It’s hard to tell what ideas will come to. They normally pop like bubbles on the breeze and disappear as quickly as they arrived. Sitting in a Peruvian cafe with Sam Williams – the co-founder of Project Cordillera – in 2013, the idea to start a social enterprise seemed as innocuous as any other daft suggestion that day. Some really good ideas get forgotten and some terrible ones get pursued. This one drifted around for a bit but then took root. As it started to grow it began to take on a form of its own.
It would be a project that gave back to local communities by supporting them in their efforts to support themselves. It would celebrate the Andes – the mountains, the places and it’s people, and it would encourage mindful travel that helps realise the adventures and possibilities that are out there. It would attempt to make our experience of travel better, happier and healthier, by developing real connections between experiences as tourists and the change that communities are making in their own lives.
Most people nodded, smiled, and said ‘keep up the good work’. But for others something strange happened. It spurred engagement, action and change. The idea spread and snowballed a little more. It is the doing that is the hard bit. This is what our involvement has taught us. But in many ways this is the essence of adventure – getting out the damn door and giving it a go and not letting comfort or fear get in the way of what you dream of doing.
As the idea has matured we have had the pleasure of meeting and working with talented people from all over the world. It has been inspirational to work and learn alongside these individuals, as well as remarkable communities in remote places.
As we evolve further, we are starting to realise that potential and to see others who are making a wave of change in the way things are done. We have built a platform that provides users with the highest quality experiences we can find in the Peruvian Andes. What’s more, we’ve established how to do this with a positive economic impact for local economies. As we continue to grow, to explore new regions of the Andes, we’ll add new adventures and offer greater accessibility to the world’s most diverse mountain range.
This has always been a collaborative endeavour and at this exciting stage we would like to extend this invitation to you. If you believe in another way to represent and support communities that are vulnerable, and environments that are fragile, then join us. We are at the forefront of a new adventure travel sector, one that places people and planet above all else and that engages the potential of the industry to create democratic, grass-routes change for everybody.
We are thrilled about what’s been achieved over the past two years, the incredible input from everyone – from operators to sponsors and from customers to contributors. Thank you, all of you, for your part in something special.
By Sam Gibbons Frendo, Co-Founder of Project Cordillera