Australis - An Awesome Adventure Niche

with Helen Hewetson

Phillip Solomon & Edith Chasosa of Tourcan Vacations joined by Ram Angod, a potential Australis client

Ensemble Travel's Chris Lackstrom &Dallyce Macas, Canadian Representative for Australis

Dallyce Macas & Mauricio Alvarez, Expedition Team Leader for Australis

Jennifer Patterson ,Merit Travel & Simon Vaughan, Senior Editor & Travel Advisor, Outpost Magazine

Mauricio Alvarez & Ben Stasiuk,General Manager for Goway's Latin America & Polar Destinations

Recently, a small group of industry folk gathered at YTO's Terroni Restaurant to learn more about Australis, a vacation cruise company specializing in expedition trips in and around Cape Horn and Patagonia.

We're here at the invitation of Dallyce Macas, Canadian Representative for Australis, but the real star of the show is Mauricio Alvarez, the company's charismatic Expedition Team Leader. It's as if his job is really more of a calling than a career. Not only does he work directly with the ship's captains to plan routes during the company's September to April season, but he's also in charge of all programming, ship excursions, research programs, safety – you name it, he's the guy.

The company's 3, 4 and 7 night programs navigate the stunning, narrow southernmost waterways of Chile and Argentina. Clients can explore the Patagonian channels, the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel, or experience the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Cape Horn, on either the 136 pax MV Via Australis, or the 210 pax MV Stella Australis. Recently the company has added a scientific research element for small groups of pax to participate in if they wish.

As we munch on thin-crust pizza, Caprese salad and creamy, perfectly tasty pasta, Alvarez explains that it took him years to convince the company to allow him to conduct scientific research on board (he is researching everything from water quality to the distribution of flora and even ethnographic studies on the region). Now, clients love the program and the company has found that it really cements their bond with the customer – they are able to follow along with the research and feel a deep connection as a result.

Not only does Alvarez take deep pride in his work with Australis and his research, but in his spare time – in between making replica bark canoes or independently researching regional cartography - he's also a Discovery Channel star! Look out for him on “Mighty Cruise Ships" and he is also featured in National Geographic Traveler magazine.

It's clear that Alvarez is one of the reasons Australis is such a special brand. Our small group is captivated by his descriptions of the wildlife and new routes and the types of experiences clients might have. We know that quality of experience and novelty are both important and we all know there are heaps of land-based trips in this area - but for travellers looking to do something totally different, or to go to the tip of Cape Horn (a checkbox on many travel lists), Australis is a particularly special way to go.

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