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Guide to Adventure Travel in South America for Travel Professionals – Adios Adventures


Written By: Jacquie Whitt, Co-Founder / President, Adios Adventures



What is Adventure Travel?


Back in the old days, “Adventure Travel” could be defined as a 20-something year old backpacker with a Eurail Pass and a membership in Youth Hostels International. Hostels were great places to meet other young, bold travelers seeking those out-of-the-way spots that no one else cared about.


Today, adventure travel has expanded to all demographics including those backpackers from the 70’s and 80’s who now have the financial stability, interest, and time to relive the “good ole days.” But with some comfort. We call this “Soft Adventure.”


Adios Adventure Travel makes it possible for adventure travelers of all ages to explore remote, wild regions with porter service and English-speaking guides. Or for those travelers seeking a “taste” of adventure, we have the flexibility to scale activities to meet individual needs. We can mix-and-match accommodations from tents, or budget-friendly tourist class hotels, to five-star luxury chains with a bit of pampering.


Who are we?  What do we know about Adventure Travel in South America?


Jacquie Whitt has over 35 years of experience in adventure travel on 4 continents and has teamed up with native Perúvian, Vidal Jaquehua, to organize and provide the best trips possible to both high-profile as well as off-the-beaten-path destinations in South America. Jacquie has traveled and explored all destinations listed here, sometimes with Vidal or with one of the company’s private guides. Jacquie and Vidal, along with a team of carefully selected staff, are ready to help you sell adventure travel to your clients.


Choose one or Mix and Match from the following Destinations:


  • Machu Picchu (Perú) year round
  • Inca Trail Hikes -easy 1-day or strenuous 4-day (Perú) closed Feb
  • Amazon Rain Forest -both hard and soft adventure (Perú) year round
  • Destination adventure weddings (Perú) year round


  • Amazon Adventure Luxury River Cruise (Ecuador) year round
  • Galapagos Islands Land-Based Adventures (Ecuador) year round


  • Lake Titicaca (Perú and Bolivia) year round
  • Uyuni Salt Flats (Bolivia) year round
  • Highway of Death (Bolivia) year round
  • Mountaineering (Perú and Bolivia) June, July, August only


  • Patagonia (Chile) Nov, Dec, Mar
  • Fjords Homestay, Hikes & Hot Springs (Chile) Nov, Dec, Mar
  • Santiago Wineries -optional horseback riding (Chile) year round
  • Atacama Desert – (Chile) June, July, August
  • Easter Island – (Chile) year round

Honeymoons to one or any combination of destinations

  • (Ecuador-Perú-Bolivia-Chile) year round


Quick Facts about Machu Picchu

Travel to Machu Picchu is the most popular and most frequently booked trip.

  • Hours – Open every day from 6 am – 5 pm including holidays
  • Time – Same timezone as NY (no daylight savings time)
  • Location – Perú / South of the equator
  • Temperature – average yearly high in Cusco is 65°F / average low 42°F
  • 2 Seasons – Rainy: November – March; Dry: April – October (but not guaranteed!)
  • Altitude – 8,000 ft
  • Min # of days needed to travel beginning/ending in Lima – 3 full days/2 nights
  • There are 3 routes to get to Machu Picchu:
#1 – by train
#2 – by foot on the Inca Trail (choose easy 1-day or strenuous 4-day hike)
#3 – by foot and by car on the “jungle trek” (this is the “back-door” to Machu Picchu)


Who can travel?


A better question would be, “Who should not travel?” There are so many ways to modify most itineraries. We can accommodate children as well as senior citizens for most trips.


This is list of people who should not travel:

  • Anyone who is unable to walk without assistance on any terrain
  • Pregnant women (there are places where there is no access to medical attention in case of emergency)
  • People with chronic medical conditions that may affect their ability to walk
  • Strollers, crutches, walkers, walking casts, and wheelchairs are not recommended


How to prepare for travel


Packing lists and pre-departure information are provided for each destination.


We can provide information about passports, visas, vaccinations, medications & travel insurance. We ask individuals to be responsible to confirm the accuracy and take charge of their own immigration and health documents.


When a group arrives, our guide will be waiting at the airport. In addition to well-known places, our guides also accompany groups to Qechua farms, weaving co-ops, tribal-run camps, rural villages and indigenous home stays. The guides begin with a face-to- face briefing to prepare travelers for the conditions of the destination. This may cover topics related to altitude sickness, drinking water, clothing and things that can affect their physical comfort. Guides also discuss cultural practices, family dynamics, child rearing, clothing, food customs, employment and more. Guides accompany every group that interacts with locals outside routine tourists destinations.


What could possibly go wrong? (You had to ask!)

  • Delayed/cancelled flights from U.S. It happens, even in good weather. Cancelled or delayed flights have a domino effect on future plans. We recommend building in an extra day in the front of trips to Galapagos and Santiago, Chile.
  • Illness / accident – our local guides and hotel staff will usually handle this. Having a satellite phone or an account with Global Rescue is not a guarantee of timely service. The reality is that the local guides and porters will handle evacuations as effectively and timely as possible.
  • People with life-threatening allergies need prior approval from us before they can make a reservation for any trip. The incorrect use of Epi-pens can lead to death. The pens are designed to reverse symptoms of severe allergic reactions. In some cases, the purpose is to slow symptoms until medical attention can be reached. In South America, it could take many hours to reach medical attention and having an extra 20 minutes is not useful and can be dangerous if people don’t understand that they don’t have immediate access to proper medical care.  (we have never had this happen, but it may be due to our diligent screening)
  • Travel Documents & Immigration – U.S. citizens need only a valid passport. Visas to enter Bolivia can be processed at the border. At the time a reservation is made, we need to see copies of each passport to check name spelling, date of birth, and expiration date. We cannot accept passport cards. In Latin American culture, the standards for accurately displaying names on documents is very different than in the US. Latinos commonly have 3, 4, or 5 names. Airlines, hotels, and train lines may be lenient with how an individual’s names are displayed. Passport numbers should match exactly. But even with these varying standards, we strive for perfection when it comes to travel documents.
  • Liability waivers – we require all adults to sign a waiver for themselves and their children under age 18. If your agency has a waiver that covers us, we’re fine with that. If you need help setting one up, let me know.
  • Expired passports – happens all the time. Prevention and planning are the best ways to avoid issues. All passports should be valid for at least 6 months after you return home from your trip. Let us know if anyone is planning to renew his or her passport. Some domestic airlines require valid passport at time of reservation. In-country DOMESTIC FLIGHTS ARE BEST IF BOOKED WITH VALID UP TO DATE PASSPORT.


How to customize a trip:

  • Volunteer activities for 1 day or more
  • Pachamanca meal (Qechua farmers build an earth oven to cook vegetables and meat)
  • Mountain biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Festivals and Cultural performances (to attend or avoid)
  • Day hikes with no camping
  • Multi-day hikes with camping
  • Culinary tours and cooking classes
  • Textile/weaving activities


Things we avoid for safety / liability reasons: (Perú is not Costa Rica!)

  • Ziplining or bungee-jumping
  • River rafting and tubing
  • Day trips for rock climbing
  • Mountain biking with fast descents from high altitude
  • Mountain biking the Highway of Death (Bolivia) Jeep trek is safest option.
  • Car Rentals – information about road blocks, strikes and access to fuel are not reliable


What to expect:

  • Hotels will not have swimming pools for the kids.
  • Hotel safety standards are different than U.S.  Rooms, balconies, and stairs may not have handrails and may not be childproof according to our standards.
  • Electricity and refrigeration are available in all hotels. (not in the rooms) Traveling with meds that require refrigeration is possible, but we are not responsible if the power goes out. Power outages do not occur any more frequently in South America than they do in the U.S. For people who sleep with CPAP machine, please bring a small extension cord and plug adapter for the country in which you are traveling.
  • If television is available, it’s likely to be in Spanish only.
  • WIFI is included in most hotels, but service is subject to interruptions and overload.
  • Walking is the main conveyance. Some places are hilly and steep. The pace is adjusted to meet the needs of each group.
  • Hair-dryers may not be available in all hotels, even in hotels that claim to have them. If someone must dry his/her hair, it is suggested he/she bring one from home.
  • All tours are in small groups. Minimum 2 – Maximum 15 people.
  • Fast food restaurants can be found in airports and larger cities, but are not common elsewhere. (Children’s menus are not common. No chicken nuggets)
  • The Inca did not build guard rails or hand rails, and Machu Picchu is not “childproof.” We recommend that young children be carried in backpacks at all times. Child safety seats are not required, nor are they available for vehicles.
  • We can provide trekking poles for any tour, especially for older people, and guides can adjust the pace of a tour to accommodate the needs of individuals.
  • We prefer to book the flights for you between mainland Ecuador and Galapagos. We prefer to book flights from La Paz to Uyuni, Bolivia. And we prefer to book flights to Patagonia and Easter Island in Chile. In Perú, you can book flights with our recommendations.
  • We do not book any international flights to/from South America as well as international flights between Machu Picchu and Galapagos Islands.  Latam and Avianca offer 1 way or roundtrip flights daily.
  • You can book your own hotels or we can do it for you. We can help you choose the best locations based on activities and needs of your clients.
  • There are no chain hotels or Starwood Properties in Galapagos Islands.
  • Special diets can be accommodated with advance notice.  Vegetarians, Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free are welcome.
  • We are used to doing a lot of hand-holding. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as often as you need to.


How to combine destinations – the best combinations

“If we’re going all that way, what else can we visit?”

Here are examples of minimum length and duration for combination trips:

  • Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca in Perú – 8 days
  • Machu Picchu and Amazon Rainforest in Perú – 8 days
  • Machu PIcchu, Amazon, and Lake Titicaca in Perú – 10 days
  • Machu Picchu and Galapagos Island Land Adventure – 12 days
  • Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and Uyuni Salt Flats – 11 days
  • Galapagos Islands and River Cruise in Ecuador – 10 days
  • Santiago and Patagonia in Chile – 9 days
  • Santiago, Patagonia, and Easter Island in Chile – 12 days
  • Santiago, Fjords, Patagonia, and Easter Island in Chile – 16 days


What’s “Hot” in Adventure Travel?  What are the recent travel trends?


When we’re not traveling ourselves, we try to keep our dirt-encrusted, chipped-nailed fingers on the pulse of fading fads as well as the latest trends in adventure travel.


One of the biggest changes that will affect every visitor to Machu Picchu just occurred on September 1, 2016. The paths and steps built by the ancient Incas at Machu Picchu cannot accommodate 2-way foot traffic. So the Peruvian government built a new separate exit gate, and set up one-way paths that begin at the main entry and end at the exit gate. All visitors must follow the clearly marked routes of their choice through the ruins. These changes are meant to reduce congestion around popular sites and move people more efficiently in one direction.


Booking epic journeys through boutique operators is the hottest thing since heirloom tomatoes hit grocery store shelves. People see the value of what we do now. And they want it!  Today’s travelers seek life-changing travel experiences that are best provided when traveling in small, nimble groups.


“Ditch the tourism” and go authentic IF that’s what your client wants. Travelers who want to rest and relax with access to amenities, may be best served by staying in an all-inclusive beach resort in Mexico or a retreat in the Rocky Mountains. Adventure travel trips are best suited for people who like to be active – people who want to learn something useful, experience something they can’t see elsewhere in the world, or challenge themselves.


Where’s the Money?  How do you get paid?


Up to now, we have customized arrangements with each agent who books a trip for his/her clients using our services.  Bottom line is that we want this to work for everyone.  The clients should feel they are getting good value for their dollar, you should be compensated for your time and effort, and the teams on the ground should be paid fairly.


Here’s what we recommend – we provide quotes for the trips you want and you will add on a percentage or flat rate, at your discretion, to cover your costs. That is the amount you will collect from your clients. You will pay us the amount we quoted you.


We accept checks and all major credit cards.  All our banking is based in the US.