Expedition Team

Our team is the key to your incredible adventure


Explore the islands and undersea in the company of top experts. Benefit from the knowledge of our Galápagos Island travel guides —team specialties include marine and terrestrial biology, botany, geology, and more—and passion for the Galápagos to observe and understand more of all you’ll see.  And enjoy their company; you’ll find them highly engaging and fun to share a drink or dinner with, as well as a trail hike.


Meet the expedition team for this departure

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  • Africa Berdonces

    Naturalist
    Africa grew up in the Galápagos Islands where she spent her childhood exploring with her family, surrounded by exquisite nature. She took her first scuba diving lesson with her father off the coast of Sombrero Chino Island when she was just 12 years old. That first dive opened up a new and unexplored part of the natural world to her. Africa became enchanted by local marine life and went on to become a divemaster, working as both a dive guide and naturalist in her beloved islands.

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  • Anahí Concari

    Naturalist
    Anahí grew up in a small house by the beach in the Galápagos Islands. Along with her best friend, she used to wander during the days around mangrove trees, becoming a different animal every day. She used to camp on solitary beaches, snorkel with sharks, dive with her uncle, a local dive instructor, and sail around the islands with her free spirit neighbors, learning about nature with her own hands, eyes and ears.  

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  • Celso Montalvo

    Naturalist
    Celso was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. At the age of nine he arrived in the Galápagos for the first time and he was profoundly touched by nature, observation, and isolation.  When he saw the sharks, rays and turtles swimming in the bay, he was triggered by a sense of wonder that he did not feel before.  Celso believes education is key to preservation. After graduating from the Naval Academy at the age of 17 he moved to New York to continue his education.

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  • Christian Saa

    Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor
    Christian was born on the island of Isabela in the Galápagos archipelago. He grew up on a farm and had a magical childhood devoid of cars, electricity, telephones—just pure nature and playful sea lions along the beach. At the age of seven, he moved with his family to Santa Cruz Island, the economic hub of the Galápagos Islands. His father began to work in tourism and took Christian around the islands during school vacations. It was during this time that Christian learned to love and understand the real value of this unique archipelago, and he decided to devote his life to its stewardship. A lifelong passion for nature and its creatures took root in his heart, and he eventually decided to become a naturalist, which he has now been doing for 18 years now.

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  • José Guerrero

    Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor
    José Guerrero Vela is an Ecuadorian permanent resident of the Galapagos. His mother was born in the islands and his grandfather was one of the first generation of teachers in the Galapagos, which has always inspired him to promote education as the main path to protect the archipelago.

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  • Juan Carlos Avila

    Expedition Leader
    Juan Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador. He spent part of his elementary schooling in the province of Cotopaxi, a beautiful area in the Ecuadorian Andes ringed by volcanoes. In 1989 his family moved to the Galápagos and settled in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the second largest island in this archipelago. It was here that Juan Carlos finished high school and gained his deep love for nature.

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  • Liza Diaz Lalova

    Video Chronicler
    Liza fell in love with the ocean as a child growing up on the Ecuadorian coast. Her passion for storytelling and photography began at the age of seven, when she began filming her friends as they recreated stories from her parents' library. Liza later combined her audiovisual passion with her love for nature by majoring in Environmental Communication and Digital Animation. In 2010, she began making documentary films, animations, and photographs aimed at inspiring communities to care for their natural habitats. Liza now lives in Galapagos, where she first came as a student in 2013, and has continued on as a volunteer for various conservation, education and arts organizations. She is now a professional conservationist and artist dedicated to inspiring and educating in small communities around Ecuador using creative audiovisual communications.

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  • Melissa Tracy

    Grosvenor Teacher Fellow
    Melissa Tracy is a National Board–certified ninth-11th-grade social studies teacher at Odyssey Charter School, a dual-language Greek school in Wilmington, Delaware. She teaches Advanced Placement human geography, world geography, global civics, United States history, and food studies and serves as the high school social studies department chair. At her school, Melissa is also the teacher advisor for Model United Nations, Youth in Government program, Diversity Club, and the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society. She also serves as the garden program coordinator for kindergarten through 12th grade. Melissa is passionate about civic education, global studies, and teacher leadership. She previously taught sixth-12th grade social studies at Conrad Schools of Science in Delaware for a decade. Prior to teaching in Delaware, Melissa taught in India, Poland, and Thailand. She earned a bachelor’s in history from Tulane University in Louisiana, a master of education in curriculum and instruction (social studies) from the University of Delaware, and a master’s in United States history from Villanova University in Pennsylvania as a James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation Fellow. Additionally, Melissa is a 2014 Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow, an America Achieves Fellow (cohort 3), and a 2017 American Geographical Society Teacher Fellow. She is a current member of the iCivics teacher network, is a Teach SDGs Ambassador, and serves as a teacher advisory council member for both the National Humanities Center and Hope Street Group.

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  • Paulina Aguirre

    Naturalist
    Paulina has always been connected to the Galapagos: through her grandmother, who arrived on the islands in the 1930’s, and her mother who was born on Isabela Island. Although she grew up and studied in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, Paulina spent almost every holiday in Galapagos visiting her family. She graduated with a degree in early childhood education, in which she worked for a short time.

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  • Rachel Arens

    Grosvenor Teacher Fellow
    Rachael Arens teaches AP environmental science, anatomy/physiology, and plants/propagation at Northwest High School in Omaha, Nebraska, and is an Ed.D. candidate in teacher education. She holds graduate degrees in toxicology and secondary education. Rachael is passionate about empowering her students to become global citizens and environmental stewards through service learning and social action. To encourage global citizenship, she inspires students to develop critical thinking skills, curiosity, and empathy, and to view the world through a global lens. In the summers, she conducts environmental research on rain gardens and has earned funding for outdoor classrooms. She has encouraged her students to implement STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills to build rain gardens, community gardens, aquaponics systems, composting stations, orchards, and solar panels for their school. For the rain garden project, her class was recognized as a National Geographic Next Generation Environmental Leader and earned the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Award. Rachael also teaches other schools how to “green” their spaces, connecting the design process to curriculums. In recognition of her work, she has been named the 2018 Nebraska Teacher of the Year runner-up and received the 2018 Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award from The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. She has written a chapter on environmental service learning for The Cambridge Handbook of Organizational Community Engagement and Outreach textbook and currently writes anatomy standards for the Nebraska Department of Education. She also serves as a board member for the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Science and the Nebraska Green Schools Committee.

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