Deepest darkest Peru

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Former Queenstowners who 10 years ago started an award-winning company organising off-the-beaten-track tours to Peru recently returned to celebrate the milestone.

Ex-Active Adventures general manager Steve Wilson and South American operations manager Katy Shorthouse set up Aspiring Adventures – named after Wana-ka’s Mt Aspiring – after leaving their Queenstown-based jobs.

Shorthouse, who lives in Cusco, Peru, had spent three years guiding for Active Adventures in Peru.

Wilson, who lives in Dunedin, says Queenstown’s adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit encouraged them to start their company. Their first three clients were locals Honor Mathieson, Rachel Rose and Susan Todd, whose tour was called ‘Coronet to Cusco’.

From Aspiring Adventures’ first year, business has grown 5000 per cent. They’ve taken a few thousand clients, primarily North Americans but also a good smattering of Kiwis and Aussies.

Mountain biking and the famed Inca trail to Machu Picchu have been popular tour components while others have had cultural elements.

Among awards, the company’s got into TripAdvisor’s ‘Hall of Fame’, and its trips have been included in National Geographic Travelermagazine’s ’50 Tours of a Lifetime’ list.

– PHILIP CHANDLER