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2013 and earlier

Trail-Blazing across Patagonia

An interview with company founder Brian Williams just after he returned from leading a one-off anniversary trip, which aimed to recapture the old style of group tours back when he was first leading them in the early 80s.

Brian and Chris were pioneers when they founded Journey Latin America in 1980, so when the company turned 30 earlier this year, a return to their roots seemed a fitting way to celebrate. They decided to make a long-awaited return to tour leading with two one-off 'Trail-Blazers' that would attempt to recapture the style of our tours when the pair were first leading them.  

Brian and Chris were pioneers when they founded Journey Latin America in 1980, so when the company turned 30 earlier this year, a return to their roots seemed a fitting way to celebrate. They decided to make a long-awaited return to tour leading with two one-off 'Trail-Blazers' that would attempt to recapture the style of our tours when the pair were first leading them.  

Papagaio: What inspired you to design this trail-blazing tour? 

Brian Williams: Argentina and Chile have always been my favourite countries in Latin America, primarily for the ruggedness and outstanding beauty of Patagonia and the Southern Cone in general. The marine wildlife of Peninsula Valdes in Argentina and the sheer natural beauty that can be viewed from the Carretera Austral in Chile made my decision easy.

P: Do you feel a particular connection to Welsh Patagonia?
BW: I do. The lower Chubut valley towns of Trelew, Puerto Madryn and Gaiman, coupled with Esquel and Trevelin in the foothills of the Andes, are places that I have been visiting since the mid 70s. These are the areas of Welsh settlement, which started in 1865, and the descendents of the original migrants still maintain the Welsh traditions, language and culture which I share.

P: What do you most enjoy about tour leading?
BW: The communication with clients and the satisfaction of introducing them to areas of Latin America that I have loved for most of my adult life.

P: How has tour leading in Latin America changed since the 80s?
BW: In the 80s tour leading had much more adventure and unpredictability about it, but today the essential planning and organisation does lead to better experiences for the group members.

P: Could you tell us about one of your most memorable moments from leading the tour?
BW: Stepping down from the 'La Trochita' steam train in Esquel on a beautiful cloudless day and seeing the snow capped Andes forming a wonderful backdrop to the town.

P: Were there any funny moments?
BW: One of the group members had several hilarious ‘conversations’ with the penguins at Punta Tombo as they waddled their way from their nests to the sea.

P: What did you love showing clients that they would never find with a guidebook?
BW: Areas of the southernmost part of the Carretera Austral which have yet to be included in many handbooks.

P: Were there any challenges leading a tour where very few people visit?
BW: Again the southern end of the Carretera Austral has very little public transport and therefore the logistics of the transport for the group proved to be quite difficult.

P: Chile and Argentina are known for good food. What was the culinary highlight of the tour?
BW: This is an easy one to answer. The succulent Bife de Chorizo in Argentina and the seafood in Chile, especially the shellfish on the island of Chiloé.

P: Would you lead another tour in future?
BW: Good tour leading requires unlimited reserves of energy, organisation and enthusiasm, which in general makes it a young person’s game. However, I might consider being an ayudante (helper) on another tour in the future.


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