We firmly believe that your trip leader is the single most important factor in the quality of your travel experience. For this reason, we have worked hard to build a world-class team of naturalist and adventure guides to lead our Eco Journeys.
Our guides come from a variety of backgrounds: locals, foreign nationals, biologists, historians, mountaineers, even champion rafters. Despite their extensive education, certifications, and awards, our guides’ most important qualification is an undying passion for their craft. This passion is evident in every activity and interaction, and it is what transforms a journey into the trip of a lifetime.
Each of our guides has between five and twenty-five years of field experience. Our guides lead trips all over Ecuador and Latin America, and have expert knowledge about each area in which they operate. They provide insight into your surroundings, respond to weather conditions, and always have a backup plan. You can count on your trip leader to make every activity meaningful, fun, and safe.
Skills and Certifications
Passion and experience are fundamental, but our guides’ qualifications don’t stop there. In addition to essential certifications, they each possess credentials in various specialties. We encourage and facilitate continued training and certification for our team. Our guides are all multilingual, medically trained to respond to emergencies, and have additional certifications in one or more specialties.
OPUNTIA TRIP LEADER PROFILES
Alfredo Meneses – Alfredo is our lead guide and Chief Exploratory Officer. Alfredo started guiding at the tender age of 19, when he began working as a Mountain Travel Sobek tour guide all over South America. Alfredo is a natural guide, and his guests always take a special liking to him, responding to his charisma, empathy, and sensibility. Alfredo is passionate about his work and possesses vast knowledge of biology and natural history. He has extensive rainforest experience and is also a kayak instructor. Alfredo has kayaked all over North and South America, completing over 50 river descents. If you ever sit at a dinner table with him, you’ll forget you’re a guest and feel like his old friend.
Felipe Meneses – Felipe is a self-taught naturalist guide with extensive outdoor experience, including mountaineering, orienteering, sea kayaking, adventure racing, and mountain biking. Felipe graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology, which adds a unique flavor to the information he shares with his clients. He is a certified whitewater rafting and kayaking instructor and our wilderness search and rescue leader. Felipe has international adventure travel experience in Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East, and has won several tough adventure races.
Miguel Vera – Miguel is a guide dedicated to his craft. Before trips, you can always find him reviewing every detail of his itineraries and constantly making improvements. In addition to his skill in outdoor adventure, he has a special knack for leading culture tours, always adding a special significance to his guests’ experience. Miguel seems to know everything about Ecuador’s natural and cultural history. His guests appreciate his knowledge and dedication and tend to refer to him as a natural leader. In recognition of his mastery of his craft, Miguel won REI’s Top Guide Award in 2009
Fabricio Chavez – Fabricio is a charismatic guide with a true passion for nature. A native of the Ecuadorian Amazon, Fabricio’s guests on rainforest tours are always impressed by his incredible knowledge of the region’s plant and animal life. Fabricio has over 15 years of experience guiding tours throughout Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, and Colombia. He has a degree in Geography and Environmental Studies and is a certified whitewater rafting and kayaking instructor.
All of our guides possess the following certifications:
- University degrees in tourism, guiding, or environmental science
- Ecuadorian National Guide Certification – Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism
- Certified Naturalist Guide – Galapagos National Park
- First Aid and CPR Certification
- Graduate of our intensive in-house Guide Training Program
- Five years minimum field experience
Some of the additional certifications our adventure guides possess:
- Wilderness First Responder – International emergency medical certification
- Open Water Safety and Rescue – American Canoe Association
- Mountain Bike Guiding and Maintenance Training Program