Travel with our guides and you not only gain a broader perspective on each region, you tour like a local. Suddenly, you gain access to people and places not found on the pages of travel books. And while our guides develop fun-packed itineraries, experience has taught them that there's a balance between thorough planning and a willingness to embrace the impromptu. They know it's often the chance encounters—the desert rainbows, roadside fruit stands, monkey sightings, campfire stories—that color your memories most vividly. Read on to learn about a handful of these outstanding individuals.
Please note: The list below is only a sampling of our guides and the trips they lead. A listed trip may be lead by a different guide.
Each year we honor the very best of our terrific guides. See the top guides that were most recently recognized.
Anderson was born in Lesiraa Village in the heart of Maasai country. The Maasai are pastoralists, and as a young man Anderson herded his family's livestock in the bush. That taught him much about the wild animals that live in his homeland, and was his inspiration to go to college, where he continued to learn about animal behavior. During his studies, there were three choices for his professional course: park ranger, park warden, or a park guide. He chose to be a park guide so he could share his knowledge of animals with others. He enjoys explaining the animals' behavior in their natural environment to our members. Anderson's favorite animal is the giraffe, the national animal of Tanzania, which he describes as being very "elegant." Anderson is quick to share with REI members a very interesting sleeping habit of the giraffe. However, you'll have to join Anderson on safari to find out what it is! Anderson, who has been guiding for REI Adventures since 2007, loves his work as a guide and is very proud of his profession. He likes working with REI in particular because our vision aligns with his: "having the idea and commitment of taking care of nature for future generations." He also believes life is a learning process. Anderson has three beautiful young children: two boys and a girl.
Angela has been mountain guiding in Scotland and around the world for more than two decades, and for much of that time she has lived in Ullapool. Angela has an in-depth knowledge of the flora, fauna and geology of the areas in which she guides. She can also provide insights into Scottish Highlands life both past and present (the latter due to the fact that she knows everyone!). Angela is a 2011 Top Guide Award recipient.
Introducing REI Adventures guests to the unique highland and mountain landscapes of Scotland is a chief pleasure in her working life. An experienced mountaineer, Angela has hiked, climbed and skied in the French Alps, Spain, Corsica, Greenland and North America. She has also led an expedition on Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, as well as trips in Namibia, Mongolia, China, the Faroe Islands (between Scotland and Iceland) and the Shetland Islands (off Great Britain). Angela guides ski trip in the French Alps during the winter months - she is an avid skier. In her time off she plays in the outdoors with her family.
A man of the mountains, Chris spends his summers leading hiking tours and his winters as a ski instructor. He enjoys capturing the beauty of the hills in his photographs. Of all the places he's been, the Main Ranges of the Canadian Rockies are among his two favorites: "The way the water flows through the canyon and beneath these magnificent towering peaks is magic. It's a spot I never want to leave once I get there." His other top destination is Mistaya Canyon in Banff National Park.
Claire is a free spirit with a tremendous passion for world travel. Some trip members become as fascinated by Claire's life and accomplishments as they are by beautiful Tuscany. Claire has a doctorate in comparative French literature and philosophy and has translated several books from French to English, just two of her five languages. In addition to being an avid cyclist and hiker, she is a connoisseur of fine Italian wine and cuisine. A resident of Florence, she's been leading trips in Italy and France for the last nine years.
Dalmiro was born in the small town of Quillabamba in the high jungle of Peru and began his guiding career in the early 1990's. In addition to being fluent in English, Dalmiro is also a native Quechua speaker, thus making him an invaluable translator and interpreter on REI's Machu Picchu Lodge Treks. Dalmiro's favorite outdoor hobbies include rafting, biking and rock climbing. He attributes his philosophical outlook on life to a pivotal experience he had as a young man: a two-month stay with the Machigueuga tribe, deep in the Amazon jungle. Observing the tribespeople in their everyday life as they hunted with poisonous darts and performed ceremonies and healing rituals, Dalmiro was deeply struck by how genuinely happy they seemed with a simple life and few possessions. He came away from the experience with a profound respect for all humanity, and feels his work and teachings as a guide are important ways for him to help those living in impoverished communities. Passionate about guiding, Dalmiro receives many accolades about his quiet integrity and local knowledge. Though he has a gentle demeanor, he has a strong presence and charisma that trip members enjoy and respect. About his guide work with REI, Dalmiro says he is "proud to be part of an institution that encourages people to spend time outdoors, learn about other cultures, and feel happy."
Donald was born in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania and lives in Arusha with his wife, daughter and son. He is fluent in three languages: English, Swahili and Japanese. Donald has had one career in his life—guiding safaris in Tanzania. He is intimately familiar with the flora and fauna of the various regions visited during game drives - ask him anything while on safari, and he'll have the answer! His favorite piece of gear is his backpack and it goes everywhere with him. All his personal a professional gear can fit into it and can be accessed immediately. While Donald professes to be shy, he is very entertaining for his guests. Travelers appreciate Donald's sense of humor as much as his superhuman bird-spotting! If he could share one tip with his fellow guides, it is to "love your job and always strive to excel in whatever you do". Great words to live by.
Erik was born a naturalist and grew up with a deep passion for the wonder and beauty of the great outdoors. He started his career as a financial controller at a video post-production house in Atlanta but longed to find a way to spend more time outside.
He discovered his calling as a guide while solo backpacking in the majestic Great Smoky Mountains. Since 1998, Erik has been sharing his love for and knowledge of the area with clients from around the world. He and his wife Vesna have been instrumental in protecting the rich biodiversity of the Smokies, working together with Earth First, World Wildlife Fund, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, and other organizations to prevent development and provide thoughtful insight into the impact human activity has on this national treasure.
When not guiding, Erik keeps himself busy fly fishing, mountain biking, canoeing, playing chess, learning to play guitar, or hanging out with his wife and 22 year old daughter who just graduated from Yale. Erik is a 2012 Top Guide.
Born in Lyon, France, Françoise moved to Chamonix in 1976 so she could climb and ski. After many years exploring the mountains above Chamonix and in other parts of the Alps, Françoise decided to become a guide and passed her exam in 1979. She started guiding in the Chamonix area in 1982, but at the end of the 1980s, she discovered a new passion-paragliding. She passed her certification in this sport and created her own paragliding school in Chamonix, staying very busy for eight years. Fortunately for us, Françoise came back to guiding and has been leading REI trips in the Alps since 2002. Françoise says guiding REI trips is a great way to experience cultural exchanges and share different points of views. Interacting with people has always been inspiring for her. Françiose loves guiding REI members in particular; she says they are very sport oriented, well prepared for the level of activity, and have a great sense of curiosity and discovery. She is married and the proud mother of two.
Haris's full first name is Charalampos, which means shine from joy, or happiness. Hailing from the Greek island of Evia, he loves the outdoors, especially the sea. In fact, after waterskiing for the first time at age 10, he was so inspired he decided to become a waterski instructor. In 1997 Haris began hiking and developed an interest in nature preservation. In 2000 he graduated from college, first in his class, with a degree in environmental studies and with certification to guide in national parks and recreational areas. Also in 2000, he completed training as a lifeguard by the Greek Coast Guard and began guiding for REI Adventures. Four years later, Haris started a second degree, History of the European Civilization, which he completed in 2010. Haris also loves to travel and has hiked throughout Greece, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Italy and his favorite destination, Venezuela. He also enjoys sailing, sea kayaking, books, music, and movies. Haris is married and has a lovely 1 year old daughter.
Iain has a natural talent for creating an atmosphere where every member of a group will feel comfortable just being himself or herself. This, combined with his humor and contagious enthusiasm for the Scottish Hills, has clients stating that his leadership was the highlight of their trip. He has 12 years' guiding experience and is particularly interested in the Scottish landscape and the way it has evolved over time. Iain completed his Munros (the 282 Scottish mountains over 3000') in 1984, and he has climbed, scrambled and hiked all over the world. His good humor and entertaining stories make him an extremely popular guide.
When Ilaria "met" REI, it was a perfect match. Born and raised in Tuscany, Ilaria loves sharing the beauty of Italy with curious travelers and delights in hearing her clients' stories. Her philosophy on guiding trips? "Create a fun group dimension where everyone feels special and taken care of. If you are sincerely having fun traveling with your guests, they will be happy and will remember the trip forever!" Clients praise Ilaria's enthusiasm and attentiveness to the needs of everyone in her groups. It's no wonder Ilaria was chosen as a Top Guide for 2012. After living a while in London, Ilaria now resides in Bologna where she leads schoolchildren in drama programs when not guiding trips for REI. You might also find her playing her accordion and singing. Travel is her biggest passion, and she and her boyfriend have taken two fantastic road trips through the western United States, driving thousands of miles to visit one national park after another.
Jeannie was born in Vancouver and started hiking, camping and skiing as a child in her local mountains. Jeannie teaches skiing during the winter months and she guides hiking, biking and paddling trips in the Coast Mountains and the Canadian Rockies in the summer months. Jeanne is a 2011 Top Guide Award recipient.
Jeannie has lived, worked, studied, or travelled in Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Hong Kong, China, the United Kingdom, the South Pacific and the Himalayas. Even in her free time, she can be found adventuring in the out-of-doors. After all, the mountains are her home and office!
Jim began his climbing career in the White Mountains of New Hampshire over twenty-five years ago. On May 24, 2006 Jim fulfilled a life-long dream and became the first New Hampshire native to climb The Seven Summits. Jim contributes his success in the mountains to his training in the harshest weather in the world at home on Mount Washington. Jim works as a professional firefighter/paramedic, a registered nurse and a mountain guide. Teamwork and leadership are guiding forces in his personal and professional life. Jim receives nothing but top notch ratings from our guests.
After his studies, Jimmy went straight to leading trips. For him, it's the perfect job, combining his love of people with the rich and varied landscape of Costa Rica. With four languages under his belt, he enjoys learning about different cultures and derives great satisfaction from getting to know the folks who come on his tours: "The people I get are always the best. They really make the difference."
An absolute delight, Jorge eagerly shares his love and first-hand knowledge of Argentina and Chile. Born in Buenos Aires, he caught the exploration bug young, traveling extensively in Europe, the U.S. and South America. He has a degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and plays a mean classical guitar. When he's not working as an adventure travel guide, he's on an adventure himself. You'll most likely find him cycling in Argentina or exploring the hidden corners of remote Patagonia.
Josh, raised with a southern charm in Texas, now resides in Arizona. After completing his Bachelor of Science in Marketing at Texas State University, Josh discovered his love and passion of the Southwest. He soon found himself learning all he could to become a knowledgeable guide, from NOLS courses to Wilderness First Responder classes and even becoming a certified Master of Leave No Trace. With over 175 days a year in the field professionally, not only does Josh get to experience the outdoors within his guiding career, he also spends his spare time discovering the outdoors. His passion for exploring the world has taken him on adventures such as backpacking North and Central America, canyoneering Europe, and mountain biking and kayaking in New Zealand. Beginning his 5th year of guiding for REI Adventures, Josh is privileged to share the curiosities of the outdoors with the guests who share the same love of nature and adventurous spirit.
Marco has been a guide for over sixteen years and guiding REI groups for nine years. Born and raised in Costa Rica, Marco lives with his wife Lety and his two children in the Central Valley suburb of Desamparados. He holds an advanced diploma at the Costa Rica North American Culture Center and has extensive knowledge of nature from Costa Rica's forests to native wildlife. Marco is a passionate environmentalist working for sustainable tourism in Costa Rica. Guests are taken in by his contagious enthusiasm and energy fed by his passion for nature. He is often referred to as the Pura Vida (full of life) guide!
Find out why Marco loves being a guide in Costa Rica on the REI Blog.
A legendary hike like the Mont Blanc circuit demands a great guide, and we're happy to report that we've got her. In addition to the Alps, Marie-Guislaine has climbed in Peru, India, Nepal and Tibet,and her mountaineering experience makes her a great asset on rugged trails. An expert in plant chemistry and a pharmacist by training, she loves to "share the experience of the mountain, from flora and fauna to scaling ridges and reaching the top." Marie's personal interests in painting, dance and "the good cuisine" also make her a wonderful cultural resource. "My greatest pleasure is to see people enjoying their trip," says Marie. Several of her clients have come back for repeat trips, which is quite gratifying for her.
Martin is a seasoned mountaineer from Comodoro Rivadavia in Argentina and has guided REI hiking groups since 2002. He began rock climbing at the age of 13 and received his AAGM Mountain Guide certification in 2007. Martin's professional quest began by studying geology, followed by tourism, and he now lives in small town of El Chalten, Argentina, at the base of the magnificent Fitz Roy massif. Prior to leading trips in Patagonia, Martin sharpened his guiding skills in the Spanish and French Pyrenees. He loves spending time in the outdoors hiking, climbing, and teaching so it goes without saying that being an REI guide is a perfect fit for his passion and abilities, allowing him to enjoy and share these pursuits with like-minded individuals. Martin's climbing successes include summits of Aconcagua, Torres del Paine's North Tower, Huayna Potosi's west face in Bolivia, Artesonraju and Toclaraju in Peru's Cordillera Blanca. His favorite climb was his 2012 ascent of Mt. Fitz Roy.
Maryanne got hooked on outdoor adventure as a child growing up in Washington state. Her first backpacking trip in junior high school fueled her passion for the wilderness, and not long after led to work at youth summer camps, where she served as a ropes course and climbing specialist, lifeguard, and group leader. While studying painting at Pacific Lutheran University, she led hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, and backpacking trips throughout western Washington for PLU's outdoor recreation program. In 2008, she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and in her free time she continues to paint in oils-her subject most often focusing on the spectacular places where she's traveled. Maryanne's adventures include climbing at Kentucky's Red River Gorge, backpacking through Wyoming's Bridger Tetons, navigating the wilderness of the Grand Canyon and exploring the Redwood coastline. When she's not guiding or painting, Maryanne is probably off somewhere on her mountain bike, hiking a remote trail, snowboarding, rock climbing, planning a survivalist backpacking trip, or trying to capture and study southwestern snakes and lizards. She enjoys triathlons as well, and even kicks back once in awhile to play some shuffleboard, darts, or Blokus. As an REI Adventures guide, Maryanne's vivacious spirit and thirst for adventure makes every trip exciting. She is also a certified EMT and Wilderness First Responder. Maryanne has been guiding trips for REI since 2008.
Miguel was born and raised in Cusco, Peru, where he still resides. He speaks Spanish, English and a little Portuguese, enjoys cooking and racquetball, and worked in computer engineering before becoming certified as a guide. Clients highly praise Miguel for his professionalism and warmth, and for his in-depth knowledge of not only the ancient Inca but present-day Peruvian culture. He also loves to shed light on Peru's plants, birds and animals. Thrilled to be part of REI Adventures, Miguel delights in getting to know REI customers and wants to make sure they have a fantastic trip. "It's no wonder Miguel was chosen as a Top Guide for 2012." This award allowed Miguel to make his first visit to the United States. His favorite quote is from author and poet Maya Angelou, paraphrased here: "People will forget what you said and did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Miguel is a skilled outdoor adventure leader who seems to know everything about Ecuador's natural and cultural history! Born and raised in Quito, Miguel is at home whether hiking the trails in the Otavalo Highlands or kayaking around the Galapagos. When he is not guiding, Miguel can most often be found mountain biking, bird watching, or spending time with his two beautiful children. The key to being a great guide? Miguel says: "Be authentic and honest."
Nima is a third generation Sherpa from the Everest Region of Nepal. His father and grandfather were trekking and climbing guides in Nepal. Nima carries on the family legacy and perhaps his young son will follow in his footsteps. After graduating from Manchester College in Indiana, with a BS in Computers and an Associate in Biology, he returned to Nepal and has been leading trips since 2004. Nima has trekked to the Annapurnas, Everest region, Gorkha, and also to Tibet. When not out guiding REI Adventures groups, Nima is busy helping to manage a sustainability focused boutique resort, on a hillside just outside of Kathmandu Valley, which his family built from the ground up. Nima loves to travel and to meet different kinds of people. He says the best thing about being an REI guide is the opportunity to meet likeminded people, who love to learn about his country.
Raul is a Cusco native and Andean Renaissance man. He is a master tour organizer with intimate knowledge of the Andean culture. Raul was a pioneer in bringing mountain bike touring to the Cusco region, has climbed Mount Aconcagua in Argentina (22,841') five times and has been a river rafting guide on the class V Rio Bio Bio in Chile. An excellent outdoorsman and professional mountain guide with more than 20 years of experience leading groups, Raul has an easy-going personality and also enjoys history, geography, travelling, photography, bird watching and good wine.
A native Croatian, Robi was born in Dubrovnik and resides in Zagreb. He is fluent in English and German, but can share a word or two in at least 10 other languages! He enjoys traveling and has been to Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia and Bosnia. Before guiding, Robi wore many hats including that of an accomplished musician, singing a cappella and also playing the guitar, drums, flute, mandolin and piano. In his free time, Robi loves to play sports, especially soccer. He was on a professional team, but injuries sidelined him. Anything outdoors is guaranteed to be fun for Robi - hiking, kayaking, running, climbing, cycling, sailing...you name it!
Pan is a native Thai who gladly shares his knowledge of the region's unique flora, fauna, geology and cultural history. He enjoys being outdoors and likes hiking. Pan has been assisting and leading trips for 20 years. His familiarity with the language (including a few hill tribe dialects) and local people adds a special quality to his trips.
Somchith was born and raised in Luang Prabang, Laos, where he still resides with his wife and young son. He received his guide certification from Lao Nation Tourism Administration and personally leads every departure of our Laos & Cambodia Multisport Adventure. He is fluent in Lao, Thai and English, and is equally at home in the city and countryside. Clients appreciate his knowledge, wit and patience, and his ease in leading visits to isolated villages that most tourists don't have theopportunity to visit. His favorite way to relax is with his fishing pole and a body of water. It's no wonder his favorite quote is "Laos PDR—Laos People Don't Rush." Somchith considers winning REI's 2012 Top Guide award one of his biggest accomplishments, along with getting married and having his own family. This award allowed Somchith to make his first visit to the United States.
Steve has been guiding hiking adventures since 1992 and enjoys teaching clients about the intricate natural history and geology of the American Southwest. Steve is also an avid mountain biker, canyoneer and backcountry skier as well as an accomplished photographer and writer, making him one of our most engaging guides. Clients keep coming back to take another trip with Steve!
Born in earth-toned Texas, Tim quickly acquired a taste for the green of Ireland. He's been exploring the nooks and crannies of the Emerald Isle by foot and by bicycle for nearly two decades. Backed by his total devotion to and appreciation for Ireland, Tim is an exceptional guide. He adds a skillful blend of cultural discovery, outdoor exploration, and spreads of great food and local brew. Tim loves having a good time, and his sense of fun spills over onto every trail he hikes and each pathway he bikes. Tim's appreciation for the Emerald Isle is infectious. As one customer says, "He makes you love the Irish culture almost as much as he does." He also enjoys the company of folks who come on REI tours because "they each have a story to tell."
What better way to explore the Himalayas than with a high altitude guide who's spent his life in the rugged environs of the Solu Khumbu. A member of the noble Sherpa culture, Thupten is praised for his gentle humor and infinite patience. Over the years, he has cheerfully encouraged hundreds of trekkers on to greater heights. Picture yourself in a high mountain yak field, warming your hands on a cup of sweet tea while soaking in the alpenglow bouncing from Everest. Thupten can get you there.
Todd grew up deep in the rolling countryside of southern Georgia, exploring the woods and fields surrounding his childhood home. His first trip west wasn't until his early 20's, when he visited the majestic Yosemite. It was after hiking over the Park's remarkable Cloud's Rest and up Half Dome that the travel bug bit hard. Soon after that poignant experience Todd couldn't stay away from exploring more of the west's many treasures. For years Todd also balanced his adventurous side with giving back to his community through teaching, volunteering, and founding Action Cycling Atlanta, an organization born out of his desire to get people active in the outdoors. After earning a Master's of Science from Fordham University and teaching for a few more years, Todd joined his partner Tom to become the driving force behind our inspirational Grand Canyon Backpacking trips (both have been recognized as Top Guides!). When not guiding, Todd continues to experience life to its fullest, living in iconic destinations around the globe, writing for various publications, and pursuing his interest in photography. Todd says guiding, writing, and photography allow him to be creative, use his teaching expertise, express his love of the outdoors, and meet diverse and enthusiastic fellow-travelers.
Tom has over 15 years experience planning, organizing and guiding multi-day outdoor adventures. He has been guiding our Grand Canyon Backpacking trip since we started it in 2006, and to date has made over 70 trips into the Canyon. Between the spring and fall departures of our backpacking trips in 2010, he completed a rafting expedition of the Colorado River. Tom has guided backpacking, kayaking and climbing trips all around the west, and has traveled to Central America, Pakistan and Fiordland in New Zealand. He spends the off-season at his home on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. A certified sailor, Tom has sailed Southern California, Tahiti and the Virgin Islands, and is passionate about astronomy and graphic design. Originally from Salt Lake City, Tom says he feels respect and reverence for the environment that comes from understanding and experiencing nature on a personal level. He loves to share in that journey with REI members. Guiding people in the great outdoors is his dream job.
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