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North America- and Europe-Based Companies

  • Abercrombie & Kent  (tel. 800/554-7016; www.abercrombiekent.com) calls itself the "original luxury travel company." It runs an extensive lineup of high-end luxury trips, all of which are well managed and pampered, with stays in many of the finest hotels available. The tours aren't cheap, but if you want to go in style, A&K is the way to go. Group size is generally limited to 16 people. About a dozen Peru itineraries are available (such as the 9-day "Wonders of Peru," a family adventure, and combo trips with Bolivia and the Galápagos); check the website for occasional discounts on selected tours and dates.
  • Adventure Life  (tel. 800/344-6118; www.adventure-life.com), based in Missoula, Montana, is an Andean specialist with a roster of a couple dozen interesting Peru trips that focus mainly on ecotours and adventure trips, including some to off-the-beaten-path destinations and a group service trip, although it also offers some cushy "hotel-based trips."
  • Adventures Abroad Group (tel. 800/665-3998; www.adventures-abroad.com), with offices in Washington state as well as the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, has a massive database of trips. The tour operator prides itself on small group travel, from 4 to 21 participants. Peruvian offerings are highlights tours, ranging from 7 to 21 days, but longer trips include features such as hiking the Inca Trail. Several trips combine either Ecuador or Bolivia with Peruvian attractions.
  • Butterfield & Robinson (tel. 866/551-9090 or 800/6781-1477 in Europe; www.butterfield.com) is a top upscale tour company that promotes biking and walking trips. You'll stay at some of the country's finest hotels and will get full van support for any light adventure trips. To Peru, it offers an 8-day "Peru Walking" tour. Trips are top-of-the-line (with commensurate pricing).
  • Exito Latin American Travel Specialists  (tel. 800/655-4053; www.exitotravel.com) has a limited number of Peru packages, including the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and jungle lodge tours. It's also a very good source for finding discounted airfares to Peru and elsewhere in Latin America, as well as language programs.
  • Gap Adventures (tel. 800/708-7761 or 0870/999-0144 in the U.K.; www.gapadventures.com), the "Great Adventure People," focuses on adventure-oriented "independent travel with the security of a group" in Central and South America. It offers a huge number and variety of Peru trips (190 or more with stops in Peru). Some trips are more comfortable; others are a bit edgier. Most group trips have a maximum of 12 travelers.
  • Yampu Latin American Tours has offices in New York (tel. 888/YAMPU-01 [926-7801]; www.yampu.com), Stowe (VT), and London. These South American travel specialists offer a variety of Peru trips, including rainforest expeditions, spiritual sojourns, trekking and adventure-sports tours, and targeted cultural programs.
  • Ladatco Tours (tel. 800/327-6162; www.ladatco.com) has specialized in tours to Central and South America for 3 decades. Its Explorer Tours are locally hosted and include hotels, sightseeing with an English-speaking guide, and all land, cruise, and air transportation. There are "Pampered Adventure" programs and custom-designed tours -- in all, more than two dozen trips to Peru throughout high season. Tours are a bit pricey but are well designed, and prices include airfare from Miami.
  • Latin America Escapes, Inc. (tel. 800/510-5999; www.latinamericanescapes.com) is a California-based company that offers fully escorted trekking and adventure trips, cultural tours, and natural history programs in Peru, as well as customized trips with your own private guide and driver and fully hosted independent tours with all major details (transportation, hotels, and tours) included. Check the website for current specials.
  • Nature Expeditions International (tel. 800/869-0639; www.naturexp.com) has a good reputation for package tours and has been in business since 1973. It offers a 10-day highlights trip to Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Arequipa, as well as a 7-day trip to Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu. All trips have interesting, educational lecture options.
  • Overseas Adventure Travel  (tel. 800/493-6824; www.oattravel.com) is an English outfit with economical small-group (10-16 people) tours, such as its 11-day "Real Affordable Peru" trip. Another tour combines Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands.
  • Peru for Less  (tel. 877/269-0309 or 203/002-0571 in the U.K.; www.peruforless.com), originally a company based in Texas and now headquartered in Lima, lives up to its plainspoken name, guaranteeing "the lowest prices outside Peru." It has a great roster of affordable Peru tour packages, such as "Historical Peru," which visits Lima, Paracas, Nasca, Arequipa, Cusco, and Machu Picchu, and very competent teams on the ground. It has recently branched out with alternative trekking tours in the Cusco region, including small-group treks to Choquequirao and Vilcabamba and a dozen more. Tours include guides, hotels, all visits and transfers, plus daily breakfast.
  • Southwind Adventures  (tel. 800/377-9463; www.southwindadventures.com) plans distinctive and high-end adventure trips with a cultural emphasis in South America. Among them are 16 Peruvian trips, from mountain biking to specialty tours such as the "Urubamba Weaver's Trek." Custom trips include a 21-day Grand Andean Traverse trekking expedition, with possibilities for bird-watching, rafting, and family adventure.
  • Tambo Tours  (tel. 888/2GO-PERU [246-7378]; www.tambotours.com), based in Houston, is a Peru specialist and one of the best spots to shop for a package deal to Peru. It offers a huge array of great-value trips to most parts of the country, including off-the-beaten path destinations and culturally oriented tours, as well as customized tours and discounted airfares.
  • Tico Travel (tel. 800/493-8426; www.ticotravel.com), an established expert on Costa Rica and Central America, with an office in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, now offers packages to Peru and discounted airfares. Its good-value 4- to 9-day packages cover Cusco, Lima, and Lake Titicaca.

Peru-Based Companies

  • Amazing Peru (tel. 800/704-2915 in the U.S. and Canada, 0808/520-0309 in the U.K.; www.amazingperu.com) is a well-run multipurpose agency, with several offices in Peru and an extensive roster of trips, offering everything from family and honeymoon tours to luxury trips and adventure and jungle tours, for virtually any budget.
  • Aracari  (tel. 312/239-8726 in the U.S., 020/3287-5262 in the U.K.; www.aracari.com) is something different in the world of Peruvian travel agencies, focusing on handcrafted, upscale, private-access tours. Run by a Peruvian-born woman and ex-banker who calls their customized itineraries "intelligent travel design," Aracari offers minimum 3-night itineraries in the top locations across Peru, along with carefully chosen, often small luxury boutique hotels as bases (by and large, the hotels I most highly recommend in this guide). Trips range from cuisine-oriented itineraries to outdoors adventure and archaeology, including specialized themes such as "Peru for Art Lovers and Foodies" and "Family Adventure in the Andes." Most impressive is the roster of exclusive private houses and haciendas offered for private luncheons, cocktails, and art-collection tours. If you're looking for unique, select adventure in Peru, it's tough to best Aracari.
  • Chaska Tours (tel. 084/240-424; www.chaskatours.com) is a professional, multipurpose Cusco-based company offering a large menu of travel itineraries both in groups and tailored for individuals (you can go right on the website and fill out a custom request form), especially ecotourism and adventure trips. It has everything from day tours in Cusco and jungle tours to off-the-beaten path trekking and mountain-biking excursions and jampacked 11-day trips that take in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Titicaca, and the Amazon.
  • Class Adventure Travel (CAT)  (tel. 877/240-4770 in the U.S., 0207/096-1259 in the U.K.; www.cat-travel.com) is a very professional and dependable Dutch-owned and -operated firm with offices in Lima and Cusco, as well as Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. It offers adventure (rafting and trekking) and jungle tours, long trips (a 17-day "Ancient Cultures of Peru" trip), short trips (a 7-day Cusco and Puno trip), and design-your-own tours. If you arrive in Peru and then decide to book a tour, CAT is without doubt one of the best general agencies to contact.
  • Fiesta Tours International (tel. 01/225-1336; www.fiestatoursperu.com) has a multitude of trips within Peru, such as its 6-day "Discover Peru" tour. It also deals in airfares from Miami or Los Angeles.
  • Peru Gateway Travel (tel. 888/671-2852; www.peru-explorer.com) also has an extensive roster of Peru tours and a good selection of hotels.

One good source of package deals -- airfare, accommodations, and other elements of your trip -- is the airlines themselves. Most major airlines offer air/land packages, including American Airlines Vacations (tel. 800/321-2121; www.aavacations.com), Delta Vacations (tel. 800/221-6666; www.deltavacations.com), Continental Airlines Vacations (tel. 800/301-3800; www.covacations.com), and United Vacations (tel. 888/854-3899; www.unitedvacations.com). Several big online travel agencies -- Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Lastminute.com -- also do a brisk business in packages.

Miami is usually the jumping-off point for package deals to Peru. The following are just a few among the longtime packagers to Peru and other destinations in Central and South America. A recommended tour operator and travel agency long specializing in South America packages, including some to Peru, is Exito Latin American Travel Specialists. Tara Tours (tel. 800/327-0080; www.taratours.com), based in Miami, is also worth a look; it usually offers several air/land packages to Peru, as well as tours such as the 9-day "Tara's Inka Journey" (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lima, and the Amazon), and more adventurous tours to Kuelap and Sipán in northern Peru.

Fly Latin America, based in Costa Rica (tel. 800/788-7857; www.flylatinamerica.net/peru) has good airfares to Peru from North America and all over, as well as air/hotel and tour packages. For more information on escorted general-interest tours, including questions to ask before booking your trip, visit www.frommers.com/planning.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.