Welcome Back Lisa


You may have noticed that our Southern Explorations team has something of a passion for travel and adventure. Through the years that devotion to exploration has more often than not - for rather obvious reasons - manifested itself in travel throughout South America and Central America.
But sometimes our team gets the itch to branch out and see what else is out there.  An excellent example of that is Lisa Malmgren, one of our Galapagos and Ecuador experts, who just spent 16 months pursuing her passion for travel with a worldwide trip that took her everywhere from New Zealand, to Cambodia, Italy, Spain, and much more, before she returned to the Southern Explorations fold in January.
“I have to do this. Let’s just do it now.”
That’s how Lisa describes the thinking that led to her and her husband spending 16 months experiencing 10 countries across three continents. At the time, she was living in Vermont, enjoying life in the Green Mountain state, working for Southern Explorations and building custom trips to the Galapagos, Ecuador, and Peru for her Southern Explorations guests.
As you might imagine, when you are an ardent traveler and your days are spent crafting revelatory travel experiences for other people, you tend to start thinking about getting out there for yourself and discovering all the incredible destinations you’ve always dreamed of exploring.
Even if those dreams drew from admittedly geeky inspiration.
“This is a little nerdy to say, but I always knew I wanted to go to New Zealand ever since I saw Lord of the Rings,she says.
And so she did. She and her husband made the leap and headed off to New Zealand for nine months where they worked 10 days on and four days off at a lodge nestled beneath the towering peaks of the Darran Mountains, taking advantage of the four consecutive days away from lodge duties to hike, drive, explore, and experience as much of the country as they could.
After nine months of soaking in everything they could in New Zealand, they headed up to Asia for three-plus months exploring Thailand, Cambodia, then Vietnam, and even Myanmar.
“That was obviously an interesting experience,” she says of their time spent in the embattled country.
Next came a shot over to Europe to take in parts of Switzerland, Italy, and Slovenia, then finally Spain where they worked on an olive farm for six weeks before the epic adventure finally came to an end and they settled back stateside.
Now living in Portland, Oregon, she’s been able to spend some time reflecting on the incredible trip.
“I think my biggest take away from the entire experience was our responsibility as a travel company and as travelers to respect and uphold the places we visit,” she explains.
“I saw the whole spectrum of destination management. In New Zealand, tourism and the environment are king. They work so hard to protect what they have. Then you see the effects in Asia, where in many places western tourists have done a lot of damage.”
“At Southern Explorations,” she continues, “we’ve always been very mindful of how we impact the places we explore, but my experience really drove home the responsibility we have to these places.”
So, did her global odyssey give her a new perspective when it comes to crafting trips for her Southern Explorations travelers?
“While what I did is obviously a different kind of travel from what we create at Southern Explorations, one thing that really became more apparent than ever before was how valuable it is to spend as much time as you can in a destination. Now I’m more likely than ever to encourage our guests to think about slowing down and enjoying a place a bit longer, even if it’s easy to be tempted to pack as much in as you can. The great thing about being a custom tour operator is we can do that for our guests.”
And just how does she feel about being back at Southern Explorations?
“I’m glad to be back and working with clients because that’s what I love doing. It’s been really fun to get excited about the Galapagos, Ecuador, and Peru again. The Galapagos are always changing, every year is a completely different experience, so diving back in to all of that has been great.”
Want to hear more about Lisa’s incredible adventures around the world? Give her a call today at 1-206-462-3155 and discover how her extraordinary multi-continental exploration can provide even more insight for your own life-changing adventure.
(And if you’d like to do some beyond Latin America global exploration of your own, we highly recommend taking in Japan with our partners at Rising Sun Guides or checking out Africa with our partners at Your Private Africa).