As part of my Medellin entrepreneur series, I want to share not only stories of expats working here but also locals who in some way are helping to promote and advance Colombia. Today’s interview is with Andrés, a friend of mine who offers tours to some lesser known destinations in and around Antioquia. If you’re interested in a tour with Andrés, you can connect with him using the links below.
1. What made you want to come (back) to Medellin? What kind of work have you been doing?
Even though I was born in Medellín and have lived here most of life, I have now been back for almost 3 years after being away for 10 years, so I’m not exactly an expat but a “repat“.
While away, my home changed every 5 months as I was working on cruise ships all over the world and staying on each ship for 5-month terms which was the length of each contract. So geographically wise I didn’t have a specific location other than where the ship was going to every day. I went on two world cruises and spent some contracts in the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and Russia, the Greek Islands and Egypt, the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Africa, Australia and even spent two seasons in Antarctica. Seeing so many places helped me realize how wonderful Colombia and Antioquia really are.
Family was very important in deciding to come back to Medellín but I also missed Antioquia´s people, its countryside and everything involved with it such as the road stops to have an arepa de chócolo, going to fincas, and enjoying the mountain landscape, especially along the Cauca River.
2. Tell us about the kind of business you have set up here. Do you work online or is it a brick-and-mortar business?
I am a unique tour operator offering private tours to both popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations. I have done my homework exploring places that are not usually mentioned on online or printed travel guides and have selected the ones that can represent more value for the international traveler.
My business is not really an online business but my online presence is really important since more than 90% of my travelers come from abroad, so that’s where they usually find me and where we usually finalize the details of each trip.
3. What kind of challenges have you faced moving back to Colombia and doing business here?
Doing business with hotels that already had their favorite tour operators and making them understand that LandVenture Travel offers unique tours was quite a challenge.
There are great online options for making lives easier but not all government entities have taken advantage of it, such as online tax payments.
4. What’s your favorite thing about living here?
The diversity that Medellín offers in terms of places to go and visit, the weather and the food. Probably, there’s no other city where you can find as many interesting places to go within two hours’ drive from the metropolitan area. Medellin’s weather is mostly spring-like all year round and it’s just the amount of rain that varies. I’ve heard from many foreign tourists that in no other place have they felt so much friendliness and willingness to help from the people.
5. What advice can you offer those who want to move to Medellin and/or Colombia and start a business here?
That if you compare Medellín to any other city in Colombia, it’s hard to find one that could have as many advantages. Medellín has probably the best climate in the country, the friendliest people where foreigners are rarely taken for granted, overall, the most modern infrastructure, it’s the only one with a metro system, plenty of places where you can relax or enjoy yourself such as Barefoot Park, Wishes Park, Botanical Garden and a couple miradores where you will get the best view of the city. There are plenty of wonderful attractions within its surroundings in places such as Santa Elena, Guatapé, Río Claro, Concepción, Jardín, Concordia and Santafé de Antioquia to name a few.