Our People
  • Amy Waters snow biking Our Team

    Steppes Travel is made by the people who work here. Incredible holidays are made possible because of their vast travel experience and the great enthusiasm they bring to their work.

  • William Dalrymple Our Tour Experts

    We carefully select our experts based on their knowledge, companionship and influence, ensuring that you can travel with the most knowledgeable leaders in the field.

  • Liz Bonnin Heroes and Heroines

    The people who lead the way when it comes to those things which matter to us: exploration, the environment, women’s empowerment and education.

James Armitage - Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

James Armitage

  • The Americas

My Expertise

  • Cuba
  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • Guatemala
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Guyana
  • Peru
  • Uruguay
  • Antarctica

Rewind to 1981 (yes a long time ago) where, as a young and naive gringo ready to explore the world, I boarded a plane to Santiago, Chile. My Spanish was limited to “dos cerveza por favour”, but I was eager to discover a new continent and meet new friends – an adventure that has since become a nearly 40-year love affair.

I slept amongst the sand dunes of the Pacific Coast before, on discovering that my bivouac was not very waterproof and that I may as well have been on Camber Sands, making my way south to the iconic peaks of Patagonia. I have since travelled through nearly every country in Latin America many times each, including five journeys around the Galapagos Islands. Despite my numerous adventures around the continent, I have found that there are always new places to discover and unique experiences to be had. Yet, after all this time, it is still the people who remain the most magical draw – being warm, super friendly and exceedingly generous. All that is left to decide is, where to next? (Yes, in Latin America).

Marble Caves, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile
Marble Caves, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Carretera Austral: Taking the Long Road

The Carretera Austral is one of the most remote and stunning off-piste road journeys in South America, if not the world. Starting from Puerto Montt, the 1270 km-long Carretera Austral road crosses over rivers, national parks, forests, fjords, glaciers and flower-filled mountains. It ends in Villa O’Higgins at the foot of the Southern Ice Field – also the largest in the world outside Antarctica and Greenland.

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Vineyard, Mendoza, Argentina
Vineyard, Mendoza, Argentina

Malbec in Mendoza

Mendoza is located on the border between Argentina and Chile, at the base of the highest mountain in the Americas, Aconcagua at an altitude of 6,962m. The views are stunning; from the lines of grape covered vines, the tall swaying poplar trees there to protect the vines to the stunning back drop of the snow-capped Andes. Where better to visit the wineries, many dating back over a hundred years, to sample many different grape varieties, particularly Malbec.

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Caiman with Butterfly, Pantanal, Brazil
Caiman with Butterfly, Pantanal, Brazil

Discover the Pantanal

If, like me, you love wilderness and open spaces then the loneliness and vastness of the Pantanal will move you deeply. Yet there is far more to the Pantanal than openness – it is the world’s largest tropical wetland area hosting a number of ecosystems and covers up to an estimated 75,000 square miles. Importantly this means that it’s the best place in the Americas for wildlife – its open spaces make wildlife far more visible than in the Amazon rainforest.

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My Most Memorable Experiences

Tell us what you love doing and we’ll curate a journey that’s perfect for you.

Kayaking in Antarctica

The joy of being out in a kayak in Antarctica is there is no sound apart from the gentle tinkling of the water on the bow of the canoe. I was able to observe adelie, gentoo and chinstrap penguins congregating in little clusters on the ice flows.

Carretera Austral Road Trip

Driving a 4×4 along the Carretera Austral, through hidden landscapes and stunning snow-capped scenery, was a wild and remote off-the-beaten-track experience.

Whale-Watching in Brazil

I was lucky enough to see southern right whales off the pink beach of Praia do Rosa, an area that boasts great surf and greater whales.

Off-Piste Patagonia

Exploring the wilderness of ancient forest, lagoon, rivers, waterfalls and rugged mountains of Tagua Tagua Park felt like a real privilege and that I had stumbled upon a secret part of Patagonia.

My Hand-Picked Holiday Ideas

Scroll to discover my pick of great journeys in the Americas and Polar regions. From driving one of the world’s most iconic road trips in Patagonia to kayaking atop whale-filled waters in Antarctica, I hope that this small selection of holiday ideas inspires an adventure of your own.

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So many thanks indeed for the care and time that you put into organising this trip for us. I cannot underestimate the value of the latter in terms of reading what we wanted and then advising on the best way to achieve that. As I am sure you will know only too well, other operators are over keen to sell “this is what we do”, and make the sale. So thank you for putting together what will be a really memorable experience for us.

Destination: Guatemala
Travel Expert: James

I would especially mention the positive and really helpful advice of James, who even met with me to chat face to face before putting together a bespoke trip that really met all of our expectations. As a result, our time in Chile was a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten.

Destination: Chile
Travel Expert: James

What a fantastic trip to Argentina, Chile and Brazil superbly organised by James.

Destination: Argentina, Chile & Brazil
Travel Expert: James

What excellent service from James - he was very knowledgeable and booked the perfect trip for us to Brazil.

Destination: Brazil
Travel Expert: James

James put together what proved to be a fabulous itinerary in Chile. We were slightly concerned that with 11 flights in 3 weeks we might be overdoing it, but the experiences in each location more than justified the travel, and James's first-hand experience proved invaluable.

Destination: Chile
Travel Expert: James

We found it extremely helpful to visit the Steppes office and have a face to face discussion with James about what our requirements were for our adventures in Costa Rica. He really listened and made sure that the trip was tailored to our needs.

Destination: Costa Rica
Travel Expert: James

We would recommend Steppes for anyone travelling to the Galapagos Islands- they are lovely company to deal with from start to finish, and James not only listened but went out of his way to accommodate our requests. Thank you!

Destination: Galapagos Islands
Travel Expert: James

Once again, I would like to thank James for organising our trip. Our visit to Peru was perfect. Each of the expert guides in Peru made the whole thing run like clockwork, and I cannot thank all of you enough.

Destination: Peru
Travel Expert: James

Our trip to Colombia and Peru, organised by James, exceeded all of our expectations! We travelled initially to see our eldest son who lives in California and then decided that (while close by) we would "nip" to Peru with the aim of visiting Machu Picchu, and onward to Colombia. A spectacular and memorable trip of a lifetime.

Destinations: Colombia & Peru
Travel Expert: James

Wow!! I don’t really know what to say except that our trip brilliant in every respect – a real once in a lifetime experience that I think we will struggle to beat!! What a place you sent us to, James!!!

Destination: Guyana
Travel Expert: James

Meet the Americas & Polar Experts

With a combined total of more than 180 years working in travel, we are a small and immensely knowledgeable team of experts. Having driven vintage cars in Havana, climbed granite domes in Yosemite, snorkelled with sea lions in the Galapagos and camped in Antarctica, our passion lies in curating bespoke journeys for our clients, balancing our in-depth local knowledge with a penchant for picking up on the little details that make you tick.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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