Ted Dziadkiewicz’s love affair with Latin America started more than 40 years ago with his first adventure in 1975 and since then he’s been back a few times – 126 times in fact – to more than 30 countries, with more visits on the horizon.
Ted, who lives in Melbourne, first travelled to Latin America on overland camping tours and fell in love with the area, quickly establishing Australia’s first and longest-running, Latin America-focused travel company – Contours Travel – so he could share the exotic appeal with Australian travellers.
He visits the region himself around three times a year along with his team of experts; “We need to make sure our clients receive not only good service and accommodation but great experiences so we can tell them with confidence that they will be looked after,” Ted said.
However, it is not purely business that has seen the director return to the continent again and again. “We have formed many friendships in Latin America over the years,” he said. “We have fallen in love with the food, the wine, the coffee, the people and the places. We get to experience the changes that are taking place too. For example, when I caught the train to Machu Picchu in 1975 it was all very basic, but today you can take the same trip on a luxury train where you almost feel like putting on a dinner suit!”
Ted in Ecuador with a local
Other changes Ted has seen through the years are the improved infrastructure and accommodation, English is now widely spoken and our clients are encouraged to learn basic Spanish which enhances their holidays.
“More Australians are beginning to travel beyond the major landmarks and seek new destinations,” Ted added. “Mexico, Colombia and Central America are also becoming more popular – I love Mexico because of its colonial towns, history, art, pottery, ceramics…the culture is an amazing blend.”
Ted’s love for Latin American has also seen Contours Travel support a number of community projects, most notably the Agua Pura Project – a joint venture with Rotary Club North Melbourne which has brought hundreds of much-needed water filters to remote villages in Peru.
Ted in Peru
With so many memories of travelling through the years, a few particularly stand out for Ted– visiting Rio during Carnival time, exploring vineyards, and coming face-to-face with some of nature’s finest.
“I was taking a group on the one-day Inca trail,” he said, “and I heard a lot of noise. I thought it was a bird in the bushes, and so I approached to investigate and I was startled by a family of spectacled bears, a mother bear and her cub!”
Another memorable encounter occurred earlier this year when he visited Antarctica for the first time. “Our zodiac was gliding through the water when a 12m-long humpback whale dove right under the boat before coming around to see us all face-to-face. It was the biggest thing I’ve ever seen – it was magnificent,” Ted said.
Ted donating water filters to a village in Peru.
Next on the horizon for Ted is a return trip to Peru in June, 2017.
Contours Travel acts as both a tour operator and Latin America wholesaler for the Australian travel industry, and Ted believes it is his expert teams’ practical knowledge of Latin America that makes the operator unique.
“I believe that it is our product knowledge, our history, longevity and our partnerships in Latin America that makes us who we are”, he said. “Once we know what the client wants, we can easily design an itinerary according to their needs and budget – because we’ve been there – many times.”