Hola! Meet Marc and the team at Terra Andina Bolivia, your local connection in Uyuni and South Lipez, in the heart of the Bolivian Andes.
We are indeed travel specialists, but we want to be known as "dream merchants". We are a dynamic team of 7 employees and 50 guides who are passionate about adventure trips.
Over the years, we have become recognized as top-notch experts in tourism in Bolivia and consummate professionals in the area of individual and a la carte, tailor-made itineraries. We are driven to explore little-known regions, generating new contacts and giving birth to innovative ideas which we develop into fantastic new tours and treks for our discriminating clients.
So come explore Uyuni's and South Lipez's remote and disconcerting landscapes of amazing wide open spaces, punctuated by multi-colored lagoons with feeding flocks of flamingos, expansive salt flats, geysers, and volcanoes. Come to Bolivia and let us help fulfill your dreams!
Who we are and what we do
At the end of the 90's, a geophysicist, a consultant, a photographer and an adventurer -- a group of fast friends with a shared passion for adventure -- were fascinated by a quote that appeared in a local newspaper:
"Bolivia. How can I talk about this country without falling into the trap of simplistic superlatives, or, more difficult still, without sounding contradictory? A few days ago, Apolino, an Amazonian boatman, summed up this unfathomable country for me by saying: BOLIVIA? TODO POSIBLE, NADA SEGURO! In other words, here, everything is possible (very true) but nothing is (ever) certain! Because Bolivia is everything and its opposite: fascinating and alluring, but also wearing because of the inevitable surprises, and puzzling, or even disconcerting, for a resident such as myself. One thing is certain: Bolivia stands out for its contrasts and extremes"
They quit their jobs to undertake a new venture in a remote country in the Andes: Bolivia. This venture has a name: Terra Andina Bolivia. Terra Andina Bolivia is the first division of Terra Explora, a network of travel agencies operating throughout Latin and South America and the brainchild of that group of friends and associates who were attracted by the huge challenge of creating expeditions in this virgin land and who have been sharing their collective adventures with and creating new ones for the rest of the world since 1998, responsibly.
Meet the team
Orlando is a Bolivian architect from Cochabamba. He has experience working as a guide for camera crews shooting television programs and news reports. He joined Terra Andina Bolivia in La Paz in 2006 and manages our guides, 4x4 drivers, and hotel managers. He is the proud father of two boys and is our mountain-biking specialist.
Jules is a French project manager who was working in the music festival field before he decided to settle down in Bolivia. After two years travelling around Australia, the Baltic countries, and Scandinavia, he started working as a trip creator at Terra Andina Bolivia. His specialities are the trekking and the Andean summits climbing.
Catherine has been a French expert in tourism for the past 10 years working in London and Barcelona. She arrived in Bolivia for love and she's now working as a project manager and sells her passion for this country.
Serge is Portuguese. He is native from the French Alps. After his one year experience in tourism in the beautiful city of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, he decided to try the sweet climate of Costa Rica for a couple of months, still working in the tourism sector. Freshly arrived in Bolivia in March 2012, he just fell in love with the country. He now dedicates himself to logistically organize Terra Andina customers’ trips and truly enjoys it.
Marc is from Brittany, the place where a lot of famous navigators were born. He travelled to four of the five continents before coming to Bolivia for the first time in 2000. Since then, he came back twice before deciding he wanted to live in Bolivia for the kindness of the people and the beauty of the landscape. As the general manager of the Bolivian agency, he is totally dedicated to show you the best of Bolivia, the most authentic country of South America.
What we do to promote sustainable tourism:
We at Terra Andina Bolivia promote responsible, ethical, sustainable tourism. We have to remember and remind others that travelling is a two-way street, and needs to be guided by both common sense and respect. Two worlds meet every time a person moves from one country to another. But we are always guests; the countries that we visit are our hosts. The entire enjoyment of the trip can rest on this somewhat delicate relationship. There are numerous ways to travel and understand other environments, but we inevitably leave marks as we travel. Travel can be warm, generous, discreet, dangerous and unalterable. Our goal is to always to treat our local hosts, our clients, and ourselves with great respect and consideration as we continue to enrich our programs.
Our main objectives are:
• Respect for the policy of responsible tourism by our managers and teams.
• Development and financing of local community tourism projects. Promotion of cultural exchanges and preservation of local heritage.
• Respect for our clients, suppliers, employees and the people we meet along the journey.
• Respect for the environment, particularly regarding waste management during Andean treks and ascents. Preference for eco-friendly vehicles. Restrictions on the number of participants for certain trips.
• Insistence on high-quality and regular maintenance of materials and equipment (tents, catering, vehicle parts, equipment for the mule drivers, etc.)
• Continuous self-improvement (language courses, IT, cooking, first aid).
• Fair compensation. Particularly in Bolivia, our drivers, guides and office employees are paid about 30% more than the national norm.
• Bonuses (guides, drivers, managers, and employees) are granted in accordance with financial results and the level of satisfaction of our clients.
• Participation in local development projects.
• Setting up of a voluntary "ecological" contribution for some trips (4x4 expedition / or trips with domestic flights). Matching financial contributions from Terra Andina Bolivia. Re-investment of these funds into local projects aimed at compensating environmental damage linked to tourism (CO2 rejection, pollution).
• Involvement of local populations in touristic projects
• Transparency about wages and working conditions of the Terra Andina Bolivia staff
• Micro credits: Terra Andina Bolivia has set up a micro credits system (with 0% interest rate) for their suppliers who do not have access to credit. US$10000/year (For example, if a guide wants to buy a house or a car)
• Adherence to and respect for the pre-defined rules of our excursions. For example, a guide can expel a person from a group if he/she does not respect those rules.
• Terra Andina Bolivia is a receptive agency (in charge of the operational execution) for many ATR members ("Agir pour un Tourisme Responsible", i.e. Acting for a Responsible Tourism, http://www.tourisme-responsable.org). We follow the ATR charter for our services.
What Terra Andina Bolivia is doing at the ground level:
• In 2009, we are assisting the Chipayas community (the most ancient community in Bolivia) to open itself to tourism
• In 2009, we participated in the both the first UIAGM mountain guide training and mountain rescue training in Bolivia
• From 2007 to 2009, we participated in Community Tourism project in Tuni (remote village of the Royal Cordillera). Elaboration and co-financing of the Tuni project to develop community tourism. Building of houses integrating Andean Aymara housing traditions with the comfort requirements of the Western visitor. Development of workshops linked to the discovery of the Andean environment and the Aymara culture, in a joint effort with the community (Andean gastronomy, the importance of the llama, legends, medicinal plants, weaving). The allocation profits is previously discussed, in accordance with fair distribution and future development goals (health and educational improvements). The idea is also to create interaction between the clients and the community, a genuine exchange and the discovery of a new culture.
• In 2005, we helped to finance the first meeting of South American mountain guides in La Paz.
• In 2005, we participated in financing health services in four areas of the Andes.
• In 2004 and 2005, we financed 50% of a French course for 12 guides and 4-wheel drive drivers.
• In 2004 and 2005, we participated in forming diverse tourism programs and regulations of mountain use, financed by BID and Swiss Contact.
• In 2004, we helped finance the cleaning of base camp Huayna Potosi.
• In 2004, we donated a mess tent to every community of mule drivers in the Royal Cordillera.
• From 2003 to 2005, Terra Andina Bolivia headed up the drafting of the "Petit Futé Bolivia" tourist guide. Certain direct contacts (guides/mule drivers) were included in the guide, giving them exposure in the international market (market of local «treks» and short tours).
• Since 2003, we have financed first aid courses for about 40 guides and drivers (4-wheel drive).
• Since 2003, we have financed a cooking course for 20 guides and drivers.
• In 2003, we edited a book by photographer Serge Vincenti and redistributed a portion of the proceeds to finance a carpentry workshop in the prison in Potosi.
• For several seasons, Terra Andina Bolivia has enforced the furnishing of guides and mule drivers in the Royal Cordillera with personal equipment (sleeping bag, polar jackets, and mountain boots).