Why Travel With TREK?
We often get asked this question, usually from a client who has not traveled with Trek and experienced the level of service and support we provide. It is however a legitimate question and in order to answer it correctly, we must first identify who Trek Safaris is and what sets us apart.
Since 1973, Trek International Safaris has operated as a bonded, IATA approved travel agency arranging and promoting domestic and international trips on various levels. Our initial destinations were dove-hunting trips to Central America where we promoted a unique all-inclusive package from Miami and New Orleans on Tan-Sahsa Airlines for $350.00. Trek arranged the entire package from the ground floor including airlines, hotels, meals, hunting guides, and local transportation. We re-created this entire process in numerous other countries and quickly became an available option for those looking for a well-organized sporting vacation with value. It proved to be a very successful formula as we hosted and developed long-term relationships with thousands of clients; some are still traveling today!!
Since those early days, we have expanded our services to include not only hunting and fishing trips but also leisure and adventure travel to over 40 different countries. While we don’t personally operate our trips anymore, we still maintain working relationships with our contacts and have trained or consulted with the outfitters and lodges for every destination we have ever offered. This has allowed Trek to remain extremely credible when relaying this information to you as the customer, often providing insight that only someone who has actually worked or hosted groups in these destinations can provide.
If you travel often, and we obviously appreciate those that do, it is inevitable that some will encounter logistical or unforeseen problems. It is during those times that traveling with an agency like Trek pays huge dividends, just the fact that you are able to call anywhere in the world no matter the time of day and get some direction is something we are very proud to offer. Often times this makes a difference between a disappointing vacation and one that is memorable and also begs the question, why would anyone travel without support from an agency whose expertise is international travel? Our staff has a combined experience of 250+ years and a contact list second to none in the industry and likely will have already dealt with any issues that may arise.
These are just a few of the many reasons why it is important to have an agency that is proactive in making sure your trips are fun and stress-free, but the most important aspect is that there is no charge for this service; zero, nada. We do hope you will consider Trek as your agent of choice when traveling on one of our chosen destinations or one you wish for us to customize, it will be our pleasure to represent you.
HISTORY OF TREK SAFARIS
The year was 1972 when a 42-year-old Robert Cloaninger agreed to accept an invitation to fish a high mountain lake in central Honduras as part of a magazine assignment. There were reports of huge largemouth bass being caught by local natives and a handful of foreign anglers. While he did not catch any world record fish, he did stumble onto something much, much, larger.
Bob made several other trips to Lake Yojoa that year and the stories he wrote caught the interest of anglers nationwide, he even expanded his activities to include dove shooting in southern Honduras, which further stoked rising curiosity in foreign travel. In the summer of 1973, Bob, being the adventure and gambler he was, made the biggest bet of his life by starting a small adventure travel company with one limited partner, a second mortgage, and his trusting wife, Shirley. He named it Trek International Safaris and it is still paying dividends today.
In those early years, most of Trek’s clients were from or near our home base in Jacksonville, FL or knew Bob personally or by word of mouth. Even at the ridiculously low price of $300, Honduras was not exactly on the radar of sportsmen, which was understandable considering its history of conflicts and coups. As every group came and went with great results, Trek’s credibility grew and news spread to neighboring states where it members wanted to come and see this exciting new travel option. While Honduras was going along well, Bob had his eye on other venues and destinations and the Trek News was filled with a range of trips that included sailing in the Caribbean to panning gold in the hills of Mexico, canoeing mountain rivers in the Mosquito Coast and jaguar hunts in Belize. Trek was going places few people ever knew existed and interest continued to grow.
During the 70’s Trek offered trips in every Central American country as well as Mexico and in some cases like Guatemala we were forced to cancel or move clients due to political situations, however the Honduras dove trip was still the breadwinner and by the end of the decade was receiving over a thousand clients in two locations, Choluteca and Nacaome. Many lasting memories were generated during those years and some clients came down not once or twice, but three times a year. Most trips were still under $500.00 and word was still spreading across the U.S. and beyond. Trek even got the non-shooting ladies involved by hosting many trips for couples, a trait still present today. The bottom line was that Trek used its large travel base to leverage airlines, hotels and governments for favorable rates and policies and it was working.
During most of the Reagan years of the 80’s the U.S. economy was booming in some sectors and Trek continued to look into trips to Latin America where costs were lower and the dollar strong. Colombia dove hunts were being promoted in Cali and hunters welcomed this beautiful more developed nation compared with the poverty of Honduras. Many hunters enjoyed not having to get up with the rooster crows and were treated to a vibrant city and its culture. Some hunters returned home with beautiful emeralds that are mined in Colombia. Trips for snook and tarpon in the jungles of Costa Rica were also very popular at Archie Fields’ Rio Colorado Lodge as well as duck/dove hunts in Liberia, followed by dove hunts to Nicoya and Tamarindo Beach. In the 80’s Pheasant hunts in Ireland, pigeon hunts in Panama, goose hunts in Patagonia, photo safaris and bird hunts in Morocco and Botswana, fishing trips to Belize, Panama, Guatemala, Colombia and Brazil were also introduced. Buzzwords were peacock bass, eared dove, bandtail pigeons and the Amazon. Trek bought a travel agency and formed a membership only status. Trek hired Cara Cloaninger (Bob’s daughter) for airline ticketing and Milton Hanburry, his future son-in-law, to promote fishing trips.
The 90’s again was largely another period of economic boom during the Clinton Years. Trek had an established database of over 10,000 clients with some 3500 of them traveling every year. Trek Tours was formed offering a diverse menu of adventure trips to Tanzania, Kenya, Galapagos, Alaska, Egypt, China and Russia. Fishing trips on board the Amazon Queen was one of the more popular fishing trips along with the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and coastal and inland Venezuela. The single biggest mover was the first offering of dove, duck and perdiz shooting in the Argentine provinces of Entre Rios and Cordoba. Hunters loved the huge amount of game and wonderful hospitality provided by the Argentines and both Paraguay and Bolivia were introduced to Trek hunters as well. On a personal note, Bob retires from Trek in 1995 after 22 years; Mike was named President and Milton VP. Shirley, the true rudder of Trek for 23 years, dies of cancer in 1996 at the age of 64. This same year Trek is the first in our industry to offer a website and the Internet age is full on.
The 21st century was obviously affected by 9/11, but true to the American spirit, that did not stop travelers from pursuing their hobby of hunting and fishing abroad. Trips to a Trek owned jungle lodge in La Moskitia of Honduras was new and exciting, along with Trek supported lodges in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. The Cordoba dove hunts solidified itself as Trek’s biggest seller and the ultra-deluxe Guayascate Lodge was introduced in 2010. Trek expanded many trips into western and Eastern Europe as those who escaped the recession years were still looking to see the world. Botswana again was promoted but as a first class photo safaris destination as well as South Africa. Trek loses Mike Cloaninger in 2001 at the age of 45 to melanoma. Milton becomes President and Cara VP. Founder Bob Cloaninger passes at the age of 75 in 2005. Bill Wagner retires after 33 years in 2006.
Today, Bob & Shirley’s daughter and son-in-law, Cara & Milton Hanburry, are still carrying the torch with the fuel Bob lit it with back in 1973. Our foundation is deeply intact due to the steadfast principles and unwavering visions of Mike, Bob and Shirley. Trek could never have achieved this level of success without the hard work provided by its staff and the hundreds of excellent outfitters worldwide. Since 1973 Trek has taken over 90,000 customers on trips worldwide and it is our goal to continue to offer new and exciting destinations well into the future.
Our Mission at Trek International Safaris is to provide you, the traveling sportsman, with the finest hunting, fishing and touring destinations worldwide.
MEET THE TEAM
We are a full service travel agency dedicated to our core values of honesty, integrity and reliability. As YOUR agent, our goal is to deliver real-time knowledge of each destination and to look after your best interest in all regards. As a long-term client traveling the world, you will have the peace and comfort of knowing that no matter where you are, or the time of day, a Trek representative is not far away.