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Guides

Expert Guides & Trip Leaders Knowledgeable. Enthusiastic. Professional. Good humored. Thoughtful. Supportive. The leaders on a Mountain Travel Sobek trip are definitely the most resourceful, competent, and entertaining bunch of people you’ll ever encounter. Meet the crew who gives Mountain Travel Sobek the "leading edge"!

Africa & Middle East
Abdellah Allali

Born in the High Atlas Mountains in the Berber village of Ait Bougumez, mountain adventure has always been Abdellah’s true passion. Abdellah has been in the adventure tourism industry since 1997 working as a booking agent in a local travel agency in Marrakech. After five years on the corporate side of the tourism fence, Abdellah heard the calling of the Atlas and so he began managing trekking tours for three years. He decided that managing trekking tours wasn’t enough to fuel his passion, so he earned his degree in mountain guiding in June 2005. Since then, Abdellah has been leading mountain and desert trekking trips all over Morocco. He is fluent in English, French, Berber, and Arabic.

Ananda van der Merwe

Ananda obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and English; Post-Graduate Degree in Translation and completed courses in French and Dutch when she lived in Europe. Also while living in Europe, Ananda spent time backpacking and considers Prague the most beautiful and culturally rich destination which she has visited outside of South Africa. Whilemost of us would get frustrated and flustered at the thought of being lost in a foreign city, Ananda savoured the prospect as it provided great opportunities for meeting the locals and experience the various European cultures in authentic settings. During her four years in Europe, Ananda au-paired in Brussels and taught English to French speaking children.

Upon return to South Africa, she moved to the Little Karoo where she secured a job conducting tours at a working ostrich show farm and then went on to manage a guest house in the same area. When she moved to Cape Town, she spent three years as an inbound tours consultant which she combined with guiding once she received her THETA accreditation and qualification. Ananda has been guiding for a total of 9 years now and has very little intention of retiring from this particular career in the very near future; however, she does dream of becoming an editor one day and harnesses her skills with a critical eye when reading the local newspapers. It is difficult for her to state any particular destination in South Africa as her favourite. Her patriotism is not nominal, but is borne out of her first-hand experiences in this beautiful country. There is not a corner of this country which she has not explored. Hard-pressed for an answer though, she lists the Elephant Coast of KwaZulu Natal as one of her favourite spots for its birding opportunities and its beautiful coastline. She then also quickly mentions the Kruger National Park, the Drakensberg Mountains and the Kalahari. Ananda’s thirst for knowledge was not quenched through her formal training and studies. She professes to be an information junky and often finds herself in a catatonic trance before her television set, absorbing facts, figures, dates, names and places thrown at her on the History, Discovery or National Geographic channels. This diet on electronic education is supplemented by research on history, culture, nature and anthropology. Currently, she is also broadening her skills in photography and would like to complete a field guiding and/or botany course.

Though an avid learner, Ananda is not pretentious in her approach to working or dealing with people. Her sense of humour and gift for telling quirky, if not true, stories to visitors makes her popular with those she meets along the way, often forging friendships with guests which last long after they have returned home. She relies on her female intuition which has been fine-tuned over the years with her experience as a guide. She therefore has a good sense for people and can easily gauge what clients want or expect from their experience in South Africa. When asked how she would approach dealing with various personalities on tour, she flatly replies, “One has to go to their planet… find the constellation they are from.”

Anderson Sekgwa

Andy was born at a remote cattle post in Botswana called Shrobe, some 20 miles from Maun. As a young boy, Andy would go out into the bush with his grandfather, who would teach him about the native flora and fauna as well as aspects of local history. Andy began guiding for us in 1987. As a safari guide he was involved in every aspect of running a mobile expedition, including setting up camp, cooking, collecting water and wood, guarding camp and vehicle repairs. Armed with years of practical experience, Andy qualified as a professional guide in 1996 and has been guiding expeditions between Victoria Falls and Maun ever since.

Denis Erabu

Born in Eastern Uganda, Denis is of the Kumam Tribe and grew up in a rural village, where his father is a local chief. After completing secondary school, Denis moved to Kampala where he obtained his license and became an escort driver for an NGO delivering relief supplies to Southern Sudan. After 4 years, he decided to go for a career change and entered the tourism industry, pursuing a childhood interest in wildlife. Through a combination of on-the-job and formal training courses with the Queen Elizabeth Bird Observatory and Bird Life International, Denis has gained extensive knowledge as a general interest Tour Guide specializing in birding. He has worked as a driver/guide for the past 12 years and is a member of the Uganda Driver/Guide Association and the Uganda Birdwatching Society

Elias Msemo

Elias Msemo is a keen outdoorsman who fell in love with the natural beauty of Tanzania at an early age. In addition to being an accomplished climber, he is also a graduate of wildlife studies at the College of African Wildlife Management in Tanzania. Upon his graduation, he decided to pursue a career as a mountain guide and has now led countless climbs up Kilimanjaro. Elias currently resides in Arusha with his family and is very much looking forward to hosting you in Tanzania.

Elvis Nghimutina

Elvis was born in Swakopmund but spent his childhood in a small village called Eedunja in North Central of Namibia, where he completed his primary school before moving back to his birth town to complete his education. After completing his schooling Elvis went directly into the workforce, starting his career in a Fishing factory in Walvis Bay. While he was there, he started attending short courses offered by NATH in order to further his knowledge in the field that he really wanted to be in, tourism. As he had already demonstrated his enthusiasm and determination, it was a logical step for him to continue to expand his knowledge and experience by working at lodges which were based in the desert regions to the south of his home town In addition to his passion for guiding, Elvis is very interested in world affairs and local politics, knowing the families of many of the local senior politicians who come from his area. As a result, he is a very interesting companion with whom to discuss local issues and he is often able to offer interesting, and sometimes unexpected, African insights and perspective. He is single and lives in Windhoek although he still visits Swakopmund to see his family when he has time between safaris to do so. Some visitors initially find his accent a little hard to understand, but they swiftly get attuned to this so they can fully appreciate the depth of his knowledge in a wide variety of subjects. The insights he can offer in order to ‘bring the country alive’ are greatly valued, and he showcases aspects of what they are seeing in a way that is both unique and fascinating

Guy Gerard

Believe it or not, our top Madagascar guide Guy Gerard was educated in both his native country and Belarus! Fluent in Malagasy, English, French, and Russian, Guy received his Master of Oil Chemistry Engineering and Russian Language and Literacy from the Vladimir Ilych Lenin University in Minsk, Belarus. After a career change from the corporate world to something a bit more noble, Guy worked for the Red Cross in Antananarivo and is well-trained in first aid and emergency response training. From there, he went onto working as a specialized tour guide leading classic tours throughout Madagascar as well as tours focusing on hiking, history, culture, nature, and wildlife. Now residing in the coastal city of Mahajanga with his family, you can find Guy reading his Bible and various books on the flora and fauna of Madagascar!

Henry Gathura

Henry started traveling at the age of 14 while in high school. His school was located in the Great Rift Valley which provided a variety of spectacular places to visit from an early age. Henry would marvel at the splendor and diversity of the scenery and purposed to pursue a career in tourism. He has worked as a tour director for the last two years having started as a freelance tour guide and worked with several privately owned companies. After guiding for 12 years, Henry felt like he was ready for the next step in guiding and decided to take on the more challenging but interesting role in the same field that he understands and is passionate about. As a Tour Director, he endeavors to make the experiences of my visitors memorable with diverse places to visit within Kenya and in East Africa. East Africa is endowed with a plethora of wildlife, nature trails, site views, breath taking scenery and diverse cultural experiences. Henry has had the privilege of escorting many tours throughout East Africa, and meeting people from various different places which always interests him greatly. For those in search of real adventure, he has gathered substantial knowledge that will give you interesting insights into the wildlife, culture and day to day life in East Africa. Henry looks forward to sharing with you lots of his experiences and the untold stories about this region as he also learns from you. Africa is his backyard, and he know it best! Karibu!

James Kivuyo

James Adiel Kivuyo was born in Arusha, Tanzania. He is interested in the conservation of biodiversity in African wildlife, and has had previous experience as an interpreter. James speaks a number of languages from English and Masaai to the local dialect of Chagga and Kiswahili—the national language of Tanzania. He enjoys using his knowledge of other languages to communicate with people from a broad cultural spectrum, and loves sharing his experience with travelers from around the globe. He has also been helping travelers climb Kilimanjaro for more than a decade, with qualification to respond to emergencies on the mountain.

Jason Nott

Jason comes from a well-known family of Namibian “Nature Conservators” who have been very involved in development issues in the country for decades. The Nott family first came to “South West Africa” in the early 80’s to work for the South African administration in Nature Conservation, and they stayed on after Independence in 1990 when they all opted to take Namibian Citizenship. They have continued to work on conservation and community development issues, mainly in the north of the country, ever since. Jason spent his early years living in a small town called Omaruru where a love of nature was instilled in him from a young age. He took every opportunity to be outdoors, either with his parents or his godfather (Dr Flip Stander who has become well-known for his veterinary work and scientific research on Namibia’s desert lions). He gained a huge amount of knowledge and expertise through being with them as they worked, and he has added to this experience with his own book learning as he is also an avid reader of any publications on the subject. As he also enjoys working with people, he soon found a way of combining both interests through running his own safaris and then getting more heavily involved in the tourism industry. He studied to get his diploma in Travel and Tourism management, and then started his formal career off in lodge management when he ran a lodge in north-western Namibia. While he was there, he found his way to his true joy, sharing the wonders of the more remote areas of Namibia with visitors – and that is why he became a safari guide. He still guides for Mountain Travel Sobek guests where he has found a way to continue his professional guiding career while still being able to ‘give back’ to conservation and sustainable tourism. He also uses a separate part of his former experiences to manage the mobile (under canvas) safari department at the company, ensuring mobile camps run smoothly and efficiently whilst in the field. Jason is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable birder, although not yet quite able to claim that he is a specialist guide in the field, and he is an accomplished photographer. He is very personable and brings his passion for his country across to his guests, leaving them an abiding love for Namibia and its various inhabitants.

Michael Haindongo

Michael’s family is Oshivambo speaking and originally comes from southern Angola, although they are now split between the southern part of Angola and northern part of Namibia. Michael was born in Angola during the liberation struggle and spent much of his childhood in a refugee camp near Kwanza, before UNICEF moved him and many other children to Cuba so that they could get an education in a safe environment. He returned to Namibia after Independence at the age of 16, and he completed his schooling in Windhoek before going on to study Natural Resource Management (Nature Conservations) at the Polytechnic of Namibia. During his studies, he did some in service training with Save The Rhino Trust (SRT). During that time, he met the owner of the premier Londolozi Camp in South Africa, and was offered his first job at Londolozi in 2003 as a result. After a year there, he moved to work for a year with a South African tour operator before returning to Namibia. He is married with two children, who he cherishes more than anything else in the world.

Saied Haji Hadi (goes by Hadi)

Saied Haji Hadi (aka Hadi), a native of Iran, always dreamed of traveling and interacting with other cultures. He started his career as an air traffic controller, including three years of education in the United States. After 20 years, Hadi completed a tour guide course, and traded in his sky-watching days for tour guiding in his home country. Now, after 23 years in tourism, Hadi has led over 285 tours for Western groups, along with a position of leadership as Chairman of the Iranian Tour Guide Association (ITGA) for six years. Aside from leading tours, he spends considerable time exploring the nooks and crannies of Iran and other parts of the world. Hadi has returned to the US on many occasions, and leads tours in incredibly diverse destinations in Africa, Europe, and the Far East. Hadi keeps up his passion for the skies by collecting war-bird planes, building and flying RC model aircraft, and seeking out aviation museums abroad. A diligent student of cultures and of life, Hadi is a warm and incredibly knowledgeable resource, the perfect person to impart understanding of Iranian culture on this cultural odyssey.

Samia Asindamu

Samia was born and raised on the south west slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He now lives in Arusha with his wife and three children. Samia is extensively trained in mountaineering with over 15 years of experience, summiting Mt Kilimanjaro over 200 times via all routes. In 1999, he won the first prize in the Mt Kilimanjaro race- 18 hours running from the trail head at Lemosho at 7,500ft to the summit at 19,340ft and down to the Mweka gate at 5,600ft . Samia has taken various Wilderness First Responder courses and two NOLS-sponsored (National Outdoor Leadership School) Advanced Mountaineering courses conducted on Mount Kenya, which included instruction in rock climbing, ice climbing, advanced navigation skills, and crisis management. Since 2000, he has been participating in a program teaching first aid skills to Tanzania National Parks Rangers and other companies’ guides.

Sula Iga

As both his parents worked for the Park Authorities, Sula was born and spent his early years growing up in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Subjected to invaluable exposure to wildlife during his childhood, it came as no surprise when Sula decided to follow in his parents footsteps and enter the tourism and wildlife industry. Having completed a Diploma in Tourism, Tours and Travel, Sula furthered his experience by working with a research organisation studying the flora and fauna of Queen Elizabeth. He has been driving and guiding safaris for the past six years. Sula is a keen birder and is very passionate and knowledgeable about all of the wide variety bird species found in Uganda. In his spare time, Sula loves to read and watch wildlife documentaries, comparing the wildlife of Uganda with other countries. He is married with one daughter and one son.

Tarry Murray Butcher

Tarry is a true Namibian, who was born in Windhoek and attended primary school at St. George’s Diocesan School and high school at St. Paul’s College. While there, he took part in many outdoor activities including hiking the Fish River Canyon, and doing volunteer work for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Etosha National Park. From a young age, Tarry had a keen interest in nature, birds and photography which was inherited from his parents, fostered during many family camping holidays, and extended through intensive involvement in the Scouts of Namibia. He started in Scouts at the early age of seven and went on to become a troop leader, later also being involved in two Cederberg Senior Scout Adventures. He then developed his skills further when he went to study at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, and he spent his final year on their Game Ranch Management course where he extended his knowledge on wildlife and gained even greater understanding of the subject which provides his major graduate qualification. In addition to his general outdoor interests and academic studies, Tarry has also always been a keen sportsman. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and trekking as well as a number of team sports. He has regularly represented Namibia in the National field hockey team in both the indoor and outdoor form and he plans to continue doing so (when he has time) for the foreseeable future. Tarry has traveled all over southern Africa for personal and professional reasons, and this has given him a greater understanding of the relationship between Namibia and its neighbors.

Trevor Boulle

Trevor has traveled quite extensively throughout South and southern Africa, including a year in Namibia and gaining invaluable first- hand knowledge of the African people and their cultures. Further afield, he has spent time in Australasia, Europe and the United States. Trevor worked as a tennis teaching professional in the United States for a number of years and was fortunate to use this time to travel and explore this vast country. In the last five years Trevor’s forte has been hiking / walking holidays. Programs are designed to highlight the most scenic parts of South Africa and to allow the guest to explore on foot. How best to satisfy Trevor’s personal passion for hiking and exploring than to lead groups on foot through game reserves, into the Drakensberg mountains, along the paths that British and Zulu soldiers walked so long ago, meandering through the streets of Cape Town {surely one of the world’s great cities}, boulder-hopping along Indian Ocean beaches, scrambling up Table Mountain and strolling through beautiful wine farming country. Trevor has found his niche in life then. From a young boy obsessed with history, exploration and the outdoors to a professional who has made a career from that which he loves. There is a clear yearning to learn more, not only about his continent, its history and its people but also to facilitate visitors hungry to share in the same experience. Aided by an ability to strike up a solid rapport with his guests and abetted by a wicked and slightly dry sense of humour, the professionalism and success of his programs is evident in the repeat visitors and long-lasting friendships struck up over the years.

Victor Horatius

Victor was born and raised in Maun, Botswana. He spent his weekends and school holidays helping out on a farm in the Kalahari, the beauty of which fascinated him. As a child, he always enjoyed watching the smaller creatures, like bull frogs fighting with each other after the summer rains. These nature experiences sparked his passion and he began searching for a career in the beautiful Botswana wilderness. Victor studied International Business Communication at college and then worked his way up to managing safari camps in the Delta. After a few years of this he began focusing on guiding, and spent five years guiding at Jao Camp, where he progressed to becoming Guide Coordinator. He now holds guiding and walking certifications. Victor is a contributing member of the Botswana Birdlife Association, to whom he reports sightings of rare and threatened species. Tracking, botany and photography are his passions. He has had photos of unbelievable sightings published in Africa Geographic, Africa Birds and Birding and Singapore’s Taste magazine. He has been involved with Children in the Wilderness since 2002, and has traveled to the USA and through most southern African countries.

Alaska & North America
Brian Jump

Brian has been leading trips in the Southwestern U.S. and Western Canada for over 10 years. His attention to detail, sensitivity to guest needs, and extensive knowledge of the unique flora, fauna, geology, and history of the Grand Canyon is unrivalled. Brian is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) where he was trained in backpacking, rock climbing, canyoneering, spelunking, winter camping, and backcountry skiing. He also possesses amazing fitness and athleticism, which trip members find both entertaining and comforting! He holds a degree in philosophy from the University of Denver.

Brian Stevenson

Brian Stevenson has been a professional river guide for twenty years. He continues to lead expeditions throughout the world, yet he always looks forward to returning to the rivers and mountains of Alaska. Brian says Alaska's rivers provide a wilderness experience which is unparalleled by any other place he's ever been. Brian holds a degree in geography and is a lifelong student of world politics

Brock Tabor

Brock Tabor, Alaska Discovery River & Kayak Guide: For ten years Brock has been committed to a professional career as an outdoor educator and wilderness guide. His experience range from teaching skiing, sea kayaking, rock climbing, and river rescue to photographing the plazas of Ecuador. Brock has a strong background in natural history which he enjoys sharing. Of guiding for Alaska Discovery, Brock writes, "I enjoy the opportunity to interact with people in an unusual setting. The rewards people gain through these trips are contagious!"

Chris Denker

Chris Denker, Alaska Discovery River Guide: Chris writes, "I prefer cooler weather than hot." Chris lives in Haines, Alaska. In the spring he can be found attempting to summit Mt Fairweather or skiing into the Alsek Range. Although, he has guided for over a decade, and much of that time on the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers, he still rafted a 27-day private river trip to more fully explore the area. In the winter Chris works in Antarctica as a field team member studying sea birds. Cooler weather? "Well, yeah, I guess I got it."

Christa Sadler

Christa Sadler is a geologist, educator, river guide and writer with a serious addiction to rivers, deserts, mountains and chocolate. Christa has been guiding on the rivers of the West since 1986, and although she has a home in Flagstaff, Arizona, she's hardly ever there. Her research in archaeology, geology and paleontology has taken her around the globe, including searching for dinosaurs in Montana, fighting off dust storms and overly curious camels in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, and steering clear of annoyed marine iguanas in the Galapagos Islands. Christa also runs ‘This Earth,” a small business that brings geology and fossil programs to students aged K-12 around the country. She loves to write about geology, rivers, fossils and the land, and she has published several books and articles. She teaches and guides in the spring and fall, and escapes to Alaska in the summers to guide and write. Winters are usually spent recovering. Or sea kayaking in Baja California.

Clint Fries

Clint Fries, Alaska Discovery Guide: Calm, conscious and curious... Clint is an explorer. Guiding for 20 years from the Arctic to Latin America, he is always up for an adventure, and seldom at a loss for words. Clint entertains in front of some of the finest backdrops known. He likes to combine exquisite wilderness meals and an eye for the unseen. Join him for a trip and you will likely find the group positive, cohesive, and at ease in the wilds.

Colby Brokvist

Colby Brokvist hails originally from New England, a place where it is unusually difficult to commit to only one sport. Having a background in backpacking, mountaineering and rock climbing, he is a perfect fit for anything the Sierra has to offer. An enthusiastic naturalist, Colby also holds a degree in Environmental Sciences and finds his passion for guiding in providing interpretive and educational experiences for all of his clients. Describing his love for guiding, Colby wrote "It is both the serenity and excitement of the wilderness that compels me to it and I only hope to enjoy it with good friends". Colby can be found typically leading our longer backpacks such the John Muir Trail, Yosemite High Passes Loop, The Yosemite Grand Traverse and Trans-Sierra Trails. He has personally hiked the entire Appalachian Trail as well as most of the Pacific Crest Trail. When not in the Sierra high country, he can be found guiding interpertive trips in Polar Bear habitat as well as camp hosting in Namibia for adventure safaris.

Dave Sas

An Oklahoma native, graduated from Central University of Oklahoma with a degree in business administration and accounting. He is a Vietnam veteran with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with valor from the 101st Airborne Division, Long Range Reconnaissance. He is trained not only in first aid and CPR, but also in Wilderness First Aid and Swiftwater Rescue. After owning his own accounting firm for 20 years he became a full-time river rafting, hiking, and mountain biking guide 12 years ago. Dave’s enthusiasm is contagious, keeping every trip he leads upbeat and filled with adventure.

Don Johnston

Don Johnston guides regularly on the Alsek, Tatshenshini, Karnali, Coruh, Zambezi and Upano Rivers for MTS. He has taught literature at Colorado State University, is fluent in Spanish, and has worked as a translator in the US courts and on Big Game Hunting Safaris in Zimbabwe. When not guiding, Don often works on projects for the non-profit group Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and has been stationed in Angola, Zimbabwe and currently Darfur, coordinating MSF's flights carrying staff, passengers, medical equipment, food etc. Don also has a master's degree in English Literature and has recently finished writing his first novel.

George Butts

George, Georgie, or Jorge as the Spanish pronounce it was born in the great hospital of Saint Ford Truck, in room number one. George’s fabulous parents found their way to secluded Challis, ID and raised their family there. He has been forever grateful to grow up around rivers and mountains and has taken advantage of all Challis had to offer including baseball, football, wrestling, soccer, hunting, fishing, skiing and, almost forgot, rafting the gorgeous Middle Fork of the Salmon River! His first adventure down the Middle Fork was on his tenth birthday with the eldest brother. He learned the ways of the water and discovered his first love, driving sweep boat. (AKA the Scow). Both brothers were following in the footsteps of their mother, who was the first women sweep boat driver on the Middle Fork! Eleven consecutive birthdays on the Middle Fork later, and other rivers conquered, George’s greatest enjoyment is still driving Sweep Boat on the Middle Fork. Recently he graduated from Boise State University and enjoys his time exploring what his home state of Idaho has to offer and playing music with friends and family.

Jeff Sloss

Jeff Sloss, Alaska Discovery Kayak, Canoe, & River Guide: Jeff has been a lead guide for Alaska Discovery for over 20 years. He has helped set the high standards of quality and commitment that makes us a great company. Whenever we think of exploring a new area we turn to Jeff to make it happen. In the winter, Jeff teaches skiing and snowboarding in Juneau, works on film projects, and helps raise his two daughters. Jeff is an active conservationist and has lobbied Congress to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Jeff carries a deep love for Alaska onto all of his trips. Jeff writes, "Among the high points of this career are experiencing some of the world's finest places, and meeting new people as well as enjoying the company of returning guests that share an appreciation of this Great Land."

Jenny Kane

I find space to be myself in the outdoors, and this place is my inspiration. As a child, my dad used to pack up the family for a week and head to Yosemite every summer. We drove our minivan from Los Angeles into the lower pines campground and parked. This was the great outdoors to me. Later, after high school I started working in the Park during my summer breaks - first with the concession service, then with the National Park Service. I interned with the wilderness department for two summers (once as an SCA volunteer) and during that time hiked about half of Yosemite's backcountry trails, about 400 miles. It was during this time that I discovered a deeper appreciation and love for wild lands and found my artistic inspiration. I am a teacher by training and have worked as a guide for the Boojum Institute and Naturlalists At Large. But, I'm a learner at heart, thus my interests and talents are diverse. I love languages, culture, art and poetry as much as the mountains and can find inspiration in all of them, especially in combination. During my time in Peace Corps Thailand, I was given an opportunity to teach yoga for the first time, and this winter during the guiding slow season I will start teaching in California as a certified instructor. I enjoy the stillness in the mountains and look forward to sharing my love for Yosemite and the world with each of you this summer.

Joe Ordonez

Joe Ordonez, Alaska Discovery River Guide: Joe lives in Haines, Alaska. A born humorist and storyteller, Joe travels the globe working as a naturalist. Joe has a great talent for getting people involved in the naturalist's view of life and before you know it you are crawling around on the ground in delight searching for Ptarmigan scat. He guides river trips for us and is co-author of the book, "The Complete Guide to the Tatshenshini." He will be publishing several books on the history of the towns of Southeast Alaska

Kalia Avery

Kalia Avery has been leading trips in Hawaii for more than 20 years, and her upbeat personality and incredible sense of humor (her laugh is contagious!) give her the highest marks from every trip member. Kalia is extremely knowledgeable about the human and natural history of Hawaii and looks forward to sharing it all with you. She is also a great cook!

Keith Thompson

Keith Thompson, Alaska Discovery Kayak Guide: Originally from Pennsylvania, Keith left a job in medical research to pursue his love for travel and the outdoors. He's been involved in a rock and ice climbing business, worked as a bike guide, and traveled extensively throughout North and Central America, and Southeast Asia. In 1999, his travels led him to Alaska where he fell in love with his surroundings. Keith writes, "I found the pristine Alaskan wilderness an inspiration and guiding a way of sharing and learning about this special place." (Bonus: Keith is also a massage therapist.)

Ken Leghorn

Ken Leghorn has been guiding wilderness trips in Alaska since graduating from college with a degree in biology in 1978 and moving to Juneau. He was the manager/co-owner of Alaska Discovery until selling the company to Mountain Travel Sobek in 2000. Ken helped launch the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association and formed a local non-profit, Discovery Southeast, now in its 21st year of providing nature education to youth. Ken was chair of the statewide Alaska Conservation Foundation, became the founding executive director of the Juneau Community Foundation, and now serves on the board of Audubon Alaska.

Kevin McDermott

Kevin McDermott, Alaska Discovery River Guide: "Thirsty" is an integral part of our Arctic rivers program. A laid back manner puts everyone at ease and he is a wealth of knowledge about the Artic rivers. Kevin has been guiding since he was 17 years old. Although he normally spends his winter months in Telluride Ski Area, he has climbed Mt Denali three times, and reached the summit in 2000.

Kimberly Owen

Kimber has a variety of life experiences with people, horses and wildlife. She grew up in a hotel restaurant family learning fine restaurant skills from being a cook to handling marketing. Before moving to Alaska she owned/operated an equine facility and worked with individuals with disabilities in therapeutic riding. She has participated in many equine and wildlife studies nurturing her love for nature and the conservation of wildlife habitat. Alaska has always been in her heart. A romantic historical ship plying the coasts of Alaska & British Columbia - showing people the wonders of nature - what better life could there be!

Laura Steinbach

My first visit to the Sierra Nevada was back in 2002 on a three month backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails. Since that very trip, I have been infected with all that these mountains have to offer and, following that hike it took me only one year to find my way back to California on a more permanent basis. I'll be the first to acknowledge that it was the backpacking, climbing and horseback riding that drew me here, but what I find most intriguing is difficult to describe and certainly isn't apparent in photographs. It's the sound of the spring meltwater, the feel of the warm Sierran granite, and the haze that settles over the mountains just as dusk falls. These are the things that can only be realized by being here in the midst of it all. Throughout all of my travels, I've never found a better playground... or office.

Matt Jost

Matt Jost grew up on the rivers in Idaho. During his early years Matt spent the summers with his dad on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River as well as many other rivers throughout Idaho. In 2009 Matt graduated from Boise State University with a Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurial Management and will graduate in May 2012 with a Masters of Arts in Adult and Post-Secondary Education. When he is not guiding or working on school, Matt enjoys just getting out in the great outdoors. If he had to choose whitewater kayaking would be his activity of choice, however rock climbing, backpacking, and alpine skiing are close competitors. Among other activities, Matt enjoys traveling around the world in search of an adventure. His travels have led him backpacking throughout Europe, climbing in Thailand, running numerous rivers throughout Nepal and teaching a kayaking/leadership course in Chile. While adventures are great fun, the opportunity to teach outdoor skills is a true passion of Matt’s. Over the past five years Matt has been working as an outdoor educator within the university system. In the future he hopes to continue to teach outdoor education and explore more rivers throughout the world. 

Maureen D'Armand

Maureen D'Armand, Alaska Discovery Kayak & River Guide: It might be her childhood in Austria combined with her school years in Alaska that give Maureen her blend of sophistication, charm, and tremendous outdoor skills. She has traveled from pole to pole- from the Arctic to Antarctica. She is building a house in Haines, Alaska, but still lives in Juneau when she is not exploring the rest of the world. As for guiding, Maureen says, "I do not intend to stop anytime soon. My passion to explore is ever-growing."

Mike Speaks

Mike Speaks has a list of international guiding experiences that reads like the archives of the old Explorer's Club in London. He was recently the expedition leader for a 590-mile National Geographic trip down the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. He has rafted first descents in Malawi, Ethiopia, Borneo, Madagascar, and Pakistan. He has been a river guide for two decades on the greatest rivers of the world, including the Zambezi, the Bio-Bio, the Tatshenshini, and the Alsek. He has assisted in film documentaries of Egypt, Burma, India, and Bhutan. He has explored all the rivers of northern Pakistan. This Alabama boy will have you speaking with a drawl within minutes, yet he makes his home on the flanks of Mount Denali in Alaska. He's a naturalist, a ski mountaineer, a whitewater expert, an experienced sea kayaker, and a humorist through it all. Michael is a favorite for his quick wit, take-charge style, and outstanding leadership.

Nick Martin

Nick is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where he majored in both marketing and international business. Following graduation, Nick spent two years in the pharmaceutical sales industry before succumbing to his passion for adventure and his love for the outdoors. That passion brought him to Arizona, where he has been guiding since 2006. Nick is an avid snow skier and enjoys rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking; he has recently taken up SCUBA diving as well. His adventurous spirit has led him to running with the bulls in Spain and skiing in the Swiss Alps. Nick also has a great motivational spirit and enjoys helping others achieve outdoor goals beyond their expectations. He holds certification in CPR, First Aid, and Wilderness First Aid.

Sam Jansen

Sam Jansen, Alaska Discovery River Guide: Sam grew up in northern Arizona and studied creative writing and geology. While working for the U.S. Geological Survey, he fell in love with the Grand Canyon, whitewater, and wilderness guiding. Since 1991, Sam has been exploring many of North American's wild places by raft and kayak. Sam is an excellent videographer, but he is best known for a wit drier than the Arizona desert.

Shelli Ogilvy

Shelli Ogilvy, Alaska Discovery Kayak Guide: Shelli was born and raised in Alaska. She grew up in Gustavus with Glacier Bay as her backyard. She has been guiding for Alaska Discovery as a wilderness leader since 1997. She has a deep love for this place and ecosystem, finding peace and joy through sharing the experience of the wilderness. When not guiding, Shelli tries to find time to paint and work on her cabin. She currently spends her winters in New Mexico skiing and eating green chilies.

Solan Jensen

Born and raised in coastal Alaska, Solan works as a kayak guide, a kayak ranger, a boat builder, and a marine mammal emergency responder. He received a degree in Philosophy which led him directly to a career working outdoors in the cold regions of the earth. As a kayak guide he divides his time between Antarctica and Alaska. A highlight of his career, Solan was the co-leader of one of the first commercially guided overnight sea kayak expeditions in Antarctica. In his spare time Solan is a collector of bones, books, and vinyl records. He co-directs a small film production company and is a tireless student of the banjo.

Taylor Wilcox

Taylor is another second generation river guide. His dad guided in the Grand Canyon on the Colorado during college. Taylor first rafted the Salmon when he was 5 and was hooked ever since. Growing up next to the Potomac river in Maryland, Taylor kayaked and spent a lot of time around the river. He started guiding on the Salmon after moving to Utah to go to collage. Now he splits up his year between rafting the Middle Fork in the summer, care-taking a Chalet at Alta in Utah and skiing everyday through the winter months, and traveling the world in search of the perfect hammock location.

Tom Schwartz

Tom Schwartz started guiding canoe, skiing and sea kayak trips in Southeast Alaska in 1997 with a non-profit organization for youth in Juneau. He joined the Alaska Discovery team in 2003 guiding trips to Berner's Bay, Pack Creek and Glacier Bay. His experience as a fine dining chef has inspired him to create excellent food in amazing places. Keep an eye out for a wilderness cookbook!

Wade Panzich

Wade Panzich, Alaska Discovery Kayak and River Guide: Wade has lived in Alaska for 7 years, 4 of these working for Alaska Discovery. During the fall, Wade travels the globe searching for the perfect wave. Winters are spent teaching snowboarding in Alaska. Spring and summer finds Wade kayaking and rafting beautiful southeast AK. He has also spent time on the water in the western U.S., Central and South America. All seasons he is an avid backpacker and an aspiring mountain man. Wade’s got some good stories to tell, from hitchhiking across the country to tropical subsistence living, a trip with him will never be dull.

Asia
Brian K. Weirum

Brian K. Weirum has been traveling to Asia since 1970 and leading treks in the Himalayas for Mountain Travel Sobek since 1983. In the early 1980’s he developed the highly successful Ultimate Everest Trek for MTS. Since 1993 he has been leading a series of Special Departures to other exotic Himalayan destinations, including Mustang, Dolpo, Mount Mera, and Makalu in Nepal, Mount Kailas and Oracle Lake in Tibet, Kangchenjunga in Sikkim, and Bhutan. And to Mongolia, Peru, Patagonia, Spain, Italy and Alaska.. Brian created the very successful Save the Tiger trip in 1994 for Mountain Travel Sobek, with departures available each March that travel through both India and Nepal, and also founded The Fund For The Tiger, a non-profit tax-exempt public charity dedicated to supporting tiger conservation efforts in India and Nepal.

Cathy Ann Taylor

Cathy Ann Taylor, a high altitude trekking guide for Mountain Travel Sobek for the last 20 years. Cathy Ann has trekked all over Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan, with well over 150 trips in the Himalayas (she still considers the Himalayas her “second home”)! A devout hiker and mountain biker, she leaves no trail undiscovered, and her passion for the mountains, caring nature, and boundless energy are renowned. Her experience, knowledge, positive attitude (she can find the good in anything!), and her wonderful rapport with the local staff will enhance your experience. With the help of caring and like-minded individuals she has been able to manage the sponsorship of ten remote village children, all of whom are in boarding school and one who is about to graduate from University in Australia. She consistently gets rave reviews from members of her groups and has quite a following. Cathy Ann is active in the Breast Cancer Fund and has participated in eleven expeditions, including Mount McKinley, Cho Oyu, Mount Fuji, Mount Shasta, and Mount Rainier, which helped increase awareness of breast cancer (she alone has raised over $350,000 for the cause!). She has also reached the summit of Ama Dablam (22,500') in Nepal and Argentina's Aconcagua (22,834'), the highest peak in South America. Cathy Ann received an honorable mention in Hooked on the Outdoors magazine's Outdoor Person of the Year Awards, January 2006, and also received a letter of recognition for her fundraising and environmental work from Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

Charlie Ryan

Charlie grew up between Hawaii and California. He has had a passion for outdoor adventures, traveling, and nature his entire life. He is particularly fascinated by the ecology of tropical rainforests. Hawaii's lush jungles first caught his attention, Central America’s rainforests broadened his horizons and, finally, he found Borneo. Well-rounded in the ecology of the Bornean rainforest, he is experienced with species identification of mammals, birds, amphibians, and snakes. He has strong leadership abilities and is comfortable in any situation. He is certified in Wilderness First Aid and has a good understanding of wilderness survival. Charlie has lived in Borneo for the last three years, working with different local communities, and he spent nine months working with Mescot (www.mescot.org), a community-based forest restoration project in the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain. He then worked with NGOs doing humanitarian work with an indigenous group called the Penan. He speaks Bahasa Malay and has strong connections with people working to save this beautiful region. Charlie looks forward to meeting you and sharing this adventure with you.

Gary Wintz

Gary has traveled to more than 220 countries in the last 40 years, researching, writing, photographing, and lecturing about distant lands and cultures. He has worked on humanitarian projects in Indochina, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, and has contributed his expertise to development projects in Ethiopia for UNICEF. In 1981-82, Gary taught at universities in both China and in Tibet and lectured for the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1989. Gary has lectured on Central Asia, Inner Asia, Southeast Asia and Buddhist themes at many universities, including Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Columbia as well as lectured on cruise ships and private jet trips. He has led hundreds of trips to all continents. Gary is a longtime member of the Mongolia Society, the Association of Asian Studies, the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, and the Central Eurasian Studies Society as well as a number of Southeast Asian study groups. He has been a long time leader of citizens diplomacy exchanges, including pioneering "peace trains" on the trans-Siberian during the cold war days of the former Soviet Union. Some of his current soft diplomacy "signatures" include utilizing creative techniques, such as Frisbees and dark chocolates. Gary wins rave reviews as a tour director.

Gyamcho Wangdi

Gyamcho Wangdi has led treks for Mountain Travel Sobek since 1988. A Bhutanese, he grew up in the small hill town of Kalimpong in the Darjeeling District of India and received his schooling from a Scottish missionary school. He studied botany and zoology and was a naturalist at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in Nepal for eight years. While working at the park, he greeted VIPs and other celebrities such as Princess Anne, the late Rajiv Gandhi (former Prime Minister of India), King Gyanendra (present King of Nepal), Bjorn Borg (former #1 tennis player), Reinhold Messner (Everest summiteer), and actors James Coburn, Robert Redford, Goldie Hawn, and Carrie Fisher. Gyamcho’s passions are seeing new places, off-road driving, interior design, and drawing cartoons (he has published a cartoon book on the Yeti called "Mysterious Mystical Yeti," which became a hit among Nepal trekkers). His gentle, courteous manner, amusing anecdotes, and overall knowledge of Bhutan and Nepal are the key to the success of your trip. He is fluent in English, Hindi, Nepali, and Bhutanese.

Jamling Tenzing Norgay

In 1996 Jamling Tenzing Norgay realized his childhood dream of climbing Mt. Everest with the IMAX Everest Film Expedition and unfolded the Tibetan flag on the summit. The son of Tenzing Norgay, who summitted Everest in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary, Jamling is a charming young man gifted with many skills besides his outdoor exploits. A black-belt karate instructor and avid rafter and skier, Jamling had led many treks in Sikkim, Nepal, India and Bhutan. We are very proud of his association with Mountain Travel Sobek and are confident you will greatly enjoy his leadership. He was featured in a recent article in the San Francisco Examiner and is one of the protagonists of the new National Geographic Imax film on Everest.

Joe Toback

Joe fell in love with the outdoors as a kid growing up in California where he backpacked, cycled, and paddled at every possible opportunity. In 1983 he discovered sea kayaking as a means of traveling to exotic destinations. After taking part in MTS exploratories to Irian Jaya and Vietnam’s Halong Bay, he began guiding trips for MTS in 1995. Since then he has led trips back to Vietnam, to the wine-growing regions of Portugal, to the Ionian Islands of Greece, the San Blas Islands in Panama, as well as the Mergui Archipelago of Myanmar. “My passion for traveling to new places, for new cultural encounters, grows with each experience. I cherish the opportunity to feel like a child again, to explore my dreams, to learn about the world from people along the way.”

John Yost

John is the Co-founder of Sobek Expeditions (now Mountain Travel Sobek) which became the largest international rafting company in the world. He has run over 30 international river exploratories, has run all but a couple of rivers Sobek runs or at one time ran commercially, and has boated most of the rivers in the western US. He has been a consultant with international “eco” lodges around the globe and was recently named a member of the board of directors with Friends of the River, a non-profit organization working to protect California rivers. John is known for his culinary skills in the kitchen, and will make his famous Omo Chicken Curry for you on the trip, which was named during the first descent of the Omo River in Ethiopia in 1973.

Kyaw Zaya

Kyaw Zaya grew up in Burma and has long had a passion for guiding. After earning his diploma in Gemology, he went on study Tour Guiding. He has led groups for numerous overseas travel companies for the past two decades--from budget trips to high end and experiential travel. The majority of his clients hail from the UK, the US and Belgium. He is a strong leader and is comfortable with groups of any size. In his free time, he enjoys bicycling and reading. Kyaw looks forwards to sharing this adventure in his home country with you.

Lhakpa Norbu Sherpa

Lhakpa Norbu Sherpa was born in Namche Bazaar to a mountaineering family. (His father was a climbing Sherpa and went to the South Col on several expeditions, including the 1963 American Everest expedition.) After completing his education, Lhakpa tried mountaineering on Kanchenjunga (the world’s third highest peak), but decided that he prefers trekking and now limits his climbing to trekking peaks like Mount Mera. Lhakpa has a deep interest in environmental issues and has been associated with Mountain Travel Sobek since 1983, first as sirdar and now as a trekking guide. He speaks Nepali, Sherpa, and Tibetan as well as English.

Namgay Dorji

Namgay Dorji, the senior manager of our Bhutan office, has been leading treks and tours for the past nine years. He is very knowledge about the history, culture, and religion of Bhutan, has many relatives in the monk body, and looks forward to sharing his experience with you. Namgay speaks seven languages: English, Japanese, German, Spanish, Hindi, Nepalese, and Urdu; is a graduate of Bissau College, Meghalaya, India; and received his diploma in Tourism and Travel Management from the Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management in Salzburg, Austria. His many personal interests include bird watching, rock climbing, trekking, and archery.

Pranoy Rai

Pranoy Rai was born in Nepal, studied in Darjeeling, India, and is a travel enthusiast who has always been keen on adventure. Working as a trekking leader since 1999, he has an enormous experience in the field, having led numerous treks and tours to Nepal, Tibet and India. Pranoy successfully completed his basic mountaineering course from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute of Darjeeling with grade 'A' certificate. He has been trained in wilderness medicine by Dr. Jim Duff, an expert in wilderness first aid and co-author of “First Aid and Survival in Mountain and Remote Areas.” In addition to being fluent in English, Nepali, and Hindi, he speaks basic Tibetan and Chinese. Pranoy is very keen on birds, plants, and flowers, and has acquired a very good knowledge in them that he looks forward to sharing with you on trek.

Rob Smurr

Rob is both a professor of Russian and Environmental History at Washington’s Evergreen State College and an experienced outdoor guide in the former Soviet Union. He spent two seasons leading climbs on Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe (in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia) and several more seasons leading numerous treks in the Pamir, Tian Shan, and Altai mountains in Central Asia. Rob has excellent Russian language skills. He served as a U.S. Department of State interpreter in Leningrad and Moscow and studied at such places as the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and the University of St. Petersburg in Russia. He obtained an M.A. in International Studies and a Ph.D. in Russian History at the University of Washington. Rob’s outdoor skills include mountaineering (he has summited peaks like Aconcagua and Mont Blanc), rock climbing (5.10), and advanced (Class V) whitewater kayaking. Rob is also a triathlete.

Sanjay Nepal

Sanjay Nepal has been working as a tour guide & trip leader since September 1999 in Nepal, India, Bhutan & Tibet & uses a lot of unusual anecdotes, humor & patience while working. He holds a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu & has EMBA (Executive MBA) in General Management from University of Ljubljana, Slovenia apart from Senior Diploma in French from French Cultural Center in Kathmandu. He has a sound knowledge on religion and culture of the sub-continent as he himself practiced it for 12 long years (1985-1997) during which he associated with several high profile lamas & religious personalities. He speaks Nepali, Hindi, Urdu, English and French fluently. He has traveled extensively in Europe (Slovenia, Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic) for seminars and lecture tours on Buddhism & Hinduism as well as Palmistry & Chinese Face Reading. He has been practicing it professionally since 1991 and has given consultations to several hundreds of people since then. He has also published several articles in English journals in Nepal. His other passion is poetry which can be sampled at www.poetry.com. Beside that his other interests include music, movies, driving, books & traveling.

Sanjeev Chhetri

Sanjeev Chhetri is a graduate of Delhi University, India, and has been leading treks in Nepal, Tibet, India and the Alps since 1990. He is an avid bird-watcher and very well traveled, with time spent in India, Tibet, China, England, Ireland, France, Thailand, USA and Switzerland. He lives with wife and son in Kathmandu. Sanjeev is very knowledgeable of the cultures, religions, and traditions of the countries he leads trek for and enjoys sharing his experiences with you.

Sylvain Curtil

Sylvain is a French national but lives in Thailand. He had his first contact with Asia at the age of 17, when the first refugees from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam arrived in France in 1976. Trying to teach them French, he was soon “adopted” by a Lao family, living with them during his studies at Lyon University, and ended up learning the language and customs. He has worked and led tours in South East Asia including Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia, but also in his favorite “Area”: India, and the Himalayan countries (Ladakh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet) where he has his dearest friends, and throughout the years enriched his self-taught knowledge of Aisa’s arts and customs, Hinduism and Buddhism. He has more than a liking for Buddhism and it’s pieces of Art. He lends his first hand experience of Asian art, history, Hinduism and Buddhism to all the groups he has the pleasure of leading.. He was one of the very first foreigners to visit the newly re-opened Laos from north to south. Sylvain speaks French, English, Thai, Lao, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

Tandin Nidup

Tandin is a graduate of Bangkok University, Thailand, majoring in Tourism and Hospitality Management. He has been leading treks and cultural tours in Bhutan since 2000. Tandin also worked for a few months as the Human Resource Manager at The Zhiwaling Hotel in Paro. Last year, he had the opportunity to work as an Interpreter for the EU Election Observers for a period of one month in Eastern Bhutan and got a very positive evaluation from them. He is very knowledgeable of the cultures, religions, and traditions of his country and enjoys sharing his experiences with you. Tandin speaks English, Nepali, Hindi and passable Thai in addition to his native Bhutanese.

Yumiko Arai

Yumiko was born in Japan but spent several years living in the UK as a child, and returned to Japan to attend university. She has climbed many of highest peaks in Japan and had guided foreign visitors both on cultural and hiking trips. She has traveled to more than 80 countries, and is keen hiker, climber and cyclist. Yumiko's hobbies are also gardening, botany and architecture. She is member of the Japan Guide Association. Yumiko always looks forward to share her knowledge about her beautiful country

Europe
Alberto De Giuli

Alberto De Giuli, a fully certified UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guide, was born in the small town of Padova, Italy. After receiving his degree in economics from the University of Venice; he decided to pursue his true passion, to guide in the mountains. He currently lives in Arabba, which is in the heart of the Dolomites. Alberto has spent several years guiding groups on climibing, hiking, trekking, and skiiing adventures. He truly enjoys showcasing the Dolomites to everyone!

Alberto Mediavilla Serrano

Born in Bilbao, Alberto has spent the last 10 years working as guide and operations manager with American hiking groups. He is UIMLA certified mountain leader, has walked the El Camino numerous times, and is has an excellent knowledge of the central area of Spain (Castilla), where his family comes. In the winter, Alberto works as an avalanche rescue instructor, and as an analyst in the mountains of the Picos de Europa.

Anna Bezzola

Anna Bezzola was born in northern Italy, raised in Switzerland, and has been hiking in the Alps since childhood. She worked for several years in our MTS home office, and has been a Guide for Mountain Travel Sobek for more than 15 years. In addition to being multilingual, Anna truly enjoys people, and her passion and love for nature and her country are contagious. She is extremely knowledgeable about the flora, fauna, history, and customs of the area, and currently lives in Bellinzona, the capital of Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. Anna leads several departures in Italy and Switzerland, and has even led The Chomolhari Trek in Bhutan, as well as escorted trips in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Anne Wood

Anne has been working for Mountain Travel Sobek since 2001, and spends several weeks out of each year personally scouting and fine-tuning our European adventures. She has hiked, trekked, sailed, and dogsledded through almost every country in Europe, including 19 of our twenty-five 2016 Europe trips! Anne will join our Jewels of Georgia trek in the company of our esteemed local Georgian guides.

Beatrice Mugnier

Beatrice is a native of Chamonix, France, and has been guiding professionally in the Alps since 1989. She comes from a family of mountain climbers. Her grandfather was also a professional mountain guide. Aside from being an expert hiking guide, Beatrice is also an avid climber and accomplished skier, and is a ski instructor during the winter months. She loves the mountains, and will share her enthusiasm and her great experience with you during your trip.

Ben Walker

Mr. Ben Walker makes his home in England’s Lake District, but has spent much of his life travelling and leading groups in wild and remote corners of the world, including Borneo, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. He regularly guides overland trekking trips; as well as walking and epic cycling journeys across Asia from Borneo to Beijing, and to Kathmandu. He has also spent time in the Merchant Navy, and has worked as a scuba diving instructor.

Dagný Indriðadóttir

Pronounced “Danny,” Dagný is native to Iceland, and has been an active hiking guide for local Icelandic clubs and tour operators for many years, and has just recently started guiding for Mountain Travel Sobek. Dagný is a proud member of Icelandic Mountain Guides Association, a guiding organization with 15 years of experience in educating, entertaining and assuring the safety of travelers from the Greenland Icecap, to the summit of Antarctica and everywhere in between. With Dagný, you are not only in good hands, we believe you are in the best of hands. Not only does Dagný know a lot about Iceland, but she can tell you all about the elves that inhabit the very woods in which you will hike – ask her!

Erik Perez

Erik was born and raised in Asturias, Region of Northern Spain, with the big range of Mountains called Picos de Europa and Cordillera Cantabrica. He is an accomplished climber (climbing Mont Blanc numerous times), backcountry and downhill skier. Erik has been with MTS since 1989 and has received his certification to be a IFMGA/UIAGM guide which is the highest professional award attainable in mountaineering. He has written two guidebooks on hikes and climbs in the Picos de Europa. Erik studied Humanities at the University of Oviedo, Capital city of Asturias and received a Masters degree in History.

Fabienne Bozon

Native from Chamonix, Fabienne comes from a family of mountaineers and farmers. Her grandfather was a recognized mountain guide. A former cross-country ski champion, she raced in several Europa Cups, and has been coaching the Chamonix cross-country Ski Club for the last 20 years. Very involved in the city life, she has a passion for the history of the valley and the surrounding mountains. A guide since 1993, she is also keen in botany and proud to share her love and knowledge of the Mont-Blanc massif.

Fernando Calvo

Fernando holds a Degree in Nursing from the Asturias University Medical School of Oviedo, but found his calling as a mountain guide. He has been guiding our trips in the mountains of Spain since 1996. Fernando is fully certified as a member of the prestigious Union of International Mountain Leaders Associations (UIMLA), as well as the Asociacon Espanola de Guias de Montana (AEGM), and the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) for France. Besides guiding in Spain, Fernando has also lead trips in Turkey, in Patagonia, on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, and in New Zealand.

Filiz Gecikmis

Filiz was born and raised in Turkey, attended the Aegean University of Classic Archeology, and is a Certified Graduate of the Turkish Government Ministry of Tourism Guide Certification, licensed for all regions of Turkey. In her personal time, she participates in excavations of archeological sites, studies the history of the Middle East and Asia Minor, as well as foreign languages and ethic cultures, and is especially fond of film and music. Filiz has been a professional guide since 2007.

Florence Simond

A native of Chamonix, Florence is a descendant from two of the area’s oldest families. After growing up in the Chamonix Valley, “Flo” spent several years in the south of France, and then traveled abroad to South America and Asia. She returned to her ancestral home, where the mountains now form an integral part of her life. She has led nearly 50 trips to the Alps, not counting how many times she has done this trip for her own fun! In addition to being an accomplished hiking guide, Flo is a skier and climber. As a member of the Compagnie des Guides, she follows in the footsteps of her forefathers.

Giulia Monego

Guilia Monego is a professional skier and adventure enthusiast. Her passion for skiing and the mountains has led her to work as a ski instructor, complete in many alpine ski races and events to leading hiking trips throughout the Dolomites. Whether she is leading a ski expedition in Patagonia or China to photography trips to British Columbia, she is at home at the mountains.

Helga Maria Heidarsdottir

Helga María has been an active guide in Iceland for local Icelandic clubs and tour operators, including the the Mountain Women of Iceland and 66°North. She is not the Head Guide for our partners in Iceland, the Icelandic Mountainguides. Helga María has just finished her first degree in Geography at the University of Iceland. Mother Nature is Helga María´s major inspiration. When she is not doing research out in the wild, she is either hiking, skiing, or running.

Jean-Marc Vaillant

As a member of the Compagnie des Guides, Jean Marc began guiding for MTS several years ago. He is what the French call polyvalent (“able to do many things”). His talents range from being a licensed pyrotechnic specialist, snowboard manufacturer, journalist, musical group crew, and theater worker. If this weren’t enough, in addition to his passion for hiking, he also teaches children the skills of mountain biking, skiing, and snowshoeing. Jean-Marc has led over 60 trips to the Alps and proudly carried the Olympic torch to the 2006 Torino winter games.

Jean-Michel Poupart

Since childhood, Jean-Michel has been attracted to the great outdoors and outdoor activities, such as throwing snowballs, skiing the snowy slopes, bivouacking in the forest, and fly fishing the rivers. He grew up in the countryside not far from Paris, but too far from Alps. Later, he studied physics, which brought him naturally to Chamonix to test out the laws of gravity! Jean-Michel likes the Rolling Stones, and Pink Mountains at sunset are to him another great band of contemplative music. An established skiing instructor for 18 years, Jean-Michel also teaches snowboarding, telemark and off piste. His favorite après ski is a glass of wine, maybe the one coming from Chardonnet, one of the peaks he has climbed in Chamonix valley! Jean-Michel has lead over 50 trips to the Alps. Hiking or skiing, he has a particular interest in leading guests from all over the world, and tremendously enjoys sharing his passions with them.

Karin Pizzinini

After being high school science and chemistry teacher, Karin Pizzinini decided to pursue her two big passions: travel and photography. Now she works both as an art director, making documentaries about Ladin arts and culture, and as a hiking guide in her beloved Dolomites, where she grew up and lives. She is a year-round outdoor enthusiast - enjoying telemarking and ski touring in the winter, hiking, rock climbing and climbing glaciers in the summer. She used to compete in cross country skiing, cycling and ski touring, where she has achieved the title of Italian champion. Karin says her mission is transmitting knowledge, be it as a teacher, a guide, a film director or a writer. Guiding trips through the beautiful scenery where she lives, and on trips around the world, enables her to share her enthusiasm with her groups, which is certainly one of the things she likes best.

Laurent Langoisseur

Laurent Langoisseur hails from Normandy, France, having grown up in Argentan (a small village that became famous in August 1944, “tournai sur dives”). At the age of 12, Laurent read La Grande Crevasse by Roger Frison-Roche, and became fascinated by the guiding and climbing descriptions of the Chamonix-Mont Blanc area. At 16, Laurent visited the area and was hooked. At 19, Laurent joined the French alpine troops, and after a year of service, moved to Chamonix. In 1991, he obtained his European Mountain Leader certification, and in 1995 he was awarded the coveted patch of the Compagnie des Guides. An avid sports enthusiast and inexhaustible hiker, Laurent has hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc close to 100 times. He is also an accomplished mountaineer, having summited Mont Blanc three times, as well as several other mountains over 13,000-feet. When he is not hiking and climbing, Laurent can be found running long distances for fun. Laurent recently completed a 48-mile race in 6 hours; and has also finished 48 miles in 9 hours with 10,000’ of ascent/descent. Laurent has been guiding for MTS since 1995, and is a senior guide on our Tour du Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc Express, Mont Blanc to Matterhorn (Haute Route), GR5, Gran Paradiso, and French Riviera trips, as well as any other trip we can get him on! His knowledge of the culture, history, plants, birds, and the name of every single peak and glacier along the trail is a wonderful complement to his guiding skills. When he isn’t guiding for us, he teaches First Aid and Mountain Rescue to mountain and hiking guides; and during the winter, he’s a ski patrol monitor in the mountains above Chamonix.

Leo San Sebastian

Leo was born in the mountains of Spain’s Basque Country and made his home in Jaca, in the heart of the Pyrenees, where he spends his winters on backcountry skis. He has been guiding in the Pyrenees for many years, as well as in Nepal, Morocco, Tanzania, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Pakistan, India, and the French Alps. He has also taught skiing in Colorado. He is an International Certified Mountain Guide (UIAGM) and a professional ski instructor (ISIA). Leo is fluent in English, French, and Basque.

Lorenc Konaj

Having jumped into the outdoors at the age of seven - and never gotten out of it, Lorenc became more than passionate about (and fell in love with) the natural environment and pristine wilderness in what was then known as Yugoslavia. He soon discovered his other joy in life, that of sharing the beauty of the region with all those visiting his little corner of the globe - a place rich in culture, history and gorgeous nature. Lorenc is a Certified Mountain Guide and Ranger for the BiH Mountain Association, and a member of a Mountain Rescue Team, and has been leading MTS trips for Bosnia and Herzegovina for since 2007. When not leading trips, Lorenc is responsible for the development of new outdoor adventure itineraries, and training tour leaders and mountain guides in Bosnia. His other interests include transcendental meditation, nutrition and the environment, and he received his degree from the Maharishi European Research University, Switzerland in the Science of Creative Intelligence.

Luca Gasparini

Luca Gasparini is an enthusiastic bilingual professional mountain guide. The mountains and outdoors has always been a part of his life. He started skiing at seven years old, rock climbing and ice climbing at age 19. Luca is living in the Dolomites working as a mountain guide in heli skiing, ski touring, off-track-skiing, ski safaris, ice climbing and snow shoeing in winter and rock climbing, trekking, canyoning and mountaineering in summer.

Luka Poznic

Luka doesn't sit still for long. When he is not guiding our trips, he is exploring the outer reaches of Northern Africa, Burma, Tibet, Montenegro, Sahara, Thailand, Croatia, and Nepal; guiding, discovering new destinations or bargaining for a precious Iranian silk carpet. He takes very seriously his Arabic lessons, due to the mystical deserts of the Arabic world which have enchanted him. When he is in Slovenia, he is devoted to free-climbing, mountain-biking, photography and expert dining. In his years of traveling he has became very knowledgeable about fine wine. Luka is the right person to show you where the best Cabarnet Sauvignon in Slovenia can be found.

Marica Fave

Marica Fave is grew up in Campitello in the Fassa Valley. She started skiing at age 3 and ski racing at age 6. Since then, she has been a part of the mountains ever since. While on Ski teams, she traveled through out Europe, North America and Canada. In 2006 she became a certified mountain guide and has been leading trips for Mountain Travel Sobek for many years. She has guided in Italy, France, Switzerland and India.

Mesut Ozgen

Mesut, who has lived his whole life in his native Turkey, is a graduate of Balikesir University's Department of Tourism for Tourist Guides, and speaks fluent English. He has worked for Mountain Travel Sobek for many years, and are among our favorites in Europe. Mesut also guides MTS' Coruh River trips, and is a licensed guide for all regions in Turkey.

Ozlem "Ozzy" Ozgoren

Ozzy studied for two years in the United States (the first time in Missouri as a high school foreign exchange student and more recently at the University of Miami’s department of Art History). She enjoys contact with Americans and likes to share her knowledge and interest in the history and culture of her native Turkey. She has guided tour groups in all areas of her country. In her spare time, Ozlem pursues her interest in wildlife and sings in a chorus.

Roman Krizanic

Roman is a graduate in Chinese studies. After finishing his degree he spent a year in China, wandered around Southeast Asia for the next five years, and now Roman is settled between his two homelands. In the beautiful countryside of Slovenia as an outdoor guide, and in Cambodia, where he is running a petit beach resort when temperatures in Europe drop to freezing. An adventurer at heart, Roman continues to discover hidden corners of Croatia and Slovenia, combining nature experiences with his passion for gourmet Slovenian cuisine. As a guide he is well known for his personal touch and good humor.

Samer Hajric

Samer is originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; and lived through the Siege of Sarajevo. Sarajevo continues to be his home to this day. He is a Certified mountain guide by Mountaineering Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina and UIAA standards (Official International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, partner of International Olympic Committee), and has a degree in Sociology. He has been guiding this trip for MTS since 2007. Samer says, “In year 2000 was my first touch with magical world of the mountains. My passion for the mountains and the rigours of the outdoors, combined with the warm-heartedness of the local people, left an indelible impression on me. It will be my great pleasure to show you this part of the world and area which takes special place in my heart – the Dinaric Alps."

Serra Somersan

Serra is a native of Turkey, and is a graduate of Ege (Aegean) University, Department of Classical Archaeology, and a Certified Graduate of the Turkish government Ministry of Tourism guide program, licensed for all regions of Turkey. Her post-graduate studies have included six months of study in her profession at the Lecce University in Italy, and courses at the Middle Eastern Technical University to becoming a qualified diver. During her studies, she worked at the excavation site of the ancient city of Antandros, located in the ancient Troas region in each summer of these years.

Stéphane Berger

Stéphane is a true man of the mountains, with a Savoyard father and Swiss mother. He grew up in Chamonix, then left the valley to follow his first love, architecture. But the call of the wild proved too strong: numerous travels in North Africa, Siberia, and the Himalaya opened a new door to him—the profession of hiking guide. Nowadays Stéphane lives in a chalet in Chamonix from where he escapes frequently to travel the mountain areas of the world. “Steph” has now been a member of the Compagnie des Guides for many years, with over 100 trips to the Alps under his belt.

Ursula Kordis

Ursula has a degree in management and organization. She is an avid photographer and has traveled extensively between Asia and Latin America, and spent six months in Colombia working as a photo journalist. Ursula has been guiding since 2001 and is very knowledgeable about the Slovenian outdoors. She is fluent in English and Spanish, and in her free time enjoys cooking and dancing the Salsa.

Zehra Ozgen

Zehra graduated from the prestigious Kocaeli University's Department of Tourism for Tourist Guides, and speaks fluent English. She studies were focused on history, art and architecture, archaeology, and mythology. Zehra is very enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge, and has been guiding for us since 2008.

Galapagos Islands
Desiree Cruz

Desiree Cruz loves Galápagos so much that she lives in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, she received her B.S. from the University of Guayaquil in biology with a specialty in botany. She has been a naturalist guide in Galápagos since 1987 and has served in several capacities for the Galápagos National Park Service, including Deputy Director. Desiree is fluent in Spanish, English, and German. She has worked with Sea Shepherd in Galápagos, an organization dedicated to protecting the marine reserve from poaching, and is an advocate for conservation in Galápagos. She balances her conservation work with the delight of sharing her love of nature and Galápagos with our trip members. Desiree is a “guide’s guide” and works part-time teaching naturalist guides in Galápagos.

Greg Estes

Born in the United States, Greg Estes first arrived in Galapagos in 1982 leading the Cambridge Darwin Centenary Galapagos Expedition to conduct research on the feeding ecology of marine iguanas. After graduating from the University of London, England, with an honours degree in Biology Greg’s research in Galapagos has encompassed a wide range of ecological projects, including studies on sperm whales and the endangered Galapagos petrel. Greg and his wife Thalia have retraced Darwin’s footsteps through Galapagos using information from his original notebooks and manuscripts of the famous voyage. Their research was published in “Notes and Records of the Royal Society“, September 2000 and was the basis of their book Darwin in Galapagos: Footsteps to a New World, published by Princeton University Press in 2009. Greg has served as a licensed naturalist guide of the Galapagos National Park Service since 1982 and continues to work as naturalist and expeditions leader in the islands. He is in high demand by university and natural history organizations alike and among the institutions he has guided/led are the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, Stanford University, Princeton University, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, New York Audubon Society, New York Botanical Gardens. Greg has traveled extensively in North, Central and South America, and Europe and has worked as a naturalist in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic. His explorations have included an ascent of Cotopaxi in Ecuador, which is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.

Luis Die

Luis Die was born in Seville, Spain, and is a graduate of the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid with a degree in environmental biology. He is fluent in Spanish, English, and French and has guided in Galápagos for more than a decade. In addition to being a professional nature photographer, Luis is working on a Master’s Degree in geographical ecology and is active with conservation groups on the mainland. Luis is a born teacher and enthusiastically shares his knowledge of Galápagos with people of all ages. He lives in Quito with his wife and twin sons and is our head naturalist guide, working exclusively with Mountain Travel Sobek.

Patricia Stucki

Patricia Stucki has been guiding diving trips in Galápagos since 1999. A native of Switzerland and originally a journalist for the Swiss News Agency, Patricia started her career in guiding as a dive master in Honduras in 1995 and as a naturalist guide in Costa Rica. She is fascinated by wildlife, is a passionate teacher, and an active conservationist in the islands. As a resident of Galápagos, she will be able to give you an insider’s viewpoint of life in the islands. Patricia is fluent in English, German, and French.

Mexico & Central America
Ariannet "Ari" Arias

Born and raised in Havana, Ari is a graduate of the University of Havana’s foreign languages school. After teaching English to junior high school students for a few years, she has been working as a full-time guide since 2007 with the guide agency which is part of Havana’s Office of the City Historian.

Jim Kane

Jim Kane is recognized leader in the field of sustainable travel and the former Community-Based Travel columnist for Transitions Abroad magazine. In 2003 he founded Culture Xplorers, a specialty travel company with a simple vision: to foster an immersive, participatory travel experience by connecting travelers and local people through a celebration of their living culture and traditions. Jim is a frequently invited speaker on the subject of transformative travel at conferences and educational institutions throughout the U.S., amongst these, the Educational Travel Conference (ETC), the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, the Luxury Expo and the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS). “Crafting this active, meaningful, one-of-a-kind Guatemala adventure hand-in-hand with MTS is a dream collaboration distilling my two decades of relationship building in Central America with MTS’ 40 years of adventure travel expertise. Jim will lead the first departure of 2015 accompanied with qualified leaders in Guatemala and Mexico.

Jorge Calderon

Jorge “Loco” Calderón is a whitewater rafting guide in his thirties who has led trips in Costa Rica for over a decade. He was part of the Costa Rica whitewater rafting team that won the fourth place in the World Championships in Brazil in 1997, and this year he guide sea kayaking trips in Greenland. Jorge loves the outdoors and is eager to share with you the natural beauty of his country.

Mark Willuhn

Mark Willuhn has been leading tours in Mesoamerica since 1996, and his enthusiasm for ancient Maya culture and tropical ecosystems has taken him through southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Mark is passionate about sharing his knowledge of the region, and believes the best way to understand its culture and natural wonders is firsthand, by hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. His dedication to the area's rich natural and cultural heritage means he works with local guides, operators and conservation organizations. Mark has an undergraduate degree in forestry from Colorado State University and an MBA from San Francisco State University. He has guest lectured at the graduate level at Colorado State University, participated and presented at numerous workshops relating to micro-enterprise development and sustainable tourism, and facilitated numerous planning workshops. Mark's vast knowledge and knack for storytelling makes this area's culture and history come alive.

Marvin Tórrez Gutiérrez

Marvin Tórrez Gutiérrez was born and raised in Nicaragua. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, along with specialized training in biodiversity conservation and natural resources management. His passion for natural history, animal behavior and relationships, have prompted his involvement in a USAID/Nicaragua project and conservation and sustainable tourism in critical watersheds. An enthusiast birder, Marvin has become known, in a very short time, as a charismatic naturalist guide. He combines his knowledge in tropical ecosystems and cultural heritage, giving participants a very joyful experience.

Sergio Jauregui

Originally from Mexico City, Sergio has been living and guiding in Baja for over 15 years. He is known throughout the peninsula for his tremendous knowledge and passion for all the things that make Baja such an incredibly fun and inspiring place to be. He is a gifted story teller who loves sharing local lore and insights with visitors to his home.

Polar Voyages
Aaron Lawton

Aaron Lawton developed the Polar program for One Ocean Expeditions (our partner in the Polar Regions), bringing a strong commitment to conservation in the Polar Regions to his work in operations development. An avid paddler, Aaron has been paddling or rowing some form of human-powered boat for most of his life. His experience encompasses wilderness guiding and instruction by canoe and sea kayak, varsity rowing and most recently a passion for Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe racing. Thousands of miles on the water have given him an appreciation and awareness for the subtle changes in the ocean due to local weather and global climate patterns. Aaron is truly Canadian having lived in the mountains of the Yukon Territory, among the wheat fields of Manitoba, in the orchards of Southern Ontario and along the briny coast of Nova Scotia, all by the ripe old age of twelve. Continuing this passion for new places, Aaron has worked in the outdoor industry on six of the seven continents. Over the last decade, Aaron has been expedition leader or kayak guide on about a hundred trips to the Canadian Arctic, the Antarctic Peninsula and Svalbard. In 2001, Aaron and his wife Cathy embarked on a 10-night unassisted sea kayak expedition along the Antarctic Peninsula. Aaron holds a degree in forestry from the University of British Columbia. This has led to a real appreciation for and understanding of ecology and the connectivity of ecosystems.

Andre Belem

André was born in Santos, Brazil and graduated in Oceanography from the Rio Grande University in 1994. In the same year he spent his first Antarctic winter on board the R/V “Nathaniel Palmer” cruising the Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas. This expedition reached the furthest south position for a ship in these waters and Andre was awarded the Antarctic Service Medal of the National Science Foundation (USA). This voyage was the start of a long Antarctic career, from the Ross to Weddell seas, including more than 1000 days on Antarctic land and ice, and above and underwater. He continued his academic activities, becoming “Doktor der Naturwissenschaften” at the the Alfred-Wegener Institute (Germany) for Polar and Marine Research in 2002. For the last 20 years he has studied “the role of Antarctica in the Global Climate Change”, working with other scientists focusing on physical and biological processes in sea ice. Since 2010, André has worked as a senior researcher in the Fluminense Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, lecturing on the impacts of climate change since the last glacial era and as part of the international team of PAGES (Past Climate Change group). André speaks English, Portuguese, German and Spanish.

Andrew Prossin

Andrew is the Managing Director of One Ocean Expeditions Inc. (our partner in the Polar Regions) and brings his passion for polar regions and their conservation into any discussion he can. An adventurer in his own right, Andrew is an accomplished ocean racing sailor. He led a team that won a race across the Atlantic Ocean in a 30-foot sailboat; he has sailed around Cape Horn in a Southern Ocean gale and competitively raced yachts and high performance dinghies all over the world. Andrew is also a published photographer and an avid snowboarder, spending his quiet time in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Andrew grew up on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada and has brought his East Coast sense of humor with him all along the way. After earning a degree from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, he played a strategic planning role for a major Canadian player in the transportation industry. With around five years in the corporate world under his belt but searching for a life of meaning, Andrew decided to "run away to sea". What started as a three-month commitment to manage a ship transformed itself into a very successful entrepreneurial career in expedition cruising where he could apply his experience and his passion. With a reputation for innovation and attention to detail, Andrew has become well known in the expedition cruise industry for the high quality expedition cruise programs he develops. He is also noted for his attention to vital areas of safety and his commitment to environmental protection.

Ben Jackson

Born in Alice Springs, Australia, Ben calls New Zealand home. Growing up in Auckland meant that most weekends were spent on the water sailing or motoring the Hauraki Gulf. Ben works primarily as a White Water Kayak Instructor sharing his time between New Zealand and California. With a degree in Adventure Recreation and Outdoor Education he has taught in the outdoors as an educator and guide for ten years. Ben’s passion for kayaking and adventuring has taken him on many trips around the globe including paddling Uganda’s White Nile, the USA’s Grand Canyon, and a month long exploration of the Indian Himalayas. Kayaking has most recently taken him to the high latitudes with time spent running kayak programs in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. His passion for wildlife, adventure and people make him ideally suited to working with the challenges of life in the polar regions. His other pastimes include surfing, mountain biking, videography, and road cycling. Ben has been guiding onI fly-cruises since 2010.

Dolores Figueroa

Dolores, better known as Loli, spent her childhood between Germany, Patagonia and a small village by the Atlantic coast, where she learned to sail at the age of ten. Years later, she had the chance to sail the seas around Africa, the Middle East, Europe, America, the Arctic and the Antarctic, developing an especially strong connection with the polar regions. On board expedition vessels she started out as Hotel Manager. Later she shifted her focus to the expedition side, working as a Zodiac driver, assistant expedition leader and finally, since 2012, as Quality Manager. Loli has a degree in Public Relations, speaks fluent Spanish, English and German, and understands French and Portuguese. As a true ‘Patagonian’, she loves the mountain environment and being out in the wilderness. Her extensive experience driving Zodiacs in a variety of conditions, and her qualifications as a certified skipper, a rescue diver, and a wilderness first responder make her an invaluable member of the team. She is renowned for her ever-present big smile.

Ken Belanger

Raised at the foot of the Canadian Rockies, Ken Bélanger began instructing and guiding outdoor adventures while studying for his Kinesiology degree at the University of Calgary. Now over 20 years in the outdoor industry in many diverse aspects worldwide: from hiking & backpacking, road & mountain cycling, rock & alpine climbing including at altitude, backcountry skiing, to wilderness whitewater adventures. For the better part of 10 years Ken designed & guided active holidays internationally: specializing in Europe but also working in Central America, North Africa and Asia. Ken spends his winters backcountry ski guiding: heli-skiing, ski-mountaineering and ski touring adventures. He is certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and an accredited avalanche forecaster by the Canadian Avalanche Association. After many years of living & working internationally, Ken is now back in his home region and based in Canmore, Alberta. He is fluent in French and English, conversant in Spanish and Italian and regularly orders beer & wine in many others.

Mariano Curiel

Mariano has led expeditions in some of the most remote areas of the globe, such as Greenland, Svalbard and Antarctica. Based in Patagonia, the son of a Captain and grandson of an Antarctic whaler, he first sailed the Southern Ocean when he was a child. Drawn by this family tradition and by passion for exploration, he began working in Antarctica as a Zodiac driver at the age of 22, after obtaining his university degree in communication strategies in Buenos Aires. Over a 10-year period he has been on over 150 polar voyages. Not only has he been an expedition leader but he has also specialized in the history of polar exploration, polar logistics, photography and Zodiac driving. His polar experience includes the Antarctic Peninsula, the Weddell and Ross seas, South Georgia, Macquarie Island, the Falkland Islands and the Canadian Arctic.

Nigel Milius

Nigel has been working in the Polar Regions for over 20 years in a variety of capacities, and on expedition ships since 2001. He has completed over 100 voyages to many parts of Antarctica, and has also worked 4 seasons in the Arctic. He has overwintered 4 times in the far south (3 with the British, and once with the Australians). He learned to scuba dive at Signy Island in the South Orkneys in 1993. Between late 1994 and early 1997 he was at Rothera Station and during that time claims to have become the world expert on the birds there! In 1998 he became the proud recipient of the British Antarctic Survey’s Fuchs Medal. In 1998-99 he was one of the team at the much-visited museum and post office at Port Lockroy and spent the winter of 2000 volunteering on Macquarie helping a team studying Elephant Seals. Born and raised near Manchester, England, he has been living in New Zealand, his wife’s homeland, for the last 14 years. When not working aboard a ship in high latitudes he spends his time traveling, watching wildlife, walking, and enjoying the natural world, for either work or pleasure, a division which he considers himself extremely fortunate to be able to describe as very hazy! He is, as always, looking forward to sharing his enthusiasm for, and knowledge of the area with our guests.

South America
André Labarca

André Labarca, a mountaineering and scuba instructor, fell in love with Patagonia at first sight and has made it his home for the last 10 years. He has participated in more than ten mountain expeditions in the region, accomplishing many first ascents, including the summits of the North and South Towers of the Torres del Paine. André has a great interest in the development of sustainable tourism and is always looking for other regions to explore within Patagonia. A very enthusiastic guide, André’s love for nature and respect for the mountains is infectious to all who travel with him.

Ian Lewis

A British/Peruvian and fluent in English and Spanish, is an outdoor enthusiast with many interests, including photography, archaeology, and trekking in the Andes. His spirit, enthusiasm, and knowledge extend well beyond the borders of Peru. He’s the ideal guide for your Peruvian adventure, and we’re confident he’ll enrich your experience in one of the world’s most interesting countries.

Manolo Lazo

Manolo Lazo is one of Peru’s most experienced adventure travel guides, with more than 15 years of experience leading treks and whitewater rafting trips. A resident of Cusco, Manolo is well versed in the rich history of the Andes as well as the classic trekking routes that follow the ancient Inca trade paths. His knowledge of the country, its people, and traditions add immensely to your appreciation of the trip. Manolo is fluent in English as well as Spanish, and conversant in Quechua—the historic language of the Incas, and he has a gift for instilling confidence in every trekker.

Manuel Luna

Manuel started out as a field assistant with Mountain Travel Sobek more than 20 years ago, and is now considered one of the finest trek and tour leaders in Peru. Manuel graduated with a degree in agriculture and raises white corn on a farm in a valley near Cusco.

Sergio "TC" Bahamondez

Sergio was born in Puntarenas, Chile, and grew up in Tierra del Fuego, where he developed his love for the outdoors. He studied psychology at La Plata University in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has a degree in Patagonia Biodiversity from Magallanes University. Sergio has more than 10 years of experience as a tour leader, and his explorer’s spirit has taken him to nearly every continent. He is an excellent ambassador of his country and its culture—his enthusiasm and sense of adventure are absolutely contagious! Sergio is best known in Patagonia by his nickname, “TC,” and we know you’ll be captivated by his engaging smile.

Sergio Fitch-Watkins

A native of México, Sergio is Mountain Travel Sobek's senior climbing guide, with over 30 years of experience (his climbing resume is eight pages long—the short version, that is). Besides leading our climbing expeditions in Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina’s Aconcagua, he also loves to lead some of our more challenging treks in Nepal and Peru. Having led more than 300 trips for Mountain Travel Sobek, Sergio has acquired a considerable, loyal following!

The Pacific
Adrian Fogg

Adrian grew up in New Zealand, where he began guiding river trips in 1986 while still in high school. Becoming a river guide was a natural progression for a kid who spent most of his spare time training for national and international competitions in whitewater slalom and downriver racing. His career guiding rafts and safety kayaking has taken him all around New Zealand, as well as to the US, Nepal, Canada, Chile and Ecuador, on trips ranging from the most challenging class V rivers to remote expedition-style trips. He first guided for MTS in 1997 on the Bio Bio River in Chile. In addition to river guiding, Adrian has worked as a heli-ski guide, a hiking guide, a glacier guide and a ski patroller. Adrian operated his own heli-rafting business, Rivers Wild, from 2000 to 2008. The company specialized in taking guests into New Zealand’s most remote and wild rivers. Adrian feels very fortunate to have shared so many amazing experiences with the people he has guided in wild and beautiful places. His favorite part of his job is seeing the look on guests’ faces when they’re having a wonderful experience, especially in the stunning settings of his native country. He is patiently waiting for his two young sons to grow up so they too can join him on fun adventures. Over the years Adrian has called many places home -- right now they are Queenstown, New Zealand and Truckee, California. He holds an undergraduate degree in Geography and a MBA in Sustainable Business Management.