A native of Great Blasket Island on the Dingle Peninsula, Pól got a taste for guiding while helping his family ferry visitors back and forth from the mainland. “People had all these questions about the island,” he says, “so I began taking them around…talking about the history, the literature, the flora and fauna.” He was quickly hooked. An artist, musician, poet, storyteller, and folklorist, Pól loves bringing his passions to bear on the trail. “They perfectly complement my love of nature, my homeland, my language, and culture.” So what are his favorite spots to reveal to guests? “Both the Burren and Connemara are so magnificent,” Pól says. “To walk in these places—filled with resonances of the past, quiet, empty, yet filled with life—is a gift.”
A certified Environmental Guide and passionate naturalist Marzia Borghi was born in Pisa and grew up on her grandparents’ farm in the historic town of Volterra. After studying linguistics and history at the University of Pisa, Marzia spent years teaching Italian at a prestigious university near London before returning to Italy, where she lived for a time in Florence working as a certified city guide. In addition to being a walking guide for Country Walkers and a National Park Guide of the seven Tuscan islands, Marzia has worked as a researcher for the European Union.
Having grown up exploring the woodlands of northern New England, Mark brings a special passion for naturalism to his trips with Country Walkers. “I’m fascinated by ecology,” he says, “and the ways in which people from earlier times lived in relationship with the land.” His zeal is easy to see: when he’s not highlighting the 150 wild plant species he’s tasted in the region, he’s sharing tidbits from the wilderness survival classes he teaches at Dartmouth College. His interests range to the profound as well. “I love walking through Vermont’s deep, cool hemlock forests, alongside a rocky stream bed,” he says. “That sound of the stream flowing over the rocks, the deep moss, the newly sprouted mushrooms—it really is like something out of a fairy tale!”
Alexandra Conover Bennett has over thirty years’ experience in outdoor education and adventure guiding. Not only has she lead multi-day wilderness canoe and snowshoe trips throughout Maine, Minnesota, and parts of Canada, she has worked in various capacities with a multitude of environmentally-minded organizations, including the Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary, the Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands, the Campfire Girls, the Merck Forest Winter Program, and the Student Conservation Association. In her very limited free time, you can find Alexandra entertaining audiences with her accordion playing everything from Celtic jigs to ballads from the woods of Maine!
Guiding runs in the family for Juan Carlos, who first became interested in the field while watching his father lead trips. “His passion triggered my own,” he says. “I just had to follow in his footsteps. The man became my mentor.” Trained in his mother city of Cusco, Juan Carlos enjoys sharing his vast knowledge and love for his ancestral culture, as is evident from his enthusiastic smile and warm sense of humor. Though Juan Carlos loves introducing guests to the mysteries of Machu Picchu—“such an enigmatic, mystical setting,” he says—he has a special passion for acquainting guests with the rural villages of the Patacancha region as well. As he puts it: “The cultural wealth of these people, who keep ancient Inca traditions alive for centuries, is spectacular.”