The story of Llama Expeditions started in July 2008 when I traveled to Peru for the first time with my then 74-year-old, very adventurous Dad. Together we canoed the Amazon, marveled at the wonders of Machu Picchu, and explored the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. In the midst of it all, I fell in love.
Juan was an Inca Trail guide living in Cusco, Peru. After a flurry of e-mail messages and phone calls, I returned to Peru for a different kind of visit. What I didn’t know is how different it would be and how it would change my life.
On one of our first dates, Juan took me trekking. Our party also included his close friend Walberto, Walberto’s girlfriend Marion, and Antonio, a local campesino who brought the horse and the mule that carried our heavy items. The first night we didn’t make it as far as we had planned because I was struggling with the altitude. At nearly 14,000 feet, I could only manage a few steps at a time before I had to stop to catch my breath. So, we ended up camping on the farm where Antonio lived with his family.
From what I could tell Antonio and his family didn’t have heat, electricity, or running water in their one-room home. Yet, in spite of their meager circumstances, on that cold and starry night, Antonio and his wife killed a chicken and cooked us a delicious dinner.
This incredible act of generosity stunned me. Here were people who appeared to have so little sharing so much. In fact, this kind of generosity is something I’ve seen again and again during my travels in Peru. It is a necessity. In a country where much of the population lives in conditions of crushing poverty and where no governmental safety net exists, people rely on the generosity of others.
I have also seen the amazing difference that responsible tourism can make. Tourist dollars—flowing in to buy exquisite hand-woven items or to hire porters and cooks to work on the Inca Trail—can improve the living standards in many rural communities. Tourism can create opportunities that never existed.
So, when I started Llama Expeditions, I decided that I wanted to provide more than the typical sterile tourist vacation packed with the usual attractions. Instead, our tours give you the opportunity to see how Peruvians really live—to talk with them about their dreams and accomplishments and to learn about the challenges they face. We also visit carefully selected nonprofit and grassroots organizations where you’ll have the chance to experience delight in the difference your gifts of healthy food, school supplies, clothing, or sunglasses can make in the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.
I invite you to join us on a llama expedition that changes lives—your life and the lives of the people you meet.