Viva Expeditions repatriates Kiwis from South America
Viva Expeditions has successfully chartered a LATAM aircraft, setting off from Lima in Peru towards Santiago in Chile, making a stop in popular tourist destination of Cusco to pick up more stranded tourists.
Once in Santiago, the 43 Kiwis & 3 Australians will be joined by a further 17 New Zealanders who have been scattered throughout Chile & Brazil. Viva were able to assist with land transport and commercial flights to enable these people to join their fellow Kiwis on the flight back to Auckland, which is due to arrive in the early morning on the 15th of April.
The situation for all travellers in South America became problematic after many countries suddenly closed borders and enforced rapid lockdown laws in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Viva Expeditions had already successfully repatriated all their clients caught up in the COVID lockdowns, including working with partners to bring home 6 Kiwis stranded off the coast of South America on a charter cruise, but there were still others in need.
“We made an earlier attempt at repatriating the Kiwis stuck in Peru, but at the final hour the commercial flight schedules changed meaning the Kiwis couldn’t connect home via Sydney. It was heartbreaking to have to leave them behind, so we are extremely pleased to have been able to bring them home on our second attempt” says Rachel Williams, founder of Viva Expeditions.
Chartering a commercial aircraft to transit international borders, when you are not an airline, is not easy at the best of times. Let alone during a Pandemic. And while many enjoyed a quiet Easter, the Viva team were working around the clock to ensure the flight was achievable and no-one who wanted to get home was left behind.
“We worked very closely with the government on this project and their support was essential. I’m incredibly grateful for all the assistance we received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the New Zealand Ambassadors, the Peruvian & Chilean government officials & LATAM Airline. Together we were able to navigate the ever-changing travel and border restrictions, lawyers, insurance companies, governments & airport authorities to make it happen. We also want to thank the travellers and their families for their patience and support”, adds Williams.
Travellers were scattered Peru, Brazil & Chile, and before they could even take the flight, they needed to be moved to major cities. This included bringing people form some of the most remote parts of the Peru which had to be done of specially sanctioned and government approved vehicles given that Peru is in total military lockdown. The bus journey of approximately 3,500 kms, which required 3 drivers, travelled to Lima in Peru.
All returning travellers will be subject to New Zealand’s new strict quarantine laws on their return. On arrival in Auckland they will enter fourteen days of isolation in a managed facility (hotel) arranged by the New Zealand Government. After which they will be able to return home to their families.