Kirkland resident Matilde Melendez visits Machu Picchu in Peru. She has started her own business, Conquer Peru, in which she coordinates travel plans to the country for customers. Contributed photo

Kirkland woman starts Peruvian travel business

For Kirkland resident Matilde Melendez, starting a travel business targeted to her Peruvian homeland was a bit of a no-brainer. When her family visited Peru and brought friends along, she often coordinated stops and events to make the trip unique, making the trip more special by adding the local touch.

The idea of starting a travel business was first pitched to her husband, but she took the idea and ran with it, establishing Conquer Peru as an insider’s guide to her homeland. Melendez has seen the need for this over the years in her role as a Spanish teacher at Woodinville Montessori School. “Everyone needs to know the culture, not only the language,” she said.

However, Melendez did find the process a little daunting. “It was a big idea,” she said, adding the support of family, friends and community members has been key in launching Conquer Peru.

So far, she’s coordinated trips to Peru for a group of local Girl Scouts and for a few individuals and small groups over the last few years, but she’s planning to lead a bigger trip across the country for anyone who is interested, in June 2017. “I’m so excited that I can do this,” Melendez said.

She differentiates herself from other travel businesses by continuing to provide the local touch in the tours and events she coordinates, seeking out native Peruvians on the other end to lead visitors around the country. “It makes a big difference,” she said.

The 13-day June trip will cost $2,800 and includes meals, hotels, tour guides and transportation between locations. The locations include Lima, Cusco, Puerto Maldonado, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. It does not include airfare from Seattle to Peru and back, something Melendez said she was working to incorporate in future trips.

For more information, visit conquerperu.com. The complete itinerary for the June trip can be found there.

Kirkland resident Matilde Melendez (right) visits a fruit market in Cusco, Peru. She has started her own business, Conquer Peru, in which she coordinates travel plans to the country for customers. Submitted photo

Kirkland resident Matilde Melendez (back row, left) poses for a photo with her husband, Armando Melendez; her son, Armando Melendez; and some local children. near Lake Titicaca in Peru. She has started her own business, Conquer Peru, in which she coordinates travel plans to the country for customers. Submitted photo

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