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The EarthTreks team is a small group of energetic people who are passionate about both appreciating and protecting the world’s beauty through travel.
Our Founder, Alison Braun, combined her love of travel in search of the world’s abundance of natural and cultural treasures with her personal commitment to effect positive social and environmental change to form the vision of EarthTreks. On top of lots of amazing trekking across different countries, Alison has had the pleasure to live, work, and study in different parts of the world for various periods of time. Such experience led her to view travel as a key solution to the social and environmental crises the world is now facing – as long as it’s done responsibly. Protecting that which we know and love is just plain easier.
Alison discovered the natural paradise of Mindo, Ecuador in 1997, when environmental education work took her there. She has maintained a home and close network of friends, family and ecotourism colleagues there ever since. She personally leads many of the small group trips throughout Ecuador and the Galápagos, exploring the abundant beauty the country offers. Alison is seen here at the ruins of Ingapirca, not far from Cuenca.
Our Trek Coordinator, Paola Peňafiel, manages EarthTreks’ field office in Mindo, which is an hour and a half from Quito and a few kilometers from the equator. As a graduate of Engineering in Tourism, specializing in Ecotourism, Paola has a tremendous knowledge of the travel industry, particularly within her home country. She takes every opportunity she can to continue exploring the diverse landscapes, villages, national parks, hotels, restaurants, and other amazing offerings throughout Ecuador, in pursuit of the perfect spots to visit on our trips. She is there to attend to the needs of our trekkers along every step of our journeys, making sure everyone is enjoying their time fully. Paola is seen here negotiating our entry to view a private collection of antiquities.
Travel through the Andes can be quite challenging to navigate, despite the massive investment in infrastructure the federal government has recently made throughout the country. That’s why a good driver is essential – and there is none better than Yáros Durán, the professional chauffeur who guides our trekkers safely across the country. Yáros is known for his intuitive responsiveness to travelers’ interests and needs – he always knows just when to stop, ensuring everyone gets the most they possibly can out of every day. Yáros is seen here trying out his blowgun skills in an Indigenous community on one of our treks through the Amazon.
We work with many talented guides in Ecuador who have specialized knowledge in their areas of expertise. Here are a few of the guides we work the closest with. In the cloud forest of Ecuador, Pedro is our naturalist guide. His love and knowledge of nature, and trees in particular, are second to none. Pedro is seen here with his wife, Heike, who is our main birding guide. Heike is a multilingual Ornithologist specializing in hummingbirds, and her knowledge astounds bird lovers on EarthTreks birding treks.
EarthTreks also offers trips through Ecuador for photographers and photography enthusiasts. Tyler is our guide for photography trips, teaching people everything from photo composition to how to get the most out of your own camera.