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active 58 mins ago

Steve Wilson

I love Peru! Its culture, history, food, people and incredible scenery. And I love talking about Peru with culturally-minded travelers and helping them create an experience that reflects their desires. My travel philosophy is that life and travel are about personal reflection and growth, and I'm passionate about sharing that with our guests.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"Peru. We specialize in real human encounters, real adventure, and taking our guests off the tourist track and under the surface of these places, meeting locals and sharing their lives. We also run adventure trips in Vanuatu and New Zealand."

How did you get involved in travel?

"Like many young Kiwis, I set off for my big OE (overseas experience) straight after finishing university. By the time I got back from Europe, a year later, I knew I'd found my life's path. The experience of immersing myself in other cultures made my life and the whole world feel so much wider and richer, and I wanted to share that with others so I started guiding adventure tours in New Zealand's rugged South Island.

I rose up quickly in the ranks of New Zealand's adventure travel industry, and soon found myself managing 70 people and an operation that spanned New Zealand, Australia, and South America. Here I met Katy Shorthouse, an Australian travel operator very much embedded in Peru, who shares my philosophy and vision, and is a fount of knowledge about lesser-known things to do in Peru. We joined forces in Aspiring Adventures with a focus on cultural adventures off the beaten track in Peru. We also run - and in many cases, I personally guide - trips in New Zealand and Vanuatu.

I have explored over 50 countries and my favourite activities are hiking, snow boarding, paragliding, scuba diving, and hanging out with my two kids."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"In 2009 I went to Peru to set up Aspiring Adventures with Katy. Before starting on that she was winding up another project - authoring the Lonely Planet guidebook to Peru - and she invited me along on her travels. In one memorable stint, we got stranded in the altiplano for a night and ended up the main attractions in a local parade, danced with broken glass crunching underfoot at a gangster bar the next night, and in-between discovered an abandoned church with a skull and crossbone-filled catacomb (where we still take our guests!)."

Featured trips & expertise

Sacred Valley Hiking and Homestay - 9 Days

Explore Southern Peru's most famous region through a uniquely immersive local experience. This tour will allow you to experience the trails, traditions, and daily lives of subsistence farmers while still making time for the more well-known highlights of the Sacred Valley.

Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu By Bike - 8 Days

In the span of just over a week, bike across Peru's most famous region and see the Sacred Valley from a different perspective. This itinerary uncovers both the natural beauty of Southern Peru as well as the historical legacy of the Incas.

Photo by Steve Wilson
Peru Family Tour - 13 Days

This 13-day family adventure includes all the top, must-see highlights of Peru. From the Andes to the Amazon, the itinerary is specifically designed to satisfy and accommodate both children and adults.

Trees reflected in the waters of the Amazon River in Peru
Sacred Valley, Short Inca Trail & Amazon Adventure - 9 Days

This 9-day itinerary brings you to Peru's most stunning landscapes. Head to the Inca capital of Cusco to explore the colorful textile markets and small towns of the Sacred Valley and take the short Inca Trail to the famous Machu Picchu ruins. Next, travel east to Puerto Maldonado, your launch point to the lush Amazon. Spend three days viewing wildlife, like the giant river otter, river cayman, and vibrant parrot species, while enjoying a comfortable stay at an eco-lodge.

Machu Picchu
Peru Highlights Adventure - 8 Days

From Lima to Machu Picchu, this one-week highlights tour is perfect for travelers with a thirst for adventure. Explore the bohemian neighborhoods and food scene of Lima, then continue to Cusco—the ancient Incan capital. Spend several days in the Sacred Valley discovering colorful textile markets and monolithic ruins, then walk the Inca trail to arrive at Machu Picchu.

Ollantaytambo
Peruvian Luxury Experience - 8 Days

Explore ancient Incan ruins, charming colonial towns, and the breathtaking Sacred Valley as you make your way through some of Peru's most beloved sights in style. Gourmet meals, five-star hotels, and spa treatments await in between explorations on this tour that perfectly pairs adventure and luxury.

Recent trip reviews for Steve

The amazon & inca trail - 12 days, Peru - Aug 31 - Sep 11, 2018

Traveler: William M. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

I contacted Steve with KimKim travel after striking out with other agencies who were unable to build an "off the beaten path" adventure to Peru. Steve listed and then executed an amazing itinerary which far exceed our expectations.

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Bill!

Thanks for your review, and thanks for being such awesome off the beaten track explorers - it's thanks to you that we discovered an awesome new waterfall to include in our trips to Quillabamba! We loved hosting you, Adam and Lauren, and hope to share another adventure sometime! (In fact Katy said something about joining you in Patagonia?!)

Cheers!
Steve

Trip to peru for family with two older teenagers, Peru - Jul 22 - Aug 2, 2018

Traveler: David M. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

Steve and Katy and the Aspiring Adventures team did a great job. They helped plan and set up a highly custom tour of Peru for us and really dealt with a lot of added complexity and changes when the weather impacted the original trek we had planned; and then when one of us had some health issues and had to change plans. Really appreciated their hard work and expertise. Very happy with the trip.

Our guides arranged by Aspiring Adventures (Arturo in Lima, Justino in Sacred Valley/Trek/Machu... read more

Steve and Katy and the Aspiring Adventures team did a great job. They helped plan and set up a highly custom tour of Peru for us and really dealt with a lot of added complexity and changes when the weather impacted the original trek we had planned; and then when one of us had some health issues and had to change plans. Really appreciated their hard work and expertise. Very happy with the trip.

Our guides arranged by Aspiring Adventures (Arturo in Lima, Justino in Sacred Valley/Trek/Machu Picchu/Cusco, and Wilhelm for Mt. Biking) were all fantastic. Highlights:

In Lima, Arturo took us to the Central Market and we walked around and tried about 15-20 kinds of fruit that don't exist in North America, and then took us to a local place (we were the only tourists there) for a fantastic lunch. If you are a foodie, don't skip Lima and see if you can book Arturo.

Trekking was great, stunning, but at those altitudes actually quite hard--be aware. Even if you are in good shape hard to catch your breath.

Machu Picchu and the hike from there up Waynapicchu were fantastic. It is amazing that a place as celebrated at Machu Picchu can still exceed expectations. If you aren't trekking in, make sure to get in line for the bus by 4:30 or 5:00 am to miss most of the crowds and see the sunrise. (Our guide made sure we did and it was well worth it.)

We went Mt. Biking in Sacred Valley for a half day followed by a gourmet picnic in the most beautiful setting (all arranged by our guides). First time Mt. Biking for all of us. It was amazing. Route chosen was 90% downhill and exciting but manageable for first timers. Totally recommend (my 15 year old declared this day to be the best thing we have ever done on any trip.)

Aspiring Adventures also arranged for us to have a cooking class in Cusco at Marcelo Batata with Chef Jose. (http://www.cuscocookingworkshop.com/culinary-experiences/cooking-class-or-culinary-experience/) This was fantastic. We have had great experiences with cooking classes on other trips, but this was by far the most fun and interesting chef/teacher we have ever had.

Highly recommend Aspiring Adventures.

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Wow, thank you for the detailed review, and recommendation, David! I'm so happy you and your family had a marvellous time in Peru, especially given the necessary changes from plan A to plan B (because the Lares Pass was impassable due to the snow level during an unexpected cold snap), and then from plan B to plan C when one of your family had a health issue. This kept us on our toes for sure, but I'm delighted you maintained a positive mindset and created such wonderful memories together. And... read more

Wow, thank you for the detailed review, and recommendation, David! I'm so happy you and your family had a marvellous time in Peru, especially given the necessary changes from plan A to plan B (because the Lares Pass was impassable due to the snow level during an unexpected cold snap), and then from plan B to plan C when one of your family had a health issue. This kept us on our toes for sure, but I'm delighted you maintained a positive mindset and created such wonderful memories together. And how cool that your 15 year old rated the bike day as the best thing you've ever done on any trip, that makes me, and the whole team at Aspiring super happy, and very proud! Thank you for choosing to travel with us, we hope to see you again someday!
Kind regards, Steve, Aspiring Adventures.

Peru 2018 vacation, Peru - Jun 15 - Jun 26, 2018

Traveler: Leanne C. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

We were in great hands with our guides Aldo (Sacred Valley) and Yuri (Jungle)! We enjoyed their knowledge of the history, animals as well as what was likely to change given current environmental threats. Since our teenage boys moved quite a bit faster than their parents, they spent a lot of time ahead with the guides on some hikes. The notorious hard-to-please teens were also thrilled with this trip. They really enjoyed the mountain biking and the bits of knowledge they gained along the way in both parts of the trip. We'll be back to Peru!

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hola Leanne,
Thank you for writing a review - I'm delighted that your whole family had a ball in Peru with Aldo and Yuri. Designing and running trips that fit for both parents and teens is a fine art and I'm glad we've succeeded - when the teens are thrilled that tells me we did a great job - yay!
Drop us a line when you're keen to explore Peru again, we'd love to help you explore another region of this wonderful country!
Kind regards, Steve, Aspiring Adventures

Peru 2018 vacation, Peru - Jun 15 - Jun 26, 2018

Traveler: Jeff C. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

Our guides, Aldo and Yuri, were absolutely awesome. They were both very focused on giving us a good experience and sharing the best of their country with us. All of the food we had on the trip was either very good or excellent. Peruvians definitely care about the quality of their food. Yum!

The one area for improvement would have been a little better information on appropriate clothing and expected whether. Our packing list suggested 3 pair of shorts and 2 pair of long pants. We never wore... read more

Our guides, Aldo and Yuri, were absolutely awesome. They were both very focused on giving us a good experience and sharing the best of their country with us. All of the food we had on the trip was either very good or excellent. Peruvians definitely care about the quality of their food. Yum!

The one area for improvement would have been a little better information on appropriate clothing and expected whether. Our packing list suggested 3 pair of shorts and 2 pair of long pants. We never wore shorts in the Sacred Valley and even though it was warm enough in the jungle for shorts, we chose long pants much of the time because of the bugs. So, we definitely would have been better prepared with more long pants and less shorts.

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hola Jeff,
How fabulous that you enjoyed experiencing Peru with Aldo and Yuri! We take great care in designing the various meal options on each trip so I'm delighted that you loved the Peruvian cuisine - yum alright!
Thank you for your feedback about the packing list, it's super important to me that we get the small details like that correct. I agree with you that pants are the best option when in the jungle. I've taken a look at the list we created for your trip, and it actually says: "2... read more

Hola Jeff,
How fabulous that you enjoyed experiencing Peru with Aldo and Yuri! We take great care in designing the various meal options on each trip so I'm delighted that you loved the Peruvian cuisine - yum alright!
Thank you for your feedback about the packing list, it's super important to me that we get the small details like that correct. I agree with you that pants are the best option when in the jungle. I've taken a look at the list we created for your trip, and it actually says: "2 trousers, 2 shorts", which sounds about right to me for the length of your trip. Perhaps it was a bit cooler that normal while you were in the Cusco/Sacred Valley area? For future similar trips I think we'll keep the recommendations at 2 pairs of shorts but increase the number of pants to 3. Zip-off pants are a great option to cover all bases too, so we might specify them to help save weight.
Anyway, thanks again, I appreciate the comments!
Kind regards, Steve, Aspiring Adventures

Group departure - salkantay trek to machu picchu - 5 days, Peru - May 30 - Jun 6, 2018

Traveler: Marianne H. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

Aldo, our local guide, was a wonderful, knowledgeable leader and kept the many pieces of our trip in order while also making sure we were all safe and comfortable and that we learned about Peruvian history, culture and natural resources. I cannot speak highly enough of his skills and what a special person he is.
Our chef, Jonah and his assistant Eduardo, also made this trip memorable. The food that they provided for us could have been served at any top-rated restaurant in the world. This was... read more

Aldo, our local guide, was a wonderful, knowledgeable leader and kept the many pieces of our trip in order while also making sure we were all safe and comfortable and that we learned about Peruvian history, culture and natural resources. I cannot speak highly enough of his skills and what a special person he is.
Our chef, Jonah and his assistant Eduardo, also made this trip memorable. The food that they provided for us could have been served at any top-rated restaurant in the world. This was such a delightful and unexpected part of the trip - and they managed to do this three times a day using a kitchen that had to be transported by horseback!
The hiking was strenuous, especially the uphill portions climbing to over 15,000 feet. It challenged all of us on the trip but with Aldo’s help and support from each one of the six people in our tour family, we all conquered the difficulties and were exhilarated by the adventure.

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Marianne

Yep, Aldo, Yohan and Eduardo are incredible... by sheer goodwill they turn what could be a difficult experience into an unforgettable adventure - exhilarating for you, and for us too, to receive a series of reviews like yours for what was clearly a very special trip!
Thanks so much for your review - we hope to see you again someday!
PS - Thanks for the photos you posted here - there are some real beauties!

Christine

Group departure - salkantay trek to machu picchu - 5 days, Peru - May 30 - Jun 6, 2018

Traveler: Christine J. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

I truly cannot say enough good things about this trip and the people involved in the experience. Before the trip, we coordinated with Steve and Katy and our questions were answered and last minute additions handled promptly and easily. I definitely recommend reading all of the information sent carefully and sticking to the packing recommendations. If you are a high information person, definitely call to get the scoop on when meals are, when you are stopping, etc, if you like that kind of... read more

I truly cannot say enough good things about this trip and the people involved in the experience. Before the trip, we coordinated with Steve and Katy and our questions were answered and last minute additions handled promptly and easily. I definitely recommend reading all of the information sent carefully and sticking to the packing recommendations. If you are a high information person, definitely call to get the scoop on when meals are, when you are stopping, etc, if you like that kind of detail.

The trek itself was incredible. We had the amazing Aldo as our guide and he is such an incredible guide and person. He answered our endless questions, had solutions for any issues that came up (altitude sickness, cold temps, fatigue, etc) and kept an endlessly positive attitude throughout. Our chefs, Johan and Eduardo could not have been nicer or more helpful, and the food was beyond expectations. I kept saying that they need to write a cookbook to sell! And they worked with my food allergies too, so I knew I was in good hands. We even had two horsemen who managed the pack horses, the luggage, and the emergency horse for the times when altitude, fatigue, and body injuries were a little too much. Having them there was great peace of mind. Everyone worked so hard and with smiles on their faces and jokes for all.

The trek is certainly challenging physically, especially with the altitude, so I recommend altitude sickness pills ahead of time, a few days in Cusco to acclimate, LOTS of water, and training! It also got to negative temps on the first night beneath the Salkantay mountain (holy gorgeous stars - we saw the Southern Cross!!!) and recommend warm clothing and even hand and toe warmers since they are easy to pack. Our wonderful team had hot water bottles for us for that night which made such a difference! Having a small day pack for rain gear, gloves, snacks (which were often provided) is very helpful as you are not with your bags generally during the day. I had a fanny pack and ended up putting most of my stuff in my mom's day pack. Renting the sleeping bags and mats was also nice since we didn't have to lug those around the airport. It is hard to imagine carrying all of my belongings on my back, so renting a mule was well worth it!

We kept joking that we would almost forget that the end of the trek was Machu Picchu, because honestly if we hadn't done that piece, it still would have been a memorable trip. It was certainly the icing on the cake!

The journey of the trek itself - from the Humantay Lake hike in the beginning to get our "sea legs", to summiting at 15,500 ft, to descending through plantations and jungles and small villages, to eating wild fruit (strawberries, passion fruit, limes) along the way, to the Cocalmayo hot springs, to the coffee plantation, to Machu Picchu (and Wayna Picchu if you are up for an extra 45 min steep ascent that is beautiful!), everything exceeded expectations, especially for the price. Aldo and his team at Aspiring Adventures truly made it easy to enjoy every moment and treated us to a luxurious camping experience. My mother and I carry with us memories of a lifetime and we will never forget it. Thank you to all, especially Aldo, from the bottom of our grateful hearts!

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Christine - wow, thank you! Detailed reviews like these are so helpful for other travellers thinking of taking a trip, and so awesome for us to read! Knowing you experienced and appreciated little touches like hot water bottles and detailed gear lists, makes all the hard work we put in behind the scenes worthwhile! We try hard to exceed expectations and it means the world to us to know we succeeded. Thank you!

Salkantay trek to machu picchu - 5 days, Peru - May 31 - Jun 5, 2018

Traveler: Alexie L. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

Aldo was an amazing guide who went above and beyond all expectations!

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thanks for your review Alexie. Yep, Aldo is amazing, isn't he! We know we're lucky to have him!

Machapichi, hiking, adventures, good food. , Peru - Apr 7 - Apr 15, 2018

Traveler: Donna W. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

Tom and I had a wonderful experience in Peru. Every detail was taken care on so we could just relax and enjoy. Luis was very knowledgeable and so easy to be around. He spoiled us! Paul was our driver and he too was very helpful. Aspiring Adventures had every detail planned so that our trip was seamless. Love the bike ride down the Andes and this special group did a great job of making us feel comfortable. The value was terrific! Two recommendations. Try another accommodation in... read more

Tom and I had a wonderful experience in Peru. Every detail was taken care on so we could just relax and enjoy. Luis was very knowledgeable and so easy to be around. He spoiled us! Paul was our driver and he too was very helpful. Aspiring Adventures had every detail planned so that our trip was seamless. Love the bike ride down the Andes and this special group did a great job of making us feel comfortable. The value was terrific! Two recommendations. Try another accommodation in Olyamtamba and make sure local drivers in Santa Teresa have seat belts. That's picky so as you can see the entire trip was wonderful and we will definitely use this group again. Their planning let us VACATiON!
Tom andDonna

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Donna
Great to hear you and Tom had a wonderful experience - and indeed, how could you not, with Luis and Paul taking care of you!
I'm delighted you appreciated the planning that went into making sure the trip ran smoothly and apparently effortlessly, while avoiding allergens as far as humanly possible.. the Kuychipunku kittycat let us down there!
Thanks for travelling with us and we would love to host you and Tom again!
Cheers
Steve

Trip to peru, Peru - Oct 15 - Oct 19, 2017

Traveler: Marlynn R. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

The trek was the highlight of our 3 week trip to Peru. Food, cooks, overall trekking experience was great. All places we stayed were great, especially the overnight at the hot springs. There was an issue with my sleeping bag: The zipper in my $40 rental sleeping bag was broken from day one. I had to put extra layers on to keep warm on the 1st night. In the afternoon the guide was nowhere to be found and I told him at dinner. Someone went to fix it, but they didn't try the zipper and I went to bed and the clasp fell off so the zipper was broken.

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Marlynn

It’s taken me a few days to respond to your review because I’ve been getting to the bottom of how this came to happen with your sleeping bag. Simple gear failure is the answer, and I’m so sorry it caused you this experience .

Wilhen, our equipment manager, personally checked your sleeping bag before it went out on your Salkantay trek, but it evidently gave way on the way in and started opening itself. Aldo got it to close again, but then the clasp came off in your hand.

Our... read more

Hi Marlynn

It’s taken me a few days to respond to your review because I’ve been getting to the bottom of how this came to happen with your sleeping bag. Simple gear failure is the answer, and I’m so sorry it caused you this experience .

Wilhen, our equipment manager, personally checked your sleeping bag before it went out on your Salkantay trek, but it evidently gave way on the way in and started opening itself. Aldo got it to close again, but then the clasp came off in your hand.

Our conclusion is that the zips on our National Geographic brand sleeping bags are not strong enough, and we’re sending them all off to get replaced. We’ll also be sending out an extra sleeping bag, to cover any cases like this, on our trips from now on.

I apologise once again for the sleeping bag and I hope other aspects of your trip went some way towards making up for it.

Kind regards
Steve

Trip to peru, Peru - Jun 16 - Jun 28, 2017

Traveler: Sandy L. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

Excellent planning! Amazing guides!

Very organized! Well planned

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hola Sandy, thank you kindly for your review! I'm delighted that you and your family had an amazing time in Peru. What a stunning day you had at Machu Picchu - look at that sky!! It was a pleasure helping you design and plan your trip, and Katy and I are glad you enjoyed the company and leadership of Luis, your Aspiring Adventures guide. We hope you'll return to Peru some day!
Kind regards,
Steve, Aspiring Adventures

Archaeological sites in the sacred valley, Peru - Feb 4 - Feb 4, 2017

Traveler: Janice R. - Local specialist: Steve Wilson

Steve was good at arranging the trip, dropping off the Tourist Tickets at our hotel the day before our tour, and finding us a good guide. Our guide, Aldo was just great. He was flexible and agreed to take us to Pisac earlier than planned, so we could see it while fresh. When a portion of the Pisac Inca site was inaccessible, he found a way for us to see the site by entering at a different place. No, he didn't break any laws doing so. It was a beautiful day, so he arranged for us to walk down... read more

Steve was good at arranging the trip, dropping off the Tourist Tickets at our hotel the day before our tour, and finding us a good guide. Our guide, Aldo was just great. He was flexible and agreed to take us to Pisac earlier than planned, so we could see it while fresh. When a portion of the Pisac Inca site was inaccessible, he found a way for us to see the site by entering at a different place. No, he didn't break any laws doing so. It was a beautiful day, so he arranged for us to walk down a path, through the Inca site to meet our driver in the town of Pisac. When we expressed an interest in Andean condors, he took us to a wildlife rehab center where we could see these impressive birds close up and also watch them take off and fly.

Steve Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Jan, I'm delighted that you had a wonderful time exploring the Sacred Valley with Aldo! How terrific that you had a chance to meet the condors up close - they're very impressive birds aren't they?! Thank you for choosing to travel with us and for taking the time to write a review about your experiences. We hope to see you again some day!
Kind regards,
Steve, Aspiring Adventures