Travel Itineraries Should Be Life-Changing
FOUNDER + TRAVEL EXPERT
From a young age, I’ve been smitten with the transformative nature of travel. Once bitten by the discovery bug, and especially if you are drawn to meeting people, there’s no turning back. While working for corporate America, I discovered that I had a knack for organizing group travel, and in my free time, I put together a group to the Galapagos and designed the itinerary. Friends and colleagues went and it was a success!
More trips followed and Latin Excursions was born in 2003, putting into motion the idea that personalized, private travel in nature destinations was an affordable proposition when viewed through the lens of personal transformation. Inspiring moments have a way of flowing out of private, highly personalized discovery. This is the elixir. And so for decades now the Latin Excursions team has nurtured local partners: for they are the great story-tellers and the truest ambassadors of the places they call home. Voluntourism (travel experiences that “give back”) have followed, evolving where communities are set up for and appreciate the support of foreigners.
I’ve traveled extensively around the world but feel the strongest connection to South America, probably because of its cultural similarities to my Portuguese heritage. I spent four months traveling through Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil; and before joining Latin Excursions, I spent a month in Colombia, a country I adore and love to help clients realize how amazing it is.
I believe the best way to learn about a country is to immerse yourself in the local culture – the place’s cuisine, local traditions, music, festivals – and to be open to all the special, spontaneous moments that happen when least expected. A favorite travel memory is being invited to a local Medellin home on Christmas Eve and salsa dancing on the street with the residents till 4:00am. No one there spoke English and it didn’t matter!
NEXT UP – Sri Lanka and Maldives!
I have traveled extensively throughout the region but has a sweet spot for Ecuador, where she lived for over 3 years. Other areas of expertise include Argentina, Chile, Peru and the Galapagos Islands — all of which I’ve traveled to multiple times, always seeking out the best experiences and hotels for our clients. I am passionate about cultural destinations and connecting with local people, and I love creating complex multi-country itineraries that combine the region’s dramatic contrasts.
For me, travel has always been about the people. When I went to the Atacama Desert in Chile, I had an Atacameño guide who had many different interests and hobbies. For one, he was a beekeeper and was particularly fascinated with the life of bees. He made his own honey using desert flowers; I bought some and smuggled it home. During that same day, he picked up on my interest in astronomy and then found me at dinner to take me up to the hotel’s observatory, opening it especially for me. It was a clear night and the sky was breathtaking. Looking through the telescope he pointed out different constellations and planets – I saw Saturn’s ring of fire. It was so spectacular and humbling I nearly cried. I suddenly realized the whole point of traveling: to feel big and small – important and insignificant – worthy and humble – all at the same time.
My favourite new discovery in Latin America is Nicaragua! Laid back and authentic, Nicaragua is full of beautiful beaches, friendly people and plenty of active adventures. And with the opening of more stylish accommodations such as the spectacular safari-style Nekupe, now is the time to put it on your travel radar.
NEXT UP – Colombia.
Originally from Germany, I spent 6 years living in Medellin, Colombia. I’ve travelled extensively around the country exploring not only Bogota, the Coffee Region, Santa Marta/Tayrona and Cartagena, but also off-the-beaten-path places like La Guajira Desert, the outdoor Mecca Barichara, the Colombian Amazon and the picturesque Pacific Coast.
Married to a native Colombian, I frequently visit my second home country – both to spend time with Colombian family and to explore the latest trends, hotels, and top restaurants. Over the years I’ve refined my Medellin Spanish, so much so that our trusted partners call me The German Paisa (Paisas are the people from Medellin). I’m a huge fan of the local cuisines of Latin America (I often take a cooking class in new places). I’m also hooked on outdoor adventure though, known to seek out biking, hiking/trekking, rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, as well as experiences like paragliding, skydiving and deep-water diving.
A favorite travel memory is being invited by a local family to their home in an indigenous community deep in the Colombian Amazon. Once there, I was told that many villagers had never seen a foreigner before! The nights sitting together with my host family, sharing stories of everybody’s life, learning so much from each other were a truly unforgettable experience.
I’ve also travelled repeatedly to Cuba, Ecuador & Galapagos, Panama and Argentina. On a recent trip to Cuba, while discovering the picturesque Vinales Valley, I went on an incredible off-the-beaten-track horseback ride with a real Cuban “Gaucho” followed by a traditional lunch at a real Campesino home chatting with the different family members. These kinds of experiences – personal and unvarnished – are what’s it’s all about.
NEXT UP – Colombia and Peru, in Latin America. Around the world: Laos and Cambodia