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active 21 hours ago

Martina Capel

My name is Martina, I am German and the co-founder of Phima Voyages, together with my husband Philippe who is French. We created Phima Voyages three years ago when we arrived in Chachapoyas, as we felt the need of developing responsible tourism in the region of Amazonas.

It is our mission to integrate local people through traditional experiences such as weaving or a cooking lesson, a homestay or any other activity that can be shared with the local.

I have 20 years of experience in tourism and hospitality and have myself worked and traveled extensively all over the world. I love the fascinating history of the pre-Columbian civilizations in the northern region, but also the incredible culinary diversification. Meeting with local people, staying in home-stays or participating in traditional activities are some of the experiences I could propose you.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"All the regions of Northern Peru, starting from Lima and going north.

This includes pre-Incan archaeology such as Chan Chan or the Sun and Moon Temples, great funeral sites in Cajamarca such as the Ventanillas de Otuzco, the Chachapoya civilisation in the Amazonas region with its citadel of Kuelap (also named the Machu Picchu of the North), extraordinary Museums such as the Museum Tumbas Reales in Chiclayo or Museum Mallqui of Leymebamba, until the region San Martin, already in the Peruvian Amazonia with its chocolate and coffee production.

We specialize in local and rural activities such as weaving or cooking classes, learning how to make sugar cane sirop and sugar, natural walks for birding and butterflies, chocolate experiences and many more..."

How did you get involved in travel?

"I always worked in Hospitality industry, I went to a hotel and tourism management school in Switzerland, worked overseas in Asia for several years before coming back to France where I had a hotel with my husband for over 10 years. We then travelled around the world with our boys for 4 years before settling down again in Chachapoyas."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"With my husband and our two boys, we spend one year travelling the United States in an RV. I will never forget this time when we were so close, living on 14 m2 and sharing so many memories."

Featured trips & expertise

Traveling - experiences and encounters

Discover Northern Peru: A Journey For The Senses - 14 Days

This 14-day trip will take you to the best cities and historic places of interest on the north coast of Peru. From the fascinating archaeological sites around Trujillo and Cumbemayo, to visits with local woodcarvers and environmentalists, you'll get an in-depth experience with this little-visited area. Along the way, you'll hike to one of the world’s highest waterfalls, make some cocktails, visit superb museums, and sample delicious local cuisine.

Estancia El Chillo, Amazonas Region

Northern Peru: Everything You Need To Know

While the majority of travelers head straight for Machu Picchu in southern Peru, the North remains a hidden gem for those willing to venture off-the-beaten-path. You'll have amazing ruins to yourself, discover unique landscapes, and learn about ancient cultures that pre-date the Inca civilization. 

Citadel of Kuelap, Amazonas region

Best Places To Visit in Northern Peru

Off-the-radar for most tourists, Northern Peru has its own set of amazing highlights. You can experience Peru's cultural diversity and numerous archaeological sites, given many pre-Inca civilizations settled in the northern regions. Besides culture, you can also enjoy the amazing wildlife, the beautiful flora and fauna, enjoy a hike in the Andes or relax along long stretches of white sandy beach.

View on the river in Chazuta

Northern Peru: Jungle To The Andes - 8 Days

This tour through northern Peru will not only show you the culinary side of Peru, but also a range of natural highlights. You will visit the major attractions in the Amazonas region, such as the fortress of Kuelap, also called the “Machu Picchu of the North”, and Gocta, one of the 10 highest waterfalls in the world.

Kuelap fortress

Chachapoyas: Peru’s Best Kept Secret - 7 Days

Off the beaten track, Chachapoyas can be described as real ‘Indiana Jones’ territory. Located in northern Peru, at the juncture between the Amazon rainforest, the Andes Mountains and the Pacific coast, this is a mystical and wonderful place, deep in the cloud forest.

Recent trip reviews for Martina

Chachapoyas: peru’s best kept secret - 7 days, Peru - Jan 17 - Jan 21, 2018

Traveler: Janice V. - Local specialist: Martina Capel

Martina was very helpful regarding our pre-trip planning. We had planned all facets of our trip to Peru prior to contacting Martina. We decided to do so because we wanted to go to the area and found it somewhat difficult to research travel options there. Our tour stated that we would have an English speaking guide.
Day 1 we were met by Joan/John and Carlos @ Cajamarca airport. After dropping our bags we visited Cumbe Mayo. This was a wonderful place. Our guide was clearly... read more

Martina was very helpful regarding our pre-trip planning. We had planned all facets of our trip to Peru prior to contacting Martina. We decided to do so because we wanted to go to the area and found it somewhat difficult to research travel options there. Our tour stated that we would have an English speaking guide.
Day 1 we were met by Joan/John and Carlos @ Cajamarca airport. After dropping our bags we visited Cumbe Mayo. This was a wonderful place. Our guide was clearly enthusiastic but, not fluent enough (in English) to convey much of his knowledge. As became clear at that point, Anna often needed to translate for my benefit. ( I sensed the visit was the short version. ). We learned that J was a guide-in-training. He had to train for some 900 hours before receiving license.
We returned to Cajamarca. Having risen @ 3 in the morning for our 7:30 flight we were hungry at that point and asked J for recommendations. He dropped us at a lunchroom on the square. A fairly grim experience. I mention this only because perfunctory drop-offs became the norm. I think this is an issue of manners. We are outsiders, the guide the insider. This in addition to the fact that the Hostal had no heat — it was cold and mercilessly rainy,— or WiFi. There was no way not to hear our next door neighbor’s TV. If we had foreknowledge of the lack of heat, we would not have agreed to stay there. How hard is it to recommend a few places to eat?
Driver Carlos was excellent throughout. No fruit or water in car throughout our tour.

Day2 7 hr drive to Leymebamba. Prompt pickup. J asks if we want to stop @ a grocery store. Having stocked up on snacks at the Cajamarca market, we only needed more water and stopped at bodega. We naively assumed that there would be a plan to eat along the way. We chatted for about 1 hour as we left the city and headed in the direction of Leymebamba. We stopped for lunch and J suggested we take our food and eat on the little square. Another point of confusion. We hadn’t packed a lunch. Meanwhile J & C headed into a little restaurant for lunch. Since it was clearly the only place to eat in this locale, I joined them.
We stopped only once thereafter for a photo op. For the remaining 6 hours there was an abundantly obvious silence. Our questions like, ‘what river is that?’ were answered but, no comments/ info from guide.
Then a stop at woodworker’s place. This was kind of crazy. After 7 hours in a car we did not feel like doing this but, felt obliged to do so.
We reached Leymebamba and checked into our Hostal. This proved to be a far nicer stay. A lovely well maintained Hostal and it was fortunately warmer than Cajamarca. Great family, delicious breakfast. Again though, after that very long drive, no food recommendations. We made the wrong choice. Ironically, the next day after visiting the Museum we had a great lunch, in plaza. The restaurant owner, a relative of Carlos’, was a delightful woman who really knew how to cook!

Day 3
Visit to Leymebamba museum. Wonderful visit. Felt a bit rushed as we followed J through. This seems to be an occupational hazard for tour leaders. One though that they surely need to develop the flexibility to allow for. It seems to me that a tour guide to be really good, needs to get to know his clients. Perhaps J is too young? Not curious? ( He might have heard that one of our reasons for visiting Peru was our interest in its cuisine. )
After a terrific lunch we set out to visit Revash. Sadly rained out. Roads in dangerous conditions. We were dropped off at Lola’s and Perico’s. Heaven. Spent an afternoon at their wonderful place with our consummate hosts. We loved each other’s company. Nine hundred stars!

Day 4
Kuelap Visit. Terrific.
Lunch @ Shubet also good. Again Carlos’s friends/relatives..
Drive to Gocta. Rafael not there but, his in village helper arrived promptly to let us in. Somewhat unsure how to interpret Rafael’s absence but, made ourselves comfortable. (Footnote hot water unavailable.)
Had a wonderful afternoon enjoying Rafael’s place. Also later when another guest arrived.

Day 5
Hike to Gocta Waterfall. Strenuously wonderful. Took horses half way back down.
Arrived back to Rafael’s hot and tired....wanting to clean-up and relax. J announced we were to go next door for lunch. We went. When one is staying at Rafael’s, the setting isn’t really impressive.
The food is mediocre. J had told us that C would be driving us to Jaen the following morning; a gesture we very much appreciated. Carlos happened to be dining @ same time we were (next door) with his family. We confirmed that we would see him tomorrow.

Day 6
Instead of Carlos, his young relative ( no more than 18?) w/ his friend to airport in Jaen.
Nice person. Friendly but, not a mature driver. Thought we would be seeing C and planned to give him a tip then. Plz send info regarding how we can do so.

My advice to Trip planner. Suggest visitors to this region—-@ least @ this time of the year— come and go via Jaen. Spend time in Chachapoyas and environs.

Martina Capel, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Janice,

Thank you very much for your comments and letting me know how you felt during your stay in the Northern Andes.

I guess your stay was a little overcasted because of the rain. It is true that when it rains, there unfortunately are not many options. Hotels in the region usually don't have heating (nor Wifi) and the humidity gets into you and your bones.

Jhon, our guide, has already finished his training beginning of last year. He has a diploma as an official guide, a career... read more

Dear Janice,

Thank you very much for your comments and letting me know how you felt during your stay in the Northern Andes.

I guess your stay was a little overcasted because of the rain. It is true that when it rains, there unfortunately are not many options. Hotels in the region usually don't have heating (nor Wifi) and the humidity gets into you and your bones.

Jhon, our guide, has already finished his training beginning of last year. He has a diploma as an official guide, a career that takes 3 years, and he is guiding for us since April last year. Maybe his natural Peruvian shyness added to some of your English comprehensive issues . Otherwise he is enthousiastic about his work and I am sure that he will improve to better understand the needs of our clients. Thank you so much for your comments that I will pass on to him.

I am glad that you liked the different archaeological sites throughout your stay as well as the (rather difficult) hike to Gocta.

Once again thank you for your detailed comments that I will share with our local partners. The region of Amazonas still needs to catch up about 50 years of tourism development in comparison with the South of Peru, but we work hard to improve our services together with the local hotels, drivers, communities and other partners.

Warm regards,
Martina

North peru, Peru - Dec 24 - Jan 7, 2018

Traveler: Darlene C. - Local specialist: Martina Capel

Our trip was full of activity and adventure in Northern Peru for 2-1/2 weeks. Our guide Jhon was young and full of energy and our driver Carlos was an attentive, safe driver. In Trujillo, we thoroughly enjoyed the Sun and Moon Temples and Chan Chan. The demonstration of the straw boats and cooking class in Huanchaco was fantastic.

Heading into the Andes is spectacular. Outside Cajamarca, we loved our hike through Cumbemayo to see the remarkable Andean water works. The Revash was very... read more

Our trip was full of activity and adventure in Northern Peru for 2-1/2 weeks. Our guide Jhon was young and full of energy and our driver Carlos was an attentive, safe driver. In Trujillo, we thoroughly enjoyed the Sun and Moon Temples and Chan Chan. The demonstration of the straw boats and cooking class in Huanchaco was fantastic.

Heading into the Andes is spectacular. Outside Cajamarca, we loved our hike through Cumbemayo to see the remarkable Andean water works. The Revash was very interesting and we enjoyed our horse ride to the site. Visiting Miguel in his workshop and painting our own Sarcophagus was a lot of fun. Perico and Lola's private conservation property in the Utcubamba Valley was so beautiful and was a favourite of ours. It was hard to say goodbye to them and the family they had visiting at the time. Then off to Kuelap by cable car and another hike to the site...fantastic!

The biggest surprise and highlight for us was our stay at Villa del Monte in the coffee country of Rodriguez de Mendoza. We have a coffee roasting business and requested some time with coffee growers. The home we stayed at in the area was really great and the caretakers living next to the home were warm and friendly. We did an afternoon at an underground cave that was pretty cool although fitting through a small hole to start was a little scary but worth the effort. The best part for us was spending our time with the coffee farmers (owners of Cafe Monteverde) who provided us with such a detailed education of their business from the growing of the coffee at their farm (tasting included) to going to their laboratory in town to watch and participate in grading and cupping of the coffee. This was fantastic for us.

The Gocta Falls is another favourite. The hike is fairly difficult so the horses came in handy. Lunch at the Gocta Lodge is outstanding and so is the view. Our last stop on the coast was the Pyramids of Tucume and Museum Tumbas Reales with the latter being our favourite museum.

With a little more time, Jhon will get better at his English. It's good but sometimes we had translation difficulties. He is a great guide and really cares about what he does. Both him and Carlos were always available and willing to make things work for us.

Thank you Phima Voyages for a great adventure in Northern Peru!
Darlene & Gary Carlton

Martina Capel, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Darlene and Gary,

Thank you so much for your nice comments.

I am so glad that you enjoyed your trip. It was a lot of fun planning it for you, as it gave me the opportunity to include activites and adventures. You had enough time to meet with the locals and interact, like at the coffee experience :)

If you have any pictures you would like to share, don't hesitate to send them through to me.

Warm regards,
Martina

Keilap, Peru - Nov 16 - Nov 21, 2017

Traveler: Marilyn S. - Local specialist: Martina Capel

Everything was splendid before , during, and after the trip. The only thing that was REALLY hard was the hike to the lodging at Keulap.

Martina Capel, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Marilyn,

Thank you for your review. It is a steep hike to Sra. Teodula, but it is just a beautiful place to be. I am glad that you enjoyed your night there as well as the entire trip.

Happy travels throughout South America !
Warm regards,
Martina

Explore northern peru: cajamarca to chachapoyas, Peru - Oct 22 - Oct 28, 2017

Traveler: Beata N. - Local specialist: Martina Capel

Very professional and high-quality service from Martina, accommodating all of our requests and needs during the trip.

The North part of Peru is not very well advertised and there are not too many tourists in this area (good for people like us, who really enjoyed the real Peru experience, not overtaken by tourism industry yet.) We were nicely surprised and definitely I would suggest using this as a key point in the advertisement of this region. So thank you, Martina, for pointing to us these... read more

Very professional and high-quality service from Martina, accommodating all of our requests and needs during the trip.

The North part of Peru is not very well advertised and there are not too many tourists in this area (good for people like us, who really enjoyed the real Peru experience, not overtaken by tourism industry yet.) We were nicely surprised and definitely I would suggest using this as a key point in the advertisement of this region. So thank you, Martina, for pointing to us these incredible places to see and stay.

Kuelep, Mausoleum of Revish, Sarcophagi of Karajia - amazing sites. Getting to these places through the real Peruvian villages is an attraction on its own. Chachapoyas and Cajamarca - very authentic Peruvian towns with beautiful main squares and beautiful architecture (a little bit disappointing was the fact that there was a major renovation of the main square in Chachapoyas - which we did not expect).

Also, the drive from Cajamarca through the valleys, mountains, and an incredible one-line road was amazing: the views, the trill passing another vehicles and change of sceneries were unforgettable.

Two amazing places we have stayed I would like to mention. Perico and Lola house in Nogalcucho: quiet and isolated house with beautiful private accommodations. Great homemade dinner and breakfast. Lots of options for walks or areas to sit and enjoy the beauty of their place.
Another is in Cocachimba hostel Sacha Puyo (best view on Gocta falls). The views and quietness of this place are out of this world.

Even though we did not have a guide, our driver Beto was able to give us enough info so we did not feel lost without knowledge of Spanish. But the knowledge of a minimum of Spanish language is a must when traveling in this region so I would recommend to always let people know about this fact. In general people in Northern Peru do not know English.

Martina Capel, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Beata,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write a such long overview. I am very happy that you enjoyed your stay in the amazing region of Amazonas.

Everything you mention is absolutely true. The region is still rather untouched from tourism and it gives you the opportunity to meet authentic people and to share their passion (like with Perico and Lola). On the other hand, without any Spanish knowledge and only with English, it is rather a challenge. I'm glad that Beto could be of... read more

Dear Beata,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write a such long overview. I am very happy that you enjoyed your stay in the amazing region of Amazonas.

Everything you mention is absolutely true. The region is still rather untouched from tourism and it gives you the opportunity to meet authentic people and to share their passion (like with Perico and Lola). On the other hand, without any Spanish knowledge and only with English, it is rather a challenge. I'm glad that Beto could be of assistance to you.

Once again, thank you for your encouraging comments that I will pass on to all the people involved.

Warm regards to you and your husband,
Martina