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James L. Mackender

I recently returned to Peru early in 2017, we are developing programs and custom trips, for travellers, that go beyond the traditional routes and take you deeper into the incredible environments that exist in Peru.

Having spent time in the Andes during my first time here I explored much of the Cordilleras Vilcanota & Vilcabamba around the Cusco Region. These are vast mountain ranges, with routes, natural environments & community cultures you're unlikely to experience elsewhere.

Increasingly the Amazon Jungle is becoming a more popular destination for adventurers, it's one of the largest natural environments in the world. We're trying to open up routes that differ from the traditional jungle lodges around the big towns like Puerto Maldonado and are developing exploratory & expedition style routes into domains that are more natural, less traveled, rich in wildlife and native habitats.

We're building journeys into this part of South America that offer experiences you can't really find anywhere else.

I like to approach travel in a way that all things are possible and when the opportunity arises I get great satisfaction designing tours for adventurers that like to go beyond the traditional routes.

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” – Herman Melville

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"The Amazon Jungle, Trekking in the Andes, Customised Tours in Peru."

How did you get involved in travel?

"Living in Cusco about 12 years ago, I worked here for a few companies & decided to return to get involved with the travel industry here again because the excitement of travel in this region draws you in. The atmosphere, culture, mix of locals and traveling groups in the city makes Cusco the destination for all travelers."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"The Andes are a special place and have great memories of trekking around a lot of the routes here in the Cusco Region. More recently I have been into the Peruvian Amazon, along the Madre de Dios, looking for new places and ventures. The scale of the river and the jungle here is awesome and the people that live here are just as friendly as those you find in the Andes. The further in you go the more you realise how interesting life is here and the opportunities there are to uncover some indigenous communities."

Featured trips & expertise

Alpamayo Summit
Peru: Snow & Ice Climbing on Alpamayo - 19 Days

Discover Peru's Cordillera Blanca as you trek, climb, and scramble over snow- and ice-covered moraine rock into the high altitudes of the Andes. Not for the faint of heart, this 19-day itinerary is for the somewhat experienced climber and altogether adventurous spirit. This program includes acclimatization hikes and a basic climbing course to practice the skills required to reach the summit of Alpamayo. It's also an excellent trip for photography lovers — the views are simply breathtaking!

Camp while trekking in the Cordillera Huayhaush
Peru: Trek the Cordillera Huayhuash - 12 Days

This awesome 12-day adventure takes you to the pristine heartlands of the Cordillera Huayhuash, one of the most stunning mountain areas in Peru. Your lungs will be tested as you cross four passes over 14,700 feet (4480 m)—but the challenge is well worth it for the chance to see colorful lakes, glaciers, wildlife, and Peruvian mountain culture.

Dusk over the Vilcabamba Range
Vilcabamba Trek to Machu Picchu

For several millennia, Peru's Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain range was an important cradle for ancient civilizations. These steep slopes and valleys also served as a refuge for the last rebel Incas retreating from the Spanish invasion. This itinerary provides an intimate look at this region of ancient trails and archaeological sites, perfectly suited for active travelers looking to explore the Peruvian backcountry on foot and sleep out under the stars.

Women perform during the festival of the Virgin de la Candelaria in Lima
Best Peruvian Festivals: Celebrating Inca Traditions

Peru's rich history of the Inca entwined with influences from the Spanish colonial era have combined to create amazing festivals. Some of the festivals are religious and to be respected but are open for the enjoyment of everyone who visits Peru. This article includes some of the best festivals and where to find them.

Dusk over the Vilcabamba Range
Trek to Peru's Vilcabamba: The Last Stand of the Inca - 10 Days

With this 10-day itinerary, you'll trek to the last capital of the Inca resistance at Vilcabamba, renamed Espiritu Pampa by the Spanish. This adventure takes in ruins along historic trails, over high Andean passes, through cloud forest and remote indigenous towns.

Aerial View of the Tambopata Jungle
Peruvian Amazon Jungle - On a Budget - 7 Days

This foray into the Peruvian Amazon basin offers a wide variety of activities over five days. In addition to exploration of the jungle and its extraordinary plant and animal life, you'll encounter local communities and farms, learning the traditional ways of the indigenous people who call this land their home.

Recent trip reviews for James

Kristi

Trip to peru, Peru - Aug 31 - Sep 9, 2018

Traveler: Kristi N. - Local specialist: James L. Mackender

Amazing trip! Have not done much traveling outside the U.S., so was a bit nervous. Our travel specialist was James Mackender, and he made us feel very at easy with traveling abroad in Peru. Everything was perfectly planned--flights, pick-ups and drop-offs. Our guide for the Treehouse Lodge/Iquitos was Guido. Very knowledgeable, spoke excellent english, friendly, very personable. The Treehouse Lodge was beautiful, and the day and night excursions were once in a lifetime. Our next part... read more

Amazing trip! Have not done much traveling outside the U.S., so was a bit nervous. Our travel specialist was James Mackender, and he made us feel very at easy with traveling abroad in Peru. Everything was perfectly planned--flights, pick-ups and drop-offs. Our guide for the Treehouse Lodge/Iquitos was Guido. Very knowledgeable, spoke excellent english, friendly, very personable. The Treehouse Lodge was beautiful, and the day and night excursions were once in a lifetime. Our next part of our Journey in Peru was seamless--the guide from the Treehouse took us directly to the river boat. The 7 man crew on the Spondias was amazing. They were so attentive, knowledgable about the amazon and Peru. My favorite part of this portion of the trip was when we spent time with a local family at the river village. They invited us into their home, we shared some food, and discussed the commonalty and differences of our daily lives. Our guide on the Spondias was Charlie, and he likes birds and was very knowledgeable about the different species of birds. Our chef, Francisco, was wonderful and his creations were excellent. Our waiter/purser was Jairo, he was a friendly young man, full of knowledge and we practiced english and spanish together. The only flaw was that we missed our connecting flight in Lima to Cusco. After an hour of being sent to 5 different desks to get our flight rescheduled, one phone call to James and in 10 minutes the whole situation was remedied. It relieved so much stress to know that James was looking after us. The last stretch of our trip was to Cusco and Machu picchu, and Zac was our guide. Zac was, hands down, the best guide I have ever had. He was so knowledgeable about Peru, Cusco, Incan history, Machu Picchu. The way he introduced us to Machu Picchu was perfect, and he even took video of our initial reaction to seeing this Wonder of the World. He was so kind, so enthusiastic, I definitely would do another trip with him as our guide.

This trip was just perfect. James did an amazing job listening to what we wanted to do, and making all of those wishes come true. Will definitely be using James and/or KimKim again when we travel!!

James L. Mackender, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Kristi, many thanks for your comments & it's incredible to hear about your trip. When we found out your friends were unable to join you I was little concerned about the logistics of the trip in general but we're delighted you had a great time, & despite the connection issues from Iquitos that we could get you to Machu Picchu also. Peru is an awesome place & I think you've experienced some of the best of it! It was a pleasure to have you both with us and look forward to keeping in touch, best James

Choquequirao to machu picchu - 6 days, Peru - Jul 25 - Jul 30, 2018

Traveler: Maximilian A. - Local specialist: James L. Mackender

James did an awesome job. Due to bad weather conditions, we had to change to a different route and he met all my needs. The Choquequirao Trek was beautiful, my guide Noé was fit, knowledgeable and always in a good mood. The equipment was brand new and well suited for the trek. I was able to get a special diet during the trek and the food tasted very good. The cook and horseman worked really hard! I thank James for this five star experience in the Andes!

James L. Mackender, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thanks for your kind words Max, it was a pleasure to have you with us & the crew loved trekking with you. Keep in touch, would be great to see you back in Peru another year!

Tiffany

Lima, huaraz & cordillera huayhuash, Peru - Aug 11 - Aug 20, 2018

Traveler: Tiffany M. - Local specialist: James L. Mackender

James is such a wonderful specialist and I had the best experience with him. Before, during, and after the trip, he was thorough in keeping contact and made sure that we were on the same page about all of our treks and events we were planning on doing while in Peru. He gave lots of tips about what to pack for a trip such as this one, a trek through the Andes. He went above and beyond all of my expectations; his encouragement and enthusiasm for planning and following through with this trip... read more

James is such a wonderful specialist and I had the best experience with him. Before, during, and after the trip, he was thorough in keeping contact and made sure that we were on the same page about all of our treks and events we were planning on doing while in Peru. He gave lots of tips about what to pack for a trip such as this one, a trek through the Andes. He went above and beyond all of my expectations; his encouragement and enthusiasm for planning and following through with this trip made the Peru adventure a life-changing experience for the better! He set us up with a tour company named "Peru Expeditions Tours" where we met Edwin and Eric Lliuya. Edwin was our official tour guide in Huaraz and the Cordillera Huayhuash. Edwin is a great tour guide who has lots of expert experience. I felt very safe and had such a fun time. Both hiking throughout the mountains and experiencing Peruvian culture changed my perspective on traveling and living, all due to James and Edwin. Working with James and the group at KimKim was the best option for traveling. I will definitely use KimKim again when I travel.

James L. Mackender, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Tiffany, thanks for your review. It's great to hear you had a good time with Edwin, he's a top guide. It was a lot of fun helping yourself & Marissa plan your trip, you definitely got the most from your time here in the 10 days you had. The photos are great, thanks for coming with us & hope you'll keep in touch!

connor

An experience to remember forever, Peru - May 17 - May 20, 2018

Traveler: connor m. - Local specialist: James L. Mackender

so this wasn’t just you’re average planned trip, I was in a bind from a last minute trip because i had broken up with my ex girlfriend, flights were paid for. looking online i discovered kimkim, so i thought i’d give it a shot. I was referred to james on kimkim, was the best trip planner i could ask for, he was very accomadating to my needs, even helped me out when i got to cusco for my shortened trek, trip to machu picchu, day tour to salt mines, moray and sacred valley! His team are very... read more

so this wasn’t just you’re average planned trip, I was in a bind from a last minute trip because i had broken up with my ex girlfriend, flights were paid for. looking online i discovered kimkim, so i thought i’d give it a shot. I was referred to james on kimkim, was the best trip planner i could ask for, he was very accomadating to my needs, even helped me out when i got to cusco for my shortened trek, trip to machu picchu, day tour to salt mines, moray and sacred valley! His team are very professional and handle everyone to their needs and wants in treks and tours around peru! also had met james personally as i was travelling alone, he’s a great planner as well now a great friend! i plan on returning soon and meeting up again with james!

James L. Mackender, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Connor, thanks for your comments. Was awesome having you here, and becoming friends. I'd love to see you back another year and hopefully we can plan some longer trekking routes together and get some surfing in! Keep in touch mate, best James

Deborah

Deborah's trip to the amazon, Peru - Apr 14 - Apr 16, 2018

Traveler: Deborah H. - Local specialist: James L. Mackender

I'm a traveler success manager at kimkim, and I booked part of my recent trip to Peru with James at Unu Raymi.

I had been itching to check out the Amazon rainforest, but knew that I wouldn't have a lot of time to explore during my recent trip to South America. James helped me plan a great 3-day trip to Huitoto Lodge; a beautiful, family-owned, remote lodge in the Tambopata region of the Peruvian Amazon.

Huitoto Lodge is situated on the bank of its very own oxbow lake, slightly removed... read more

I'm a traveler success manager at kimkim, and I booked part of my recent trip to Peru with James at Unu Raymi.

I had been itching to check out the Amazon rainforest, but knew that I wouldn't have a lot of time to explore during my recent trip to South America. James helped me plan a great 3-day trip to Huitoto Lodge; a beautiful, family-owned, remote lodge in the Tambopata region of the Peruvian Amazon.

Huitoto Lodge is situated on the bank of its very own oxbow lake, slightly removed from the powerful Madre de Dios river. This location affords the lodge a great amount of privacy, peace, and access to pristine jungle areas.

Each day, I had the opportunity to participate in different excursions with my guide, Efrain, including jungle walks, birding, fishing, and caiman-watching. In the downtime between activities, I enjoyed reading and relaxing in the peace and quiet of the lodge.

During my stay, I also had the pleasure of meeting the owners of the lodge, Flor and Gilberto. The two built the lodge together to share the beauty of the region with travelers, and to protect the land and its inhabitants in perpetuity. They take pride in providing great experiences for all of their guests. I should mention, Flor also helps out in the kitchen and is an excellent cook.

My favorite memory from my stay is of the boat trip I took around the island located in the middle of the oxbow lake. Efrain, Elmer (the boat driver), and I had the lake all to ourselves, so we had the opportunity to see an incredible amount of flora and fauna without interruption. On our way around the island, Efrain pointed out one spider monkey and two howler monkeys. He said that Flor and Gilberto had rescued these monkeys from illegal trafficking, and had given them a home on this island where they could remain free, but also protected from territorial monkeys in the mainland jungle areas. I loved seeing these monkeys playing in the wild!

I feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to experience this unique lodge, and meet some of the passionate people behind its success.

James L. Mackender, local specialist, responded to this review:

Many thanks for your review of the lodge Deborah, it was great to be able to organise this trip for you. It's a great lodge in the Tambopata & I'm really pleased that Flor & Gilberto were able to host you also. There are a few routes we can do in the jungle that incorporate Huitoto Lake Lodge & it's a secluded place that offers a unique experience of the Amazon Jungle that we like to include as part of our trips. We'd love to show you more next time you're down this way! best regards, James