When Dolores Diez was 16 years old, she took a boat ride that changed her life.
It was 1969 and the three-week voyage was aboard a Navy cargo ship. The final destination was the Galapagos Islands and what Dolores saw there inspired her to later create Quasar Expeditions with her husband Eduardo.
The journey to the Galapagos these days is considerably shorter and a lot more comfortable, aboard the company’s two luxury yachts, The Evolution and The Grace (the latter was once owned by Aristotle Onassis, who gave it to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace as a wedding gift).
Now the company is targeting Australia for their brand of uniquely customised and experiential small ship, luxury cruises and immersive overland tours throughout South America, including The Galapagos, Patagonia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Columbia.
“Quasar doesn’t cater to the tourist – we cater to the traveller – and there’s a big difference,” said Eric Andrews, Sales Manager for Quasar Expeditions, in an interview with Traveltalk in Sydney.
“I do believe there are an incredible amount of travellers in Australia, ready for their next adventure, and a long-haul adventure like South America. It is going to be very comfortable and you will be well taken care of, but it is still an adventure.
“We can give Australians an out of the box experience. We only do upscale travel and there’s a niche for that and that’s why I’m here now.”
The Evolution carries 32 passengers while The Grace takes only 18, yet both are spacious and luxuriously appointed, with large cabins and plenty of room for guests to just unwind and really connect with the destination. The gourmet food is another highlight, but Eric says it is the people onboard who really make the difference.
“You can have a five-start yacht, but what makes it a five-star experience is the people. Combine the two and then hopefully we will exceed all expectations.”
A major part of Quasar’s philosophy has always been to protect the fragile eco-systems the company visits. They work closely with local communities and wildlife preservation organisations to ensure the smallest environmental footprint possible.
“If we can’t make sure these journeys continue in our special way, which is small, more intimate and with more connection with these destinations, then why are we doing this in the first place?”
One of the company’s tours that Eric is particularly excited about is the opportunity to take an overland jeep safari through Southern Patagonia. Guided or self-drive, these tours give you access to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina (including the Perito Moreno Glacier) and El Chalten – Argentina’s adventure capital.
“Our way of doing things is to give you a journey that is on a higher level, in the sense that it is more experiential, immersive and hopefully transformational. The journey is for your spirit, your heart and your emotions, much more than just a physical journey.”