Nature & Wildlife
My passion for travel has taken me many places in my life, and allowed me to learn and experience so much. Having the opportunity to share that knowledge and experience with others is a joy. Learning about my clients, how they like to travel and what kinds of things they enjoy, enables me to suggest the destinations, accommodations and activities that best suit their style. I approach each trip as a puzzle, and feel a great sense of satisfaction when I’m able to fit the various pieces together into a comprehensive and thoughtful whole that is unique and customized to each individual client.
Ecuador (17x), Galapagos Islands (14x), Peru (20x), Chile (9x), Argentina (9x), Brazil (4x), Bolivia, Uruguay, Colombia (2x), Costa Rica (3x), Guatemala, Panama, Mexico (12x), Australia, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Morocco, France, Canada (7x)
BS in Education & Earth Science, University of Kansas
Natural Habitat Adventures – Sr. Adventure Director (14 years)
Professional Awards & Accomplishments
Top Travel Specialist – Conde Nast Traveler, 2021
Trendsetter Award – Luxury Travel Advisor, 2016
IGTOA (Int’l Galapagos Tour Operators Association) – Board Secretary
Most Memorable Travel Experience
Swimming with whale sharks is hands down the most epic wildlife adventure of my life, and one I have had the great fortune to experience TWICE! The first time was in 2012, when seven friends and I chartered a day boat to take us from Isla Holbox, Mexico to nearby plankton-rich feeding waters, where males pass through on their annual migration. We could see them swimming below our boat, and had to trust our guide when he told us to jump in. I have never felt so small… these whale sharks measured around 30 feet from mouth to tail, and seemed to go on forever. They are gentle, but fast, and we had to swim hard to keep up. The second time was in 2016, from La Paz on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. This area attracts smaller females and calves. The whale shark we swam with here moved slowly, so we were able to spend a long time with her in the water, and marvel at her size and beauty. Absolutely thrilling, both times, to be among these majestic creatures.
Recommended Right Now
In Peru, I’m loving the new Belmond Andean Explorer, a sleeper train which travels from Cusco to Lake Titicaca, and on to the city of Arequipa (or reverse). The train itself is a picture of luxury, with stylish décor, world class dining and top-notch service. The cozy cabins are well appointed, featuring local textiles and en suite facilities. But this trip is about more than the train itself… the route is among the world’s highest in altitude, traveling through remote Andean plains, and taking in the local culture along the way. In addition to two nights on board, spend a day experiencing some of Lake Titicaca’s highlights, visiting the islands of Uros and Taquile for a first-hand look at the traditional way of life still maintained here. The route concludes in the “White City” of Arequipa, among Peru’s prettiest, and off the typical tourist track. The new Cirqa Hotel here is sophisticated and hip, and perfectly caps off this adventure. The Andean Explorer is an ideal extension for a visit to Cusco and Machu Picchu, or a return trip to Peru for those seeking a more in-depth culture and nature experience.
My Most Recent Trip
In November of 2019 I returned to Peru for my 20th visit. I have loved this special country since my first trip back in 2001, and no matter how many times I return I never tire of the people, the scenery, the food and the culture. It truly feels like coming home. This time I repeated some favorite destinations, but also added some new experiences that made me appreciate this country even more. After a couple of days in Lima, which has evolved into a trendy modern city with an unrivaled food scene, I headed to the Sacred Valley. Here I had the chance reconnect with old friends, and visit a small farming community that welcomes only a handful of guests to share their traditional customs. After a night in Cusco to acclimate, I boarded the Andean Explorer luxury sleeper train for a two night journey that included a day on Lake Titicaca, remote archaeological stops, delicious food and great company. I disembarked at the Colca Canyon to explore that region for a couple of days, with the highlights including riverside hot springs and Andean condors. Arequipa, known as the “White City” and among Peru’s most beautiful, was a treat with its walkable center and charming shops and restaurants. My last stop was Paracas on the southern coast, part of the world’s driest desert, where I enjoyed a private yacht excursion to view the wildlife of the Ballestas Islands, and took an overflight of the famed Nazca Lines. It was an action packed adventure to be sure… and I can’t wait to return for a 21st trip!
Patio del Mundo
Tucked into a neighborhood close to the action but peacefully removed on a quiet tree-lined street in Medellin, Colombia, is the lovely Patio del Mundo. This small inn consists of two villas with a total of 13 stylish rooms, each uniquely designed and themed according to a different travel destination from around the world. The tile work in the bathrooms is stunning, and the living areas are colorful and welcoming. The surrounding gardens with their abundant flowers and fruit create a tropical retreat in the mountains.
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
This hotel has topped my list of world favorites for over a decade. Set along the river on the outskirts of Aguas Calientes, Peru at the base of the Machu Picchu ruins, this lodge is full of character and offers cozy accommodations in individual casitas amidst a jungle-like atmosphere surrounded by over 300 species of orchids and numerous nature trails. Truly a fabulous experience in itself.
Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa
Sol y Luna is located in the town of Urubamba, Peru, in the Sacred Valley between Cusco and Machu Picchu. This lodge offers upscale accommodations in individual casitas, surrounded by colorful gardens and flanked by the Andes Mountains. The Deluxe Villas are a special treat, with spacious bedrooms, natural finishes, and impressive luxury baths.
Located north of Quito, Hacienda Zuleta is a country home and working farm belonging to the family of a former Ecuadorian president. A stay here provides guests with a lovely combination of highland culture, nature and wildlife. A range of excursions including hiking, biking, horseback riding, and visits/activities with the nearby community are included with a stay here, along with delicious home cooked meals. This is easily my favorite lodge on Ecuador’s mainland.
Tucked into the forest about 15 minutes from the famed falls, Awasi Iguazu elevates a visit to this region to another level. With just 14 tastefully decorated cozy villas, each with a private plunge pool and assigned a private guide and 4WD vehicle, this is truly a unique and exclusive way to explore the Iguazu area and beyond.
Located on the outskirts of Torres del Paine National Park, this lodge provides cozy accommodations surrounded by some of the most remote and pristine landscapes in the world. Each spacious guest villa has a designated guide, so activities each day are private and totally customized. The attention to detail and level of service at this lodge are unrivaled. This is the most exclusive way to visit the crown jewel of Chilean Patagonia.
For adventurers, this unique experience can’t be beat. Set in the heart of Bolivia’s Uyuni Salt Flats, these comfortable campers are decked out with cozy beds, heat and AC, and bathrooms with hot water showers. Bicycles are available for exploring the salt, which stretches in every direction for miles and miles. An on-site chef prepares meals to order, and sunset fireside cocktails are a special highlight.