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Meet the Team

We are Latin Lovers

At Contours Travel we believe in an honest approach to planning a trip, suggesting sights, selecting accommodation and discussing the practicalities in the itinerary.

Every one of our expert consultants has travelled widely throughout Latin America and has extensive experience in designing unique and seamless holidays. We love to share our in-depth knowledge about the highlights and hidden gems of this extraordinary region. Meet the team at Contours Travel to find out more about our Latin experience!

TED DZIADKIEWICZ

Ted, Managing Director, first explored South America as an overland bus driver in the mid-1970s. Since then he has been back more than 120 times over the past 40 years! Ted has travelled throughout the Caribbean and overland from the Mexican border all the way down to the southernmost tip of Latin America. In 2015, Ted received the Lord Mayor’s Commendation award which recognises the longevity and success of Contours Travel as a business and the valuable contribution that Ted has made to the city of Melbourne.

Ted’s Travel Experience:

Ted’s experience reads like a library of Lonely Planet Guides. He knows almost every inch of every country he has visited which includes Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Guyana. In Central America, Ted has journeyed to: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama and El Salvador. He has also been to 20 of the Caribbean islands, including: Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bequia, Cuba, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, San Andres (Colombia), St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Maarten, Trinidad, St. Thomas, St. Vincent, St. Croix and Bermuda. Most recently he traveled Antarctica where his Zodiac glided into a Humpback Whale!

  • My Latin American highlight: swimming in the Napo River in the Ecuadorian Amazon with my son Lucasz. Another great memory was a very close encounter with a Speckled Bear family while doing the Inca Trail. We had to stay quiet and hide so the baby bear would cross the trail!
  • My advice would be: Taste the red wine! Squeeze half a lime into anything. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten track, you’ll be sure to find something very different.

HEATHER POPPELIER

Heather started working with Contours Travel in 2007 and has travelled all over South and Central America. She speaks Spanish, makes a mean caipirinha and wishes more people would travel to Nicaragua, Colombia and Bolivia!

Latin America’s Travel Experience: Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba & Antarctica.
  • My Latin American highlight: The Guajira Peninsula in Colombia and the Salt Flats in Bolivia
  • My advice would be: Don’t try to squeeze to many destinations into one trip, it is better to go slowly to actually get a feel of every destination!
  • The next destination on my list is: Mexico!

INES VIVOT

A porteña born and bred, Ines loves all things Argentinean and keeps the office happy with homemade empanadas. She is responsible for the continued development of Latin America products through the website and curates our Contours Collection Small Group Tours. She has been with Contours Travel since 2010.

Latin America’s Travel Experience: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.
  • My Latin America highlight: Salta in Argentina for its beautiful landscapes and Guatemala for it’s friendly people
  • My advice would be: try to learn a little bit of Spanish; it will give you plenty of opportunities to have conversations with locals and this will undoubtedly enrich your South American experience!
  • The next destination on my list is: Ecuador (Amazon & the Galapagos Islands) can’t wait!

ROD MCINERNEY

Rod lived and worked in Latin America for more than 12 years, escorting tours, managing a travel company and eventually settling down in Cuzco with his Peruvian wife. He speaks Spanish, has hiked the Inca Trail over 20 times and has incredible knowledge of the continent. Rod has been with Contours Travel since 2012.

Latin America’s Travel Experience: He has been to all countries in Central and South America except the Guyanas, Belize & Antarctica.
  • My Latin America highlight: watching the Tungurahua Volcano throwing lava kilometres into the air and watch the lava flows down the edge of the volcano, at Baños, Ecuador.
  • My advice would be: to not miss Colombia or Patagonia – not always on first trip, but well worth going back for.
  • The next destinations on my list are: Brazil and Mexico.

BRETT AMBROSE

Brett has travelled extensively around the world, but he first fell in love with Latin America on his trip around Argentina, Chile, and Peru; the sounds, the sights, and the hospitality of the magical places he encountered led him to the travel industry. He’s been an expert on the region since 2007 and has been working with Contours Travel since 2016.

Latin America’s Travel Experience: Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, & Argentina.
  • My main Latin America highlight: hiking through the Torres del Paine National Park.
  • My advice would be: Less is more. Try not to squeeze too much into your trip. Instead spend extra time at the places you are at. Immerse yourself in the culture and don’t be afraid to try new things!
  • The next destinations on my list are: Ecuador – such a diverse country from the Amazon Jungle to the Andean highlands down to the coastal beaches and Galapagos Islands.

BEN PRICE

In 2007 Ben left us to work as a tour leader, guide and driver in Latin America. Now he is back in the team! Having travelled throughout the continent many times over, Ben speaks Spanish (and even some Guarani), has hiked countless mountains, and eaten everywhere with mucho gusto…but not danced nearly enough tango.

Ben’s Latin America’s Travel Experience: Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, all of Central America except for Honduras, all of South America except the Guyanas, Antarctica and the Falkland Islands.
  • My Latin America highlights: the 3 weeks I spent in Guatemala, our journey across Bolivia’s remarkable Salt Flats and sailing by yacht through the San Blas Islands in the Caribbean Ocean.
  • My advice would be: not to try and fit too much into a small amount of time. Enjoy and experience the places that you visit properly so you can get a proper feel for what the destination is all about.
  • The next destinations on my list are: Patagonia (checked!) followed closely by the Galapagos Islands (checked!).

VALENTINA TORO

Valentina is our newest member of the team, she joined Contours Travels as our Office Administrator this year. Although she claims to prepare the best Pebre, we will have to try it out soon, we’ll let you know how it was!

Vale’s Latin America’s Travel Experience: Chile, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Brazil.
  • My Latin America highlights: I loved snorkeling in Ilha Grande, Brazil, with my family. It was so beautiful and the best scenery. But I completely fall in love with the Uyuni salt plains, they are impressive and the most beautiful landscape I’ve seen.
  • My advice would be: Don’t be afraid of speaking to the locals, we are friendly and even if you don’t speak Spanish there will always be a way to communicate. I believe that’s the real way to experience the local culture.
  • The next destinations on my list are: Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica.

ANA CRISTINA LARA HEYNS

The only Contours Travel latina to hail from north of the Darien Gap, Ana keeps us on our toes with her Mexican slang. She has a background in anthropology and tourism, having worked as a guide around Mexico before moving to Australia and joining Contours Travel in 2017 as our digital marketing and communications coordinator.

Ana’s Latin America’s Travel Experience: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Panama and Colombia.
  • My Latin America highlight: Oaxaca is my all-time favourite and Yucatan’s landscapes, cenotes and gastronomy.
  • My advice would be: Take a day to lose the map and wander the less transited places and talk to everyone.
  • The next destination on my list are: Copper Canyons in Mexico, Cuba and Chile.

CARLA OTTONE

Carla, originally from Chile, entered the travel industry guiding tours in Santiago. She has been working for Contours Travel since 2015 as our office administrator and has plenty of opportunity to gloat every time Chile beats Argentina or Australia at football! She has recently become our overseas Assistant Product Manager.

Carla’s Latin America’s Travel Experience: Chile, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba & Panama.
  • My Latin America highlights: Rio de Janeiro. It’s so alive and colourful that makes you just want to drink a nice caipiriña in Copacabana beach dancing samba! My second highlight is the Atacama Desert, the salt flats are one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen.
  • My advice would be: Try to live the local experience, don’t be afraid to go off the beaten track, eat as much as you can and of course enjoy the beautiful Carmenere wine in Chile!
  • The next destinations on my list are: Tayrona National Park in Colombia and Mexico City! Can’t wait!