40 Years of Experience
Country Walkers began with a simple idea: explore the world actively, passionately, and with a commitment to authentically engaging with local cultures. With this guiding principle, we launched the company in 1979 from an old barn in Vermont. Although we were small (and our office space rustic), our love for the beauty of the surrounding Green Mountains became contagious. Soon we expanded from local to international destinations, introducing travelers to new landscapes and cultures around the world on foot.
Today, Country Walkers is recognized as one of the leading providers of walking adventures worldwide, having garnered countless awards including National Geographic Traveler’s “50 Tours of a Lifetime” and Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” Awards.
Meet the Country Walkers Team
Because we’re passionate travelers ourselves, we know what you’re looking for in an active vacation. Meet some of the team that brings our adventures to life.
These travel experts have carefully designed every one of our itineraries—using on-site research and the insider perspective of local friends and colleagues—to guarantee a trip that immerses you in the culture, traditions, natural beauty, and history of a destination.
Our tour consultants—Jane, Claire, Terri, Ashley, Silvy, Tucker, Paul, Amanda, and Megan— are a well-traveled bunch who are ready to answer all of your travel questions. They’ll help you book a trip, recommend your next destination, and give you the inside scoop on our tours (they travel on at least one of our adventures per year)! With 29 years combined experience and over 43 countries visited, these savvy travelers are an incredible resource.
Jamen Yeaton-Masi, Vice-President of Worldwide Product & Operations
A 21-year veteran of the company, Jamen is responsible for new tour development, operations, the guide program, and team management, ensuring that we offer innovative and quality experiences that continue to delight both long-term fans and new travelers. An avid traveler who has spent years exploring and living abroad, she has walked and biked on every continent except for Antarctica.
Timo Shaw, President
In his role as the President of Country Walkers and our sister brand VBT, Timo oversees all aspects of the company’s day-to-day operations, keeps in touch with colleagues around the world, leads annual VIP adventures, and pours the odd pint at staff get-togethers. A New Zealand native, Timo has worked in the travel industry for 35 years, been with Country Walkers for 12 years, and has visited 53 countries.
Expert Local Guides
Experience your destination like an insider with the people who call it home. Our guides are eager to introduce you to the people, places, and traditions that make their country unique, whether that means chatting with an oyster farmer beside his beds in Croatia’s Mali Ston Bay or identifying wildflowers in Glacier National Park. As experts in diverse fields—from biology to world history to architecture—our guides are adept at sharing their insights. As a result, you’ll enjoy a perspective on local life most visitors never know: the view from the inside.
Born in Beauvais, north of Paris, Veronique Marget grew up spending a good deal of time on the coast, where her grandparents had a house on the cliffs of Normandy. Now living in Provence, Veronique has never tired of the many beautiful regions of France, so many known for their strong and unique culture and customs. Some of Vero’s many interests include knitting, sewing, gardening, calligraphy, ballet, bookbinding, and cooking for friends and family.
Xabier Etxarri, or Xabi as he’s known (pronounced ’shabby’), hails from Navarra, in the Basque Country and is a true Renaissance man. Originally a science teacher and physicist with a specialization in astrophysics, he decided to leave it all behind and travel to southern Chile where he unlocked his passion for poetry, writing over 14 volumes since! He soon became a fully-licensed trekking guide with a particular interest in nature and the natural sciences. His passion for the mountains of his native Pyrenees remains undiminished and he now splits his time between Patagonia and Spain. What Xabi brings to this journey is an intimate knowledge of the local wines and the flora of northern Spain.
From a traditional Kiwi upbringing in Northland, New Zealand, Julia Thorne’s life and vocation have segued through worlds of journalism and editorial photography, to property development, artwork, and eclectic roles in the adventure travel sector. Julia’s undying passion for Aotearoa and sharing its natural treasures and culture with visitors eventually led her to her current adventure-guiding guests around her beloved native country.
Originally from central Canada, Malcolm Taliano has been guiding and travelling throughout Western Canada since he moved out west after completing degrees in Education and Outdoor Adventure Leadership. He is a lifelong learner and, wherever he goes, he likes to embrace the local community and culture, while sharing unique experiences with guests. To fuel his outdoor pursuits Malcolm is passionate about local cuisine-so be sure to ask for his recommendations! Vancouver Island is his favorite place to guide, and he looks forward to sharing his love of its beautiful landscapes.
A graduate of the Naples School of Fine Arts, Alessandra di Castri is a performer and visual artist who lived in Canada for three years, returning to Italy fluent in English and French. Once settled again, she began researching the traditions and costumes of the Naples region where she has found great inspiration for her characters, paintings, and stories. Alessandra infuses her tours with a passion for the oral tradition, replete with the colorful expressions unique to the Campania region of Southern Italy.
A native of Peru, Miguel Stalin Vergara Ugarte studied tourism at Andina University of Cusco and started guiding trips along the Inca Trail in 2004. Miguel’s passion lies in pre-Incan and Incan cultures and he makes great effort to retain his ancestral Andean traditions, particularly around folk medicine, rituals, and music. In fact, when not guiding or hiking in the surrounding mountains, you are likely to find Miguel entertaining his wife and children playing pre-Hispanic musical instruments.
Nadia Kartaf is a native of Fès with years of experience guiding in her hometown and its surrounding countryside. With a degree in English literature from the University of Fès, Nadia loves reading in addition to music, horseback riding, and travel.
Marcela Thompson has spent time living in the United States and has a degree in journalism and social communication from Diego Portales University in Santiago. She has also taken focused courses in pre-Hispanic history and geology and has worked as a guide not only in Chile but also in New Zealand and Australia. No matter where she is, Marcela excels in providing travelers with unforgettable experiences while also building environmental and cultural awareness.
Alan Wright is very proud of his Glasgow roots but has lived most of his life just outside Stirling, which is on the edge of one of Scotland’s only two National Parks. His love for the outdoors began over 25 years ago and he has hiked extensively all over the Scottish Highlands and Islands giving him a wealth of knowledge and wonderful experiences. Following a career in the finance sector, he changed gears and qualified as a mountain guide in 2014 so he could spend his time following his passion for the wonderful landscape, varied wildlife, and remarkable history that his country has to offer.
Hélène Blesbois was born in the French wine region of Burgundy and got the travel bug at an early age as she grew up on the Caribbean Island of Martinique and lived for six years in Costa Rica where she completed a master's degree in English-Spanish translation. Fond of learning new languages and cultures, she finally settled in Portugal where she's been living for over a decade. Hélène likes to combine traveling with hiking or rock climbing and she practices yoga daily, which is a particular passion she loves to share through teaching as she is a certified instructor.
Awards & Accolades
AFAR Travelers’ Choice Award
Our British Columbia: Vancouver Island Guided Walking Adventure was named the Best Hiking and Walking Trip of 2018 by AFAR.
Best Places to Work in Vermont
Country Walkers was named one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont in the Small Employer Category.
Responsible tourism is integral to our core values. In all ways we strive to preserve indigenous cultures, support local economies, conserve wildlife, and protect the environment. When you travel with us, you’ll contribute to a more sustainable world too.Learn More
In the Media
We’re making headlines! If you’d like to know what others are saying about Country Walkers, look no further. We’ve been featured in a wide range of media outlets, blogs, and magazines—including Men’s Journal, Travel + Leisure, and Outside. Here are some examples of our recent coverage in the press.