Expedition Team

Our team is the key to your incredible adventure


Explore in the company of top experts on a Galápagos and Peru adventure tour. Benefit from their knowledge—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 explore Machu Picchu & the Land of the Inca with top guides. They are deeply knowledgeable about the history and culture of Peru. Above all, each is passionate about the wonders of the region and dedicated to helping you achieve the richest experience possible on your Galápagos expedition.


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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  • Carlos Romero

    Expedition Leader
    Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador and grew up in Venezuela, where he lived for many years near the ocean and later the rainforest. He returned to Quito to study biology and specialized in the fauna of Ecuador. His main field of study was zoology with an emphasis on vertebrates. He has a doctorate in biology and a master’s in ecotourism and natural protected areas management. He designed a new curriculum for the largest university in Ecuador, the Central University— a masters in environmental management and administration of natural protected areas. Carlos has also taken part in various scientific projects and expeditions with the Biological Sciences Department of Quito’s Polytechnic University. He has published several scientific papers, including one about the bats of Galápagos and one about the vampire bat of mainland Ecuador.

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  • Cindy Manning

    Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor
    Born in Lima, Peru, of North American parents, Cindy and her family subsequently lived in several South American and European countries with a couple stops in Peoria, Illinois. Cindy received a degree in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Afterwards, Cindy spent a year and a half teaching science in the Western Province of Kenya, East Africa. 

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  • Gilda Gonzalez

    Naturalist
    Gilda was born in Ambato, located in the very heart of the Ecuadorian Andes. Since she was a child, she loved animals, often rescuing street cats and dogs. Her parents always made sure there were nature books and plenty of Jacques Cousteau’s videos at home. She graduated from high school with a degree in chemistry and biology. Afterwards, Gilda obtained a B.A. in tourism and hotel management in Quito. She also studied English, French and German, later spending two months in Brussels, Belgium.

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  • Ixora Berdonces

    Undersea Specialist
    Ixora was born in the Galapagos Islands, back when the streets were made of sand and gravel. Void of TV and tablets, her childhood friends and pristine natural surroundings made for an inspiring upbringing. She was always drawn to the ocean and her local environment, with her first adventures taking place underwater, in mangrove estuaries, and perched in treetops. Not surprisingly, she was scuba diving before the age of 12 and led her first diving trips as a Dive Master in the Galapagos Marine Reserve when she was 18. 

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  • Javier Cando

    Naturalist
    Javier was born on Santa Cruz Island and raised in the cool evergreen highlands where he developed his love and passion for nature and natural sciences. At age 17 he moved to Quito, the capital of Ecuador to attend university and study the English language.

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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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  • Roberta Schiess

    Naturalist
    Born and raised in the Galápagos, Roberta Schiess Bahamonde’s grandparents were among the first permanent inhabitants of Santa Cruz Island, arriving from Switzerland in the 1940s. Her mother is also a naturalist guide in the Galápagos, so this is a profession she has been exposed to her whole life, and she often accompanied her mom as she guided visitors. 

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  • Salvador Cazar

    Naturalist
    Salvador Cazar studied biology at the Universidad Nacional Del Sur, Bahía Blanca, in Argentina and at the Catholic University of Ecuador. Between 1988 and 1994, Salvador worked as a naturalist and tour leader for several national and international tour operators, leading groups of visitors across the Ecuadorian rain forest, Andean forest, and to Galápagos.

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  • Ximena Cordova

    Naturalist
    Ximena was born in Cuenca, the third largest city of Ecuador. Located in the Andes Mountains, Cuenca is known as the cultural capital of Ecuador and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site because of its many historical buildings. Ximena gained experience with American culture as an exchange student in Santa Barbara, CA, and later, while living and working at the United Nations in New York City for four and a half years.

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