Volcán Santa María with Santiaguito volcanic dome venting

RUTAHSA ADVENTURES Inc., 299 Allen Hollow Rd., Cookeville, TN 38501, is a small company-- so small our world headquarters is a remodeled horse stall in our barn (a standing room only crowd of three attended the grand opening!). That's OK, our low overhead means better travel bargains for you! We are organized and incorporated in the State of Tennessee, for the purpose of arranging and leading eco-adventure excursions and cultural trips to remote and exotic portions of this beautiful planet. We specialize in excursions to Latin America. In addition to the group trips we organize, we also offer a variety of FITs (For Independent Travelers) services. We can make your and our travel dreams come true.

We are proud to be a "mom-n-pop" operation, run entirely by Ric and Janie Finch. Here's Janie, La Presidenta on the keshwa chaca:

We have traveled in Latin America for nearly four decades, and have 20 years' experience in leading groups, with annual trips to Guatemala starting in 1987. In 1996 and '98 we led our first Ecuador/Galapagos trips; in 1999 we took a group of 11 to Peru and a group of 16 to Guatemala. In 2000 we took a group to Nicaragua and Honduras. In 2001 we led our first trip to Bolivia for Carnival and arranged our first Cuba trip, too. In 2002 we led our first Peru trip that featured the keshwa chaca festival, and of course, another Guatemala trip, with, as always, trip participation being limited to small groups. In 2002 we also inaugurated our first winter trip: a New Years trips to Guatemala. In 2003 we organized and led our first Guatemala trip especially for cave explorers, plus our first group trip to Roraima and Angel Falls in Venezuela. In 2004 we led a group to Guatemala for the spectacular Easter Week ceremonies in Antigua. Each year we try to increase our repertory and the wonderful travel options we can share with our fellow travelers.

Here's Ric on the keshwa chaca:


Once again, another year has flown by since we posted any updated "news". Don't know whether to say "time flies when you're having fun" or just beg off by saying that as a mom-n-pop operation we keep mighty busy! Anyway, here's a little bit of updated news on Rutahsa Adventures' recent activities and plans for the future.

In 2006 we created and led a new trip: Peru for Second Timers, i.e., Northern Peru. In 2007 we turned this trip over to an excellent Peruvian Tour Conductor, Franz Alarcon. We first met Franz when he guided us through the National Museum in Lima, and we were very impressed with his English and his knowledge of ancient Peruvian cultures. He is from Northern Peru, experienced and capable. We were convinced that he would make a fine TC for the Northern Peru excursion, and our confidence was verified when our 2007 group gave Franz very high marks. Franz will lead our 2008 Northern Peru trip.

First time visitors Peru naturally want to see Machu Picchu, so they head south from Lima: Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and sometimes on to Lake Titikaka. But Peru is a BIG country full of scenic wonders, archeological sites of many pre-Inka cultures, and many other marvelous places to visit. You could hardly see all of Peru in a lifetime, let alone a single vacation trip. So we inaugurated this trip to Northern Peru to visit wonderful snow- and glacier-capped mountain scenery, breathtaking backroads through seldom visited Andean wilds, and a gaggle of important pre-Inka cultural sites representing the Chavín, Moche, Sicán, Chimú, Chachapoyas, and Cajamarca cultures.

In 2006 we found that the road between Chachapoyas and Cajamarca was a bit more exciting than we had bargained for-- We had been told that the route was suitable for buses, and indeed there is regular "chicken bus" service along the route, but our chartered bus had some difficulties on some stretches. In 2007 we eliminated this problem by using 4X4 vehicles in caravan for this stretch-- 4X4s can move more rapidly, with greater comfort and safety on this particular route!

Although most of our Northern Peru travelers have visited Cusco and Machu Picchu on a previous trip, we are scheduling our Northern and keshwa chaca trips back-to-back for any travelers who want to do both excursions, as two hearty travelers did in 2007.

Speaking of the keshwa chaca trip, we did another two-night camp out in 2007, one of our 2006 innovations. This gave us the opportunity to see more of the bridge construction, as well as witness the start of the Sunday festival celebrating the annual renewal of the bridge. However, in 2008 we will replace one of the camping nights with a one-night home-stay in the town of Raqchi. This will add a new dimension to the trip and more interaction with the Peruvians. It will also give us the opportunity to visit Raqchi, a truly marvelous Inka site. And it will give us an easy drive to the keshwa chaca the next morning.

Something else new for the 2008 keshwa chaca trip: The Tour Conductor will be "Pepe" Mangas. Pepe is another extremely capable Peruvian guide. When a family crisis forced us to leave our 2005 keshwa chaca trip, Pepe took over and our travelers all reported he did a great job of handling the remainder of the trip. So, after eight years of taking groups to the wonderful keshwa chaca, we are passing the baton to an able Peruvian.

Bragging department: In 2006 the local officials in charge of the bridge rebuilding named Rutahsa's Ric Finch Padrino del Puente ("Godfather of the Bridge"). This was a distinct honor and Ric got to participate in a shamanistic ceremony and then be a member of the first group of officials to cross the bridge (much to the annoyance of a Japanese film crew who really didn't want a gringo in their shots!) to the far side and participate in a second ceremony of ritual drinking and smoking. Upon re-crossing to the side where the spectators were waiting, Ric was introduced to the crowd by the Presidente of the village of Huinchiri, the village with the greatest responsibility for the bridge. Ric then gave a speech in Spanish praising the four villages that participate in the annual rebuilding, noting how the fame of the bridge was growing, that it has been the subject of documentary films by NOVA, the BBC, a Peruvian filmmaker, and now the Japanese, and that people were coming from all over the globe to see this wonderful cultural treasure, unique in the world. Ric urged the villagers to continue to honor their ancestors and Pachamama by always maintaining their cultural heritage, especially their wonderful bridge, important to Peru's national cultural patrimony, and indeed a valuable part of the cultural patrimony of all humankind.

The honor of being named Padrino del Puente we assume stems from our continued annual visits and contributions of clothing, school supplies, and toothbrushes and toothpaste to the children of Huinchiri and the other bridge communities. But the honor also came with a price: Ric had to purchase a case of beer for the village officials to consume at the bridgehead!

Innovations for 2007: After leading our wonderful Bolivia Carnival excursion in person for five years, we turned this trip over to Gloria Maldonado in 2007. Gloria has been our guide many times in La Paz and the Lake Titikaka area. And in 2005 she was the Tour Conductor for the "second section" of our popular Carnival excursion. Gloria is highly competent and experienced, very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about her country, and just great with people. We feel really good about turning our annual Bolivia excursion over to Gloria with total confidence that Rutahsa's clients will be very happy with Gloria in charge.

So why are turning these three trips over to Peruvian and Bolivian Tour Conductors? Well, it took us seven trips to Bolivia and eleven to Peru to feel like we had gotten to know these countries fairly well and that it was, finally, time to move on, explore another country and offer a new itinerary to Rutahsa's travelers. Furthermore, we can offer these trips at better prices if we are not on-board ourselves.

New trips we hope to offer before too long: Argentina & Patagonia.

Whatever Rutahsa Adventure you pick, whether we lead it in person or turn it over to a native Tour Conductor, we always aim to provide you with a trip you cannot get from any other travel company, and at a good price, to boot! We hope your reaction will always be:

"I have not stopped talking to everyone about how great a trip it was. I would rate the trip as one of the best in group travel that I've done." --Cynthia Stetzer, participant in the 2002 Peru trip.

Thank you for your visit and interest in our adventures. If you like this site, please bookmark it, so you can return to see new offerings as they are posted.

All photos on this website and its subset of Rutahsa Adventures' websites are copyrighted by Janie and Ric Finch, unless specifically credited to other photographers. Prior permission is required for the use of these images by other persons in electronic media or printed media. For information e-mail Rutahsa Adventures.