Nat Hab Guide Training 2015 in Frisco, Colorado.

Dear Nature Traveler,

I fancy myself a pretty good nature traveler. I’ve run Natural Habitat Adventures for THIRTY YEARS now (ouch!), so I’ve had the opportunity to journey to some pretty darned wild places, from the Arctic tundra to the African rain forest to remote islands in the Pacific. If you catch me talking to my old high school buddies, I sound as if I’m pretty interesting. At least I thought so until I spent time at our recent guide training retreat.

Nat Hab holds guide training symposiums regularly, each gathering held in a different part of the world. Usually it’s done in small groups (just like our trips) so our staff get the most out of the exercise. This week we flew guides in from Belize, Costa Rica, Alaska and the Lower 48 to the small mountain town of Frisco, Colorado, where we enjoyed training sessions, long discussions and, naturally, some general revelry. It was then, during the “revelry” with a wee bit of scotch (and maybe more), that my image of myself as “the most interesting man in the world” was completely dispelled.

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Nat Hab Expedition Leaders Kurt Johnson and Drew Hamilton. As you can see, Drew clearly beat me in the beard growing contest!

Not only could these guys grow beards faster and thicker than I could (there were women there, too, but they did not participate in the beard-growing thing), they could also drink better than me, they had more energy than I did and, even though they were younger than me, they all had many more exciting travel experiences than I’ve had. It’s all about the stories, and they whooped me.

From spending months studying grizzlies on the Katmai coast to photographing lost tribes in Papua New Guinea and snorkeling naked on the Mesoamerican reef, this group of captivating individuals had done much, much more than I have when it comes to travel and conservation.  In the end, I just had to take pride in the fact that I was able to hang out with them – and employ them – even though they are clearly much more interesting than I am.

Well, I’m not done traveling yet – in fact I feel as though I’ve just begun – so I still have time to catch up, though I can assure you I won’t be snorkeling naked on any reef anytime soon.

I hope to see you out there,


Check out a few more fun photos from the guide training!

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Nat Hab guide Drew Hamilton finishing strong in the tricycle race!

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But here’s expedition leader Moira Le Patrourel catching up!


Scavenger hunt at the guide training.