A National Geographic expert will accompany select departures to share insights and a rare behind-the-scenes perspective. Listed below are some of the experts and the departure date(s) they will be joining.
Juan Carlos Avila was born in Quito, Ecuador. He spent part of his elementary schooling in the province of Cotopaxi, an area in the Ecuadorian Andes ringed by volcanoes. In 1989, his family moved to the Galápagos and settled in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the second largest island in this archipelago. It was here that Juan Carlos finished high school and gained his deep love for nature. In high school, he began helping non-governmental organizations associated with Japanese and American high schools to organize fund-raising campaigns to clean the public beaches on Santa Cruz. Oceanic oil spills have damaged the unique plants and animals of the Galápagos, and Juan Carlos helped spearhead efforts to protect the islands' complex ecosystem. It was through these efforts that he become a naturalist and rescue diver for the Galápagos National Park. He studied physics and mathematics for two years, and today he studies environmental sciences. Throughout 2018, Juan Carlos is acting as a National Geographic Year of the Bird Ambassador.
Naturalist Cindy Manning was born in Lima, Peru, of North American parents. She and her family subsequently lived in several South American and European countries with a couple stops in Peoria, Illinois. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology, Cindy spent a year and a half teaching science in Kenya, then spent time exploring the remarkable landscapes of Peru and Ecuador. These journeys turned into permanent residency in Ecuador. Cindy spent two years working as a naturalist in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where she first became intensely involved with the fascinating ecology of rainforests — awed by the biodiversity, the color, and the interdependence of the creatures that live in these remarkable places. Cindy moved to the Galápagos Islands, a place she now calls home. In 2011, she joined the Charles Darwin Foundation as one of the Governing Members where she hopes to contribute to the wellbeing of the islands for many years to come. Cindy will serve as an official Year of the Bird Ambassador throughout 2018.
Author, photographer, filmmaker, and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Sandesh Kadur uses images, both still and video, to expose the need for conservation and encourage protection of the world’s biodiversity. With subjects ranging from king cobras to clouded leopards, his documentary films have appeared worldwide on National Geographic, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, and elsewhere. His photographs have appeared in numerous books and magazines. Sandesh’s many awards include CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year, the Nature’s Best award, the International Conservation Photographer award, two Green Oscar nominations at the Wildscreen film festival, and the 2013 North American Nature Photographers Vision Award.
Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer Jay Dickman has worked in photojournalism for more than 40 years, covering topics as diverse as the war in El Salvador, the Olympics, national political conventions, six Super Bowls, and the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Among his more than 25 assignments for the National Geographic Society, Jay has lived for three months in a Stone Age village in Papua New Guinea and spent a week under the Arctic ice in a nuclear attack sub. A popular photo instructor and expedition leader, he has also published five books and numerous articles for National Geographic Traveler, LIFE, Condé Nast Traveler, Time, Sports Illustrated, and Forbes.
Todd Gipstein has been a photographer, writer, producer and lecturer for more than 40 years. He has worked with National Geographic since 1987. For many years, he was the Society’s Director of Multi-Image and Executive Producer for Multimedia. His award-winning documentaries for the Geographic have dealt with a diverse range of topics, including photography, nature, the environment, history, exploration, travel, and National Geographic itself. His work is known worldwide for its evocative storytelling, and has covered places in the United States; Canada; Europe; the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and Baltic Seas; Asia; South America and the Gálapagos; New Zealand; the South Pacific; and Antarctica and the Arctic. Todd’s images have been published in National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines and in many books. He also continues to take photographs for the Nat Geo Creative image library. Todd’s work has been exhibited internationally, and he frequently participates in photography and media festivals in Europe. An enthusiastic traveler and teacher, he has lectured, presented his documentaries, and given photography workshops for the Geographic around the world.
Travel and conservation photographer Jonathan Irish specializes in documenting adventure lifestyles, landscapes, and cultures with a keen eye on highlighting important conservation issues. He spent eight years on the National Geographic staff, where he launched and directed the National Geographic Adventures program, bringing travelers and photographers around the world on active adventure trips. As a freelance photographer, Jonathan’s work has appeared in publications in print and online, including National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Smithsonian Magazine, Travel + Leisure, The Telegraph, BBC, and CNN. For the 2016 centennial of the U.S. National Park Service, Irish went on assignment for National Geographic Traveler on a year-long road trip visiting and photographing all 59 of America’s national parks. From this project, he published a U.S. National Parks book, and was featured on Good Morning America. Jonathan is also a skilled Virtual Reality shooter, having shot assignments with 360-degree cameras on six different continents for Discovery Communications and Google. Through his photographic work, Jonathan seeks to share the beauty of the natural world while highlighting important conservation stories and the need for continued and increased protection, so that future generations may enjoy the same beautiful natural world in which we live today. He also enjoys traveling with National Geographic Expeditions teaching photography around the world–from Antarctica to the Arctic and Africa to the Amazon. Jonathan’s images are represented by National Geographic Creative and National Geographic Fine Art Galleries, and have appeared in National Geographic books.
Thomas P. Peschak is an assignment photographer for National Geographic magazine and a National Geographic Explorer. He has shot eight feature stories on a range of subjects (including Manta Rays, Pipeline through Paradise, Seas of Arabia, Tale of Two Atolls, Currents of Plenty, and Return of the Seychelles). His work on "Galápagos: Life in the Balance and Stewards of the Sea" appeared in the June 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine. Originally trained as a marine biologist specializing in human–wildlife conflict, he became a wildlife photojournalist after realizing that he could have a greater conservation impact through photographs than statistics. His work now focuses on documenting some of the most critical marine and island conservation stories of our time. Thomas is a Founding/Associate Director of the Manta Trust, the former Director of Conservation for the Save our Seas Foundation, and a Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers. He has written and photographed seven books and is a multiple winner in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and World Press Photo Awards. He is also a speaker for the National Geographic Live! Series and gave his TED talk, Dive into an Ocean Photographer’s World, at Mission Blue in 2015.