Meet Our Staff

Cordillera Blanca Staff

“Bernardo’s cooking was unbelievable! I have been on other commercial trips and did not eat half as well.”
--Jim Whipperman, Ishinca Valley & Chopicalqui Climbs


Bernardo LLuya (Head Cook)

Bernardo LLiuyaBernardo, age 40, is from the small village of Llupa above Huaraz, Peru, in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca Mountains. After graduating from high school Bernardo began working as an arriero (burro driver) and assistant cook for many different groups of climbers coming to the Cordillera Blanca. He learned that he enjoyed being in the kitchen and decided to pursue this carreer.  He joined the Asociaciòn de Cocineros (Association of Cooks) in Huaraz and every year enrolled in cooking courses under the direction of a Swiss chef at a fine hotel in Huaraz.  Bernardo is now widely considered the best cook in the region by his peers. He has over 20 years of experience cooking for climbing and trekking groups.

Bernardo has been working with Peaks & Places as our head for over 10 years and all our clients love him for his wonderful cooking and cheerful personality and energy. He continues to amaze us with his fantastic soups, delicious dinners, great salads, tasty deserts and his attention to every detail of presentation of meals and organization in the kitchen.

Zacarias (Zack) Carrera Huaranga

Zack age 30, is from the small Andean village of Llamac in the Cordillera Huayhuash mountains. He is from a family that is very involved in the adventure travel industry either as wranglers, cooks or porters.

Zack is very talented in many areas. He is an outstanding cook, and excellent horseman, and very good as a carpenter and welder. Zack has been working with Peaks & Places for that past 5 years mostly has either a head cook or as a wrangler organizing all of the animals we need for groups in the Cordillera Huayhuash. Our clients always comment on how he has endless energy, is extremely reliable, honest and hard working.

If we could get him a job in the USA as a carpenter he would be worth his weight in gold.

Huaraz Trekking Staff

Each year during the trekking season Peaks & Places employs the same staff of local animal drivers, porters, guides and cooks for our trips in the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhaush moutains. These people are hard working, reliable, honest and enjoyable to be around. By working consistently with these local people over the years, Peaks & Places has been able to train our staff how to provide the best possible service for our clients. Even though each staff member may have a specific job that they are hired for, they all work as a team putting up and taking down our campsites each day and helping around the camp with the camp “chores” that need to be done. Most of our staff (except for our guides) do not speak English, only Spanish and their native tongue of Quechua, the original Inca Language. Our staff does however enjoy trying to interact with all of our clients who are on the trip, so if you speak any Spanish this will add to your Peruvian experience. Peaks & Places prides ourselves in the service we provide and our staff will always go out of their way to do what is necessary to make sure that you are comfortable and happy with your experience in the mountains.

Cusco Region Staff

“The meals prepared by Mario were unbelievable! A lot of food for our group.”
--Marni DeHart, Classic Inca Trail Trek

Mario Cobos

Mario CobosMario Cobos (45 years young) is from the ancient Inca village of Ollantaytambo, located in the Sacred Valley outside of Cuzco. He still lives in this fascinating village with his wife and two daughters and they run their own little hostal called Inca Tambo, which means Inca resting place. Mario is the oldest in a family of 11 brothers’, large families are common in this part of the region.

Mario’s experience in the mountains working with trekkers has a long history. He first started working as a porter on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu at the age of 16. After four years of this hard work he was “promoted” to work in the kitchen as an assistant. Now 25 years later, with vast experience under his belt working in many regions of Peru, Mario is considered one of the best cooks in the business. Mario consistently gets high praises from all of our clients about his ability to prepare delicious meals as well as wonderful deserts, while out in the mountains.  For 8 years now Peaks & Places is very proud to have Mario as our head cook on all of our trekking trips in the Cuzco region.

Inca Trail Ausangate PortersPorters

Travel on the Inca Trail is limited to foot travel only, no animals are allowed starting in the village of Huayllapa and ending at Machu Picchu. This is primarily due to the fact that there are many places where the trail has too many steps or is too narrow for animals to pass. Consequently it is necessary to use porters to carry all of the food and equipment needed on the trail. These porters were born and raised in mountain villages located throughout the region. On all of our treks on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu we use porters who are all from the same village of Yanamayo. This makes for a more cohesive group of porters, who all know each and respect each other. They also are trained by us to understand how to look after your equipment they are carrying and to help around camp if necessary. They bring with them not only an enjoyable personality but their mountain traditions and camaraderie that they share with our groups on the treks.

“The kitchen staff and support staff were fantastic! The meals were better than at home.”
--Linda Wetzel, Ausangate Trek & Climbing Trip. Two-time Peaks & Places traveler.

Breakfast at Upis Camp

Our number one goal is to provide excellent service to your guests. The only way this can be done is working with a staff of people who are trained to understand they type of service that Peaks & Places strives to provide. Just like our staff of animal drivers, porters, guides and cooks for our trips in the Huaraz region, we work with the same group of people in the Ausangate region every year, to maintain consistency in the service they provide. You will find that our animal drivers, porters and cooks all know each other, have worked with each other on many of our treks and they all work hard to get the equipment and campsites organized and ready for you to use when you arrive.

These are the reasons why our guests always say they had a fantastic trip with Peaks & Places.


Peaks & Places • 45 Ridgeview Lane • Ridgway, Colorado 81432
Email: bradjohnson@peaksandplaces.com
Ph: 970-626-5251 Fax: 970-626-3286