encounter latin america

Authentic South American Experiences For Your Clients

encounter story

Our passion is building unique experiences with you and your clients through a variety of travel styles, experiences, and authentic local properties. We combine encyclopedic knowledge of the region with a progressive vision to make us one of Latin America’s most trusted and exciting DMCs.

OVER 24 YEARS EXPERIENCE

Encounter Latin America has been living and breathing travel in Latin America for over 20 years.

8 local DMC offices

8 local DMC offices, family-owned, with a dedicated team of destination specialists and operational professionals.

Authentic trips

We design, refine, and execute trips that best reflect your brand creating WOW experiences for your travelers.

We have no other word to describe the past twenty years of our lives. We explored South America for several years before turning our passion for travel into a career by founding CAT (now Global Encounters) in Lima in 1997. We started out with great hopes, little money and no clients at all, but with lots of energy and a mad belief that we would be able to build this company and share our passion for South America with other travelers.

During the first 10 years of our existence, we were known as CAT DMC (Class Adventure Travel), and at the start our office was situated in a bedroom of our small apartment in Miraflores, Lima. By 2004 we had created a small but solid team and as our company and clients grew, we decided to expand our horizons by opening offices in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) and Argentina (Buenos Aires). A few interesting years followed, but by 2007 we had found our footing and became known as one of the few well-organized Destination Management Companies in the region. Since then, we’ve continued to expand our family-owned DMC offices to create a regional organization with offices Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Costa Rica.

Since 2007, we’ve rebranded our company to become Encounter Latin America DMC, the word “Encounter” encompassing our experiences through our professional explorations and adventures, as well as describing the meeting of cultures between our travelers and the people they meet on their trips. Our expertise as a forward-thinking DMC is and will always be focused on portraying your brand and product for Latin America as uniquely yours, and using our creativity, productivity tools and extensive knowledge in the region to make both your, your clients’ and our lives easier.

…the rest is history, our future…always with our eyes on the horizon.

 

Encounters Humble Start

Our Encounter with Latin America started in 1994, as I (Bart de Graaf) was traveling through Latin America and an idea was starting to form while exploring Ecuador ’s innermost jungle. After returning to the Netherlands I met Karin, whilst we both were working nominal jobs to get on top of our study loans. Together we made a bold plan to build a travel company in Peru, for the Dutch market, even though neither of our families were happy about this new adventure we were about to undertake. Nevertheless, in a shared passion and inspiration for travel and each other, we began mapping our way towards a journey of love, commitment and following a dream soon to come true. 

The idea of starting a travel company in Latin America was not easily embraced back then (as a matter of fact our family and friends declared us insane for even trying it), due to its financial viability and (lack of) safety at the time. In 1996, Peru had only recently come out of a bloody civil war between the government army and leftwing resistance group “Shining Path” (Sendero Luminoso); while stability had returned to the country, many feared some form of Maoist revolution could still be afoot. These fears did not manifest into reality however, and with a phenomenal array of both natural and man-made wonders, a peaceful Peru promised to become a blooming tourism destination. We agreed that Peru would indeed be the best place to begin, packed our bags and jumped on a plane in April of 1997.

Celebrating our 24rth year, we now have 8 offices,
and > 70 travel professionals

 

 

our timeline

A brief history of our growth from a 2 person startup, to a team of dedicated travel specialists across Latin America, employing over 70 staff and providing authentic experiences and responsible travel practices

^
1997a

Foundation

  • After 14 years of terrorism, Peru reported as “safe to travel” again. Class Adventure Travel (CAT) is welcomed as one of the first incoming operators in Peru and we start preparations to handle tours for the Dutch market. Later that year the first Class Adventure Travelers arrive in Peru.
^
1998

Growth

  • We start a 5-year growth period, from a 2-person startup to over 20 team members, with a vision of growth and risk aversion. Over time we start looking across the borders for growth opportunities into other countries in South America.
^
1999

Second Office

  • We open our second office in Cusco, and begin operating extensions into both Bolivia and Ecuador. Networks in Chile, Argentina and Brazil are built up as we prepare the next steps; our first clients already sign up for our new destinations.
^
2004

Expanding our horizon

We change our corporate vision and mission to invest horizontally, opening more offices to be less dependent on growth opportunities in Peru only. We open our next operations bases in Argentina and Brazil.

^
2007

Streamlining Operations

By now managing 4 offices in Latin America and with numbers of travellers growing fast, we consolidate in order to breathe and create efficiency in our operations.

^
2008

World Economic Crisis

  • The economic crisis forces us to look into further streamlining our operations and optimizing the efficiency of our teams. Part of the Peru team temporarily moves to Argentina and supports our team there during the high season. Meanwhile the concept is born to create one strong head office in Peru with the support of the Argentina team.
^
2009

We open our Costa Rica office

With our headquarters solidified in Peru, a new operations system and an efficient and motivated team we are ready again for expansion and open our office in San José, Costa Rica.

^
2012

Itereo™ Travel Planner

  • We start building our own dynamic packaging software: Itereo™ Travel Planner, which allows our tour operator and travel agent partners to customize their tour packages.
^
2013

We welcome Colombia

  • The moment we have waited for: Colombia is finally considered safe to travel again and we open our office in Bogota. We know it will take years for our clients to build enough trust to send their travelers back here, but we are over the moon; with such an amazing country and fantastic people we are thrilled to start creating adventures in Colombia.
^
2016

Overcoming challenges

  • 6 offices and 12 different cultures: it has not always been easy to make sure that we operate the same way in every destination. We shift our overall company focus from efficiency toward integrating and improving company culture, to ensure we become that one team that pulls it all together.
^
2017

Bolivia is our number 7!

  • We have always operated Bolivia from our Peru office and until now never felt the need to open our own office. However when our long-term partner in Bolivia decides to change his course in life it gives us that perfect push to open an office in Sucre, Bolivia.
^
2020

Travelife

  • We have always focussed on authentic experiences and responsible travel. But now, with the team working in almost perfect synchronicity and operations running smoothly, we can create the space and resources to start our Travelife certification and really become a “responsible” operator.
^
2020

Partnering with Colourful Ecuador

  • With incredible gratitude we announce the partnership between Colourful Ecuador Travels and Encounter Latin America. In the middle of the incredible Covid challenge, we are very happy with this opportunity and look forward to a meaningful and proactive future together.

encounter team

Our team of seasoned travel professionals finds privilege to work, live and share the diverse cultures and incredible nature in Latin America, and extend our encounters with your travelers. We have great passion and love for our little corner of the world, and believe travel -if done well- can have a positive impact on both the destination and the traveler’s experiences and lifetime growth.

Our Directors:

 

Karin Deen

Co-Founder & CEO

Ever since she can remember Karin knew she wanted to travel, to move, to experience different languages, cultures, meeting different people and wondering through different landscapes. Together with Bart she moved to Peru in 1997 to start the adventure of a lifetime and founded what now is Encounter Latin America. Up to today she is still living her dream and while Covid has grounded us all for a while, the time to travel will come soon.

bart de graaf

Co-Founder & Itereo Travel Planner

Ideas, dreams, possibilities, flow… Bart was never meant to spend much time behind a desk. His greatest joy is being on the road (literally; he loves driving and hiking and can do so for days on end, if you let him). He is called the man of a million ideas and has brought Encounter Latin America and Itereo Travel Planner into the world. His place is in the Dreamscape and he counts himself lucky to be surrounded by strong builders and managers, who have the skills and capabilities to make his dreams come true by turning them into theirs.

marc harrison

Business Development

Having joined the Encounter team in 2006, Marc has lived over 15 years in Central & South America. His personal passion is obviously travel, but professionally he thrives in the mergence of creative people and ideas, enhancing productivity in processes, and finding ways to make 2+2=10. Yoga practice keeps his business acumen and creativity in balance, and believes a personal touch in every aspect of business and life makes the difference.

lydia vereschildt

Business Development

Lydia was born in The Netherlands and has had from young age a curiosity to explore other countries, cultures and connect with different people. After travelling the continents of Asia, Africa and then South America, Lydia decided to leave her country behind and settled in Ecuador where she opened a travel company, a language school and worked with different NGO’s. Her WHY has always been creating WOW experiences and making a positive impact on our travellers, our clients, our providers, our projects, our environment and ourselves.

matilde miranda

Communication & Customer service Director

Born and raised in Lima, Matilde has a deep connection with Peru and neighboring Bolivia, and understands the two countries better than most. Matilde started out as a trainee in 2002 at Global Encounters (then still known as CATDMC) and it wasn’t long before she began to take on more and more responsibility. In 2012 Matilde became the first Director of the team next to Karin.

silvina pereiro

Operations Director

Silvina started exploring her home country, Argentina, as a child, and over the years her fascination with travel grew and she developed a passion for getting to know different places and people. Silvina joined the team in a moment of crazy growth and instability and managed to steer us sound and safe through those difficult times. From executive she grew fast to operations supervisor then to region manager in 2008 and in 2017 she became our operations director.

agostina rinaldi

Sales Director

Agostina was born and raised in Buenos Aires. In her early twenties, she started travelling for the first time and that process of planning and research hooked her and she decided this was what she wanted to do for her career. After her studies she started working at Global Encounters in the 2007. She now heads our Tailor-made department with extreme dedication and became our sales director.

elizabeth garcia

Financial Director

Already during high school, Elizabeth developed a love for numbers and started right after studying accounting. As true accounting warrior, Elizabeth has lived through several crises and always managed to steer us clear again. From supervising the Argentina office, she grew into supervising the rest of the offices and finally in 2018 as Financial Director.

alex reyes

Travel & Technology Director

Alex started out in 1999 as a Freelance Designer for Global Encounters. Alex’s creative mind goes in overdrive when thinking out of the box for customer solutions, for years Alex worked as a free-lancer, while studying alongside. In 2009, Bart and Alex started Itereo, our Travel & Technology company and created our Travel Planner that makes quoting, easy, fun and fast

Our regional managers:

 

silvina pereiro

Argentina/Chile/Uruguay

Silvina started exploring her home country, Argentina, as a child, and over the years her fascination with travel grew and she developed a passion for getting to know different places and people. Silvina joined the team in a moment of crazy growth and instability and managed to steer us sound and safe through those difficult times. From executive she grew fast to operations supervisor then to region manager in 2008 and in 2017 she became our operations director.

matilde miranda

Peru & Ecuador

Born and raised in Lima, Matilde has a deep connection with Peru and neighboring Bolivia, and understands the two countries better than most. Matilde started out as a trainee in 2002 at Global Encounters (then still known as CATDMC) and it wasn’t long before she began to take on more and more responsibility. In 2012 Matilde became the first Director of the team next to Karin.

Karem Cuba

Bolivia

Karem was born and raised in Sucre, Bolivia. She studied Tourism Management and started working for Bolivia Specialist. Here she soon became our go to person and for years as she handled our reservations and operations while working in the office of our local partner. In 2018 Karem started working as the manager of our local office in Sucre.

montserrat neira

Brazil

After studying to become a travel agent at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Montse worked in several different areas of the travel industry and believes that travel is one of the best investments a person can make for their personal development. In 2010 Montse started as a sales executive in the Buenos Aires team. Traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Montse fell in love with the ‘Marvelous City’ and in August 2014, she made her travel dreams a reality moving from our office in Buenos Aires to become the Regional Manager in Brazil.

eleonore smits

Costa Rica

Born and raised in Amsterdam, the multi-cultural capital of The Netherlands, Eleonore’s fascination with getting to know different cultures and people instantly grew as she developed a great passion for travel, especially in Spanish speaking countries. At the age of fifteen, she developed a deep connection with Costa Rica, and nowadays being married to a Tico, truly loves and understands the country better than most. After having her son in 2009, she transitioned to the Central America Regional Manager position for GE in 2010.

juliana Loaiza G.

Colombia

Juliana was born in Colombia’s beautiful coffee producing city of Manizales and grew up in the country’s bustling capital city of Bogotá. After graduating from university, she started working in tourism and became a tour leader taking small groups of travelers to the most popular destinations of South America. With the desire to settle down, she started as a city guide in Bogota and in 2016 as our commercial and operations executive for our Colombia office. In 2018 Juliana took on her role as operations manager of our Colombia office.

our values

We value responsible travel, immersive experiences, supporting local cultures while caring for the environment and growth of each destination.

We are committed to providing safe, authentic South American experiences for your clients. 

It is our mission and commitment to provide our travelers with authentic and immersive experiences, to educate them on treading lightly, and to better understand cultural differences and the mutual respect that comes with it. The beauty of our natural surroundings cannot exist without the support and understanding that we have a responsibility to protect and preserve. We truly believe that responsible travel is the only way for the future of travel and that together we can make this world a better place.

We Build open, respectful & honest relationships

We believe in strong positive relationships that are respectful, open and honest, in doing so we will accomplish much more than we would be able to achieve otherwise.

We aim towards responsible & sustainable travel

We understand the world we live in will become unsustainable if we do not change. We are committed to form part of the solution, not the problem.

We are a team & a family

We strive to create an environment that inspires and brings forth synergy, solidarity, warmth, being supportive, and understanding.

We build bridges & safeguard our cultural heritage

We believe in diverse backgrounds, ideas and perspectives. By building bridges between cultures we will learn, understand and essentially become a better person. Our  activities and excursions are conducted with utmost respect for the artistic, archeological and cultural heritage to which they reside.

We safeguard our natural environment

We plan our excursions and activities responsibly in order to protect the natural heritage composed of ecosystems and biodiversity, to preserve endangered species of wildlife.

We keep it local

We protect the economy of the local communities. Keeping the profit in the community will both ensure that the destination continues to exist and the local community can prosper.

We share our passion about travel

We love traveling and sharing our passion for our countries with our travelers. We will give our travelers a real, authentic, possibly life changing experience. We will go out of our way to ensure a travel experience beyond their dreams.

We embrace and drive change

‘The only constant in life is change‘ (herakleitos a greek philosopher c. 535BC). We understand that our environment is changing, our customers are changing, and essentially our business model changes over time. Embracing and driving change, will help us grow.

We do the right thing

Always.