Meeting Inspiring Communities in Peru

Exploring a new culture through the stunning sights, captivating history and delicious food all makes for a great holiday, but it’s meeting the people that takes our experience of Peru to a whole new level.

Our warm welcome starts with the greeting from Yannina at Manos Amigas. At their ceramics workshop in Lima we see beautiful figures being created and painted with intricate detail and meet the skilled people making them.

Peru Turumaki_craft_group

Traidcraft’s joyful nativity set is made by artisans working with Manos Amigas and it’s a great time to share stories of how these pieces are treasured by families back home. There’s a great sense of pride in making something that’s to be so loved by people on the other side of the world.

Whilst no trip to Peru would be complete without an opportunity to explore the spectacular Inca ruins at Machu Picchu and in the Sacred Valley, it’s combining these with visits to communities that makes for a really special trip. Following a fantastic visit to the quinoa farmers at Coopain, we make our second visit to Manos Amigas. A world away from bustling Lima, this visit is to a Collasuyo community high in the altiplano.


With a backdrop of mountains and flamingos feeding in the distance, we meet women spinning and knitting alpaca fibre into the black, white and grey scarves we recognise from the Traidcraft range. Life here is very different to home, but the connection through fair trade is strong, and with a greeting of local music and dancing it’s a fitting celebration to end this journey.


Come and join us in Peru! To to find out more about our holidays visit: email: [email protected] or call us on 0191 2651110

Chicuchas Wasi School for Girls in Cusco

Our introduction to Chicuchas Wasi
We were first introduced to Chicuchas Wasi, School for Girls by our guide Efrain Valles who is an active board member and advocate for the school. Providing an education for young girls in the Cusco region, Chicuchas Wasi is a charity really close to Efrain’s heart and we always make a visit during our tours.

Efrain at Chicuchas Wasi(2)Alternative School for Girls, Cusco
Chicuchas Wasi began in 1987 creating a safe space offering nutrition, health care, school, life skills to abandoned children, some as young as 6 years old, surviving alone on the streets of Cusco. Whilst there was a need to provide emergency care for these children, there was concern that it did not address the many reasons for their suffering.

In Peru, public education up to 16 years is free, but in reality many families living in poverty cannot afford uniforms, books, and transportation, thus making it impossible for many children to attend school. In poor families the priority is to educate the boys, and many girls are relied upon for domestic chores and are brought up to depend on men for survival. Chicuchas Wasi were seeing girls become pregnant as early as 13, and with no education or skills, those finding themselves without male support were totally unprepared to provide for their families and their children were being abandoned through desperation.

In 1997, recognising the need for female education, Chicuchas Wasi reorganised to prepare and educate poor girls to become future leaders for social change, and to end gender inequality, abuse and child abandonment.


Chicuchas Wasi provides free, primary education, emphasising personal development, empowerment, and academics. They stress personal values, integrity, self-esteem and social responsibility for an adult life of quality, dignity, and financial independence. Chicuchas Wasi School maintains a big presence in the community with cultural celebrations, supporting social and women’s issues and to spread the value and importance of education for girls.

Visiting Chicuchas Wasi
Our visits to Chicuchas Wasi are always a memorable and celebrated experience as we see for ourselves the amazing work that is being pioneered in their community. You can find out more information about our tours to Peru and Chicuchas Wasi by clicking here.

Friends of Chicuchas Wasi
The charity Friends of Chicuchas Wasi was set up in February 2011 by a group of travellers from the 2010 Meet the People Tour to Peru to support the school and share news of its progress. Following Efrain’s visit to run the London Marathon in 2012, the charity became the vehicle for giving for many of Efrain’s ex-tour friends and so far over £40,000 has been collected and transferred to the school.

The charity holds an AGM for members once a year, which is an opportunity to hear more news on the school, to meet with fellow Peru Tour friends, and to hear about other Traidcraft Meet the People Tours. This is normally held in Birmingham on a Saturday in the spring or early summer.

Becoming a Member
Membership of the charity is open to all who would like to donate to Chicuchas Wasi. There is a similar but larger support group in California who share news and pictures from Cusco which are circulated through the Friends of Chicuchas Wasi to members in the UK.

If you are interested in becoming a Member or Associate of the Friends of Chicuchas Wasi please email Michael Tunnicliffe at [email protected]

Donating to Chicuchas Wasi
The Friends of Chicuchas Wasi welcomes regular or one-off donations from supporters of the school and there are a number of ways to donate:

paymentPlease notify Michael ([email protected]) of any BACs payments. The charity is registered for Gift Aid so please indicate if your donation is eligible for this to Michael, either in your email or in a note along with a cheque. He will then send you the Gift Aid form to complete and return to him.

ruth and students

A Wanderlust Win

Efrain Valles heads up a team of fantastic guides who lead our Meet the People Tours to Peru and we were delighted to hear Bill Bryson announce him as the overall winner of Wanderlust’s 2014 Tour Guide of the Year Awards.

AwardsWhether it’s the producers you visit or the guides themselves, we know that it’s the people that you meet on our tours that make our trips such a special experience and we’re always delighted for any excuse to celebrate just how fantastic they all are. Wanderlust are the only travel awards to focus specifically on recognising the contribution of tour guides and with the judging being made on the testimonials from previous travellers, this award means so very much to Efrain.

Efrain at Chicuchas Wasi(2)

Efrain guided our very first Traidcraft Meet the People Tour to Peru in August 2008 and has just completed his 12th tour with us this year. In 2012 Efrain came to the UK to run the London Marathon, a lifelong dream and a fantastic opportunity to raise over £5,000 for Traidcraft Exchange and a further £6,500 for Chicuchas Wasi in Peru.

Huge thanks must go to everyone who sent in testimonials about their tours to Peru with us and for those who were able to join us in celebrating with Efrain at the Awards ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society last month. He’s been overwhelmed by the level of support from Traidcraft supporters and we’ll all remember the massive cheer when his name was first announced at the ceremony!

Efrain wins a bursary of £5,000 which will be going to Chicuchas Wasi, a school providing an education for young girls in the Cusco region. It’s a charity really close to Efrain’s heart and we always make a visit to Ruth and the girls at Chicuchas Wasi during our tours and we are looking forward to hearing how they plan to spend the bursary money next year. You can find out more about Chicuchas Wasi on their website by clicking here and for further information about how to stay in touch with the charity and donate through the UK based Friends of Chicuchas Wasi then do get in touch with Lizzie at Skedaddle.

Although Efrain’s trip to the UK was short, he had a great time celebrating with many old friends and even had a little time to enjoy some of the sights of London:

Chased by a train!(1)

For more photos from Efrain’s Adventures in London you can visit our Facebook album here.

We’ve been delighted to see lots of coverage of Efrain and his award all over the British and Peruvian press. For those interested in seeing some of the articles, you can find more on our Facebook page or click the following links:

The Guardian
The Telegraph

And for those looking to improve their spanish…
La Republica
Canal N

Frecuencia Latina

You can find out more about our tours to Peru by clicking here and to join our tours to Peru with Efrain and the team, chat to Hannah on 0191 2651110 or email us at [email protected].

Meet our fantastic guides!

All of our guides are fantastic ambassadors for their countries, keen to share their love and enthusiasm for their culture and history and always making sure you enjoy the very best trip possible.

Name: Efrain
Destination: Peru

Day 6 (4)

So proud of his country and heritage, Efrain recently brought a little bit of Peruvian culture to us when he joined us in the UK in April 2012 to run the London Marathon in full Inca Chaski dress. Running in the traditional dress of his ancestors, Efrain completed the marathon in 5 hours, 3 minutes and 32 seconds, raising just over £5,000 for Traidcraft Exchange.

You can see photos of Efrain’s journey to the UK to run in the London Marathon on our website by clicking here.

Click here for more information on our tours in Peru.

Name: Ranjith Henry 
Destination: India

Ranjith & Rani - cropped

Ranjith and his wife Rani, run Kolam Tours from their home in Chennai. Ranjith has been running tours with Traidcraft since 1990 and is a firm favourite and friend of so many who have travelled with him.

Ranjith is no ordinary tour guide. Happy to discuss and debate any and all subjects, and often leading the discussion about all that we see and do on the tours, Ranjith is determined to make sure that you make the most of your time discovering India, learning from the producers themselves about realities of life in modern day India. Prompting with the questions you didn’t even know you wanted to ask, Ranjith helps to challenge perceptions of India and every day occurences making every trip with him unforgettable.

You can join Ranjith on any of the following tours:
Southern India click here for more information
Western India click here for more information
Northern India click here for more information

Guide: Stephen, Suwadee, and Rosalind Salmon
Destination: Thailand

Suwade - cropped

Stephen, originally from the UK, first went to Thailand in 1972 as a volunteer and married Suwadee (pictured above) in Chiang Mai in 1975. They have lived in Thailand continuously for over 25 years, working and living in several different parts of the country. In 1992 they both helped start the ThaiCraft Association which they now manage alongside their daughter Rosalind and son Mark. ThaiCraft is a fair trade organisation partnering with nearly 100 craft communities in all regions of the country and their long-term relationships with the groups that we visit allows an insight into life in Thailand that few tourists will ever get to experience.

You can join the ThaiCraft family on our tour of Northern Thailand click here for more information.

Guide: Shamim
Destination: Bangladesh

Shamim - cropped

A fantastic ambassador for his country, Shamim facilitates and guides all of our tours in Bangladesh as we visit a variety of fantastic fair trade groups and communities.

With such a long and close relationship with Traidcraft, the producers and projects welcome all our groups as friends and Shamim’s welcome and approach is no different as he warmly welcomes us to enjoy and love Bangladesh as he does. Himself a fabric designer, Shamim has long been involved in the development and fair trade networks in Bangladesh and is a senior member of the National Crafts Council. As well as guiding us round the producers, projects and main sites of our visit, Shamim welcomes us for an unforgettable stay in a rural community of weavers and organic farmers very close to his heart.

Meet Shamim and enjoy Bangladesh on our tours in March click here for more information.

To check availability on any of the tours mentioned above click here.

For more information about any of our tours, or to chat through any questions please feel free to call Hannah in the office on 0191 2651110 or you can email us at [email protected]

Guide Efrain heads to London

We’re pretty proud of our Meet the People guiding team, who do an amazing job looking after all of our customers across the world. With such a variety of guiding characters in our range, we’re never short of fascinating tales about their adventurous lives! Product Manager Lizzie caught up with our Peruvian guide Efrain, who recently decided to swap the high altitude peaks of Peru for the chance to compete in the London Marathon…

Efrain at Machu Picchu

I first heard about Efrain back in 2007 when we were setting up our tours to Peru. I had asked our partners in Peru to send us some information about our new guide and this was their reply…

 “His knowledge and love of all things Peruvian,  his great sense of humour, his unflappable nature and his ability to deal with the vagaries of travel in the Andes makes him a popular leader highly in demand and his leadership experience will make this trip an truly unforgettable Peruvian adventure. His ambition one day is to compete in the London Marathon.”

It’s now 5 years later but we are finally there and Efrain has made it to the UK (his first trip out of South America) to run in the 2012 Virgin London Marathon, which took place on Sunday 22nd April, 2012.

It is not easy securing a place in the London Marathon as there are many more people who want to do it than there are places available. But we had been able to get one for Efrain through Traidcraft’s charity, Traidcraft Exchange. They had very kindly given Efrain one of their much sought after places on the marathon and in return we agreed to raise £3,000 to support their overseas development work. This raises much-needed funds for Traidcraft Exchange, a wonderful charity where we all know that the money will be used to help people in the developing world to improve their lives through trade.

For those of you who have travelled on some of our tours to India, Bangladesh and Kenya you will already have first-hand experience of some of the projects that Traidcraft Exchange are involved in, but you can also find more about the incredible work they do by clicking here to see Traidcraft Exchange’s website.

Having raised the necessary funds needed  – we want to thank everyone for all of their time, support and generous donations – Efrain managed to make his trip to the UK and complete his dream of running in the London Marathon a reality! Completing the run in an impressive 5 hours, 3 minutes and 32 seconds, it’s safe to say we’re incredibly proud here at MTP HQ. Here are a few photos from his journey to the big smoke…

sightseeing in London

Sightseeing in London!

Chicuchas Wasi Presentation

Efrain giving a presentation about his childhood and recent developments at Chicuchas Wasi (

Joe Freeman low res

Efrain and a Samaritans runner at 25 miles – just 1 mile to go! (Thanks to Joe Freeman for the brilliant photo )

Efrain ran the London Marathon for Traidcraft Exchange and you can read more about his story on his Just Giving site:

During his trip to the UK Efrain is also raising money and promoting a local charity in Cusco which is very dear to his heart – Chicuchas Wasi. Donations to Chicuchas Wasi can now be made through UK charity Friends of Chicuchas Wasi using the details as follows:

Cheques can be made to “Friends of Chicuchas Wasi” and sent to:
Michael Tunnicliffe
5 St George’s Way

Or by BACs payment sent to
The Co-operative Bank
Sort Code 08-92-99
Account number: 65469806
Please send an email to Michael at [email protected] to let him know a payment has been made.

The charity is registered for Gift Aid so please indicate if your donation is eligible for this to Michael, either in your email or in a note along with a cheque.

Interested in fundraising for Traidcraft?

If you have been inspired by Efrain’s marathon run for Traidcraft Exchange then join the Traidcraft Team in one of their challenge events.

Visit for more info or call 0191 4976445