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.
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.
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.
One of our most valuable assets is the people we work with. Your trip leader is the single most important factor in the quality of your travel experience. Over the years, we’ve worked hard to build a team of extraordinary naturalist and adventure guides to lead our trips.
We value long-lasting relationships with our work colleagues and clients. For that reason, we act ethically and honestly, always fulfilling the commitments we have made.
We are ethical!
We take the initiative when we carry out our work, we exceed our own limits, we apply our own style and we develop unique products that generate value for my clients.
We are leaders!
We seek creative alternatives and resources that allow us to work efficiently and to obtain results that exceed the expectations of my clients.
We are results!
We accept change as a constant and we are an agent of change. We adapt it to our life as an opportunity for continual growth.
We are change!
We love what we do and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve my clients. We project happiness to all those around us while we give the best of ourselves.
We are happiness!
Our lead guide and Chief Exploratory Officer began his career at 19, working as a Mountain Travel Sobek tour guide on South American circuits. Since then, he has gained valuable experience working for several other leading adventure operators.
An impossibly likeable character, his guests respond to his charisma, sympathy, and sensitivity. Alfredo has been everywhere in Ecuador and seems to know everyone, even when you think that you are in a forgotten town or uncharted region of the rainforest. With vast knowledge of biology and natural history, he has extensive rainforest experience. He is a kayak instructor and has kayaked in America, Africa and Europe, completing over 50 river descents. If you ever sit at a dinner table with him, you’ll forget you’re a client and immediately feel like his old friend.
Felipe has spent a tremendous amount of time traveling all over Ecuador and developing some of our most remote and unique journeys. He loves being in the wilderness and spends his free time running adventure races, volunteering as a Search and Rescue operator, biking, and kayaking.
Felipe loves guiding guests who are interested in science, ask tough questions, and like an intense physical challenge.
Felipe grew up in Quito and earned his degree in Biotechnology there, but he and his wife recently moved to a farm in the shadows of Cotopaxi and Ilinizas, where they grow broccoli and artichokes, raise horses, and ride the single-track trails around the farm. Now a full-time farmer, Felipe isn’t guiding as much, but still finds the time to share his passion for the outdoors every few weeks.
Andres was born and raised in Quito, although with his blue eyes and perfect English, many guests don’t believe it. With over 25 years of guiding experience and a degree in Biology, Andres is one of our most seasoned and knowledgeable guides. He loves to share detailed information about natural history, geology, botany, and evolutionary biology, and is a great match for guests who are especially interested in these topics.
Andres is also an avid mountain biker and hiker, and when he’s not guiding or hanging out with his wife and daughter, you can find him speeding along the trails around Quito. Andres leads nature, culture, and multisport tours across the mainland and the Galapagos. He has traveled all over the Americas, and his favorite part of guiding with Ecuador Adventure is sharing the history and beauty of such a huge variety of destinations.
After an early experience working on a documentary about the Huaorani people, Juan Fernando found his passion in helping travelers discover the wonders of his country. He studied Ecology and Tourism in Quito, as well as Quality Management during a year-long exchange in Germany. Juan Fernando has over 12 years of guiding experience, and has also worked in sales and operations.
He speaks fluent Spanish, English, and German. Juan Fernando has traveled and guided in every corner of the country, but his favorite spot is his rural cabin on the slopes of Tungurahua Volcano, where he goes to get away from it all. He is known as a people person, and is able to lead all kinds of individuals and groups, from endurance athletes to grandparents, on an unforgettable journey. Juan Fernando loves plants and birds, but what he loves most is sharing his passion for nature with inquisitive and active travelers.
Miguel is a guide dedicated to his craft. Before trips, you can always find him reviewing every detail of his itineraries and constantly making improvements. In addition to his skill in outdoor adventure, he has a special knack for leading culture tours, always adding a deeper significance to his guests’ experience.
Miguel seems to know everything about Ecuador’s natural and cultural history. His guests appreciate his knowledge and dedication and tend to refer to him as a natural leader. In recognition of his mastery of his craft, Miguel won REI’s Top Guide Award in 2009.
Tomas has been guiding for 10 years throughout Ecuador: The Andes, Amazon, cloud forest, Pacific and Galapagos Islands are as familiar as the home he grew up in.
Anything related to nature is his passion: plants, animals, birds, insects, and even water are what get him out of bed in the morning.
He loves biking, hiking, fishing, climbing volcanoes, kayaking in the Pacific or flat water Amazonian rivers… If it’s a challenge, Tomas is interested. Put those two things together and he has the ideal job, in the perfect country.
Tomas loves to show people, both from Ecuador and other countries, the beautiful and unique place that is Ecuador.
SUSTAINABILITY AND COMMUNITY INVESTMENT
We feel it’s a privilege to visit these beautiful places and so to make a positive difference there. We are committed to the preservation of our fragile and unique ecosystems along with the wellbeing of their people. This includes a leave-no-trace policy and a green footprint in the development of local communities.
We believe in nothing short of excellence. Our team of seasoned guides and service crews are the best in their field. We provide ongoing training and certifications for all our staff, and we constantly upgrade and renew our equipment using the best brands in the business to ensure maximum safety and comfort.
All our staff are trained in risk management and we implement safety protocols for all our activities. We are proud of our safety record.
We have developed and continue to manage our own Technical Safety Standards for adventure travel based on Latin America’s best practices. We also carry full liability insurance.
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We are rooted in nature and spiritually connected to our ancestral values of respect and harmonious interaction with native communities. We minimize our environmental and cultural impact wherever we go. We are Rainforest Alliance Certified, and, particularly in Galapagos, we champion community-based experiences. As a result, 70% of all your spending during your trip is invested in these local communities and their sustained development.
We have access to exclusive experiences and intimate regional knowledge that come from many years of on-the-ground involvement with local communities. For decades we have cultivated deep, long-term relationships with local characters, artists, environmentalists and people of all walks of life. They, in turn, share their expertise with you, creating extraordinary, life-changing travel experiences with the people you love.
We are passionate dual-national American, Ecuadorian and Colombian professionals able to curate experiences fitted to your personal tastes and needs. Whether it’s sampling street food with a local chef, or learning about ancestral wisdom deep in the Amazon with a tribe leader, we will create an authentic and balanced, once-in-a-lifetime expedition for your personal group of family and friends.
Our diverse itineraries give you the chance to submerge yourself in the culture and natural history of a destination. We believe these authentic interactions allow us to better understand, appreciate, and protect the world in which we live.
We are passionate about providing highly personalized client experiences. As travelers, we are acutely aware of what makes a trip memorable and are convinced that premium guest services are at the core. So, naturally, we take care of every detail of your journey, from the moment you make your reservation until you board your flight home.
Taking your wishes as our starting point, our travel designers work with a team of guides and experts to plan every detail of your expedition – we don’t miss a thing. Creating memories of a lifetime is our purpose.
In Galapagos, we pair unique culinary experiences with wildlife viewing; in Ecuador we combine spiritual moments with meaningful cultural encounters; and in Colombia we bring together coffee tasting and mountain biking. Every Journey focuses on natural history, culture, food and community-centric experiences that elevate it from a simple tour to an expedition to your heart.
Our shared-basis scheduled departures cover some of our most popular itineraries in the Galapagos and Colombia.
In contrast, we offer extremely personalized, custom-made itineraries for those who prefer a private, exclusive alternative to group travel in all three regions.
Field leaders founded our company – experts with vast knowledge of what adventurers anticipate in a high-quality expedition. We believe the knowledge and storytelling qualities of our guides make a world of difference in your travel experience.
On the backend, our customer care and logistics managers ensure your trip is meticulously prepared long before you arrive. We thoroughly scout locations, using our first-hand knowledge to design itineraries filled with unique cultural and foodie opportunities.
When it comes to soft adventure and multisport travel, we don’t just do things first, but we do them the best. This means that our equipment is top of the line: our gear is known to be the finest in the Galapagos Islands.
Our equipment includes: