan steps and unforgettable views. Once at the top the clouds had receded and the true panoramic views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains and valleys was revealed. I highly recommend this short hike to anyone who is thinking of going as I found it much more rewarding and intimate than battling through the crowds down at the ruins.”
- Jake, Bachelor of Environmental Sciences. READ MORE


“We went on a short nature walk out the back of the Eco lodge grounds. Our guides educated us on the many plants and fruits the Amazon provides. For example a Medicinal plant stalk we were given to chew functioned as a natural pain killer (producing a numbing sensation). It tasted like a sour lemon first and then a salty surprise erupted causing you to salivate. We also got given an Ant that smells Like Banana when you squish it into your skin, it also was a mosquito repellent. We also came across fire ants, which can induce a fever from one bite. Coconuts fall from the trees around us on a regular basis, I feel like I should be wearing a helmet.”
- Sarah Webb, Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Biosciences. READ MORE



Peru is the third largest country in South America, after Brazil and Argentina. It is made up of a variety of landscapes, including mountains, deserts, rainforests and beaches. Most people live along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, where the capital, Lima, is located.

Cusco, is the foremost city of the Inca Empire, it is now the undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas, as well as the continents oldest continuously inhabited city. It has a rich cultural heritage and is the home of Machu Picchu – the lost Incan City, which is the best-known and most spectacular archaeological site on the continent.

Peru is the molten core of South America, a distillation of the oldest traditions and the finest building, weaving and art made by the most sophisticated cultures on the continent. Nearly half of Peru is covered by the world’s largest rainforest – the Amazon. As well as thousands of fascinating plant and animal species, this huge jungle is home to hundreds of Amerindian tribes, some of which may never have seen the outside world! In Peru the wildest landscapes – from frozen Andean peaks to the deep Amazon – help us re-forge our connection to the natural world.

It is also a cultural stew, where diverse peoples live side by side, negotiating modern life with humour and aplomb. The people of Peru are a diverse mix of different cultures, including indigenous people: Spaniards and other Europeans, descendants of African slaves and Asians. Until recently, most people lived in the countryside, but now more than 70 percent live in cities. Most Peruvians follow the Catholic religion introduced by the Spanish in the 16th century.

Beyond that, the cuisine alone makes it worth the trip. Peruvian cuisine is among the most varied and best in the world. It’s a reflection of its three main geographical zones, the coast, the Andean highlands and the jungle, and an incorporation of influences from different times and immigrant cultures. While the Peruvian cuisine only is recognised internationally in the last few years, food and its preparation is one important part of the Peruvian culture and a very personal way to express the Peruvian identity.


Credit and Funding Basics


All our programs are designed to count for credit as electives. However, it is up to your university to decide whether they will approve some credit for your participation in one of our programs. Normally it is a course convenor, Head of Department or program convenor who approves your credit.

Course convenors will not be able approve credit for a course unless you have a copy of the syllabus, so you should not visit your course convenor until you have received a copy of the course syllabus from AIM Overseas. You will receive this in your AIM Overseas acceptance pack, along with information about how to apply for credit at your university.

For more information, see our Credit and Funding pages.


You might be able to obtain the $6000+ OS-HELP loan, as well as a scholarship from your university, when participating in an AIM Overseas program.

Our programs are designed so that eligible Australian students can access the OS-HELP scheme, which can provide funding of over $6,000 for international study experiences.

We give you detailed information about OS-HELP and how to apply for it in your Initial Consultation with us, as well as in your AIM Overseas acceptance pack.

You can also find more information about OS-HELP on our Credit and Funding pages.

Many Australian universities offer scholarships for their students to take part in overseas study programs. We will provide you information on scholarships that we are aware of at your university as part of your application/acceptance for a program. You can also check your university’s international office webpage to see what might be offered.

Application Information

Applications for our January 2018 programs are now closed. 

We are no longer taking applications for our January 2018 round of programs. Applications for our July 2018 programs will be open on October 16th.

If you wish to know more, or if you have any questions about our programs please contact us via or (02) 9975 7792. You can also refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.

Alternatively, you can register your interest now for a January 2019 or July 2018 program, meaning you’ll receive updates (via email and phone) prior to the application deadline and when applications are open.