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We’re a close-knit, global team of travel experts.

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The Origin

After moving away from Peru, founder Javier realized people were very curious about his home country and often asked him how they could visit. After getting frustrated that no tour company offered a package with all of his recommendations, he talked to his wife, Blaire, and best friend, Roger, and together they decided to build their own company so they could make sure visitors were seeing the “real Peru”.

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First Steps

Using Javier and Roger’s knowledge of tourism in Peru and their network of contacts, Blaire was able to use her background in business and logistics to build tour experiences and a customer base. Today, Blaire communicates with all the customers before the trip, Javier manages accommodations and develops content with his photography skills, and Roger leads the team of guides, porters, and chefs to give each customer a unique and memorable experience.

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The Future

Looking ahead, the biggest goal of the First Step founders is to keep showing the world the wonders of Peru. By bringing customers into the local communities, we hope to support and encourage native Peruvians to keep traditions alive so both future generations and tourists can continue to enjoy the culture and learn from each other for many years to come. Jump to our mission

Meet the Founders

Javier Huillca headshot

Javier Huillca

Founder

Javier was born in Cusco, Peru.  His first language is Quechua and he learned to speak Spanish in school.  He graduated from the Technical College as a leader in the tourism industry and eventually he learned English. 

He spent his career as a guide, teaching and leading in outdoor settings for over 15 years.  He met Blaire in Peru 5 years ago and they soon got married and moved to the USA.  After moving, he realized people were very curious about Peru and often asked how to visit.  He spoke to his wife and his best friend, Roger, and together they all agreed to build this company.  Eventually, they decided it would be best to use this new platform to give back to the community through social projects.  Javier’s goal is to show all visitors the authentic side of Peru – away from the big bus tours – so people can experience the culture and traditions he grew up with in the Peruvian country-side.

Blaire Hamilton headshot

Blaire Hamilton

Founder

Blaire was born and raised in the USA. After spending her 20s traveling to many countries around the world as a solo female traveler, she found a soul mate in the mountains of Peru and decided to stick with him. With Blaire’s knowledge of travel logistics and Javier & Roger’s passion for Peru, starting First Step Expeditions was an easy decision. Now it is Blaire’s passion to help travelers and especially women all over the world feel empowered to travel to Peru by equipping them with the right resources, information, and guides to make sure their journey is safe and successful.

Roger Apaza Headshot

Roger Apaza

Founder

Roger was born in Cusco, Peru and grew up in the heart of the city. He graduated from the Technical College and has spent the last 20 years guiding people through the rich history and culture of the Peruvian Sacred Valley. After spending some time in the USA, Roger perfected his English skills and now coordinates all the tours for our groups, making sure everything runs smoothly and all visitors feel comfortable. Roger’s passion for his job and Peru are clear as soon as you meet him and he works hard to make sure each customer has the experience of a lifetime.

Meet Our Team

First Step Expeditions is nothing without our amazing staff. Our core group of experts make each trip a unique and exciting experience for our guests.

Carmello
Betancurt Quispe headshot

Carmello
Betancurt Quispe

Head Chef

Carmello is more than just a chef – he is an artist! He is a master a combining the amazing local cuisine with a beautiful presentation. He has over 20 years of experience cooking feasts over a pot and propane tank and we guarantee you will never go hungry.

Rene "Russo"
Quispe headshot

Rene “Russo”
Quispe

Lead Porter

Russo is our jack of all trades! He’s spent over 10 years on the trails and does it all from assisting Carmello, to setting up tents, packing up equipment, and making sure you have fresh, purified water every day. And he does it all with a smile on his face!

Our Porters & Horsemen

Led by our good friend Wilbur, we employ porters and horsemen from all over the countryside. We try to rotate the team operating under Wilbur in order to share the economic benefits of your trip directly with the people whose homeland you are traveling through.

We believe porters are the heart and soul of any trekking experience. Several times a month, they carry heavy packs, cook food, and pitch tents on some of the world’s toughest terrain and it’s our mission to show our appreciation through fair wages, reasonable working conditions, and by helping them improve their quality of life.

Every porter will be introduced by name at the start of each trek. We encourage you to try to interact with them as best as you can.

Our Social Mission

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The Mismany Weaving Community

Located in the heart of the Sacred Valley, this community works hard to keep ancient traditions alive by employing single parents to weave textiles. We support the single parents in this community by stopping here during our Sacred Valley tour to provide a weaving demonstration, learn a traditional dance, and enjoy lunch from their local garden.

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The Ankasmarkas Road Project

This Inca site and community, located high in the mountains outside Cusco, practices their rich heritage and ancient traditions to use every piece of the land for creating beautiful textiles and art. Unfortunately very few travelers see this place due to poor road conditions. We donate a portion of every Ankasmarkas trip to help the local community improve their roads for new visitors.