Our story is a pioneering one: a tale of taking risks and discovering the true meaning of adventure. We went to places where no one had been before and provided signature, personalized experiences beyond anyone’s expectations: intrepid trailblazers and bar-setters in our field. And we have done it all with passion.
Alfredo Meneses was 19 years’ old when he rafted his first whitewater gorges in the Amazon and Andean regions. Captivated by the adrenaline and the outdoor lifestyle, in 1991 Alfredo took a leap into the unknown and opened his own rafting company. But the tourism landscape in Ecuador then was very different to its current form: Alfredo was literally carving out his own path and opening up new routes, determined to bring travelers into the heart of his beloved country.
A few years later, Marcelo Meneses left a high-powered, corporate job to join his brother Alfredo in the business. The move was a gamble, but Marcelo knew that his heart no longer lay in the boardroom, but in sharing his love of the wild.
The first years weren’t easy for the brothers. They worked 14-hour days, suffered numerous setbacks, and even went bankrupt. But in 2002, Alfredo came to his brother with a ground-breaking new idea: begin multisport adventure tourism in the Galapagos Islands, something that had never been done before.
EVOLUTION TO THE GALAPAGOS
With the combination of Marcelo’s cool business head and Alfredo’s entrepreneurial vision, the brothers continued to dream and innovate. In 2007 they set out on an entirely new venture, setting up their first hotel operation in San Cristobal Island, Galapagos. Today, Opuntia Hotels is a network of leading waterfront properties on three islands.
A new idea began to form in the brothers’ minds. They knew Colombia to be a beautiful country, full of spectacular landscapes and exuberant natural resources, populated by wonderful, friendly people. Yet due years of political upheaval, there was very little tourism industry there, and no infrastructure.
In 2013 they set out expanding the business, now called Neotropic Expeditions, once again developing routes, eager to show this stunning, culturally rich and now truly safe country to travelers hungry to experience something new.
A GROWING TEAM OF INDUSTRY LEADERS
Now with expertise in Galapagos, Ecuador mainland and Colombia, the brothers have consolidated Neotropic Expeditions as the leaders in the high-end, soft adventure industry. But they didn’t do it alone. In 2002, they were joined by Fernanda Villacis, the highly committed sales and operations director who would put in place innovative structures and ensure that client and customer relations were the most personal and caring in the industry. She even learned to ride and bike and swim to immerse herself in Neotropic’s adventurous spirit. And each year the team has grown, bringing the brightest and most passionate guides and sales and operations personnel into the family.
With every step they have stayed true to their values of supporting local communities and development, and their affinity with the natural world means that they’ve always put sustainability at the heart of everything they do, long before it became a fashionable buzzword. As adventurers themselves, throughout the years they have provided those who venture with them only the top of the line equipment, setting the bar for industry standards.
Alfredo and Marcelo still explore and travel together, searching for beautiful, extraordinary places. Inspiration is their destination.