Start-up connects travelers with local Chilean guides

From birdwatching in the Andean foothills behind Santiago to dawn kayaking in Chiloé, Jump into the Photo is putting a personal touch on travel in Chile.

It’s a dilemma that many travelers face: you want a guide to help you make the most of a foreign culture, but don’t want to join a tour group.

Sound familiar? If so, you should have a chat with Steven Taylor and Ada Hernandez, the husband and wife team behind Jump into the Photo, a new English speaking travel network that wants to connect independent minded tourists with local guides who offer personal and unique tours.

While Steve and Ada don’t come from a background in the tourist industry, their company is born from the love of travel – and Chile.

Around four years ago Steve was backpacking around South America when he met Ada and decided to throw in his lot with his soon-to-be-wife and adopted homeland. Since then the couple, who work at an investment bank during the day, say they’ve traveled the length and breadth of this stretch of land wedged between the Andes and the Pacific.

It was during those trips that something strange occurred to Steve.

“I spent a few years traveling around Chile and I kept going to all these really cool places, and I thinking. . . why isn’t anyone writing about this?” the British national told ThisisChile.

So the company was born, as a labor of love, or a “weekend and evening job,” as Steve says.

The idea? Steve and Ada want to inspire people to check out the lesser-known wonders of Chile, and promote local guides that they’ve met on their travels who might otherwise slip under the tourist radar.

“I found lots of great local guides, who knew their areas really well, but who didn’t have the tools – like speaking English for example – or the time to promote themselves.”

So Jump into the Photo started doing it for them. On their website, Steve and Ada write stories and share the best photos of their trips to create an online buzz about some of their favorite places and people. Steve says they’ve recently been contacted by photographers who want to share their work – something the couple welcomes.

Right now, Jump into the Photo has connected with eight local guides, offering excursions as varied as bird watching and wine tasting in the Andes, dawn trekking and penguin spotting in Chiloé and romantic getaways on Easter Island.

And while their ambition is to have at least one guide in every one of the 15 regions of Chile and hire a support team at their base in Valparaíso, for now the company is focused on growing slowly – and maintaining its integrity. They want to be able to personally vouch for all of their guides.

“Patience, in terms of growth, is a key asset of this company,” Steve said. “The best companies are smaller and news about them travels by word of mouth; I’m not interested in getting big too quick.”

To read Jump into the Photo’s blogs and articles, see their photos, check out their tours, or get in touch with Steve and Ada, head to their official website.