The Project Cordillera team has spent a lot of time with our Colombian partner, Mateo Isaza, over the past year and we’d love for you to meet him! One of the best partners around, Mateo is knowledgeable about the places he travels, makes travel accessible to everyone, and is genuinely a very interesting person. Come visit us in Colombia and travel with Mateo!
How did you get started with adventure travel?
Since I was a kid I’ve been in close contact with nature. I grew up in the country side, studied biology, then I started practicing mountaineering, and traveling throughout Colombia.
After years of traveling, people started asking me for help in planning trips to remote places. That’s ultimately how I started combining my passion for nature and adventure travel with my job as an adventure guide.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I try to travel to places I haven’t been before, usually mountains. Since hiking and climbing requires you to be in good physical condition, I also practice cycling and climbing when I’m home in order to embark on my adventure trips with safety and confidence.
Where’s your favorite place in Colombia?
Choosing a place is difficult, especially in a country with huge diversity, such as Colombia. Comparing the Andes with the Amazon, or the plains with the dessert or with our two oceans is not easy.
I can, however, say that I love El Cocuy National Park with its magnificent snowy mountains, as well as the Mavecure rocks in the hearth of the huge Amazon jungle, the beautiful rivers and its biological and cultural diversity. I have a profound interest and respect for the knowledge of the indigenous cultures of the Amazon.
How did you find out about Project Cordillera?
Some time ago I was planning a climbing trip to the Peruvian Andes and a friend of mine put me in contact with Sam, who works at Project Cordillera. His advice was very helpful for my trip in Peru. Later on, it was Sam who looked for my help in planning his trips to the mountains of Colombia. Recently, I have made a few trips with more people from Project Cordillera.
What’s your favorite part about your job? And the most challenging part?
What I enjoy the most is to be able to share the emotions produced by the natural places we visit. To see the people happy during the trips fills me with satisfaction.
As for the challenges, there are many. Perhaps what stresses me most is what I can’t control, like the weather. All the trips I do depend heavily on climate, a factor I can’t control. They say “adventure is being prepared for the unexpected” and so I try to be prepared as best as I can to solve unforeseen problems.
Why are some tours more difficult than others?
My trips vary in difficulty because we go to very diverse locations. The most challenging are the mountain trips due to their physical demands and the lack of services, although in the end all the efforts are rewarded by the wonderful landscapes. The trips to the Amazon, to the Pacific, or to the plains require much less of a robust physical condition and usually there is access to facilities you can’t find in the mountains.
How do you keep things fun and interesting after you’ve been to the same place many times?
To see people enjoying a trip makes me happy. This is the main reason why I enjoy every trip, no matter if I have been there many times. I even like to go back to those places by myself or with friends and then I have the time to see the places from a different perspective, enjoying things that I cannot when I’m traveling as a guide.
I’m fortunate to be able to have as a job something I’m really passionate about.
Why do you think people should travel with you?
I know my priority during my trips is that people feel happy with the places we visit and also that they somehow spread the voice that these ecosystems must be protected. I try to implement a sustainable tourism model that we all can benefit from: travelers, ecosystems, communities and guides. I think my love and respect for nature is a good foundation for performing well as a guide.