Adventure and Nature
Tour Operators in North America
Our top choice for treks anywhere in Peru is Andean Treks (U.S. tel. 800/683-8148, www.andeantreks.com). It is affiliated with the highly recommended Peruvian Andean Treks in Cusco, and its treks range from a six-day/five-night Inca Trail trek, to a Salcantay trip, to an 18-day Vilcabamba expedition. It has been around since the 1970s and has been a leader in taking care of the environment and porters—it’s probably the only agency in Peru that pays retirement to its porters!
Adventure Specialists (U.S. tel. 719/783-2076, www.adventurespecialists.org) is based out of a spectacular ranch in Westcliffe, Colorado, and has operated quality educational and creative adventure programs in Peru since 1971. Founder and co-owner Gary Ziegler, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Explorers Club, is a true adventurer, archaeologist and noted Inca expert. His expeditions have rediscovered and surveyed the important Inca sites Corihuayrachina, Cota Coca, and Llaqtapata. The company specializes in archaeology-focused horse trips around Cusco, but Ziegler and his crew can custom-design nearly any adventure you are looking for.
Adventure Life International (406/541-2677, U.S. tel. 800/344-6118, www.adventure-life.com) is a company based in Missoula, Montana, that is a good bet for budget-minded trekkers. Its 10-day Machu Picchu Pilgrimage includes Cusco, Machu Picchu, and a well-run Inca Trail trek for US$1,775. It also offers affordable trips to the fabulous Tambopata Research Center. It uses three-star, family-run hostels and local guides, and gives independent travelers flexibility on where they eat. Maximum group size is 12, though it often sends off groups as small as two people. It has recently set up a fund to give back to the countries it visits.
South Winds (U.S. tel. 800/377-9463, www.southwindadventures.com) is based in Littleton, Colorado, and offers a range of eco-adventures from the jungle to the high Andes. It comes highly recommended from people who have done the trips and from Condé Nast Traveler magazine.
The Miami-based Tropical Nature Travel (U.S. tel. 877/827-8350, www.tropicalnaturetravel.com) works with a variety of conservation organizations across Latin American to plan jungle trips. In Peru it works with InkaNatura, the owner of some of Peru’s best jungle lodges. Your choices range from the Manu Wildlife Center and Cock of the Rock Lodge in the Manu area, or the Sandoval Lake and Heath River lodges around Puerto Maldonado.
KE Adventure Travel (U.S. tel. 800/497-9675, www.keadventure.com) is based in Avon, Colorado, and offers a range of high-quality climbs and treks—at considerably lower prices than its competitor Mountain Travel Sobek. It works with top international trekking guides and is best known for treks around the Cordillera Huayhuash and Nevado Ausangate near Cusco. It also guides peaks in the Cordillera Blanca and leads multi-sport trips that combine rafting, trekking, and mountain biking.
GAP Adventures (U.S./Canada tel. 800/708-7761, www.gapadventures.com) stands for Great Adventure People and is one of Canada’s lead tour outfits. It is a good choice for independent-minded travelers who prefer small groups. Groups stay in locally owned hotels, and GAP is known for socially responsible tourism that includes a good deal of interaction with communities.
Our vote for best international climbing agency in Peru goes to Seattle-based Alpine Ascents (U.S. tel. 206/378-1927, www.alpineascents.com). The company’s Peru guide, José Luis Peralvo, splits his time between Everest, his home in Ecuador, and Peru and has been guiding the world’s toughest peaks for about two decades. Alpine Ascents is extremely responsible about acclimatization and small rope teams.
Other Peru adventure options can be found through the Adventure Center (U.S. tel. 800/277-8747, www.adventurecenter.com), which sells the packages of various operators from its offices in Emeryville, California.
For esoteric tours and ayahuasca sessions, check out El Tigre Journeys (U.S. tel. 303/449-5479, www.biopark.org/peru.html). This for-profit company has been in business since 1997 and is associated with the nonprofit International Biopark Foundation in Tucson, Arizona. It leads ayahuasca ceremonies in the Amazon, spirit journeys, and solstice celebrations throughout the year.
Tour Operators in the United Kingdom
Amazonas Explorer (U.K. tel. 01437/89-1743, www.amazonas-explorer.com) has tons of local experience in Peru and an unmatched array of adventure trips that integrate kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, and trekking. It is constantly innovating new trips, with a team full-time in Cusco.
Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Andean Trails (U.K. tel. 0131/467-7086, www.andeantrails.co.uk) was co-founded in 1999 by a former South American adventure guide. The company leads interesting, small-group mountain bike and trekking adventures throughout Peru.
Journey Latin America (U.K. tel. 020/8747-8315, www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk) is the United Kingdom’s largest operator of specialty tours and has been in business for more than 25 years. It does rafting, kayaking, trekking, and cultural tours that can either be escorted groups or tailored for two people. It also sets up homestays and language classes.
Exodus (U.K. tel. 0870/950-0039, www.exodus.co.uk) is one of the United Kingdom’s larger adventure tour operators, with more than 25 years of experience and trips in countless countries. Its 28 Peru trips often include visits to Bolivia or Ecuador.
World Challenge Expeditions (U.K. tel. 0208/728-7200, www.world-challenge.co.uk) is a London-based adventure company for student groups in Peru. Its coordinator in Peru, Richard Cunyus, is a full-time resident, takes great care of the students, and tracks down excellent adventures such as trekking in the Cordillera Huayhuash or paddling a dugout in the Reserva Nacional Pacaya Samiria. the company also works with many students from the United States.
Tour Operators in Australia
World Expeditions (Australia tel. 1300/720-000, www.worldexpeditions.com.au) is Australia’s leader in adventure tours and treks to Peru. It works with Tambo Treks, a small and reputable trekking outfit in Cusco. In Peru, trips include treks through the Lake Titicaca grasslands, forays into the Colca Canyon, and longer trips that take in Peru, Bolivia, and the Amazon jungle. It has representatives in the United Kingdom (enquiries [at] worldexpeditions [dot] co [dot] uk), the United States (contactus [at] worldexpeditions [dot] com), and Canada (info [at] worldexpeditions [dot] ca).
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition