After reading our chat with Renaldi Chacca, two things about him will become apparent: his unwavering love and pride for his home country, and his commitment to showing his travellers as much of it as he possibly can. Renaldi is the gold standard in everything Peregrine holds dear, and we are truly lucky to have him on board.
Renaldi, how long have you been a Peregrine leader?
I’ve worked with Peregrine as tour leader since 2010, but I was a porter on the Inca Trail with Peregrine since 2004. Before that, I worked for Highland Peru - a local operator that was the ground operator for Peregrine for several years.
What do you love most about your country?
Something that I love about my country is that it has a huge diversity in different aspects: from culture and history, to food and tradition. The landscapes in Peru are diverse - from our beaches on the coast to our snow-capped Andean mountains and our rich Amazon with its endless natural beauty and the tradition of our ancient peoples.
Where is your home city and what is your favourite thing to do, eat or see when you are home?
I was born and raised in the city of Cusco and currently live in it, there are many things that make this charming city. The friendly and charismatic people, for example, are a little shy about their history and the cultural legacy left by great civilisations. Personally, when I'm in the city I like to eat my favourite dish - baked Guinea Pig - in the typical restaurants called picanterias, and also walk to the not well-known archaeological centers. There feels a unique sense of enigma and beauty at some of those places that was once very important. And of course how can I forget about Machu Picchu - with its mountains, treasures, mystique and energy.
In your years with Peregrine, what has been a highlight?
In all the years working with Peregrine, something that is always a highlight is the respect of the company to its employees - respectful, friendly treatment and better policies, such as offering employment to people and local operators around the world, and Peregrine’s social aid projects such as Peru Challenge in Cusco.
Which experience consistently surprises your travellers on the trips you run?
In my years working with Peregrine and Geckos, most of the passengers say that their expectations are exceeded when they reach their destination. For example, in Peru, they always make mention of the tour leaders and our responsibility and passion for our culture and traditions in general, and of course many of them comment on their experience of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu - the highlight of the trip. They usually mention the hard walking across the amazing landscapes and the charisma of the porters and guides.
If you were to give all travellers one piece of advice, what would it be?
More than advice for just my traveller, I have a comment for all my friends: never stop travel! Know the world and its people. There is much to learn and so little time to do so. Peru and other countries are waiting with open arms and everywhere has so much to know, learn and do.
What do you like most about being a Peregrine leader?
What I find interesting about being a tour leader is the advantage of being the ambassador of my country and to show the best of this beautiful country. I also love meeting many friends around the world and sharing my experiences with them. As I always say, life is like a school and you never stop learning.
Do you keep in touch with many of your travellers?
Many of my friends are still in touch with me, by social networks or email. We share photos and anecdotes and things that happened in Peru and on their trips.
Have you ever found yourself and your travellers in potentially dangerous situations that you've had to overcome?
One of my toughest experiences, and you could say extreme, was in my first year as a tour leader 2010, when I did the Inca Trail with a group of seven. On our last day in Machu Picchu, after the tour, a disaster happened. The river took several kilometres of the railroad, there was no way to get out of town and we had to stay put for almost a week whilst we waited for a way out. Luckily on the sixth day, I could evacuate all my passengers by helicopter and everybody got back safely.
Anything else you’d like to add about Peru?
To finish about my beloved Peru and Cusco, I’d like to say that we are a culture rich in history, tradition and customs called to preserve all our cultural and material wealth left to us by our ancestors. We are always very happy to receive travellers and show you this variety of Peruvian treasures. From the gourmet Peruvian dishes representing each region: incomparable Ceviche on the coast, to the Andes with its rich guinea pig, and our Amazon with its rich forest and it’s famous tacacho jerky. And of course, the great pisco sour. Welcome to our beloved Peru!