Avanti Destinations Divides to Conquer

When a company experiences an abundance of success, change often follows. This is the case for Portland, OR-based Avanti Destinations (www.avantidestinations). The company, in operation for 25 years, has just released its 2007 brochures for independent vacations to Central America and South America. In past years, these destinations were combined into one Latin America brochure. "Our Latin America program has continued to grow to such a degree that we felt it was important to create individual brochures for Central America and South America, which we consider individual niche markets," says Harry Dalgaard, president of Avanti. Avanti tour group at Machu Picchu, Peru

Avanti is seeing a continuing trend towards more family vacations and multi-generational trips. In 2007, Avanti will add beachfront villas and condos in Costa Rica and Belize. The company has also seen an increase in the surfing niche market, and plans to cater to surfers with targeted information on weather and wave conditions.

"Today's travelers want more than just a hotel room and a seat on a bus," says Dalgaard. "They demand an experience with an in-depth look at the country they are visiting." Avanti Destinations presents a range of activities to be experienced across Latin America. These include jungle lodge stays in Brazil, Peru and Ecuador, kayaking and rafting programs in Costa Rica and Belize, beach resorts in Belize, Costa Rica, Panama and Brazil, and self-drive programs in Belize and Costa Rica.

Look for the tour operator to add more boutique hotels and expand itineraries to include more wine-tasting tours in the Mendoza region of Argentina and the wine-producing valleys of Chile.

Destinations performing particularly well for Avanti Destinations are Costa Rica and Peru. The company also has its eye on Panama. In a recent survey from Frommers, Panama made the cut as a hot destination to watch. Avanti is offering a combined tour of Costa Rica and Panama that takes advantage of new inter-country flights, making it much easier to visit prime areas in each country. In 2007, Avanti will offer a nine-day program that includes Panama City, the San Blas Islands, Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro.

Avanti Destinations' South America journeys for 2007 include the seven-night "Amazon River Cruise: The Greatest Amazon Experience" for $3,217 per person, double. The trip departs from Iquitos and explores the main tributaries of the Ucayali and Maranon rivers.

One of the company's most popular programs is "Best of Peru: Lima/Cuzco/Machu Picchu." The seven-night itinerary features two nights in Lima, one night in the Sacred Valley (Urubamba River Valley), an excursion to Machu Picchu, one night in a Machu Picchu area hotel and two nights in Cuzco for $1,768 per person, double; roundtrip air from Lima to Cuzco is included.