Meet The Team: Jan SmolagaPosted on : February 11, 2016
Jan Smolaga is one of Rare Adventures’ founding members of staff, and currently works as Head of Programmes for our Operations Department.
In this interview, Jan explains his current responsibilities and shares his thoughts on his most recent adventure to Death Valley.
What does your role involve?
“As Head of Programmes, I work with our clients to build their adventures – from the big stuff like which country or mountain to climb, right down to the smaller details like what meals we serve and the kit we recommend. I also ensure that everyone who signs-up to an adventure receives the right information at the right time, so that they are fully prepared for their adventure. All of these things form the individual adventures we offer, and every small detail is so important. When all of these things come together, it adds up to an amazing experience that people won’t forget”.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
“It has to be helping people push themselves beyond their limits. Every year we hear from customers who come back from trips saying they didn’t know they had it in them, and they feel they can do anything. That, for me, is the best part of this job. Our adventures are about so much more than reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro, or getting the perfect selfie at Machu Picchu (although those things are important too!) – they’re about self-actualisation, and realising that with the right attitude and support, you can do almost anything. That attitude is part of our DNA at Rare – whether it’s helping a 10-year-old lad conquer Kilimanjaro, or delivering accessible adventures in the Sahara Desert for disabled clients, there’s a rare adventure available for everyone”.
What has been your favourite adventure so far?
“I recently spent a week travelling solo around California, including an amazing couple of days in Death Valley. I spent two nights at the Amargosa Opera House, which is an amazing hotel in Death Valley Junction that has a fantastic back-story. I recommend you look it up, but the short version is that the New York ballet dancer, Marta Becket, found herself in Death Valley junction – a town with a population of less than ten people – due to a flat tyre. But she saw the abandoned opera house there and fell in love with it. She rented the building and held regular performances there for over forty years, turning an abandoned desert pit stop into something quite magical.
I watched sunrise over Zabriskie Point, sunset over the Mesquite Flat sand dunes, and climbed Telescope Peak, Death Valley’s highest summit. What made Death Valley so memorable was the combination of these desolate yet beautiful landscapes, and the single-mindedness & determination of the people who call this scorching, inhospitable desert home”.
We’ll be interviewing our Rare Adventures staff regularly this year on the blog, so that you can get to know us a little better. In the meantime, you can meet the rest of our hard-working team here.
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