If you are planning a tour to Machu Picchu, I really suggest Gadventures. Part of my praise of Gadventures comes not only from the fact that they do excellent tours, but also that they truly care about sustainable or eco tourism. This is demonstrated by their use of locals as porters, guides, and cooks on the Inca Trail, and their graduation program, which allows these locals to move up to the next rung if they fit the bill, becoming guides for the rest of your Peru trip, and even leading sections of the company from comfy desk jobs (this is according to our guide for most of Peru, called a CEO). Not to mention the support of the Weaving Women and the Floating Islands of Lake Titticacca exchange program. Basically, they try to really get the tourists in there, but in a way that even those who are novices at such things feel comfortable and safe, while benefitting people who live in the country. This is another such program they have, which I hope will further convince you. (THE FOLLOWING PICTURES MAY BE DISTURBING FOR THOSE SENSITIVE TO ANIMAL INJURIES).
A Rescue Operation
This rescue is for animals that were injured by hunters, or were captured by poachers and the like, which were subsequently caught smuggling or hunting endangered animals. The parrots were apparently rescued when someone tried to illegally export them from the country.
The vicuña’s eye was badly hurt and is now missing entirely. As a result, he is very aggressive to humans and will run up to you just to be rude. Beware, and don’t try to touch it. We don’t know how this one got injured, but Vicuña fur is very soft, even more than alpaca fur, and they are often killed simply to make them incredibly rare, though you clearly don’t have to kill this animal just to get the fur. Vicuñas are a relative of the alpaca.
They also had some alpacas and hamsters, because those are intrinsic to life in Peru, but they are not endangered. The best thing about this place was the size of the enclosures. The condor enclosure was absolutely massive, and you get to go inside. We walked right past the condor as it was sitting on a little bridge you have to cross. He seemed friendly enough. I got a picture of half of an enclosure for Llamas, and some of the vicuña enclosure, as you can see in the first pictures.
The Pumas are behind bars, of course. Big cats are naturally pretty lazy, because they expend a lot of energy due to their size, and because, well, they are cats! The fact that you can’t touch them tells me they are most likely not sedated (don’t let Thailand fool you: If you can touch a big cat, it’s probably sedated. Otherwise they couldn’t feel safe that you sat next to it, for insurance reasons).
A really amazing thing to see here is the wingspan on the condors, which are given a reward to fly from one end of the enclosure to another. The keeper there seemed extremely comfortable with the animals. He never prodded or hit any of them. It was like going to a rescue in America, which is the only country I’ve ever been satisfied with zoo enclosures, though of course there are zoos and parks I would never support due to their treatment of the animals. I think you can feel safe going here, because they take care of the animals.
Condors are predators, so in order to make them fly the team shoos them gently to the top of the enclosure, then puts a tempting piece of meat at the bottom.
I’ll let the condors give you a little farewell.
TLDR: Travel with Gadventures to go to Machu Picchu, and definitely make sure the rescue opp is on the list! You can request it from your CEO at the start of your journey.