Dundas London: Harry, you founded Plan South America back in 2006 but that wasn’t the start of your love for travel and adventure. When did that begin?
Harry Hastings: I have always enjoyed an adventure. Growing up, my father and I would go to Scotland every summer. One year we rode the night sleeper north and woke to discover the train at a standstill, the engine on fire, some way short of Inverness. Patience is a rare asset in our family. We grabbed our bags, jumped off the train, clambered up the embankment and hitchhiked the rest of the way. My Grandfather, who I never met, was a writer and adventurer. His escapades were legendary and foolhardy. After the breakdown of one marriage, he cast himself away on a desert island in the Indian Ocean. He wrote a wonderful book, After you, Robinson Crusoe. This backdrop, along with a healthy dose of escapism, led me first to Cuba, and later to Argentina, where my love affair with Latin America began.
DL: You’ve done a lot of of travelling. Which Latin American destination ticks all your travel boxes?
HH: I'm quite restless, so that changes all the time. I've spent most of the morning dreaming about Brazil. To me, there are few more intoxicating places on Earth - its scale and climate, mood and aesthetic, blend of African and European cultures, music and dance. It has a simultaneous lightness and a thick tropical edge. Tomorrow I'll be thinking of somewhere else. Mexico, for its architecture, food, art and design. Peru, for its rich Andean culture and immense geography. Few places compete with Patagonia in terms of space and sky, and gauchos imbue a strong sense of romance to any landscape.
DL: Tell us more about Plan South America; we love that adventure and discovery is at the heart of what you do. Why do you think adventure is the best way to experience a new place?
HH: Most of us lead safe, ordered lives. Taking people out of their routines and, occasionally, their comfort zones, is a great way to challenge and invigorate. Wild places and a little adrenalin make most of us all feel happier, clearer, calmer and sharper.
Harry wears the Dundas Navy
DL: Plan South America thinks of every last detail of a trip. Can you think of a few elements that can make or break a travel experience?
HH: It's the unexpected that usually aces a trip, and while we make plenty of lavish gestures, it's the simple ones that make the difference. An upgrade. A fast track through a packed immigration queue. Lots of fresh flowers and hand-written notes. A beautifully laid picnic. No hotel check-in procedures. The guide that becomes a friend. Good food and wine is central to every journey we put together. We also use a lot of properties that most people don't know about. We curate playlists and send books relevant to each client's journey. Everyone receives an embossed travel backgammon set. Illustrated maps of the journey and hampers await their return. Today we're sourcing a case of Chilean Pinot Noir a client has fallen in love with to ensure it gets to their home before they do.
We also curate playlists and send books relevant to each client's journey. Everyone receives a funky embossed travel backgammon set. Illustrated maps of the journey and hampers await their return. Today we're sourcing a case of Chilean Pinot Noir a client has fallen in love with to ensure it gets to their home before they do.
DL: Thanks so much for chatting with us Harry. Finally, what are your travel essentials for a trip?
HH: Good boots. A battery pack. A notebook. Lots of printed Guardian crosswords. Sunnies. A hip flask of tequila. And of course a Dundas London linen shirt!
Find out more about Plan South America at plansouthamerica.com