In Santiago, the 43 Kiwis and three Australians were joined by a further 17 New Zealanders who have been scattered throughout Chile and Brazil. Viva was 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 early today (15 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 of their clients caught up in the lockdowns, including working with partners to bring home six 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.