It’s been more than a decade since Greg Carter and Chad Carey founded Chimu Adventures on the back of beer mats.
As Australia’s Latin America and polar specialist, Chimu Adventures recently passed a landmark 15 years in adventure travel.
Marking its birthday on 29 July, the business is headed by Carter and Carey – two friends who started Chimu Adventures in their 20s over a conversation and a few scribbles in 2004.
Fifteen years on, and the pair (one a qualified history teacher and the other an engineer) lead a $40 million business employing more than 70 staff in five countries and on the ground in Latin America, while offering more than 400 itineraries.
Speaking about what Chimu Adventures had learnt during their 15 years in operation, Carey said the passion for South America that ignited talks between the pair of co-founders to start the company remains at the forefront.
“Looking back on the past 15 years of Chimu, I can honestly say it has been nothing short of inspiring,” he said. “The most formidable inspiration of course has been the locations in which we travel.
“These incredible places are the very reason we opened up shop in the first place. We wanted to let other travellers be as lucky as us – to experience intense beauty and the incredible communities dotted along the way.”
With a passion for South America and frustration for how the continent was offered by wholesalers at the time, Carter and Carey turned a conversation and a few beer mats worth of scribbles into a travel company that boasts more than 400 specialist Latin America and polar itineraries.
But Chimu Adventures continues to stay humble, keeping core values at the forefront of its activities, and ensuring operations remain sustainable and beneficial to the communities the company visits.
“Chad and I come from households where giving back was always part of life and this has always inspired us,” Carter said. “One thing that has stuck from childhood is the saying: ‘Don’t help because it is convenient, help because you can.'”
“Working in countries such as Peru – a developing country – you see how important reciprocity from our operations is.”
Carey echoed these comments, adding: “Philanthropy and sustainability have always been a huge part of the plan.”
Chimu Adventures has helped raise close to $1 million in funds towards purpose related activities in the past 15 years through donations and micro-financing of projects.
Through its wider operations throughout the polar regions, the company is also raising awareness of environmental issues.
“[What] better [way] to teach people about the environmental impact of climate change than to promote places like Antarctica, educate passengers on what is happening there and bring them home as advocates,” Carey said.