Chimu Adventures revenue pops 300% for South America, Antarctica tours

Chimu Adventures, which operates tours in South America and Antarctica, seems to have found a winning formula for these trying economic times. For the first quarter of 2009, revenue shot 310 percent higher relative to the same quarter last year.

These types of excursion aren’t cheap, so why are travelers still shelling out their hard-earned cash for such high-end experiences? Company directors Greg Carter and Chad Carey cite the value offered, “Travelers are looking to save money in these uncertain times yet still want a high quality tourism product. This is where the internet becomes a very important tool and we have seen a growing trend towards online sales. This confirms our belief that the days of high street traditional travel agents are numbered and innovation and specialization is the key to their future growth.”

Low-cost airfares from Australia (Chimu’s core market) to South America have sparked a lot of interest in these deals, as well, “We have regularly seen return airfares to Buenos Aires and Santiago for Aud$1400, Aud$1300 and even as low as $1100 which was just unthinkable a year ago.” And, it’s a shorter flight than Europe or the United States. “People will still always want to go travelling, even in these tough times but are looking for shorter and more affordable alternatives.”

Irishman Runs Seven Marathons on Seven Continents, in Six Days

Irish endurance runner Richard Donovan completed an impressive series of runs a few days back when he completed his seventh marathon in just six days. Even more impressive than that however, is that each of those marathons was run on a different continent.

The World Marathon Challenge got underway on January 31st when Donvan ran a marathon in Antarctica, covering the 26.2 miles n 4 hours, 39 minutes, 29 seconds in temperatures hovering around 0º Fahrenheit. Upon completing that race, he immediately hopped on a plane and flew to Cape Town, for his second run on the same day. From there, it was on to Dubai, where the temperatures soared dramatically, but Richard completed his third marathon in two days on the 1st of February.

The next destination was London, where the city was experiencing its worst snowfall in years, but Donvan pushed through, and logged his 26.2 miles, at three in the morning no less, before jetting off to Toronto, for yet another marathon. He completed the South American leg of his challenge by running a marathon in Santiago, Chile. The last of his runs took place in Sydney, Australia on Thursday, February 5th.

All told, Richard completed his journey in just 5 days, 10 hours, and 8 minutes, collecting 26,719 frequent flyer miles in the process. According to this story from the Independent, his only opportunities to eat and rest were aboard the airplanes he was flyng on, which caused him to battle sleep deprivation and jet lag the entire was as well.

What were Richard’s motivations for undertaking the World Marathon Challenge? To raise awareness of the ongoing crisis in Darfur, and to raise funds for the Irish charity GOAL.

Santiago Chile – in the LA Times

The Los Angeles Times runs a piece on one of my favorite cities in the world, Santiago, Chile. I lived in Santiago in the mid-90s and came to really appreciate it’s hidden charms. It’s not the most physically attractive city in the world, and when I was there it has a definite pollution problem when there was a low-pressure system holding in the smog against the Andes, but the lovely parks, the vibrant social scene there, and many other qualities make it an great place to visit in South America.

The LA Times piece here also discusses how much things have changed since I was there. The music scene, led somewhat by the band Los Tres, who were HUGE when I lived there (I still listen to their TV Unplugged album), is taking on a life of its own ad really spreading beyond Chile’s borders. The coffee houses and bars are also becoming increasingly cosmopolitan. The piece makes Santiago sound so appealing, in fact, that I have to say I’ ready to go back for a trip…which I’ve been wanting to do anyway.

Destination Santiago

I lived in Santiago, Chile for a year several years ago, and I
have to say I love the city. It does not have the cultural richness of Buenos Aires or the party-driven intensity of
Rio, but as South American cities go, it is filled with great things to do and see. Chile is rather sedate, overall, as
a country. They say it is the Great Britain of Latin America: serious, staid, reserved, but mercantile and successful.
If you’ve been following the news, then you know they just elected a new president, a woman, and a socialist. Bolivia
(and I am not putting Chile in the same category as Bolivia) also elected a leftist leader. Side note: what’s going on
in Latin America?

OK, that aside, I just read an article in the
Globe and Mail
that is quite bullish on Santiago. Good for them. They list a couple of things happening in the city
over the next few months. Among them the Estacion Mapocho will be holding an exhibit dedicated to the transformation of
this former train station into Santiago’s premier cultural centre. They also mention a few of the cool walking spots in
the city like the area around the Plaza de Armas where you can see the 18th-century Municipalidad de Santiago as well as
the towering Catedral Metropolitana. And just because you have to, you should check out the Palacio de La Moneda, where
Allende holed himself up during the military coup in 1973.

All good stuff, and I am pleased to see Santiago
get some ink.