Want to go get lost in another world? Well you probably don’t want to get too lost, so connecting with an experienced custom tour planner and operator can ensure you have a smooth trip. Lost World Adventures has been doing just that for decades, stretching back to when there was not so much tourism infrastructure in South America.
While at the Adventure Travel World Summit in Argentina, we sat down with Andrew Gilchrist of Lost World Adventures in a convention center corner and got his take on traveling to the region.
[Luxury Latin America]: Give us a little history; tell us about the company and how you got started.
[Andrew]: The company was founded in 1987. We specialized at that time in travel to Venezuela. We actually had an office in downtown Caracas and we sold trips to expats who were working in Venezuela, involved in the oil business. The goal was to to get people out of the city on the weekends and to other parts of the country. We built that up and eventually became one of the foremost companies selling Venezuela trips from the United. States.
In the early 90s we started expanding and getting into other parts of South America. I started with Costa Rica then the Galapagos and gradually hell over the first ten years of our existence we started to offer tours pretty much throughout central and South America.
How have things changed since you started in Latin America?
Well we don’t offer trips to Venezuela anymore. That’s unfortunately not a place we can even get people into.
In general it’s the quality of the experiences that are being offered that has really improved in South America and Central America. I think there was a certain level of finger crossing back in the early 90s when we’d send people off and just kind of hope that our partners would get it right. We hoped they’d be there to meet the flights, that the hotels would have power… A variety of things were really somewhat out of our hands.
Now Central and South America is really on to its game. I think there’s a tremendous variety of good quality operators and lodges and experiences. The Outfitters I think are really coming up in terms of the activities that they offer and the way they provide the services.
For somebody who hasn’t been there before, what should they know about the region and is there anything they need to do or prepare for before they go?
Slow down! South America is definitely a continent that beats to a different drum. So as much as we try to maintain time and timeliness within our own tours, there are always going to be distractions on tours that are gonna slow things down and people’s sense of time tends to be slower than ours back home in the States.
I would say also I just be just be ready to experience a lot of different things, a great variety of food, landscapes, smells, sounds.
So what are some of the highlights? What are the places that you like to travel to the most and what are the ones that your clients get really excited about?
That’s difficult. There are some really obvious ones like Peru and Machu Picchu. Even as popular as these places have become, people can’t fail to be impressed by arriving at Machu Picchu and seeing the ruins for the first time.
For me personally I think it’s still Patagonia. I’m very drawn to that part of South America. It’s the vastness of it, the rock and the ice, and large expanses of forest, and the undisturbed land. All that makes it the most attractive part of South America for me.
Then in Brazil they’ve got some of the best beaches in South America. The up-and-coming places to visit are gonna include Columbia, which has great food, music, and culture as well.
Most of your trips are customized, so what can people expect and how do you make their trip special?
Every trip that we offer begins with a conversation. We talk with people considering traveling with us and ask what it is they want to do. First to find out is if it’s the right country they want to go to, is the right time of year to be going to that country?
Then we sort of fine-tune it or figure out what places they want to go to and what kind of accommodations experiences they are looking for. The good news is that for the most part, Central and South America is now pretty much accommodating all levels of interest, levels of activities, orlevels of comfort. So it’s really up to us to listen to the clients, find out what’s going to work for them, and then we begin the processes of tailoring an itinerary specifically for those clients.
So where can people find out more about Lost World Adventures?
We are Lost World Adventures at LostWorld.com and by phone it’s (800) 999-0558.