Sometimes group travel is the way to go when you want to meet other people, you don’t have time to plan everything yourself, or a specific trip requires a tour group. I’ve gone with G Adventures three times, and they exceeded my expectations every time. On a recent trip to Peru, hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu with G was a trip highlight. The guides, the porters, the chefs, and my group are why I continue to travel with them. In addition, I continue to be impressed with their work with their partner, Planeterra Foundation. They work with communities worldwide, and we get to visit these communities.
Giving Back to the Community
Before the Inca Trail hike started, we spent a day in the Sacred Valley. We had an opportunity to visit one of the projects, the women’s co-op in Ccaccachico. We learned that 62 women hand-make textiles and do weaving. These women have been weaving since they were 12 years old. The women make blankets, scarves, hats, gloves, and more using alpaca wool. Every lady has a different job. For example, one might be responsible for collecting the wool while someone else dyes it. When arriving, you will first learn how the women wash and dye the wool. Some scarves can take four to five days to make because of the technique and pattern. Sometimes they add animals and Inca symbols when they weave.
Visitors have chances to buy their products on-site. The money from sales gets distributed evenly to the women. The women agreed that the partnership with G has changed their lives because they now earn a living through souvenirs.
Most importantly, they have been able to send their kids to school. Some also added that this allows the chance to create a good relationship with the community and the workers. Several of us in my group agreed that we felt good buying items from them because we were helping them earn a living to improve their lives. More than 75 families live in Ccaccachico.
Other G Projects
In addition to the co-op visits, we had a chance to visit Parwa restaurant, another project that G has partnered with for seven years. This farm-to-table restaurant is a lunch stop in the sacred valley. Upon entering, one will notice the crimson-colored building with glass windows all around the restaurant.
The four-course meal included dishes like causa, potato mixed with vegetables, ceviche, and stacked layered quinoa. The service, presentation, and food were terrific. Part of the cost of these trips goes to projects like this. The restaurant faces the mountains and has beautiful gardens. It is serene and relaxing; one could lie on the grass all afternoon listening to birds.
Logistics are so necessary when going with a group. Everything runs smoothly, there are always good guides, and you can see as much as possible with this tour company. A few things stood out for me on this Inca Trail trip. First, we had two guides, Ever and Johnny, who were so positive, encouraging, and motivating every day.
PLACE THE GUIDES, EVER AND JOHNNY HERE). Ever is on the left, Johnny is on the right
They always made sure we were okay and treated us like family. Ever would always call us his family, which we always appreciated. My favorite was when he would say, ‘okay, family are you ready?’ We did a group cheer every morning to prepare for the day’s hike. They always stopped to explain the history and the ruins.
The porters, group number eight, were also fantastic. Every time we finished hiking for lunch or in the evening, they would always be at the site clapping for us. They would bring us bowls of hot water in the evening and the morning. They brought us coca tea every morning and carried everything except our day bags. This group of porters was terrific. We would be eating breakfast, and they had already taken down our tents and started packing to get ready for the next stop. Sometimes, you would see them running on the trail. The porters always set up our tents and sleeping bags. They are such hard workers, and they work well together. Our group always said that we should be the ones clapping for them every day because they are the ones who deserve it.
Of course, if it weren’t for the two chefs, we would not have had our delicious food. This aspect went above my expectations. Since we would be hiking in the mountains, meals would be simple. On our first day, we learned we would sit on chairs at a long table – enough for 18 people to sit inside a tent. We realized that we would be eating some fabulous food while hiking the Inca trail for all of our meals.
All meals were usually two or three courses. Some meals included quesadillas, quinoa cakes, causa, and soup. One morning the chef made us pancakes and wrote everyone’s names in a sauce on the plate.
These little things mean a lot to us. We also had snacks and tea before dinner. The best surprise was our last lunch break; the chef had us close our eyes to find a cake they had made for us. My group was shocked to see a cake with ‘Congratulations Sexy Llamas, our group name, written on top. Someone had to go near a fresh stream of water and shake the jello for thirty minutes to make a jello mold for the cake. This lovely chocolate cake with pink jello on top was delicious. They thought of everything.
Conclusion: Hiking the Inca Trail
The community visits, the encouraging guides, the hard-working porters, the fabulous chefs, and my fantastic group made this trip hiking the Inca trail so memorable and unique. It felt good knowing that the company is partnering with communities and helping them by buying souvenirs; we also get a chance to learn about the work they do and have an opportunity to meet the people in the community. By purchasing a trip, we are also helping to support local communities. Please keep an open mind for those hesitant about group travel because it can be a positive experience.
- On our site: A Peruvian Adventure: Visit an amazon Eco-Lodge
- On our site: Visit a Rum Distillery in the Amazon Rainforest
- Also on our site: Take an Amazon Rainforest Walk
- Visiting Lima and love art districts?
- Visit Peru.com
-All photos as credited. Cover photo of Inca ruins by Erin Coyle.