Tortoise on Beach

About Us

Our Story

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.
THE ORIGINS

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.

BROTHERS-IN-PADDLES

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.

COLOMBIA CALLS

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.

ETHICAL ADVENTURE

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.

The Team

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.

Our Team Values

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 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!

Responsible Travel

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.

Giant Tortoise Resting on Rocks

We Are Sustainable:

  • Our environmental practices stem from a lifetime of close contact with pristine ecosystems. Before environmental standards were deemed necessary, we surpassed industry and national standards.
  • In Galapagos, we process and recycle all waste in each Island’s processing plant.
  • We were the first tour operator to be certified by Rainforest Alliance in Ecuador. This certification is not yet available in Colombia, yet our sustainable policies and processes mirror those of Ecuador.
  • We are certified with “Marca Q”, a local certification for sustainability and quality assurance.
  • We subscribe to TAP – Travelers Against Plastic and Leave No Trace

General Sustainability Policy

Looking out at jungle in the Galapagos

We Invest In Communities:

  • As a travel operator, the wellbeing of our planet is our most important objective. Social and environmental welfare is critical to us – not just as a business, but as passionate humans who love what this world has to offer.
  • We believe in adding social value, hiring locally, using local resources, and committing 70% of all spending money on trips to local families living in fragile ecosystems, such as the Galapagos Islands.
  • By traveling with us, you help us guarantee the places you visit stay beautiful and pristine for generations to come.
  • We believe that community tourism is an alternative way to support local economies and encourage rural residents and artisans to share their ways of life with eager travelers – everyone who is part of our world benefits positively.
  • We believe that community tourism is an alternative way to support local economies and encourage rural residents and artisans to share their ways of life with eager travelers – everyone who is part of our world benefits positively.

Corporate Social Responsibility, In The Protection Of Children

We Meet And Exceed North American Safety Standards

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.

View Full Safety Standars

View our terms and conditions:
Galapagos Terms and Conditions, Ecuador Terms and Conditions, Colombia Terms and Conditions

We Are Green By Nature

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 Are Local Experts

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 Speak Your Language

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.

We Love Our World

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.

Your Dream Is Our Purpose

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.

Unique Adventures Built Just for You