We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Tour companies that aren't scary

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
80 posts
31 reviews
Tour companies that aren't scary


DH and I would like to visit Peru next summer (July-Aug. - only time we can go). From what I've seen on the web, including recommendations from this site, a lot of companies that offer tours are apparently obsessed with things like carbon offsets, working with locals, sustainable whatever, and other Birkinstocky stuff. How about a tour company that takes you there, takes care of business, puts you up in places that have walls, electric light, and indoor plumbing, and doesn't presume to lecture you on what's right for that country's residents?

This isn't about politics -- it's about being left alone on vacation and not lectured at or made to feel in some way guilty.

The three must sees are the Amazon, Cuzco and Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca. I'm interested in the Chan Chan culture also. I like hiking, but there's no way we two boomers will go trekking at that altitude.

Comments? Brickbats? Suggestions?


Yorktown, Virginia
Level Contributor
6,183 posts
15 reviews
1. Re: Tour companies that aren't scary


I think sustainable tourism is a worthy goal, but it doesn't have to make us feel guilty.

I love to travel, but I also wear Birkenstocks. I WILL continue to travel, and try to lessen my environment impact otherwise.

Most of the Peruvian tour companies I am know of do not lecture you, but many have become aware that for tourism to continue, they are among those responsible to try to preserve (or re-new) the environmental quality of the area. If everyone pollutes, they are contributing to the degradation of the environment, and pretty soon, there won't be any beauty to see.

So, I don't think you should avoid companies that encourage sustainable tourism, but rather applaud them and support their efforts. I did not experience anyone lecturing us on environmental causes.

BTW, we are boomers, and trekked the Inca Trail last year. I arrived at Machu Picchu on the morning of my 60th birthday, which was incredibly awesome for me (also 3 years after my cancer diagnosis, and 18 months after completion of treatment). Trekking the Inca Trail is an experience I will never forget.

We chose Llama Path for our trek operator, mainly due to their support of sustainable tourism and good porter welfare. I noticed that our LP guides & porters were careful about cleaning up trash, etc., and leaving as little impact on the area as possible.

The company also spent a day this year in an effort to clean up the Urubamba River. The condition of this has to be seen to be believed. Perhaps enviromental issues have not been important in the past, and problems are beginning to show. The U. River is full of plastic grocery bags & disposable bottles -- you can even tell the high water marks by the man-made debris clinging there. If more companies & agencies made an effort to clean up the environment, Peru can continue to be a beautiful place to visit. But its condition is precarious at the moment.

Please reconsider your attitude. It's our world to enjoy, but the enjoyment may not last much longer.

Level Contributor
232 posts
6 reviews
2. Re: Tour companies that aren't scary

I'm leaving in a few days and will be on a tour (not Inca Trail hike) with SAS Peru. What I've experienced so far with them in the planning stages sounds like what you're looking for. I'll be happy to let you know on my return if it lives up to it.

If you're going to hike the Inca trail, there's no way to avoid what you call Birkinstocky (love that term BTW. I cracked up). When you go to a outdoor nature attraction, the only way to do so is to pick up after yourself. That's just common sense. And no one would have a good time if they saw the person assigned to cater to them abused in any way. That's just real life. The fact that some companies wrap those basic human priniciples into some pretty words is just good marketing. I understand where you're coming from, though. I don't feel obligated to spend my small amount of vacation volunteering somewhere instead of enjoying it. I don't feel I need to travel to an impoverished, socially backward country (say, India) in order to appreciate the conditions. It's not necessary for me to watch a funeral pyre burn and see half the dead body float down the river because the family couldn't afford more wood in order for me to understand that the world has different standards. I'm with you completely.

The Inca Trail is going to be more roughing it. The one I'm doing goes to MP but involves hotels each night. Check out SAS Peru and see if what they are offering is more your style.

Lima, Peru
Destination Expert
for Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Peru
Level Contributor
18,988 posts
538 reviews
3. Re: Tour companies that aren't scary

Maybe you guys should just spend yr vacations in the USA.

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
432 posts
129 reviews
4. Re: Tour companies that aren't scary

Peru is an amazing country. Macchu Picchu is magical and no manner of words or photos prepared me for the sheer beauty of it.

I would have been terribly disappointed to see rubbish around the ruins. Sustainability is the way of the world and if we want to preserve history for the future we must look after the environment.

We travelled with Explorer , a British company who contracted out to Condor travel. We had a wonderful time.

I don't expect anyone lectures you these days.I din't know what birkinstock means but there are lovely hotels and fabulous food.

You can have whatever type of holiday that you want. Most people travelling are your age. Everyone watches themselves at altitude.

Eliot, ME
Level Contributor
16 posts
3 reviews
5. Re: Tour companies that aren't scary

I would like to reccommend Grand Circle Travel/ Overseas Adventure Travel. We recently completed our first GCT tour (21 days in China) and were thrilled with the program. In fact we were so pleased we booked an OAT trip for January, for Peru Equador and the Galapagos. The trip was wonderfully planned. We saw about everything you could hope to see in a country so vast in 21 days. Accomadations were at a minimun 3.5 star with most being 4 star or more. Please note the 3.5 star hotel was in a much poorer area of China, and it was the best in town.

I see from your posting that you don`t care for being leactured too. I`m with you on that, and should say that the GCT tour had some history, and general knowledge talks that were really helpful in understanding the culture. Plus the guides were knowledgeable enough to go much deeper if asked.

Anyways, back on point, we were VERY happy with GCT, and think they might be worth you looking at.

Their two web sites are GCT.com and OAT.com

I won`t repeat myself here, but please check out my post in Outdoor Adventure Forum section under Grand Circle Travel. These are some hits how to save substantally on a trip.

Level Contributor
121 posts
1 review
6. Re: Tour companies that aren't scary


I wanted to respond to your request for recommendations about Peru tour companies. My husband and I just returned from our third trip to Peru and we are planning on return visit number four next summer. Our love of Peru has been facilitated by a tour company called "Kuoda".

We liked "Kuoda" because of the personalized service that we received. They more than listened and responded to the specifics of what we wanted to do on our travels. We did not find Kuoda to be about politics, but they were about trying to make our experience as great as it could possilby be. Our lodgings were great, our guides were perfect --- it was a great vacation.

Good luck in planning your upcoming trip.

Level Contributor
232 posts
6 reviews
7. Re: Tour companies that aren't scary


that was just a tacky comment. There was no call for that.

Nobody is arguing the need to take care of the planet, pick up after yourself,or be aware that there are cultural differences. The OP is making the point that if we drive to and stay in Omaha Nebraska for vacation, no one expects us to bring school supplies along or volunteer in the homeless shelter while we're there, nor does anyone make us feel guilty if we don't. They expect us to enjoy the things that Omaha has to offer without being made to feel guilty that we might have more material wealth than the folks living there.

If I go on a church mission trip, I understand the purpose of the trip is service. On that trip, I would bring school supplies and work in the community. I would expect accomodations to be more rustic. On my personal vacation, I have different expectations and plans of how to spend my time.

Lima, Peru
Destination Expert
for Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Peru
Level Contributor
18,988 posts
538 reviews
8. Re: Tour companies that aren't scary

Nancy, its all a matter of opinions.

If someone wants to come and visit a country an expect it to act like the USA, why even bother coming.

When traveling you need to understand and enjoy the ways of the places one is visiting.

If in Peru we want responsible attitude towards nature, why make a joke about it. He would not do it in the USA, why here ?

Anyway, I just did not liked the comment.... period.

Cambridge, United...
Level Contributor
260 posts
83 reviews
9. Re: Tour companies that aren't scary

Why does a tour company who wants to protect the environment and make life better for the porters/locals etc have to be scary?

We have just been to Peru, stayed mainly in 5 star hotels, had a private guide everywhere and had what you probably would call a luxury holiday but one of the highlights was a visit to a local school to spend time with the children and I wish we had been able to spend some more time interacting with the locals. When you travel surely you go to experience the whole culture not just take some photos from a sanitised distance? We were never made to feel guilty by our tour guides but they were very keen to show us what life was like for the locals and we were happy to help out in any way we could - using local guides, not haggling over prices, paying for photos and giving all the children we saw pens to use at school - the look of pleasure on their faces at such a simple gift is one of the memories I'll take back with me along with all the wonderful sights we saw as well.

We have the abilioty to make a small difference for the locals and I think it's our responsbility to do so - and I'm not a Birkenstock wearer!

Soutnern California
Level Contributor
44 posts
70 reviews
10. Re: Tour companies that aren't scary


My wife and I (Boomers ages 61 & 60) completed a 20 day trip to Chile/Patagonia/Argentina this spring and a 17 day trip to Peru last Aug/Sept. We were never lectured or made to feel guilty on the issues mentioned in your posting. Our Peru trip included an Amazon experience, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca - Yes these are must sees.

We booked both trips with Southern Explorations out of Seattle. Both trips were executed flawlessly. We have the highest level of confidence in this company and their staff. They are very focused on the individual needs of their clients - they have pre-set itineraries and do custom trips as well. (both of our trips were custom). I would suggest you give them a call.

If you have specific questions, feel free to e-mail us