Our intimate understanding of this region, developed over years of living, traveling, and exploring in South America has inspired us and shaped our lives. We are passionate about sharing that adventure with others, and in this spirit, we invite you to Experience Our Home as Yours.
Meet our team:
Founder & Travel Director
Damon’s passion for South America began over 25 years ago on a high school experiential learning trip that took him to the Amazon rainforest and Andean highlands of Ecuador. After attending CU Boulder, where he majored in International Spanish for the Professions, Damon began working for an educational travel company designing language and cultural immersion programs for middle school teachers and students. He then spent three years directing Mount Kilimanjaro expeditions, and reached the summit of Africa’s highest peak on two occasions.
Damon’s fascination with Latin American cultures led to extensive travel throughout South America, where he founded Andean Discovery’s South American headquarters. Damon Corkin created Andean Discovery because he wanted to offer specialized unique travel opportunities, both for small groups of families and friends, and educational organizations. Today he manages daily operations and returns to South America regularly. He currently lives in Boston with his two daughters.
Kelly Villegas, Senior Operations Specialist
Kelly was born and raised in a small village in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Exposed to adventure and cultural tourism at an early age, she was inspired to study Tourism Management at the Universidad de San Antonio Abad in Cusco. Her vast knowledge of Peru, together with her meticulous dedication to each and every itinerary, guarantees Andean Discovery guests a wonderful and seamless adventure. When she’s not working, Kelly loves to hike in the Andes with her daughter, Camila.
Belén Calahorrano, Operations Specialist
Belén was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador where her passion for travel led her to study Tourism and Environmental Conservation at Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial, a prominent local university. She began at Andean Discovery with an internship position, and quickly demonstrated that she is a responsible and dynamic professional, who easily adapts to different scenarios and enjoys working as a team to solve any challenge that arises. After contributing in different roles in the company, Belén discovered that she especially enjoys the operations side, meticulously coordinating every aspect of our itineraries, leaving no stone unturned, as she ensures a seamless experience for our travelers. Through her work every day, she likes to envision the nuances of each traveler’s itinerary, as she prepares for their arrival. She also enjoys traveling through the central Andes of Ecuador and Amazon basin and assisting with the development of new tour components and logistics. When she is not working on one of our epic adventures, she spends her time cooking a variety of Ecuadorian dishes and hanging out with family and friends. Someday, she would love to visit Bora Bora in French Polynesia, and explore its amazing beaches and coastlines. She considers the Galápagos Islands to be her top Ecuadorian destination, and often recalls her experience snorkeling and swimming with sea lions.
Bárbara Castro, Travel Specialist
Barbara grew up in Quito, Ecuador and during her younger years she loved sports and was part of the Ecuador National Fencing Team. She loved to travel at an early age and with her family she has visited Panama, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and the Galapagos. Her passion to show her country to others began when she visited local communities and cities, connecting with different realities and learning how hospitality and respect are the best ways to learn from people. Now at Andean Discovery, Bárbara designs adventures for Andean Discovery guests, offering travelers the best recommendations taking into consideration their preferred style and pace. When she’s not working, Barbara enjoys reading, baking and watching sports. She dreams of visiting Turin, Italy someday.
Yessenia Yaguana, Visual Design Specialist
Since she was young Yessenia felt inspired by the beauty of mountains and landscapes, exotic wildlife, and the unique gastronomy and cultures of South America. When she immersed herself in pre-columbian art and cultures of South America, she decided to study Graphic Design and understand more deeply the messages that our ancestors portrayed in their own art. She had a life-changing experience on one of her trips to the Amazon rainforest, when she discovered ancient iconography, sculptures and petroglyphs, and participated with indigenous communities and learned about their legends, traditions and customs that have been maintained from ancient times to the present. Yessenia loves photography and capturing natural wonders with her camera to share them with people from around the world.
Melissa Romoleroux, Travel Specialist
From a young age Melissa enjoyed traveling and visiting new places so this turned into her passion. The first place she visited outside her country was the United States, including Disneyland, and from there she knew she wanted to keep traveling and exploring the world forever. After studying Tourism and Hospitality at Universidad, Melissa got her Master’s Degree in Tourism Management in Barcelona, Spain. She is a responsible, organized and service-oriented teammate who enjoys new challenges. When she is not working, Melissa can be found cooking and practicing new recipes to delight her closest friends and family. She loves to sing and dance. She is a true-believer of the tourism industry and its eternal existence as the best hobby for human beings.
María José Armas, Operations Specialist
María José was born and raised in a volcanic, Andean valley near Quito, Ecuador. During summer and winter vacations, she would often travel with her family to different countries like Switzerland, Mexico, and the United States, and she quickly became very fond of discovering new cultures and learning different perspectives of the world. She realized that travel was her passion, so she decided to study Tourism and Environmental Conservation at Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial, a prominent local university. María José began at Andean Discovery with an internship position, and quickly demonstrated that she is a responsible and dynamic professional, who easily adapts to different scenarios and enjoys working as a team to solve any challenge that arises.Today, María José is part of the Operations team, working closely together with the rest of the staff so that every trip becomes a unique and memorable experience. When she is not at the office, María José loves to go to the theater and hike in the highlands nearby.
Featured Guides & Naturalists
Elías, Trekking & Cultural Guide, Peru
Elias is a veteran of the Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu and has completed it over 240 times. He was born in Cusco, Peru and grew up hiking at altitude was second nature. He began working in tourism 30 years ago, and found his passion in leading guests on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Elias has become one of the more experienced and well-known guides on the trail. One of his more memorable treks was with Dan Berlin, the first blind man to run the Inca Trail in one day. He loves that guiding allows him to constantly meet and interact with people from around the world. When he is not busy guiding, he spends his time with his wife and two sons.
Isabela, Galapagos Naturalist, Ecuador
Born and raised in the Galapagos Islands, from a family who has lived in the archipelago for many generations, Isabela is a true “Galapagueña.” She loves welcoming Andean Discovery guests to the islands and sharing her knowledge about sustainability and protecting the flora and fauna of the Galapagos. Her enthusiasm for the wildlife and natural history of the Galapagos is contagious and she enjoys adapting her guiding style to each groups’ specific interests and pace. In addition to guiding, Isabela is pursuing a second degree in Environmental Engineering. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, ballet dancing, pilates and traveling off island to destinations around North America and Europe.
Cesar, Trekking & Cultural Guide, Peru
Cesar realized he wanted to become a trekking and cultural guide when a friend in high school told him about all of the interesting people he would meet from all over the world something that has definitely proven true in the years he has spent guiding since. He is proud to share the richness of Peru with travelers and hopes to make them all ambassadors for exploration of his country. Cesar’s passion for his job makes him feel like it is not even work, but when he is not guiding, he also enjoys spending quality time outdoors with his wife and two young children.
Alejandra, Galapagos Naturalist, Ecuador
Alejandra was born in Medellín, Colombia and grew up in Quito, Ecuador, but her love of nature and wildlife took her to the Galapagos Islands where she lives full time on Santa Cruz Island. She started out as a volunteer and participated in several educational and conservation projects. She worked her way to be a Galapagos Naturalist Guide, and she is passionate about taking a personal approach to guiding as she shares the unique animals and ecosystems of the Galapagos with Andean Discovery guests. She feels the sea is her element and guiding in Galapagos has allowed her amazingly close encounters with marine animals. One of her best memories is swimming alone with a school of 40 pilot whales in the open sea. When she’s not guiding, Alejandra jokes that she switches to her other full time job of homeschooling her three children, two dogs, and two cats. She also likes to free dive and she can submerge 60 feet in a single breath!
Antonio, Ecuador Adventure & Cultural Guide
As a young boy, Antonio hiked the 15,000-foot Pichincha volcano and explored the Andean highlands of Ecuador with his father. On these excursions, he learned to appreciate the natural beauty of the Andes and was inspired to study eco-tourism at the CENESTUR Institute in Quito. He graduated as a licensed National Tourism Guide, empowered by an even deeper love for his country, its rich cultures, and unique biodiversity. Although he loves to lead our guests to the Amazon jungle and Galapagos Islands, Antonio especially enjoys guiding in the Andes because these visits revive warm memories of his childhood. When he is not guiding, he relaxes at home and spends time with his wife and two children.
Cristina, Ecuador Adventure & Cultural Guide
Christina was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador and studied Ecological Tourism. She loves learning new things including culture, people, history, nature and languages. She loves her job as a guide for Andean Discovery, where she can share her knowledge, kindness, professionalism and charisma with visitors. She enjoys adding new creative activities on tour such as singing and dancing. Sharing Ecuador’s beautiful places with tourist creates a powerful bond ans she enjoys creating beautiful memories. In her free time, she enjoys exploring new places, sports, reading, trying new food, singing and dancing
Markus, Cultural Guide & Galapagos Naturalist, Ecuador
Markus is a native Kichwa from Saraguro, an indigenous village located in the southern Andes of Ecuador. He is proud of his heritage and his upbringing surrounded by ancient Incan traditions and customs. After studying in a Kichwa/Spanish bilingual secondary school, he continued his studies to become a National Guide at the Universidad de Especialidades Turísticas in Quito. Markus loves his work as a guide because it allows him to share with our guests the rich cultures and landscapes of Ecuador. In addition, he relishes learning from our guests about their homelands and traditions. He has a profound knowledge of Ecuador and his positive spirit and enthusiasm make it a delight to explore the country with Markus.
Johanna, Ecuador Adventure & Cultural Guide
Johana was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador with an early passion for nature. After earning an undergraduate degree in Ecotourism, she started working as a National Tour guide. In her eleventh year of guiding, she still loves sharing her time, knowledge and experience with Andean Discovery guests. Her interests are well aligned with her profession. She enjoys trekking and bird watching in the cloud forest, Galapagos and mountains. She’s traveled to four continents and hopes to go on an African safari. Until then, she enjoys learning from visitors around the world.
Wilson, Ecuador Adventure & Cultural Guide
Wilson was born in Loja, Ecuador and grew up in Cuenca and Quito, studyng as a NAtional Tourism Guide. He specializes in adventure, both the high mountain alpine and cycling and is also certified as a natural and cultural heritage guide. His knowledge of bycicles extends to their mechanics and he mantains bicycles for his family and friends. his favorite place in Ecuador is Baños de Agua Santa, midway between the Andes and the amazon because he can explore the area through many different activities. He loves working in tourism because he can share his favorite places with Andean Discovery Guests, hihlighting its natural and cultural diversity, as well as its wonderful inhabitants.
Maria, Ecuador Adventure & Cultural Guide
Maria was born and raised in the capital of Ecuador, Quito. After spending one year in the United States as a foreiggn exchange student, she studied to be a national tour guide in College. The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is her favorite place. Passionate about Ecuador and happy to meet new people from other cultures, she likes to take Andean Discovery tourists around the country to experience Ecuadorian culture and nature. During her days off work, she makes handcrafts especially during rainy days. Her favorite activity during tours is extreme adventure sports particularly the water ones.