Lauren cites a childhood spent exploring the forests of rural Ohio as the humble beginning of a lifelong quest for adventures in wild places. It wasn’t until her first backpacking trip, gazing up at the stars above Cold Mountain, that her life’s purpose began to take clearer shape. Ultimately, she would find great joy in empowering others to discover the challenges and gifts of wilderness exploration.
Lauren began her journey in wilderness leadership in 2008 while pursing a zoology degree at the University of Florida, spending more than 1,000 hours leading backcountry trips in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There, she forged a deep love for sharing beautiful vistas and helping native Floridians feel safe when high in the mountains, far from their comfort zone. A lifelong nature lover, Lauren's time in university further expanded her understanding of natural processes and ecological systems. She assisted on research projects ranging from Alaska to Africa, spending countless hours examining carbon and nitrogen cycling in Arctic plant roots and traveling to rural Botswana to collaborate on conservation efforts with safari operators and locals. These experiences forged a drive for remote, impactful expedition work, continuing well after her graduation.
Lauren’s love of nature and insatiable curiosity have inspired years of exploration around the globe. Among assorted adventures, she has bungee jumped over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, dived in the bioluminescent waters of Cambodia, and hiked Iceland’s Laugavegur trek. As a professional guide, Lauren has spent years working with at-risk youth on hiking expeditions in North Carolina and sea-kayaking trips under the midnight sun in Alaska. This level of outdoor responsibility led her to become an Alaska state-certified Wilderness EMT. She now spends her summers guiding multi-day treks over the high passes of the Alps in Switzerland, Italy and France.
Beyond the pure joy of experiencing wild places, Lauren cares deeply about people and brings her energy, passion and knowledge to provide meaningful experiences on each of her tours. She feels it is a great privilege to experience the world’s most fragile regions, and hopes her guests feel connected, inspired and stirred by their beauty. She consistently finds that wild places draw out the best in us and loves sharing the wonder and awe that unites all travelers.
Upcoming Adventures with Lauren:
Polar Bears of Churchill
Northern Lights & Arctic Cultures
Praise from Natural Habitat travelers:
"I have traveled many times with WWF and Nat Hab. I can say that Lauren is one of your, if not the, best Expedition leader you have had. She is all of those things listed above and more. We had an usually cohesive group and I believe it was because of her leadership. She is warm and caring and has a great sense of humor. She related well to each person on the trip and also to the people we met and learned from on the trip. The trip was well planned and executed. She is able to adapt quickly to changes in weather and plans and to keep everyone happy at the same time. She's a treasure. She is the ultimate representative of Nat Hab. You can feel her passion for saving the environment and wildlife and she seems to have knowledge about many, many things. You don't always see that in the leader."
"Lauren was simply the best tour leader I've ever encountered. You could tell immediately that she loved her job and enthusiastically shared that love with the group. She attended constantly to everyone's needs and also had a big grin on her face loving every minute she could help out or surprise us with a new activity. Loved every minute of the tour."
"Lauren was beyond professional, knowledgeable about the community, culture, wildlife, the region, and photography. She was very accommodating for all abilities, and very compassionate. You can tell that she loves her job! Natural Habitat Adventures is lucky to have her!"
"Lauren is an outstanding Expedition Leader. She is able to keep track of multiple details as well as stay focus on the big picture at once. She engaged with each traveler to make sure we all had a very special experience."
"In 55 years of eco-travel we have never encountered a higher quality expedition leader. Her knowledge was superb, her relations with all of us exemplary, and her general demeanor captivating. She is a true gem and we would welcome the opportunity to travel with her again."
"I can't say enough about Lauren. I've never met someone who has the patience of an angel and knows everything about the area and anything we asked her about. You can tell she loves her job and her customers. She handled any medical issue like it was a walk in the park as well as anything else we threw at her. She gets tons of gold stars from my family. My mother's bucket list was to do this trip but she is not well and was not able to get around without help. Lauren helped out all the time and never let on that she may be upset that my mother's slow moving was causing time delays for the entire groups planned activities. Her other positive review is that she always had a smile on her face."
"Lauren was contagiously enthusiastic and knowledgeable. She clearly liked and respected the local residents and lifestyle. She is one of the best tour leaders I've experienced."
"Lauren was simply the best! With her knowledge, sense of humor, enthusiasm, sparkling personality, extra care and concern for all of us, she was a PERFECT guide! We loved her!"
"I have been on numerous guided tours around the world but none of the other guides were as spectacular as Lauren. She went above and beyond trying to accommodate everyone's requests. I was also extensively impressed with her knowledge. She told so many historical points, stories of the areas, fun facts, and had an answer for almost every question posed to her. If she did not have the answer she researched it and got back to us that day or the next. I loved her caring personality and her energy. She was always smiling and eager to take us on the next adventure or help us with whatever we needed. She was so patient and kind making sure we were all comfortable warm and had plenty to eat to drink. If not for her help with my camera, I would not have gotten any decent pictures of the northern lights. She helped everyone even when it was uncomfortable like when she was freezing her fingers and hands. I can't praise Lauren enough. She is absolutely wonderful and I would love to travel with her again one day! Alex and all the other staff were also wonderful going above and beyond to make this the trip of a lifetime!"
"Lauren was an exceptional guide - so attentive and caring of each traveler; her interpersonal skills made for this journey; knowledgeable about every part of the trip and subject at hand; could answer all questions posed; interjected fun stories and comments; happy all the time. I should comment that she trained with us on our polar bear trip to the Tundra Lodge in October! Wow! What she learned between then and now is truly remarkable! It was as though she'd been a leader with Natural Habitat for years. So glad we were lucky to have Lauren. Her enthusiasm was infectious. She led us well. I'd follow her on whatever trip she leads."
"Lauren Michaels was a leader of exceptional skill. This was my first 'group tour' and it was an interesting mix of personalities as I assume most are. Lauren was on top of so many things at once (from managing accommodations for a tour guest who came with her walker to guests with no appreciation for 'on time' starts). It was fun to have a museum guide say "I don't know, do you Lauren?" and have Lauren answer the question. She seemed to have a deep font of knowledge about everything. I would describe her accomplishment as making sure everything 'behind the curtain' happened and we, as guests, never really knew everything she did to make it so. And, no small thing, Lauren is simply so charming, smart and fun that I will definitely look for another tour with Lauren Michaels in the lead."