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:
Damon Corkin and Angela Véliz
Owners of Andean Discovery
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 met his lovely wife and Co-founder, Angela. They currently live in Boston with their two daughters.
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.
Angela Véliz’s enthusiasm for travel and learning has led her to explore the world and live in Argentina, Germany and United States. A native Guayaquileña of Ecuador, Angela left her country at a very young age to study and learn from different cultures and cultivate organic knowledge. After returning home, 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 rose farming communities. Her desire to share the diversity of traditions and dramatic landscapes of South America fueled her heart and soul. Equipped with a B.S. in Industrial Design from Wentworth Institute of Technology, Angela combines genuine empathy and sustainable travel practices while collaborating with industry stakeholders to design community-based tourism projects for Andean Discovery travelers and academic organizations.
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.
Estefy Añasco, Guest Experience Specialist
Born and raised in a volcanic, Andean valley near Quito, Ecuador, Estefanía has always had a passion for the mountains and hiking in the highlands. With an eye for style, she majored in Fashion Design and crafted garments for a major Ecuadorian clothing brand. Eager to explore the world, her adventures have taken her as far as South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Mexico, Europe, the United States, and all over South America. While Estefanía relishes any opportunity to pack her bags and discover a new and exciting place, her travels have fostered a deep appreciation for her home country of Ecuador. In fact, her favorite destination is the Galapagos Islands because of its otherworldly landscapes and unique wildlife. Estefanía loves putting together itineraries and coordinating travel, and when the opportunity to work at Andean Discovery arose, she did not think twice. She imagines herself in the shoes of our guests, being a part of every tour, and strives to make every detail perfect. In her free time, if she is not traveling or hiking, she is likely dreaming about going to New Zealand and Argentinian Patagonia someday, so she can discover the amazing landscapes she has only seen in photos.
Santiago Burbano, Travel Specialist
Santiago was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. When he was a small kid, he enjoyed practicing a variety of sports like soccer, tennis, swimming and running relay races. During summer and winter vacations, he would usually travel with his family to different countries like Panama, Venezuela, USA and quickly became very fond of discovering new cultures and learning different perspectives for looking at the world. When he graduated high school, he earned a scholarship to study at Colorado College. During this time, Santiago made many international friends, realizing that traveling is the best way to connect with other human beings, both at a physical and spiritual level. Today, Santiago strives to provide the best customer service to all Andean Discovery guests, working closely together with the rest of the staff so that every trip becomes a unique and memorable experience. When he is not at the office, Santiago loves to watch professional soccer games and going to the movies.
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.