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.

Our name for the first 10 years of existence we were known as CAT DMC (Class Adventure Travel), and our office was the bedroom of our small apartment in Miraflores. By 2004 our Lima office had grown into a small but solid team, and as our company and clients grew, in 2004 we decided to expand our horizons and our 2nd office in Buenos Aires. By 2007 we finally 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 Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Costa Rica.

Since 2007, we’ve rebranded our company around the concept of “Encounter” which in essence encompasses more or less our experience through explorations and adventures in both travel and professional growth. Global Encounters came from lofty aspirations towards “Sustainable World Domination”, dominating of course in the most sustainable sense of the word :). However, in more recent years we’ve dialed it back to keep it simple as Encounter Latin America DMC. Our expertise as a forward-thinking DMC is and will always be focused on portraying your brand and product for Latin America uniquely yours, and using our creativity and productivity tools and extensive knowledge in the region to make both our clients, team, and leadership 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 our co-founder Bart de Graaf was traveling through one of Ecuador’s innermost jungles, experiencing nomad-life as he immersed himself in the Amazon Jungle. After returning to the Netherlands, he met Karin, wife now of 20 years, a waitress and he a private driver, and let’s just say neither of our families were supportive of this new adventure we were about to undertake. However, in a shared passion and inspiration for travel and each other, we began mapping our way towards an adventure of love, hardship, and happiness of a dream soon to come true. 

The idea of starting a tour company in Latin America back then was not an idea easily embraced due to its financial viability or safety at the time. In the outset of the 90’s, Peru had only recently come out of a bloody civil war during the “Shining Path” (Sendero Luminoso), and while stability had returned to the country, many still feared some form of Maoist revolution would rise. These fears however seemed a bit blown out of proportion, and with a phenomenal array of both natural and man-made wonders, a peaceful Peru becoming a tourist Mecca had begun to unfold. We agreed that Peru would be the best place to begin.

we now have 8 offices,
60 staff, 500 freelancers and 10,000 travelers a year

 

 

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 60 staff, 500 freelancers and serving over 10,000 passengers a year, providing authentic experiences and responsible travel practices

^
1996

Founded

  • After 14 years of terrorism, Peru reported as “safe to travel” again. Class Adventure Travel (CAT) is welcomed as an incoming operator in Peru to handle tours for the Dutch market. Later that year the first Class Adventure Travelers arrived 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.
^
2000

Second Office

  • We opened our second office in Cusco, and began 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 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. We open our next offices in Argentina and Brazil.

^
2007

Streamlined Operations

With now managing 3 offices in Latin America and numbers of travellers growing fast, we try to breath and create efficiency in our operations.

^
2008

World Economic Crisis

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

We open our Costa Rica office

With a strong headquarter in Peru, a new operations system and an efficient and motivated team we are ready again for expansion and open our office in San Jose 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 our tour packages.
^
2013

We welcome Colombia

  • The moment we have waited for: Colombia is finally considered safe to travel to and we open our office in Bogota. We know it will take years for trust will come back to Colombia, but with such an amazing country and people we are thrilled to start creating adventures.
^
2016

Overcoming challenges

  • With now 6 offices and about 12 different cultures, it has not been always easy to make sure that we operate everywhere the same way. We have been focussing on so much on efficiency, that note we focus on company culture and making sure we are that one team that pulls it all together.
^
2017

Bolivia is our number 7!

  • We have always operated Bolivia from our Peru office and never felt the need to open our own office. However when our long term partner in Bolivia decided to change his course in life it give us that perfect push to open an office in Sucre Bolivia.
^
2019

Travelife

  • We have always focussed on authentic experiences and responsible travel. But now with the team working so aligned and operations going so smooth, we have finally found the space and resources to start our Travelife certification and really become a “responsible” operator
^
2020

Partnering with Colourful Ecuador

  • With incredible gratitude we announced our partnership between Colourful Ecuador Travels and Encounter Latin América. While Covid has been an incredible challenge, it has also given us this opportunity.

encounter team

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

Our Directors:

 

Karin Deen

Co-Founder & CEO

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. Sample text can be replaced with something fun.

bart de graaf

Co-Founder & Itereo Travel Planner

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. Sample text can be replaced with something fun.

marc harrison

Business Development

Originally from Austin, Texas, Marc has spent the past twenty years working his way down through Latin America, exploring many of the countries in the region along the way. His career in the travel industry began in Peru, where he was the sales manager for one of our clients. In 2008 Marc became a partner in GE and has been by our side helping us grow and getting better.

lydia vereschildt

Business Development/Europe

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. Sample text can be replaced with something fun.

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 gonzalez

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.