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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 - 8 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 - 7 Days

In the span of 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 - 12 Days

This 12-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.

Terraces in the Sacred Valley.

Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu - 3 Days

Three days is the minimum time you need to enjoy the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, two of the major highlights of any visit to Peru. On this tour, you'll shop for handicrafts in historic Pisac, go to a traditional garment workshop and hike to the amazing salt pans produced by the Incas. A day exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu is the perfect way to cap your visit to this extraordinary region.

Wide Angle View of Machu Picchu

One Week in Peru: 5 Great Itineraries

With one week in Peru you can explore one region in detail or take internal flights to enjoy the highlights of two regions. Southern Peru has an incredible diversity of landscapes, while the north boasts archaeological sites that rival Machu Picchu. The popular Cusco region is perfect for sightseers and trekkers alike, and the jungle is accessible enough to combine with a trip to the highlands.

The historic site of Moray, where the Incas experimented in crop production.

Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu: Jungle Adventure - 4 Days

This 4-day adventure is perfect for those planning to visit the top two sights in Peru – Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. In addition to these unforgettable highlights, this itinerary will take a detour over some stunning Andean scenery, from icy peaks to steamy jungle. Along the way, enjoy a dip in hot springs, a visit to a coffee cooperative and shopping in traditional Andean markets.

Recent trip reviews for 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