Knowledgeable. Enthusiastic. Professional. Good humored. Thoughtful. Supportive. The leaders on a Mountain Travel Sobek trip aredefinitely the most resourceful, competent, and entertaining bunch of people youll ever encounter. Meet the crew who gives Mountain Travel Sobek the "leading edge"!
Find out more...
- About Us
- Our Heritage
- The Way We Travel
- How many years has Mountain Travel Sobek been in business?
- What kind of trips does MTS offer?
- How does MTS rate the trips in terms of difficulty?
- How do I know if I'm fit enough?
- Who travels with MTS and what is the maximum group size?
- What's included in my MTS trip?
- What kind of accommodations can I expect?
- What is the food like? What if I have special diet requests?
- Who are the trip leaders?
- What do I need to bring?
- Can I create a custom itinerary, and/or book a private trip?
- Does MTS offer any group discounts?
- Does Mountain Travel Sobek offer "Back to Back" Travel Discounts?
- Can I give an MTS trip as a gift?
- Does MTS offer a Wedding Registry?
- How do I sign up for a Mountain Travel Sobek trip?
- Why do I sometimes see more than one price quoted for a trip?
- What kind of deposit is required and how often are payments due?
- What are my rooming options if I'm travelling alone?
- Why should I buy travel insurance?
- What kind of information will I receive to prepare for my trip?
- Will I need a visa?
- Can I change my mind and transfer to another trip?
- What are the penalties for canceling my trip?
- What if MTS cancels a trip?
- Are trip delays and cost increases a possibility?
- What are the responsibilities of the airlines?
- What MTS needs to know about my health situation and why?
- Can MTS take or use my picture?
- What are my responsibilities as a trip member?
- What are Mountain Travel Sobek's limitations of liability?
- Travel Tips & Gear
- About our Activities
- Aaron Lawton
- Abdellah Allali
- Adrian Fogg
- Alberto De Giuli
- Alberto Mediavilla Serrano
- Alberto Nicheli
- Ananda van der Merwe
- Anderson Sekgwa
- André Labarca
- Andres Trujillo
- Andrew Prossin
- Anton Monnaaletsatsi
- Antonio Moreano
- Barbora Hammond
- Beatrice Mugnier
- Ben Walker
- Betul Basak
- Brian Jump
- Brian K. Weirum
- Brian Stevenson
- Brian Whyte
- Brock Tabor
- Cathy Ann Taylor
- Charlie Ryan
- Chris Denker
- Christa Sadler
- Clint Fries
- Colby Brokvist
- Conrad Hennig
- Csuri “Chudy” Odry
- Dagný Indriðadóttir
- Dave Sas
- David Lunn
- Denis Erabu
- Desiree Cruz
- Don Johnston
- Elias Msemo
- Elvis Nghimutina
- Erik Perez
- Espen Prestbakmo
- Fabienne Bozon
- Fausto Rodriguez
- Fernando Calvo
- Filiz Gecikmis
- Florence Simond
- Gary Wintz
- George Butts
- Giulia Monego
- Greg Estes
- Gustavo Orozco
- Guy Gerard
- Gyamcho Wangdi
- Heba Mounir
- Helga Maria Heidarsdottir
- Henry Gathura
- Ian Lewis
- Ivan Green
- James Kivuyo
- Jamling Tenzing Norgay
- Jason Nott
- Jean-Marc Vaillant
- Jeff Sloss
- Jenny Kane
- Jim Kane
- Joe Ordonez
- Joe Toback
- John Yost
- Jon Bohach
- Jorge Calderon
- Josh Kloepping
- Juan de Dios Castillo
- Julian Wright
- Julius Odhiambo Oyugi
- Kalia Avery
- Karin Pizzinini
- Keith Albritton
- Keith Thompson
- Ken Belanger
- Ken Leghorn
- Kevin McDermott
- Kimberly Owen
- Krasimir Ivanov
- Kyaw Zaya
- Laura Steinbach
- Laurent Langoisseur
- Leo San Sebastian
- Lhakpa Norbu Sherpa
- Lilian Naguib
- Lorenc Konaj
- Luca Gasparini
- Luis Die
- Luka Poznic
- Manolo Lazo
- Manuel Luna
- Marica Fave
- Mark Willuhn
- Marvin Tórrez Gutiérrez
- Matt Jost
- Maureen D'Armand
- Men Wieland
- Mesut Ozgen
- Michael Haindongo
- Mike Speaks
- Namgay Dorji
- Nick Martin
- Nikos Hadjis
- Orlando Haraseb
- Ozlem "Ozzy" Ozgoren
- Pablo González
- Patricia Stucki
- Patrick Warren
- Perez Kamukuenjandje
- Pranoy Rai
- Rob Smurr
- Rodrigo “Ro” Bahamondez
- Roger Rowles
- Roman Krizanic
- Saied Haji Hadi (goes by Hadi)
- Salah Tawfik
- Sam Jansen
- Samer Hajric
- Samia Asindamu
- Sanjay Nepal
- Sanjeev Chhetri
- Sergio "TC" Bahamondez
- Sergio Echeverria
- Sergio Fitch-Watkins
- Sergio Jauregui
- Serra Somersan
- Shane Moser
- Shelli Ogilvy
- Sherif Samy
- Silvia Giacon
- Solan Jensen
- Stéphane Berger
- Stevie Christie
- Sula Iga
- Sylvain Curtil
- Tandin Nidup
- Tarry Murray Butcher
- Taylor Wilcox
- Thuto Moutloatsi
- Tim Bluhm
- Tim Dice
- Tom Schwartz
- Tomás Palma
- Trevor Boulle
- Ursula Kordis
- Victor Horatius
- Wade Panzich
- Wes Krause
- Yumiko Arai
- Zehra Ozgen
- Zerihun Tassew
- MTS Staff
- Kalia Avery
- Sergio "TC" Bahamóndez Montenegro
- Danilo Bonilla
- Kate Boor
- Manda Chisanga
- Russell Crossey
- Cathy Daicoff
- Luis Die
- Silvia Giacon
- Camilla Hvalsoe
- Willie Kern
- Laurent Langoisseur
- Nadia Le Bon
- Scott Muller
- Shelli Ogilvy
- Gustavo Orozco
- Christa Sadler
- Jeff Sloss
- Granite Stanley
- Cathy Ann Taylor
- Joe Toback
- Brian Weirum
- Mark Willuhn
- Anne Wood
- John Yost
- Giving Back
- Site Map
The Insider's View
Iain Allan Field director of Mountain Travel Sobek Kenya, has lived in Kenya since the age of nine. He is incredibly knowledgeable about African wildlife, speaks fluent Swahili, and is deeply involved in Kenya's wildlife conservation issues. A mountaineer of note, he pioneered new routes on both Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro and is the author of two books, Guide to Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro and Snowcaps on the Equator. Iain is also a central figure in Rick Ridgeway's The Shadow of Kilimanjaro, and was featured in the May 2000 National Geographic Adventure's article "Among the Man-Eaters."
Keith Albritton An expert birder with a degree in geography, a walking encyclopedia and knows Copper Canyon better than anyone else. He has been visiting the canyon since 1986 and has guided tours there since 1995. Keith has a wonderful sense of humor and enjoys a great rapport with the locals (seems like everyone in the town of Batopilas knows him!). Summers find him guiding stateside or "relaxing" by restoring his log cabin in northern Wisconsin.
Sergio (TC) Bahamondez 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. Sergio is best known in Patagonia by his nickname, "TC," and we know you'll be captivated by his engaging smile.
Mary Bardone Has guided trips to France, Switzerland, Japan, Ireland, and on the Inside Passage of Alaska. She is an outdoor recreationalist who likes to hike, back country ski, kayak and explore remote places around the world. Mary has a BA in Politcal Science from Colorado College, and a MSW in Clinical Social from the University of Washington. Her daughter Piper is also a guide for Alaska Discovery.
John BastonAlaska Discovery Kayak Guide: John is a renaissance man of the 21st century. He practices massage therapy and bodywork in Taos, New Mexico, in the winter. He returns to Alaska each summer to share his intimate knowledge of the Pacific Northwest Biome. John cut his teeth on Natural History interpretation with the National Park Service in Kenai Fjords, Mount Rainier, Yosemite, Point Reyes, Golden Gate, and Glacier Bay. John inspires those around him to experience the world with renewed wonder.
Allen BechkyThe ultimate safari guru - there's not much he doesn't know about Africa and its fascinating wildlife and habitats (Outside magazine called him "Mr. Migration"). In fact, he's written two comprehensive books on the subject: Adventuring in East Africa and Adventuring in Southern Africa. Allen headed up Mountain Travel Sobek's Africa Operations for some 20 years before organizing and guiding special Allen Bechky Safaris. Operated in association with Mountain Travel Sobek, Allen Bechky Safaris are geared for serious natural history enthusiasts who are passionate about wildlife observation and seek an intensive field experience. Allen is legendary for his encyclopedic knowledge and infectious enthusiasm for the bush. He is one of Africa's most experienced safari guides and a natural-born teacher; his boundless curiosity and irrepressible sense of humor make him a delightful traveling companion.
Monika BeckerA superb guide and naturalist and is in her 10th year of leading expeditions with Alaska Discovery. She has also worked as the Warehouse Manager and Logistics Assistant in our Juneau Headquarters. Monika is known for her excellent camp cuisine, attention to detail and ability to make every trip informative and fun. Monika spends her winters at home on her farm in New Zealand.
Anna BezzolaBorn in northern Italy, grew up in Switzerland, and has been hiking and climbing in the Swiss Alps since childhood. In addition to being multilingual, she is extremely knowledgeable about the flora, fauna, history, and customs of the area. Anna has a deep sense for nature and her passion for the mountains is truly contagious. She leads the majority of our departures in Italy and Switzerland.
Kate BoorAlaska Discovery River Guide: OK. So, Kate likes to talk a lot. But she will keep you in stitches laughing the whole time. Kate "grew up as a tomboy in the open country in Pennsylvania." Now she lives her winters in Snow Bird Resort in Utah, and her summers in her home in Haines, Alaska. She has guided on rivers in Alaska for over a decade. A woman of many talents, she has been following her calling as an artist with graphic design, jewelry, and paints. Life is a daily adventure with Kate and she never misses an opportunity to create fun in any situation.
Judy BrakelAlaska Discovery Kayak Guide: Judy has guided for Alaska Discovery for over 20 years, from Umiaks (walrus-skin covered boats) to today's fiberglass kayaks, from the Russian Far Northeast to her home in Glacier Bay. In that time, Judy has become an idol to her fellow guides and a dear friend to her guests. She is a walking Encyclopedia of Natural History, Anthropology, and, of course, Glacier Bay. She hunts, harvests, picks, or catches much of her food. Although she recently earned her Master's Degree in Anthropology, she still spends each summer outdoors in the land she loves, Alaska's Glacier Bay.
Liz Buck Alaska Discovery Kayak & Canoe Guide: If there were such a thing as a born leader, it would be Liz Buck. Or maybe her relaxed confidence grows from her many years of guiding experience. Liz began guiding trips in college in the Everglades and Big Bend National Park. She fished, hunted, camped, and horse packed her way through the midwest. She earned a degree in outdoor recreation, and has been a professional guide for over a decade. Liz spends her winters operating her own business as a massage therapist in Douglas Alaska. Liz says, "Alaska is one of the most beautiful and intense places on this earth."
Roberto Cerea Robert has a background in philosophy, theology, anthropology, and ethnology, with an emphasis on traditional African religions. He has lived in Togo for many years (his wife is Togolese) and has been leading tour groups in West Africa since 1994. His knowledge of West African cultures guarantees deep insights into Africa's fascinating tribal peoples and his enthusiasm and empathetic nature make him a favorite among our guests.
Sanjeev Chhetri A graduate of Delhi University, India, and has been leading treks in Nepal since 1990. He is an avid bird-watcher and very well traveled, with time spent in India, Tibet, China, England, Ireland, France, and Switzerland. Sanjeev is very knowledgeable of the cultures, religions, and traditions of his country and enjoys sharing his experiences with you.
Maureen D'ArmandAlaska 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."
Jeff DayAlaska Discovery Kayak Guide: In the Summer of 2001, Jeff kayaked the length of the Inside Passage from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Haines, Alaska, in 106 days, after returning from working at the Amundson-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. A first class paddler and a world explorer, Jeff has been with Alaska Discovery for 6 of his 8 guiding seasons. Although he seeks out challenging expeditions for himself he says he loves to guide because, "There's nothing like kayaking with someone who has just seen their first whale!"
Andres De La Torre is a native of Quito, Ecuador, and has worked as a naturalist guide since his college days when he studied biology. He is well informed about his country's culture, history, and spectacular natural places, and loves sharing his knowledge with our guests. Andrés has guiding experience in the rainforest, highlands, and the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador, and when not guiding, enjoys mountain biking, running, and climbing. In addition to his native Spanish, he speaks English and French.
Chris DenkerAlaska 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."
Luis Die Our head naturalist in the Galapagos Islands, with more than a decade of experience. He was born and educated in Seville, Spain and has a degree in environmental biology. A master at presenting lively lectures on the wildlife and geology of the Galapagos, Luis enthusiastically shares his knowledge with people of all ages. He is also an expert nature photographer and naturalist guide in Ecuador's jungle.
Alex (Sasha) FiksmanA native of the former Soviet Union, immigrated to the United States at a young age. He lived and was educated in New York City, where he taught chemistry for nearly ten years before meeting and falling in love with a young woman from Kenya, who later became his wife. Alex also fell in love with Kenya, where he has continued to follow his serious outdoor pursuits, including hiking and rock climbing on Mount Kenya. His enthusiasm for the bush is infectious and we're certain you'll enjoy his company on safari. "I feel the freedom here that I have never felt before," says Alex, "the freedom to camp in the open savanna, to decide what path to take in my walk through the bush. As trivial as these freedoms may sound, few places in the world offer them in the same magnitude as Kenya."
Sergio Fitch-Watkins A native of Mexico, is one of Mountain Travel Sobek's senior guides (he's been with us since 1977). He led many of our past mountaineering expeditions to destinations all over the world (including Antarctica), and now leads our most challenging treks in Nepal, Peru, and Pakistan. Sergio is at home just about anywhere in the world and is one of the most capable and unflappable guys we know - just the kind of person you want to be with in a remote wilderness.
Lissa Flemming An expert naturalist with a deep appreciation and extensive knowledge of the marine life and culture of the Baja Peninsula. Before leading our sea kayaking and whale watching trips, she worked as a researcher for the Marine Mammal Conservation Program in Baja. Thanks to her keen eyes and detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna, you'll see a world that could easily go unnoticed by the average traveler. Lissa also knows how to put on a terrific "happy hour"!
Clint FriesAlaska Discovery River Guide: Clint writes, "It feels like the natural way to live. Camping on the river beaches allows us the time to fit into the landscape. Campfires bring out the day's most profound explorations. I love to hear the breakout ideas people have on these trips. The quiet of the wilds gives great clarity of thought. It is, also, fun to facilitate the tribal kinship that can develop on a long trip. We become a roving band of gypsies." Clint speaks so eloquently of the river experience by drawing from his decades of guiding experience.
Natalie Gerami Has a curiosity for other cultures and an intense interest in wildlife that has fueled her wanderlust for the last several years. Her first trip to Spitsbergen sparked her decision to focus on polar tourism, and since then she has guided numerous expeditions to Spitsbergen, Greenland, and the High Arctic, as well as dog and reindeer sledding expeditions in Lapland. We know her never-ceasing enthusiasm and cheerful personality will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of the trip.
Silvia Giacon A native Italian who lives in Venice, leads our Tuscany and Umbria trips. An architect by trade, she lived in Canada for many years, and when given the least amount of time, will find a way to travel. Silvia has led groups through France and Italy for the last 15 years. We know you'll enjoy her rich knowledge of Italy's history and culture.
Jon HirshAlaska Discovery River Guide: With a degree in Geology, Jon thought he had found heaven guiding in the Grand Canyon. He helped start the Grand Canyon Youth organization, dedicated to taking youth on the Colorado River. That was before he came north and discovered the perfect balance to his desert life style in the Alpine rivers of Alaska. Since then John has bought land in Haines, Alaska, and shares his love of rivers in both Alaska and Arizona.
Kristin HollandAlaska Discovery River & Kayak Guide: Kristin writes, "Growing up I always wanted to be the kid from The "Jungle Book," raised in the woods by the wild animals. On our family mountain vacations I would ask my parents to leave me there until they returned the next year for vacation, so that I could just live off the land for a year." To fulfill her childhood dream, she spends as much time as possible in the wilderness. In the winter she guides rivers in Texas and in the summer she guides both kayaking trips and river trips in Alaska. It still seems she is living her "Jungle Book" fantasy, because she brings a world of fresh enthusiasm to every trip.
Camilla HvalsøeA native of Denmark and has worked for Mountain Travel Sobek for ten years in our office in California as well as in the field. Her passion for the outdoors and love of adventure have taken her into some of the world's most remote corners to hike its trails, climb its mountains, and experience its cultures and wildlife. Being Scandinavian, she thrives best in colder places and is often found traveling or guiding in destinations close to the poles, such as Patagonia, Sweden, or Greenland. Her positive attitude, good sense of humor, and interest in sharing her knowledge and love for these destinations make her a great guide and traveling companion. When not guiding or traveling, Camilla lives in Northern Spain where she works as a freelance writer.
Sam JansenAlaska 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.
Solan JensenAlaska Discovery Kayak Guide: A fourth generation Alaskan, Solan is at home in the Alaska wilderness. Solan has been hiking, skiing, and kayaking through this landscape longer than he can remember. Although he is a wealth of knowledge about all aspects of Alaska, he is just as likely to engage you in a philosophical discussion, pull you into his latest film project, or discuss music. With a degree in philosophy and his roots in muskeg, Solan is full of surprises. Currently, Solan spends his winters in Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean reading, writing, teaching, and working with a number of non-profit organizations, but he plans on attending graduate school "just as soon as I read Hegel without skipping, or finally track down the sublime."
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.
Brian JumpLeads more hiking and mountain biking tours every year than any other guide in Arizona. (Each year he guides more than 3,000 people into the Arizona backcountry and leads more than 35 multi-day hiking tours into the Grand Canyon.) 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.
Kelly KalafatichAlaska Discovery River & Kayak Guide: Kelly has been an internationally recognized river guide for 20 years. You may have seen her in the Movie, "River Wild" as Meryl Streep's stunt double. Her recent accomplishments include placing second in world rafting competitions in Chile and running the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on a river board in December! Kelly has a soft, gentle way with people, which makes everyone feel at home.
Vedat KaradagOrganizes and leads many departures of our Turkey programs, and his love and respect for his native country is conveyed with great enthusiasm. His knowledge of Turkish culture, history, and native arts and crafts is prodigious (he'll help you make some great purchases if you are interested!), and combined with his love of the outdoors, make him a great leader for this complex and fascinating part of the world.
Onesmo G. Ole KishapuyBorn into the rich Maasai culture, and lived in Maasai land until the age of 13. Because of his natural love of nature, the courses Onesmo chose in his education dealt largely with environment. He has a keen interest in conservation issues and feels that seeing Africa on foot is unparalleled in understanding the African ecosystem. Onesmo is a graduate of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and has completed courses in Wilderness First Responder and adventure guiding. He has worked with American students as a project manger in Maasai lands as well as a camp counselor in Vermont.
Laurent Langoisseur is a relative newcomer to the Chamonix Valley (he's only lived there a dozen years or so!). He fell in love with these mountains and became a mountain guide with the prestigious Compagnie des Guides. An avid sports enthusiast and inexhaustible hiker, Laurent's knowledge of flora, fauna, and geology are a good complement to his guiding skills. During the winter, he works as a ski patrol monitor in the mountains above Chamonix.
Kristy Larson Kristy fell in love with Morocco about 20 years ago as a Peace Corps volunteer. After all these years she is still startled by its seemingly endless mountains and desert valleys, and the colorful, exotic Berber culture living in a long-forgotten age. Kristy has a passion for traditional Moroccan arts and handicrafts, speaks some Arabic and Berber dialects, has a great rapport with the Moroccan people, and will open the doors of understanding for you.
Manolo LazoOne of Peru's' most experienced adventure travel guides, with more than 15 years of experience leading treks and whitewater rafting trips. A resident of Cuzco, 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, and he has a gift for instilling confidence in every trekker.
Ian Lewis 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.
Manuel Luna Started out as a field assistant with Mountain Travel Sobek some 20 years ago, and is now considered one of the finest trek and tour leaders in Peru. His passionate love of his country and its people, and his encyclopedic knowledge of Peruvian pre-history, history, archaeology, natural history (and everything else imaginable!) combine to make him a wonderful trip leader. Manuel graduated with a degree in agriculture and raises white corn on a farm in a valley near Cuzco.
David Lunn An avid traveler who has led trips in more than 60 countries, from the high Himalaya to the African wastelands, from the deserts of Australia to the fjords of Norway. But his vast knowledge of his own country is what makes him truly special as a leader for our trips in Britain. David is an easy-going character who enjoys the outdoors and has a special interest in British history. He's also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London.
Leah MagowanAlaska Discovery Kayak & Canoe Guide: You may hear your coffee call with a British accent when Leah is on your trip. However, her refined intelligence and articulation belie her strength (she is a professional sports trainer) and her knowledge of the outdoors (wilderness guide since 1996). Leah says she loves to guide because, "with each guest, I see again, through new eyes, the magnificence of the Alaskan Wilderness."
Gavin McCabeHas had a lifelong love for the bush. His compulsory national military service was spent in Namibia, living on game farms and protecting the families from cross-border infiltrations. It was on these farms where he got involved in the farmers' daily activities, which included the capture of "problem" cheetahs for relocation to South Africa. Back in civilian life, Gavin pursued a career as a mechanical technician for six years, then decided to follow his dream and started his guiding career in South Africa's Eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga) in 1989. Since then he has been involved in private game lodges, national parks boards, and developed a guide training program in addition to guiding safaris and managing wilderness camps.
Kevin McDermottAlaska 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.
Antonio MoreanoBorn in Quito, and has been a naturalist guide and dive instructor in the Galápagos for the past 15 years. He has vast experience as a Naturalist Guide, both above and below the water. He has assisted with the production of books, scientific studies biology of the Whale Shark, and five naturalist expeditions to Cocos Island in Costa Rica. With over 5000 dives, and having led nearly 500 cruises in the Galápagos, Antonio combines both the knowledge and the humor to make the trip a unique experience. His love for marine biology makes him the ideal person to get a full understanding of both the underwater life and natural history of the islands. In addition to his work as a guide, Antonio is very active in the conservation of the Gal&accute;pagos, and the development of sustainable options for the local community.
Alberto Nicheli is Italian by birth but has the heart of a nomad. He's traveled extensively throughout West Africa since 1975 and been a resident of Togo since 1984. Alberto has fast friendships with chiefs and elders in many remote villages and works energetically to preserve and understand their ways of life. His expertise is well known: he did field research with Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith for their book African Ceremonies and past National Geographic articles on West Africa.
Shigeki NishikawaA mountain guide certified by the Japan Mountain Guides Association, and has many years of experience leading treks in the Japan Alps. Shigeki has joined several adventure/mountaineering expeditions to destinations all over the world, including kayaking the unexplored bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, Tibet. He is also known as one of the few adventure movie cameramen in Japan. Shigeki will introduce you to the Japanese wilderness and culture, and his pleasant nature and effort to make your visit enjoyable and memorable will add greatly to your appreciation of the trip.
David NitschHas explored the extremes of the world. He has built a cabin near Denali, and is a highly experienced dog musher, but his wanderlust has drawn him into leading sea kayak trips in Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, and Greenland in addition to Alaska. He has a wealth of knowledge and great stories.
Shelli OgilvyAlaska 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.
Joe OrdonezAlaska 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.
Gustavo OrozcoGustavo is passionate and articulate about the natural history of Costa Rica and shares his knowledge with great enthusiasm (we've heard him referred to as a "national treasure!"). A native of Costa Rica, he studied at the University of Kansas, speaks fluent English, and has been guiding nature and birding tours for the past decade. In his spare time he does field research in the mountains near his beloved home in San Ramon, Costa Rica.
Wade PanzichAlaska Discovery Kayak and River Guide: Wade has lived in Alaska for 7 years, 4 of these working for AK 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.
Erik PerezBorn and raised in the province of Asturias in Spain and has been climbing the local mountains since he was a boy. His knowledge of the life and culture of northern Spain, his love for the mountains and his capacity to share that with you, and his friendly rapport with all the people along the trails make him one of our most popular guides. He was educated at the University of Oviedo, from which he holds a degree in history, and has written two books about the mountains of Asturias. Erik also leads some of our treks in Nepal, his "second home."
Piper PlatteAlaska Discovery Kayak Guide: Piper Platte has been guiding with Alaska Discovery for seven years. She grew up in Juneau but has since taken up resident in Gustavus where she lives in a yurt during the summers. She has guided in Papua New Guinea and Baja but Alaska remains the place she returns to each year. When not guiding, Piper spends her time on the ski slopes of Montana working minimally and skiing maximally. She has built her own cedar strip kayak, is a graduate of Middlebury College, and recently received her status as an EMT. Piper enjoys the challenges and experiences that guiding in Alaska provides.
Sarah QueeAn experienced guide in the mountains of Corsica, and has been organizing hiking tours in Corsica and the Pyrenees for nearly ten years. Being a native of England hasn't been an obstacle - the Corsicans we meet on the trips think of her as one of their own. Her charm is infectious and she will introduce your to the island's culture and people (it won't be long before you begin to know the locals by their first names!).
Ami ReifensteinAlaska Discovery Guide: Ami was born in Juneau and was raised exploring the land and waterways of Southeast Alaska. As a teenager, Ami spent time with her family canoeing, recreational boating, hiking and subsistence hunting. She received a BA degree from Western Washington University in Outdoor and Therapeutic Recreation. Ami has a wide base of medical knowledge stemming from her volunteer ambulance and firefighting experience and her certifications as an EMT and Wilderness First Responder. When not guiding, Ami teaches Pilates and kick boxing in Juneau and most importantly, spends time with her son, born in September of 2002. She has been guiding for Alaska Discovery for 7 years.
Fausto RodriguezBorn and raised in the countryside in the Central Andes. He grew up with nature, and developed a deep appreciation for it. In 1996, he fell in love with the Galápagos and officially became a Galápagos National Park naturalist. However, the same year, he relocated to London where he finished his degree in Languages and Tourism. He returned to Ecuador in 1999 and began guiding in the Islands. Fausto has a passion for wildlife, especially birds and mammals, as well as natural history, particularly geology, ecology and plant-life. He loves guiding and is always excited about beginning a new trip to the Galápagos—above all, he loves being in nature and meeting new people. Fausto also leads trips in Patagonia, Chile, Argentina, and Machu Picchu.
Christa SadlerChrista 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.
Tom Schwartz Started guiding canoeing, 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!
Lhakpa Norbu SherpaBorn 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.
Jeff SlossAlaska 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."
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.
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 TaborAlaska 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!"
Cathy Ann TaylorHas been a high altitude trekking guide for Mountain Travel Sobek for the last 15 years. She's trekked all over Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan, with over 100 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. She is one of the most positive people we know (she can find the good in anything!), and her wonderful rapport with the local staff will enhance your experience. 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 six 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 $175,000 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.
Keith ThompsonAlaska 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.)
Joe Toback 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."
Gyamcho WangdiOriginally from Bhutan and attended school in Darjeeling, India. He studied botany and zoology and was a naturalist at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge for eight years. Gyamcho has been leading trips for us for many years and gets rave reviews from our trekkers. He's a great story teller, is articulate and engaging, and a real enhancement to your adventure in Nepal. His gentle, courteous manner, amusing anecdotes, and overall knowledge of Nepal are the key to the success of your trip.
Brian Weirum has been traveling to Asia since 1965 and leading treks in the Himalayas since 1980. He developed the highly successful Ultimate Everest Trek for Mountain Travel Sobek, and although he still considers the Everest area his specialty, he continues to lead special departures to many other exotic Himalayan destinations including Mustang, Dolpo, Mt. Mera, Mt. Kailash and Oracle Lake in Tibet, Bhutan and Mongolia. Brian is also involved in special projects that include fundraising trips to help the endangered tiger (he created the very successful Save the Tiger! trip for Mountain Travel Sobek), and also founded The Fund For The Tiger, a non-profit tax-exempt public charity dedicated to saving the tigers.
Julie WilliamsAlaska Discovery Kayak Guide: It all began for Julie Williams as a counselor for a girl's camp in Texas. Surviving this experience ultimately led to a love for wilderness. Julie worked as a Ranger in Crater Lake, Katmai, and Glacier Bay National Parks. It was Katmai where Julie found a special bond with bears. This fascination drew her to guiding for Alaska Discovery in the unique bear viewing location of Pack Creek on Admiralty Island. She also loves to share her intimate knowledge of Glacier Bay where she lives in the summer on her land in a Yurt.
Matt WinfreyAlaska Discovery River Guide: In 10 years of river guiding, Matt has worked in the Grand Canyon, Costa Rica, India, Australia, and the Philippines. In 2001 Matt got his first taste of Alaskan river running. He writes, "I was truly awestruck by the Alsek River. As far as I can tell it is a unique trip in all the world and it is fantastic to take people into such a wild place, which is one of the things I love most. Coupled with an alien environment that forces everyone to readjust the "bearings" (pun intended). This allows people to step outside their normal experience. That is what I love about guiding."
Gary Wintz Gary and his partner became the first Westerners to actually reside in Tibet since the communist occupation. For more than 19 years, he has continued his involvement with Tibet and the whole of the Himalaya, visiting there frequently, including Bhutan, Nepal, India, and Burma. Gary has contributed chapters for books such as White Lotus: An Introduction to Tibetan Culture, and articles for magazines, including the Far Eastern Economic Review. His photography is published worldwide. He has also made presentations before National Geographic audiences, for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and has spoken at many universities around the world. His lectures on Bhutan, Nepal, India, Burma, and Tibet (and the tribal peoples) have been sponsored by such schools as Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, UCLA, and the Henry Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.
John YostThe 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 is a consultant with international "eco" lodges around the globe and was named a member of the board of directors with Friends of the River, a non-profit organization working to protect California rivers.
Win Kyaw ZanA Burmese from Yangon who has been leading tours throughout his native country for the last 10 years. He is a graduate of Yangon University and speaks 10 languages, including several local dialects that enable him to communicate easily with the regional Burmese tribes. His field of study was zoology, but he also studied physics for four years at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. He also has a deep knowledge of Buddhism and Pali, the ancient language used by Buddha. In fact, he translated Pali temple inscriptions and excavated ancient sites with archaeological experts from the Myanmar Archaeology Department for two years. Win shares his knowledge about his country's people, language, history, and region with great enthusiasm. When not guiding trips, he enjoys photography, world music, and exotic foods.