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Cynthia Valladares

Peru and Patagonia Trip Leader

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Lima and then I lived in the Amazon (Iquitos) when I was a little girl then back to Lima. When I was a teenager, we moved to the altiplano, Puno- Lake Titicaca. In fact, Puno is where I discovered my passion for the outdoors since it is a place that has easy access to lakes, mountains and rivers. It is very different from the coast and I fell in love with those areas right away and since the very first moment I got on a kayak and when I summited my first mountain, I knew I wanted or I needed to be out there. I haven’t stopped since then and it's probably been 16 years already.

Cynthia with her group at Machu Picchu

What’s your favourite sport or activity?
I love being in the water, so kayaking is one of them, and I also like hiking quite a lot. When you hike to get somewhere, you get a totally different experience; the smell of the flowers, the heat of the sun, the wind or even the rain makes it more special, makes it real. I’m very excited about beginning to rock climb and I also started doing power & ashtanga yoga 4 years ago.

Your dream destination?
The bucket list is quite long now but I really want to go to India and spend at least a month there or more. It is a highly spiritual country; very rich in culture. I want to see, smell and touch the culture just like I do in my country.

Most delicious meal that you can cook?
I can cook the most amazing "lomo saltado" which is typically Peruvian with beef. I love pasta too, so seafood pasta is one of my favourites.

Favourite quote?
"Tourists don't know where they've been, travellers don't know where they're going." - Paul Theroux

One tip for our travellers?
I would tell everybody that there’s a whole new world out there that needs to be discovered so travel, learn, enjoy, experience, live and if u decide to go out there go without expectations and just enjoy every minute of it, be flexible 'cause it will never be the same as home and that makes it worthwhile seeing.


  • "She is fantastic, great lovely personality, super helpful & took care of us very well. She is like our mum for the whole hiking trip. I will definitely do another hiking trip with her if she is my guide for my future hiking trip. Her knowledge & peoples that she knews around Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales & Patagonia, places for dining, etc... etc... basically just abundance of knowledge were so good, making us felt very comfortable throughout the whole trip. She is a great asset to Active Adventures company without any doubt & you are very lucky to have her as part of your team."
    Kim Chai (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) March, 2016
  • "Cynthia was amazing. She is truly a gem. So relaxed and friendly but always making sure everything was running smoothly. She really knows so much about the areas she is guiding."
    Catherine McLellan (Somerville, Massachusetts, United States) February, 2015
  • "Cynthia was amazing. She was very warm and friendly and got along well with our group. She has established good relationships with local people in the area and this made the trip even more enjoyable. The trip would not have been the same without her."
    James Higginbotham (Huntsville, Alabama, United States) March, 2014
  • "I think I've said it all already. Cynthia was kind, generous, sweet-natured, attentive, funny, charming, organized, helpful, and a million other positive things. Although she's done this trip many times, she wasn't at all bored or tired of it all. I felt like my many questions were answered by Cynthia as if she hadn't responded to them a million times before! I hope to do the Machu Picchu trip with her some day."
    Barbara Kenady-fish (Wenatchee, Washington, United States) February, 2013
  • "Cynthia was the best. We cried when we left her. She did her best to make our trip special and she exceeded our expectations."
    Kate Weinreich (Ft Collins, Colorado, United States) June, 2012
  • "We can't say enough good things about Cynthia. She was excellent. She was charming, professional, caring, attentive to individual needs, organized, knowlegeable, flexible, enthusiastic, energetic, and intelligent. She went above and beyond in her work. She included the kids and watched out for any of them who might be feeling shy or reluctant to try something. She related well to the adults as well as the kids on the trip and, in addition, it is clear that the locals love her and she is well regarded where ever she goes. We would do another trip with Cynthia as our guide in a heartbeat."
    Cindy Landsberg (Monument, Colorado, United States) July, 2010
  • "Cynthia was great, the best guide on a trip like this I have ever had. She is so organized, efficient, friendly. Just can't say enough good about her."
    Candace Beckwith (Coronado,California,United States) July, 2009
  • "Cynthia was amazing! She showed sincere interest in our family and wanted to make sure that our trip was great. We feel that our trip was perfect because Cynthia was part of it! The moment Cynthia left us at the Lima airport on our last day, we felt like we were saying goodbye to a dear friend. We hope to someday take another trip with Active SA and, with some good planning and a little luck, Cynthia will be our guide again!"
    Debby Fleischman (Galloway,Ohio,United States) June, 2008
  • "Cynthia is amazing...incredibly sensitive to individual needs, positive, friendly, effective, helpful, flexible, organized, prompt, knowledgeable, energetic and definitely ensured everyone had an awesome time."
    Margie Whitnah (San Carlos, USA) December, 2007
  • "Cynthia was very responsive to our needs and very flexible at times. Couldn't have asked for more."
    Maureen McLaughlin (NJ, United States) December, 2006

Trip Reviews

  4.36 out of 5 (from 16232 reviews)

I wasn't ready for the trip to end!

I don't even know where to let's start at the beginning. I spent the last year dreaming about going to New Zealand, trying to talk just one friend into going with me, and finally, with some encouragement from family, booking this trip as a first time solo traveler. And let me be clear- that was the best decision I could have made! I enjoyed every single minute of my trip and wouldn't change the experience of traveling solo for anything. From the moment I met Gary and Mel, I knew that I had made the right decision. They were welcoming, to all, from the moment they met us. Right away I knew I had nothing to worry about, and worry I did prior to the start of the trip. I could not have asked for a better group of travel mates; it was as if you had hand-picked who should be on the trip together. They were amazing! The experiences on the trip would not have been nearly as amazing if it wasn't for these awesome people with whom I had the good fortune to travel.
Gary and Mel were kind, patient, and so easy to be around. They answered every question a novice like myself asked, without ever making me feel like an idiot. Gary was witty, kept us going, and a super safe driver! ( I am not a big fan of mountain roads with cliffs on the edge that lead to instant death and not once did I fear for my life.) Mel's cooking...holy smokes was it good; so much so that the pounds I was so sure I would lose on the trip didn't happen. She has even inspired me to try to cook a couple of her dishes this winter. She made it look so easy, even with the varied diets of the group. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I had chatting with both Gary and Mel wherever we were: on the bus, hiking, eating or playing cards. They brought us all together.
Now, for the adventures! Every day was different from the day prior. I saw and experienced so many new things that I can't stop talking about it. I loved the really challenging hikes (Sealy Tarns and Alex Knob) and the slower paced treks through the rain forest and valleys. The night sky at Mt. Aspiring Hut is indescribable! While we were unable to go on the second overnight hike due to weather, Gary and Mel didn't miss a beat. We were so busy and had so much fun, even in the rain, that you would never have known that we were doing almost 3 days of alternate activities. Major kudos to them for this! I could keep going on how much I enjoyed every aspect of my trip. This was the first vacation I have been on where I didn't want it to end and it truly was the trip of a lifetime. I can't wait to book my next trip with Active Adventures!
Melissa Munno Review Image
– California, United States
Winter Rimu, August 2016
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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Legendary Kiwi Hospitality

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

Expert LOCAL Guides & Trip Leaders

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

Everything is Included

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

A Sense of Achievement

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

Small Groups

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

Diverse Experiences

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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