Why is a Swedish bird tour operator selling binoculars in Peru?
I never thought I was going to sell binoculars, and indeed it is not and will never be my main principal activity. We are after all a birdwatching tour company and our business is guiding birders in Peru and elsewhere in South America. So how did I end up pushing binocs in Peru?
Peru is as safe as anywhere
Birding in Peru may have a reputation of not being very safe and I will always dispute this, showing examples of people who have lived in Lima and moved back to the States to find they all of a sudden get burglars or cars broken into. It can happen anywhere. Armed robbery is more traumatic, however…and you can be certain that to anyone it happens, that the same person will be telling the world that such and such place is very dangerous, even if it is a very rare event.
Armed robberies are also detrimental to the tourism business as such and very serious events. Luckily, the Peruvian authorities are taken this serious and lots of actions have been taken. We have done a lot of follow up with authorities and police since and we always avoid the sensitive areas. The fact that there has not been any reports of such mishaps since 2 years, is a good sign that the area is safer today.
Stop the demand of stolen birding equipment
I also started investigated where the stolen goods go. It turns out that there is well known black market in Lima. Next question was: Who buys this stuff? Who is willing to spend 500 dollars on a stolen pair of binoculars that would cost 1500 $ to buy new? When it became clear to me that there are actually guides – natural history guides in Iquitos, Tambopata and Manu – that has need of decent equipment, I knew we had to do something about this. If we could kill the demand on stolen binoculars, then birders would be a less likely target. First step was to let other tour operators know what happened and recommend they’d ask their guides of proof of purchase for their gear.
Vortex binoculars and telesccopes are becoming popular among Peruvian Birders.
After visiting the Rutland Bird Fair in 2007 making some contacts with Vortex, I realized that there was a small (indeed very small) market to import decent but inexpensive equipment to Peru. Vortex (and their line Eagle Optics) became a natural choice partly because of their good prices but more so their unusually good warranty. The warranty states: In the event that your Vortex product requires service, no matter the cause, Vortex Optics will repair or replace the product at no charge to you. And the warranty is transferable.
UPDATE Feb 15, 2009: I found a review in the Audubon Magazine online. It confirms my opinion that this is an excellent pair of binoculars.