We run adventure trips in New Zealand, South America and Nepal and over the past two years we’ve successfully navigated through Peruvian floods, a Chilean earthquake, a series of New Zealand earthquakes and fires in Patagonia. It’s not that these areas experience more than their fair share of natural disasters (although at times it feels this way), but it’s just the law of probability – sooner or later something will happen and it’s our job to make sure we’re organized and prepared for these kinds of events.
It’s a testament to our experienced team and our network of suppliers that we rarely need to cancel a trip and are able to make itinerary adjustments at the drop of a hat. The Patagonian fires that started on December 27th last year are an example of this. On December 25th we had a group of five starting a Condor trip with our amazing guide Cynthia. On the 27th they were hiking the W-Trek in Torres del Paine National Park, when the fires started – they were evacuated twice and during the whole ordeal Cynthia remained, in the words of one of the trip members, Dallas Pottinger, “Steady, resourceful, smart, cheerful, patient, well-informed and FUN.” Cynthia was able to make sound decisions on the run and with the help of our local suppliers and our HQ operations staff, she was able to secure alternative accommodation and arrange other activities. In the end everyone on this trip still had a fantastic experience praising Cynthia and the rest of her team for their resourcefulness.
The fires lasted for 10 days, eventually consuming 42,000 acres of forest and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of hikers. The park reopened in January and is now recovering, both naturally and with the help of the Patagonian South Foundation who are planting one million new trees. We’ve since run three full Condor trips with a slightly alternative itinerary, avoiding the areas of the park that have been damaged and exploring the Badar Valley instead, which has proven a great alternative with some encouraging feedback from these travelers.
One thing we’ve learnt through these events is that the media lives for this stuff. After the Christchurch earthquakes we were inundated with messages from concerned Active travelers (both former and future), who overwhelmingly had the impression that our country was destroyed. Whilst it’s certainly a privilege to have such a concerned larger ‘Active family’, it was a bit worrying to see how the earthquakes were portrayed. It has been an extremely challenging time for Christchurch City and, indirectly, to some extent, the rest of New Zealand, but we’re still open for business and our trips never stopped running! New Zealand, like Patagonia and Cuzco, has tourism as one of it’s main areas of expertise, so when natural disasters occur we rise to the challenge, overcome them and continue doing what we do – having some amazing adventures!