Fernando Diez
Written by Fernando Diez Marketing Director at Quasar Expeditions

Updated: February 19, 2024
Published: February 08, 2024

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Dolores Gangotena in the Galapagos

In a world where travel often means ticking off destinations from a checklist, there exists a different kind of traveler. One who sees the journey as an opportunity to give back to the places they visit; a chance to connect with new cultures, wildlife, and landscapes. With a deeper sense of wanderlust, this kind of traveler goes off the beaten path and leaves a piece of their heart in each destination. These are the adventurers, not tourists, and their passion is the driving force behind Quasar Expeditions.

But this passion didn't arise overnight; it was ignited by a love story that spans decades. Meet Dolores Gangotena and Eduardo Diez, my two parents and the founders of Quasar. Their shared passion for conservation and adventure has not only shaped their business and family life, but has also redefined responsible travel.

Once you step into their enchanting love story, you can't help but see how their romance and dedication to conservation have left an indelible mark on the world of adventure travel. With a heartwarming start as family friends in Ecuador, they've journeyed to become true trailblazers in authentic luxury travel throughout South America.

In this interview with my mother Dolores, we delve into their remarkable journey, the challenges they've overcome, and the 38-year-strong legacy they continue to build.

#1 Can you take us back to the moment when you first met? What was your initial impression of each other?

Dolores Gangotena – Quasar Founder: My memory takes me back to when I was about 12. Eduardo was my brother’s best friend. We paid no attention to each other until we were around 19 and Eduardo had returned from his first year at college. Having been familiar with his presence at home, parties, we felt very at ease in the company of each other—and that is how we started dating and married some 4 years later.

Young Delores Gangotena & Eduardo Diez in the Galapagos

#2 How did your shared passion for conservation play a role in bringing you closer together?

Dolores Gangotena – Quasar Founder: Actually, my passion was conservation and wildlife, and Eduardo’s passion was boats. I recall when he must have been 15, he built his own sort of dinghy to go fishing and take friends to a lake near Quito. There were no questions about boats that he didn’t have answers to. The mixture of our passions is what ended up being a perfect match for the adventure we were to embark on some years later.

Dolores Gangotena in Galapagos with Sea Lions

#3 Were there any specific events or experiences that inspired the idea of starting Quasar Expeditions?

Dolores Gangotena – Quasar Founder: Without a doubt, my biology teacher in school sparked my interest in visiting Galapagos. She was passionate about conservation and evolution and some of us, students of her class, had nothing else in mind but to visit the Islands. My first visit to the Galapagos in 1969 in her company and with some friends is what changed my life. In time, it was also going to change Eduardo’s.

Dolores first visit to the Galapagos

#4 At what point did you transition to running Quasar Expeditions full time, and what sparked that possibility?

Dolores Gangotena – Quasar Founder: From the very beginning, running the company was a full time job. Operationally, it was difficult, as when we got our first boat, there was only one weekly flight to the Islands. Thus, resolving mechanical issues and delivering fresh vegetables, fruits and perishables required lots of work and planning. In 1986, we were the first and only yacht operators in the Islands that had yachts with state of the art navigational and comfort equipment for our guests. This made the operation more complicated, as we needed more trained staff to keep it successful. That is when we decided Eduardo and a team would be dedicated to looking after the yachts, and my team and I would deal with sales and the hospitality side. Having very little staff with real experience in running an operation like ours, we had to be part of it if we wanted to succeed.

The beginning of Quasar Expeditions in Galapagos

#5 Were there any specific events or experiences that inspired the idea of starting Quasar Expeditions?

Dolores Gangotena – Quasar Founder: Without a doubt, my first trip to the Galapagos in 1969. At the time there was no air connection, and everyone going to the Islands had to do so via boat. We embarked on the adventure on board an old naval vessel belonging to the military. At the time, it was used to deliver goods from the continent to the Islands for the inhabitants whose numbers—at the time, there were around 4000 people spread between the 3 inhabited ports in the Islands.

This is the experience that changed my life. My first view of the crystal clear waters of San Cristobal (the first port we touched) is still ingrained in my brain. When we disembarked in a wooden dinghy, a sea lion literally jumped into it, which sort of scared us, but the sailor said they were totally tame and they enjoyed having fun. As days went by, similar experiences multiplied with the several colonies of the most incredible creatures I had ever had the luck to see (blue footed boobies, land and marine iguanas, Nazca boobies, sea lions, tortoises, mockingbirds, green turtles, sea lions, etc). That paradise is what still makes me dream and mentally escape whenever I have a problem. The thought of that amazing wildlife, of this paradise! No matter how many fabulous natural areas I visit, it is still the most spectacular natural park in the world for me.

Dolores Gangotena with friends in Galapagos

#6 What challenges did you face while building Quasar Expeditions, and how did your relationship help you overcome them?

Dolores Gangotena – Quasar Founder: Without a doubt, the most difficult part of the operation was human resources. With a Galapagos population of 4000, out of which only a few had qualifications to run complicated mechanical equipment or experience in hospitality, it became our job to teach all of the staff we had on board on those specific tasks. At the same time, communications were almost non-existent with the Islands, and our only way of communication with the yachts and Galapagos and Quito offices was via radio. In short, hard work and time made us accomplish our goal of running a more sophisticated adventure for our guests. It did take so much of our time that we ended up working 16 hr days. In the long term, we feel so satisfied that the extra effort, time, and work we had to put in the company resulted in offering a great experience to our guests. There were times, we felt overwhelmed with problems—especially when we needed more staff and things had to begin from scratch, which meant we had to take over certain positions for a time. Each other’s company and support worked to our benefit, as we ended up laughing about the problems and sharing solutions to sort them out in better ways.

Early days of the Galapagos Islands

#7 How did raising your sons in the early days of Quasar change your service style, brand values, work-life balance, or day-to-day operations?

Dolores Gangotena – Quasar Founder: That part was not easy, as the company demanded long hours of our day. As a mother, I had the advantage of being able to take some time during the day, when I needed to take the boys to a doctor or attend school meetings. I changed my work day schedule to finish up by 4PM to be able to be with the boys at home when they got back from school.

On the other hand, having a family increased the value of having a fabulous, entertaining and fulfilling job in the tourism industry. We always took advantage of holidays to take the children to the Islands, not only to give them the opportunity of enjoying the experience as much as I had in my first visit, but also to expose them to conservation and the value of nature to the whole world. Our aim was that they would enjoy what we worked on so much they would like to follow in our footsteps. This work and the Galapagos never cease to surprise us, and the most valuable part of it is the fulfillment and happiness it gives us when receiving a comment from a guest that mentions that they have had the time of their lives. We sell happiness, and this is what Galapagos and Patagonia mean to us and our boys.

Diez family in Galapagos with Giant tortoises

#8 How did you determine to specialize in the protected areas of Galapagos and Patagonia? What drew you to these unique regions?

Dolores Gangotena – Quasar Founder: Eduardo had always thought he wanted Quasar to expand to special regions of South America and Patagonia was always on his mind. When Fernando, our second son, got married and moved to Chile, the opportunity arose to open up an expedition that would allow our guests to enjoy their time freely on safari-style expeditions. They could experience each spot for as long or short time as they wish. Always looking at the sites and wildlife first hand. Enjoying the wonders of that vast nature on their own. Similar to Galapagos, Patagonia has left in our minds memories that will never be erased. I do hope I keep them in my mind until my old age.

Dolores & her son, Fernando Diez, together in Galapagos

#9 How has your journey together as a couple influenced Quasar’s commitment to family-style service?

Dolores Gangotena – Quasar Founder: Our staff know Quasar is a family company, and they enjoy the work environment and values. They are part of our family. Most of them have been on our cruises or on a Patagonia Safari with one of us, and they know what we value and what we want our guests to experience. We are at an age that comfort is very welcomed on an expedition. Our yachts, accommodations, meals deliver everything that a guest looking for in luxury, but our strength lies in the naturalist guides leading our expeditions, the sites we visit, the time we take to show to our guests any special event nature gives us at anytime of the day, the detailed explanations requested by our guests, the conferences and specially the hands on experience we want our guests to experience. In short, that our guests become extremely knowledgeable on the destinations they are visiting not only because they have learnt from our excursion leaders but because they experienced them personally.

Quasar Expeditions staff & crew

#10 Can you share a touching or heartwarming moment from your adventures that epitomizes the spirit of Quasar?

Dolores Gangotena – Quasar Founder: During school holidays we went to the Islands when the youngest of the boys was 8. We were swimming in the western side of Isabella Island, and surprisingly no less than 80 penguins appeared. They approached us so close that I felt tears in my eyes when I looked up and saw the boys so incredibly happy, having the time of their lives. When we returned to the boat, they said that experience was the best of their lives. It was then they understood nature is fulfillment, it is happiness. Actually they remember it today. I still have it in my memory—and it still brings tears to my eyes.

Diez family posing on Galapagos Beach

Fast-forward to the present, and you'll find Dolores and Eduardo right in the heart of Quasar, still passionately involved. Their three adventurous sons are now at the helm, each steering different parts of the company. It's a living testament to the enduring love for adventure travel that these two incredible souls have instilled in their kids (and more recently, grandkids!).

Quasar Expeditions remains a guiding light for those hungry for more than just a run-of-the-mill vacation. It's a place where every journey becomes transformative, where the deep connection to nature, wildlife, and some of the world's most breathtaking places takes center stage. So, if you're looking for an adventure that will touch your heart and change your life, Quasar is where it all begins. Welcome to the family!

Fernando Diez
By Fernando Diez
Marketing Director at Quasar Expeditions

Hi, I am Fernando and travel is my passion. This passion began with my first trip to the Galapagos Islands in 1986 and later became my work when I started working at Quasar Expeditions. Now the Marketing Director for Quasar and responsible for the creation of the Patagonia Project in Chile, my passion for travel continues to grow to new and exciting destinations in South America.



  • Hello Fernando,  This was a wonderful piece and tribute to your parents.  I don’t know if you remember but I and my daughter, Michele, had the good fortune to be on a trip to Patagonia with you and Gonzalo…memory of a lifetime.  I am happy to read that you are all well.

    • author

      Hi Rosalyn! Of course I remember you, Michele and that wonderful FAM in Patagonia. I’m glad you liked the post. The family legacy continues and we work hard each day to bring enormous happiness to the lives of our esteemed Guests. I am so glad you got to experience that for yourself. Hope all is well with you and please say hi to Michele for me.

    • author

      Hi Sophie! I’m thrilled to hear your trip with Quasar was phenomenal and exceeded your expectations. It’s wonderful to know that my mother’s description in our interview resonated with your experience. That’s precisely what we strive for. Thank you for choosing us, and we hope to welcome you aboard again soon!

      Warmest regards,

    • author

      Hi Lisa! It’s heartwarming to hear your kind words and to know you’ve experienced the passion of our team firsthand through your 2 trips with Quasar. Our dedicated crew ad guides are truly what makes each journey special. Thank you for choosing Quasar, and we look forward to many more adventures together!


  • Thank you for the story.  My husband and I are so excited about our first trip to the Galapagos on the Evolution in May, even now more then before reading this story.

    • author

      Hello Jane! I’m so glad the story has added to your excitement for your upcoming trip to the Galapagos on the Evolution! You are in store for an epic Safari-style yacht adventure that will change your life, and we can’t wait to share it with you and your husband. See you soon!

      Warmest wishes,