Holly Wissler

Holly Wissler, a musician and ethnomusicologist, is one of our most experienced and gifted Trip Leaders, drawing upon her many years of trekking and living in Peru and Nepal. Holly is deeply passionate about Andean culture and music, the topic of her PhD in ethnomusicology and the focus of two documentaries she has produced, “Qoyllur Rit’i: A Woman’s Journey,” on Peru’s largest Andean pilgrimage festival, and “From Grief and Joy We Sing,” illuminating the musical traditions of the remote Quechua community of Q’eros, Peru. A key leader for our Peru team since 1982, Holly is more than at home with the people of the Andes. She is often called “chaka warmi” (bridge woman) because of her extraordinary ability to facilitate meaningful (and fun!) exchanges between travelers and locals. Holly especially loves to bring WT trip members, our trek crews, and the indigenous Q’eros people together through conversation and music making. She plays the 16-string Andean bandurria, so if she strikes up a song, you may be invited to join in on a few Quechua lyrics. “People have said that I bring passion and love to my trips and that I laugh a lot—which I do!” A great storyteller too, Holly speaks Spanish, Quechua and Nepali.

Upcoming Trips:

Sacred Ausangate Lodge to Lodge, July 2015

Recent Photo Blog Posts

Hike to the Incas' "Lost City" , Fred and Laura Jolly
Back from 100 Years of Solitude

Client Testimonials:


Holly was fabulous. She is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, cheerful, and has great rapport with the staff. She is fun an unflappable and I feel very lucky to have met her and had her for our Trip Leader! Deborah S., Buffalo NY The trip was everything I’d hoped it would be and much more. Can’t say enough about Holly. She was a wealth of cultural information and is a warm and caring person. JoAnn E., Paso Robles CA
Ultimate Everest
Your rating scale doesn’t go high enough to rate Holly! She made the trip outstanding. Robert F., Paso Robles CA
Ultimate Everest
Holly was absolutely wonderful! The best leader we have ever had, Holly is special and a real asset to Wilderness Travel. Bruce and Carolynn H., Jackson WY
Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu
Holly Wissler is a fantastic, capable, extremely knowledgeable woman with a storehouse of information and an unsurpassed passion for Peru. Robin and Art P., San Francisco, CA Holly proves easily to be among the top rung of WT leaders. Personable, organized, marvelously companionable, superbly informed. Michael W., Stamford CT, Chachapoyas Trek Holly is super and was such an enjoyable guide. She made the trip special, as she lives in Peru and is very involved in Peruvian culture, in particular her interest in ethnomusicology with the Q'eros. Marjorie L., New York, NY
Hiker's Journey to Machu Picchu
Holly is the best trip leader with whom I have traveled, ever, at any time, and any place. David H., Austin, TX
Citadels of Chachapoyas
Holly is exceptional in every way. She has a wealth of knowledge of the area and culture and made the trip so special for each of us. Bonnie A., San Diego, CA
Peru: Q'eros Cultural Trek
Holly was a wonderful guide—knowledgable, flexible, capable in a thousand ways. She made the trip an unforgettable experience. Alexandra K., Wilton, CT
Hiker's Journey to Machu Picchu
Holly was abounding with knowledge regarding the culture; I came away from this trip with such an appreciation and respect for the people, culture, and Andean region. Caroline H., Memphis, TN WOW! Holly was fantastic! Her music background made for entertaining camp nights and her knowledge of the Incas was so vast and valuable. Ellen C., Eugene, OR
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Holly's expertise with the local music, villages, villagers, and her language facility made the trip even more fabulous than it would have been otherwise! Audrey Y., Rockville, MD
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Holly is inspiring. She loves Peru and knows it intimately. She made us all love the Andes. I can't wait to return. Fae E., Salt Lake City, UT
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Holly is a treasure. We really appreciated the cultural aspect she brought to the trip. It made us feel more connected to the people of Peru, and the mountains we were traveling in. Janice C., Sao Paulo, Brazil
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Holly was phenomenal on so many levels. Her love of the culture, people, and environment was amazing. She made our trip beyond wonderful. Ann K., Sao Paulo, Brazil
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Holly took an already awesome experience and made it extraordinary. Lindsey K., Sao Paulo, Brazil
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
We can't say enough about Holly. She is a terrifically skilled guide and a wonderful person with whom to travel. We would follow her anywhere! Jane S., Newton, MA
Hiker's Journey to Machu Picchu
WT has a tradition of great leaders and Holly is a gem-one of the best Bill B., Portland, OR
Trekking in the Cordillera Blanca