While travelling South America for a year we got to experience some excellent adventure activities as we made our way through each country.
Some of the highlights included:
Riding down the most dangerous road in the world on mountain bikes. Based in La Paz, Boliva, Gravity Bolivia does a tour down “The Death Road” that starts at 15,400 feet in the snow covered peaks of La Cumbre and winds down a dirt road with a sheer cliff on one side that has taken the lives of many locals and tourists alike. Riding downhill for 40 miles you ride through waterfalls while overlooking the beautiful valley below and finally finishing at a small animal refuge in the rainforest where you can feed the rescued monkeys and parrots.
Cruising the Galapogus islands on a small luxury cruise boat. With tours from 7-10 days, you stay overnight on the ship while doing day trips to each of the islands to see the amazing wildlife.
We walked casually within a few feet of Blue Footed Boobies, Iguanas and Albatrosses, lay on the beach with baby seals and photographed Lonesome George, a 100 year old tortoise.
Paragliding off the top of a mountain in Mendoza Argentina with Mendoza Parapente. The drive to the top of the mountain was enough to get the heart pumping with the 4×4 winding up the loose gravel road only feet from the edge of cliff.
Walking the 5 day trek through the mountains of Peru to Machu Pichu, one of the most amazing places on earth.
All these activities are hugely popular with tourists and need to be booked beforehand.
There is a real opportunity to run an online booking agency for these kinds of tours. Some of the smaller operations are hard to find on the web, and you would not really know about them unless you had spent considerable time in each country. We started making some inquires about starting a niche travel business to supplement our travels.
One of the first things we found is that there can be issues with merchant accounts.
An often overlooked aspect of starting a travel business is the difficulty you can sometimes run in to accepting payments. Although setting up a merchant account is pretty straight forward for most business types, travel bookings can fall in to the category of high risk from the banks perspective. This is because travel can be prone to cancellation by customers leading to high refund rates. For this reason you may need to get a more expensive travel merchant account from a specialist provider. This will ensure your business does not come to a holt because your merchant account becomes frozen due any issue with chargebacks.
Over the coming weeks we will look at:
- Building a client database of travellers
- Setting up a website to accept payments
- Issues with insurance
- Setting up an office for a home based travel business
There are some fantastic travel experiences in South America. If travel is your passion, you may be able to make a business out of helping others find the best tours and adventures.