Back again with our ‘Meet the member’ series, we learn a bit more about Adios Adventure Travel, who operate in South America.
Who are you and your team
My name is Jacquie Whitt and I live in Virginia, US. I am business partners with Vidal Jaquehua who lives in Cusco, Peru. Other team members include Juan Jose, Hubert Jaquehua & Yieber Cueva, also in Cusco & Keenan Whitt Linsly, in Denmark. The guys sometimes call me “Jefa” which means boss woman in Spanish (I can’t imagine why…)
What inspired you to start, and how long have you been doing it?
At age 17 I went to Russia with a group of 25 American Girl Scouts. (It was the 70’s. Let’s just say it was a long time ago!). My eyes were not only opened to the world, but my passion was born. After that, I took my bicycle to Europe many times under the pretence of visiting my Nan in England and eventually, ended up guiding trips for AYH (American Youth Hostels) which helped defer my travel expenses considerably. I met my future husband at the youth hostel in Oxford, England. We crossed paths for one day and ended up happily married for 23 years in the US. We now have two great kids. One attends University in Denmark (which had nothing to do with Mum – all his own doing!). I worked in management at Outward Bound in Denver before giving it all up for a career as a stay-at-home-mum (someone has to teach baby buggers to walk, climb and get in to trouble!). Went to work in a private Quaker school where I asked the headmaster if I could take some teens on a little trip. And was told “sure, go ahead.” (They didn’t say I couldn’t go to South America).
Why did you choose Peru?
So, what the heck? I had never been to S. America. Why not take the little darlings to Machu Picchu? As the wheels of the plane touched the tarmac in Lima, I recognized the voice of one of the students behind me snickering “welcome to Kazhakstan.” Lima was very “third worldish” in a deprivation sort of way. But Cusco was “third worldish” in an “oh my God, we have landed on the moon” sort of way. It blew our minds. The freelance guide who showed up at the airport was Vidal Jaquehua. Over the course of the next week, I observed the teenage boys in my group (all 6 of them) connect with Vidal in a surprisingly “girlish” fashion (is that sexist?!). They craved his attention and they seemed to want to please him. It was remarkable and I knew Vidal had charisma and charm. When the boys stepped out of line (and believe me there was a lot of that), Vidal would reel them in without embarrassing them. They were powerless and under his spell! Who was this guy? So I returned to the states and organized another group to Peru, then another. Soon, Vidal invited me to be his business partner and Adios Adventure Travel was born.
What makes you muchbetter?
Vidal and I are both detail & service oriented. Our division of labour is based on me managing the website, the marketing (and writing stimulating stuff like this) & organizing the itineraries, while he books the drivers, hotels and even guides the groups arriving in Peru. We are so customer service oriented, that I have intervened with airlines on behalf of our clients, when we didn’t even book the air! Vidal has carried two, even three extra backpacks on the Inca Trail, when hikers have “pooped out.” When a hiker (who will remain unnamed) showed up in Ollantaytambo the night before starting the Inca Trail hike, without her passport, Vidal made instant arrangements to return to Cusco to retrieve the passport in her luggage locked in the hotel storage, and then come back to Ollantaytambo by morning to start the hike. When another traveller accidentally dropped her video cam on the dirt road in rural Cusco, while loading in the van, Vidal returned to the site an hour later and found the camera which had been picked up by the locals. We know that sometimes you have to go out of your way to take care of people. And that’s what we do. “Because it’s your adventure” (as they say – actually, it’s what we say)
Insider tip for your area
The logistics to see the big, high profile world heritage destinations is very different in Peru than it is in Europe and other developed countries. To get to Machu Picchu from Cusco, (which is the only way unless you own a helicopter and you’re sleeping with a Peruvian immigration official), you have to take the train. But you have to understand that the train doesn’t depart from Cusco, it departs from another city over an hour’s drive away (and there’s no public transport). Once you get to this city, Ollantaytambo (which you can’t pronounce), then you have to board the train for the magnificent 2 hour ride through the Urubamaba River valley to Aguas Calientes. In AC you have to wait in another line to get bus tickets for the shuttle which takes you up to the Machu Picchu National Park entrance. Then you have to stand in line to get your tickets to enter the ruins. By the time you do all this, and depending on how many mistakes you made, you’ll arrive with only 1 hour left to actually tour the ruins. Even if you are an independent traveller, consider going through a tour operator who has streamlined all the transitions to Machu Picchu, into one smooth operation. A private guide will accompany you. The guide will buzz through the lines and wave you on from place to place (Better than your mother!). You’ll arrive at the scheduled time (which you will choose in advance of your trip) and have photos of your visit downloaded to your mother before dinner that night. It’s very affordable and gives a local guide a job.
Adios Adventure Travel run a range of trips in South America, from hiking to biking, mountaineering to rafting. Click here to see their muchbetter profile, where you can find a range of their trips.