© copy Javi Erzam / R. Mena
Venezuela is a country of natural wonders with vast biodiversity and unique landscapes. It is located in northern South America, and is best known for its vast oil reserves. However, its geography and natural beauty make it a great destination for adventurers, and every year more and more visitors are discovering the adventure and charm of Venezuela. Ayapaina Tours is a company that promotes ecotourism and adventure tourism in some of the most stunning destinations in Venezuela such as the Sierra de Perija, Catatumbo, Canaima and Angel Falls, Mount Roraima, Delta del Orinoco, La Gran Sabana, Los Roques, and Los Andes among many other sites. Ayapaina Tours has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015.
Venezuela’s Farmer Inventor
In addition to Ayapaina Tours, Venezuela produced one of the most fascinating inventors of the twentieth century, someone that most English speakers have never heard of. His name was Luis Zambrano, and he grew up in an impoverished section of rural Venezuela. Like Thomas Edison, he only had a fourth grade education. And like Edison, he was a mechanical genius.
Zambrano’s father was a farmer, and by the time the boy had reached the age of ten he had to quit school because he was needed at home to do chores. In his spare time, he developed an interest in mechanics. By inserting sticks through oranges like globes on an axis, then inserting paddles at 90 degree angles, he created spinning toys by harnessing the current of a local stream. His toys became more elaborate as he added interconnected components, and it eventually occurred to him that these machines, if made of more durable material and on a larger scale, could be used to generate mechanical and electrical energy.
By direct observation and without the benefit of formal education, Zambrano deduced the ratio of pi, and used this knowledge to design wheels connected to straps. He salvaged a battery and generator from a wrecked car and, with blacksmithing skills learned on the farm and from his father-in-law, began to construct electrical generating devices when no electric service existed in Venezuela at the time. Several surrounding villages were in fact electrified by Zambrano’s inventions, some of them fifteen years before the government ever ran power lines in the area.
One of his most interesting inventions was the Turbozam, an internal combustion rotary engine that only had 25 parts and could be disassembled in less than 2 minutes. Interest in the motor was so high that it was the subject of a number of academic papers. It was capable of running on practically any fuel, from gasoline to methane produced by agricultural waste. Although cooling problems with the motor were never completely solved, limiting its running time to only a few minutes, elements of the Turbozam have been incorporated in other machines.
Zambrano became famous in his native Venezuela and was awarded an honorary doctorate. It is estimated that he invented more than 50 machines, including a garlic sorter and a coffee drying machine, as well an hydraulic saw. A foundation which carries his name is still going strong 35 years after its creation, helping young Venezuelans learn about electricity and electric power generation.
More Wonders in the Venezuelan Backcountry
For Zambrano, living in the country meant that certain basic necessities of life had to be met and problems of survival had to be overcome. Today, modern technology and conveniences mean that rural Venezuela is also an opportunity for visitors to appreciate the wonders that the country offers, from savannas, to mountains, rainforests and the world’s tallest waterfall. Ayapaina Tours makes all of these experiences accessible in a way that was virtually impossible just ten years ago.
In addition to providing once in a lifetime guided tours, the company has developed field production for documentaries studying Venezuelan indigenous architecture, mountain hiking and observation of flora and fauna throughout the country, among others. Ayapaina Tours also supports local and indigenous communities throughout the country by using experienced local guides, as well as promoting tourism in Venezuela where clients stay in locally operated Venezuelan inns, with an eye towards sustaining local communities.
Ayapaina takes care of all of the details, something which is incredibly important when visiting remote areas where reliable information can be scarce or nonexistent. A couple of examples of destinations with the itinerary offered by Ayapaina give a good flavour of what clients can expect.
Canaima National Park
Canaima National Park is located in the country’s southeast and covers over 30,000 square kilometers, making it the sixth largest national park in the world. About 65% of the park is occupied by sandstone mesas called “tepuis,” a word from an indigenous language meaning “mountain of the Gods.” Tepuis are known not only for their vertical faces and flat tops, but they are also the oldest exposed formations on the planet, dating from the Precambrian. They constitute a unique ecosystem, including the tallest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls, which tumbles off the top of a tepui in Canaima Park. The park is also home to the beautiful Canaima Lagoon with its white sandy beaches and surrounding waterfalls. In 1994, the Canaima National Park was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. © copy Javi Erzam / R. Mena
The park is quite remote, with only one road leading in and out along its eastern border. Clients of Ayapaina are able to enjoy a 3 days, 2 nights trip to the park which includes roundtrip airfare from Puerto Ordaz or Ciudad Bolivar to Canaima Park, visits to Angel Falls and Pozo de la Felicidad, swimming, and accommodations at cabins set in magnificent rural splendor with a complete choice of amenities ranging from rustic to first class. Guests are treated to meals, canoe trips, and showers under waterfalls. Visitors can also take heart pounding flights over Victoria Falls.
Sierra de Perija
Sierra Perija National Park is a national park located in the far west of the country on the Colombian border, and includes the mountain range known as Cordillera de Perija. The park covers an area of 2,952 sq km. With altitudes ranging from 800 to 3,500 meters, the park has a number of microclimates that pack a wide range of experiences in a small geographic area. It is a place of soaring peaks and dense rainforest and savannahs. Locals produce coffee on the slopes and bananas in the more humid areas.
For 3 days and 2 nights visitors have the chance to explore this remote, rugged countryside on muleback with an experienced guide. The package includes return airfare from Maracaibo, but once in the park visitors are in for a rustic treat. Camping is the order of the day here, with kitchens and showers as a concession to hygiene and safety; challenging invigorating hikes mean that the adventurous ecotourist will not be disappointed. The clear clean waters of the brooks make for refreshing midday swims, and days end with dramatic sunsets behind breathtaking peaks.
The trip also provides a one of a kind experience to meet indigenous communities of the Venezuelan hinterland where tourists can find green coffee and handicrafts. Because of the efforts of companies like Ayapaina Tours, indigenous peoples have greater access to hard currency and life saving modern amenities in access to communications, power and sanitation. Mr. Zambrano would be proud.
The company boasts that there is no experience like an Ayapaina Tour, and attributes its steady growth to attention to quality and customer service. Its goal is to provide a unique experience, and prides itself in being an organization that adapts to the needs of its customers. The company operates through the entire length and breadth of Venezuela, and the BID Committee was impressed by the way Ayapaina has changed its offerings in response to market demands and by the fact that it offers the kind of value added services that tourists often obtain from a travel agent, such as reservations and rental services at inns, booking and purchase of air tickets, and car rental. This allows customers to use Ayapaina as a one stop shop, and makes the sometimes daunting task of finding vacations in remote areas a lot easier. Equally important to the Committee, Ayapaina Tours has been a positive influence on indigenous populations, showing heightened Corporate Responsibility which the Committee feels is one of the keys to sustainability.
You are Known by the Company you Keep
Other evidence of Ayapaina Tours’ commitment to quality is its partnership with well respected brands in Venezuela such as Zoi Venezuela, Tadae Adventure, Gravity Tours, Tapuy Lodge, Excursiones Kavak, Molina Viaje, and Posada Los Corales. Ayapaina Tours has also been certified by the Venezuelan Ministry of Tourism, which assures clients that the company follows strict guidelines for safety, transparency and corporate governance.
Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, customer service, and betterment of the community, Ayapaina Tours has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015 at the convention in London.
ABOUT BID AND THE INTERNATIONAL QUALITY CROWN AWARD:
BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.