When Paul Boardman sat in his Police patrol vehicle on Blackpool promenade on a cold February night in 1982, he could never have imagined the journey that would take him from a cold windswept northern resort town, to the deserts, jungles, and mountains of South America.
Paul escaped from the UK when, while working in the CID, he was offered a position with Norwegian Cruise Line. Based in Miami, Florida, he became their Security/Safety Officer on board what was then the world’s largest cruise liner, the S/S Norway. Paul had always been fascinated by travel and sailing, so it seemed (if you will excuse the pun) a crime to pass up on the opportunity for travel on the ocean waves. In 1992, he started what would be a six year career with NCL travelling to all parts of the globe during which time he received a couple of commendations from UK and UK customs for drug interdiction operations in the Caribbean, as well as visiting New Zealand, the South Pacific, and finally Australia, to review port security arrangements for the Olympics there.
It was on board the cruise ship, that Paul met his wife, Marisol, a Peruvian working as Paymaster in the Pursers Dept. In 1999 they decided to start their own yachting business in the Bay Islands of Honduras, providing sailing and watersports excursions to cruise lines visiting the islands. It was a tough start, and Paul likens Roatan back then to the “Wild West in paradise” with occasional gunfights in the main street at West End village. Cruise visits and tourism were still in their infancy in this region, as was law and order! Their oldest son, Jason, now 15 years old was born in Honduras and has three passports.
In 2000 they expanded their business to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico and became the resort’s first large day catamaran tour, working with the likes of Thomson and Thomas Cook for 10 years on the Riviera Maya. The business grew as did the resort, which changed from a tiny and charming Mexican fishing village into a major city. Sebastian, their second child was born in Cancun, and is still proudly Mexican and Paul became a Mexican national.
In 2010 they decided to sell the business, buy a yacht and sail round the world. The thrilling journey took them from southern California, via Mexico, and the countries of Central America, through the Panama Canal and up into the Caribbean. However, Paul and the family decided to return to the UK in 2011 to care for Paul’s dad, who sadly passed away the following year.
Fast forward to 2014. The kids have settled in the north of England, and a new idea that Paul and Marisol have been kicking around for a number of years, once again comes up over coffee on a cold and rainy October morning.
By December 2014, the family are in Peru doing a recce trip to set up a guided 4×4 self- drive adventure tour and within 8 weeks, the company, the vehicles, equipment, hotels and website are all in place and ready to roll. The tour they established leaves from Lima (with easy direct flights from the UK) and clients have their own self- drive Toyota 4×4 expedition vehicle, led by a lead/guide/safety vehicle throughout the 15 night odyssey.
This makes for independence and flexibility, but with the safety net of an escort. A driver can also be provided on request.
Accommodations are an eclectic mix of desert and mountain lodges and historical haciendas. The route takes in the deserts, the Andes and the jungles of Peru, and while enjoying must do highlights such as Machu Picchu, it also gets clients to locations only accessible in a 4×4 and places that ‘normal’ tours can only dream of.
By January 2016, they had completed 5 highly successful trips, and had excellent feedback from the clients. One thing that has come out of that first year of operations in Peru, is that most clients are over 50, couples, and looking for an adventure with a difference.
Paul finds that they are seeking high quality tour, offering independence, small groups, and a real chance to connect with the scenery, archaeology and people of Peru.
Peru Safari are offering a really different way of seeing this most vibrant of South American countries and the company is really taking off in 2016. Apart from Marisol’s family owning two of the Haciendas used on the Peru trip, they also own a boutique beach hotel in the Galapagos islands which many clients add on for a relaxing third week of their package.
Of course the trip isn’t for everyone. The roads in Peru can be challenging, and if you don’t enjoy motoring holidays, this trip probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re a confident driver and up for some adventure, it’s a unique way to do Peru, with a friendly small UK company, who are experts in what they do.
Check out their website on www.perusafari.com
Paul & Marisol are always available with advice and help, and being silver travellers themselves, they know how to tailor make their tours to your tastes. It’s been a long road from Blackpool to Peru, but Paul knows where he would rather be right now.