Back in the early 2000s Suzanne and her husband travelled to Ethiopia to adopt their children, Archie and Liberty.
In 2005 it was the year of a significant birthday for James (Archie and Liberty’s dad). Like so many people, by way of celebration, a significant trip needed to be taken. Ethiopia was the obvious choice, a country that he’d been to twice but which he knew relatively little about. James’s mate, Chris Ramsey, was keen for an adventure too, so the two of them set off together.
It didn’t take the guys long to find their way to the Simien Mountains, where some of the best hiking in Africa is on offer – but only to the select few who know about it. The sometimes snow-capped Simien Mountains are spectacular, not only for their rugged beauty but also for their remoteness from the usual tourist route.
The country had a raw beauty; its people were so kind and open and the history intense and fascinating. A crude plan was hatched; Ethiopia’s fledgling tourism industry needed a jolt-along with some adventurous Aussies!
In 2006, 16 crazy mates, friends-of-friends, neighbours, acquaintances and ring-ins, jumped on a plane, under the guidance of Chris and James, then followed them into the Simien Mountains for a multi-day trek. This was followed by a cultural tour of some of the significant sites within the country.
From that point on ICON Adventures started to grow as word spread from those original explorers; more adventures were added around the globe. The hiking and cultural escapades started out as a hobby but soon a travel agency licence was obtained, then AFTA accreditation, enabling them to offer additional travel services to their groups and independent travellers too.
ICON Adventures has continued to grow, offering many small-group hosted tours to a variety of places from Machu Picchu to Tuscany, Kilimanjaro to Kyushu, Great Ocean Walk to Carnarvon Gorge.
In addition to their own hiking and cultural tours, they also offer a fully independent travel agency service under the name ICON Travel.
The ICON group has remained a family-owned and operated business. Chris Ramsey still hosts a private tour each year. The main business is based in Toowoomba, Queensland, under the leadership of Suzanne.
ICON became part of us, part of the family and is still developing and blossoming!
Liberty, Suzanne & Archie Holden, 2020