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The Andean Discovery Team


Our intimate understanding of this region, developed over years of living, traveling, and exploring in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia 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.

Andean Discovery Owners

Meet our team:

Damon Corkin and Angela Véliz
Owners of Andean Discovery

Damon’s passion for Ecuador and Peru began over 20 years ago on a high school academic journey that took him to the Amazon Jungle and Andean Highlands. After university, where he majored in Spanish, Damon began working in the travel industry designing language and cultural immersion programs for an educational travel company. He then spent three years directing Mount Kilimanjaro expeditions.

Damon’s fascination with Latin American cultures led to extensive travel throughout South America, where he met his lovely wife, Angela. They currently live in Boston and have two daughters, Olivia and Stella.

Damon Corkin created Andean Discovery because he wanted to offer specialized unique travel opportunities, both for small groups of families and friends, and high school and university educational tours. Today he manages daily operations and returns to South America regularly.

Angela Véliz’s enthusiasm for travel and learning has led her to explore the world and live in the United States, Argentina, and Germany. A native costeña (coastal woman) of Ecuador, she moved to a rural community in the Central Andes to run volunteer programs at the Sierra Flor School, a non-profit school for underprivileged children from farming communities. Angela continues to collaborate with rural villages to design sustainable community tourism projects for Andean Discovery guests.

Erin McArdle, Travel Specialist 

A traveler, history buff, and archaeologist, Erin’s fascination with the cultures of the world solidified while earning her BA in archaeology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She conducted field research on Eastern Pequot tribal grounds and studied abroad in Spain, where she fell in love with the Spanish-speaking world. Eager to empower others to have similarly transformative experiences, Erin began her career in travel after college. She most recently explored the Galapagos archipelago and hiked the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and was enchanted by the rugged landscapes and warm people of Ecuador and Peru. Erin is delighted to share her experiences with our guests as she prepares them for the trip of a lifetime. In her spare time, she enjoys competing road races, hiking, and (of course) traveling.

 

Kelly Villegas

Kelly VillegasPeru Operations

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.

CelindaCelinda Humilde, Head Guide Peru

Celinda was born in Cusco, Peru, but her parents were originally farmers in the nearby Sacred Valley. She still has a strong connection to this region and is passionate about sharing her family’s culture and traditions with our guests. She speaks English, Spanish and the native language of Quechua fluently.  She has a deep understanding of the Inca Civilization–she even corrects the guide books on occasion. After studying tourism in college, she began her guiding career on the Inca Trail. She has over a decade of rich experience under her belt and offers our guests unparalleled expertise and insight while traveling from Cusco to Machu Picchu. When she is not guiding, she loves to spend time exploring the outdoors, a passion that remains from her time spent on the Inca Trail.

Markus Medina

Markus Medina, Head Guide Ecuador

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.

Antonio JaramilloAntonio Jaramillo, Head Guide Ecuador

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.

 

EliasElias Maxdeo, Head Inca Trail Guide

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.

Gaby PumaGaby Puma, Head Guide Peru

Gaby was raised in the Sacred Valley village of Chinchero, renowned for its strong weaving traditions. She learned to weave when she was 6 years old, memorizing more than 32 native Chinchero designs. Her first language is Quechua and she learned Spanish and English in school. To pursue her dream of becoming a tour guide and an ambassador to her culture and heritage, she moved to Cusco and earned a degree in Tourism from Antonio Lorena College. Gaby adores her culture and strives to keep ancient Inca customs alive by learning and teaching traditional medicine and ancient spiritual practices. She works regularly with the Qeros people, Andean Priests who are considered to be the last descendants of the Incas. In her free time, she travels to Arizona to lecture and participate in workshops at the Ancient Wisdom School of Shamanic Techniques.

Vinicio OrtizVinicio Ortiz, Head Guide Ecuador

Vinicio studied Ecotourism and Environmental Education in Ecuador at the University of Ambato. He is an expert in all regions of Ecuador, specializing in birding in the Amazon rainforest and studying ancient Amazonian cultures. Most recently, he published a book, Legends Of The Amazon, that includes stories he learned from elders of Kichwa communities in the Cuyabeno region. Vincio was the head guide for a prominent Amazon lodge and now leads Andean Discovery travelers throughout the Amazon and Andes. With over 10 years of experience, Vinicio is like a walking Wikipedia.