Founder & President
When Leo left Colombia in 2010 and moved back home to the Philippines to set up Uncharted there, he was confident that he would establish the best adventure travel company in the country. What he didn't expect was the disappointment of numerous happy customers by the fact that his company only offered travel services in the Philippines – if only Uncharted could take them around other countries as well! So in 2015 Leo moved to the United States and set up Uncharted Earth to take people to the other little-known yet wondrous places on this planet.
Leo grew up paddling canoes and riding water buffalos in his dad's farm in the Philippines. He spent his early twenties hiking, diving, traveling and working in leisure real estate development. In 2006 he decided to follow his passion for adventure travel, but he wanted a method to his madness. The following year he was in Boston, Massachusetts getting his MBA from Babson College, a business school known for entrepreneurship. While studying Leo worked with Earthwatch Institute and gained valuable insight into sustainable travel. After graduation he moved to Colombia to work with a company that ran summer camps and nature tours and there he learned the intricacies of running adventure trips in a developing country. In 2010, feeling that he had learned enough, Leo moved back to the Philippines and has been running the country's best adventure travel company since.
Leo now runs Uncharted Earth in Las Vegas, Nevada and makes regular trips to the Philippines and Colombia to meet with his teams, develop new trips and do the things that he misses in the desert like diving and kayaking. He lives twelve minutes away from Red Rock Canyon and spends his free time hiking and climbing with his wife and keeping their dog out of trouble with roadrunners and ground squirrels.
Cami may look like a fifteen year old but she has seen a lot of the world. In the past seven years she has lived in four countries, moved six times and worked in five industries. She grew up in Bogota, Colombia where she spent all of her vacations traveling around the country with her family. She got an industrial engineering degree and spent her early working days in the finance and insurance industries. In 2008, looking to shift to strategic consulting, Cami moved to the United States to get her MBA at HULT Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Towards the end of her studies, however, several unexpected things happened. The global financial crisis hit. Cami met a Filipino who reacquainted her with her love for climbing and the outdoors. She spent a semester in China and fell in love with Asia, traveling and chow fan. Four years later these unrelated events proved to be factors that steered Cami towards an Uncharted career path. After getting her MBA Cami moved back to Colombia and spent two years working in business development, human resources and marketing. During that time she went on several adventure trips with her Filipino boyfriend before they eventually got married and moved to the Philippines. Cami's passion for traveling and experiencing new things made her realize that a corporate desk job was not for her. In 2013 Cami joined Uncharted Philippines and her talents helped develop it into the best adventure travel company in the country. Her work indulged her passion for new experiences, discovering places, and learning about different countries and cultures. In 2015, with the Philippine business well established, she moved back to the United States to help run Uncharted Earth.
Cami is an experienced diver, hiker, rock climber and backpacker. She is also an aspiring connoisseur of photography, Chilean wine and apple cider.
Need to know the name of an interesting cactus or the types of animals that might live in it? Becky is sure to know. After a childhood spent exploring the diverse climates of the American Southwest and developing a love for beaches, mountains, and deserts alike, she joined the United States Army as a water purification specialist. This adventure took her to South Korea, where she enjoyed the local culture and met her future husband. She returned to the United States with excellent organizational skills and a strong appreciation of clean water. She now makes the beautiful desert of Las Vegas her home with her husband and three children and teaches nature journalling to educational groups, while working on her goal of exploring the hidden wonders in every National Park.
Nicole is a self-proclaimed roaming nomad who enjoys meeting new people and working in new lands. She loves all things vintage, old-world and one-of-a-kind. A full-time writer, screenwriter and producer, she gathers all inspiration from her travels and enjoys immersing herself in new cultures and acting as an anthropologist. She’s lived and worked in four different countries and is always on the move. Never staying in one place too long, she enjoys freelancing and working on creative projects with a variety of artists. Along with pictures of puppies, scuba diving, singing, illustrating and interviewing people for her next story make her smile.
Nicole is excited to be a part of the Uncharted Earth family and looks forward to sharing her adventures with you through her writing. If you leave happy comments on her articles, she will send you a virtual cupcake.
Rafa is a civil engineer, climber and mountaineer. In more than 20 years of climbing experience he has scaled some of the highest peaks in Colombia and the world. In Colombia he has summited all of the mountains in Los Nevados and El Cocuy National Natural Parks. At the international level, Rafa reached the top of Mount Everest on May 16, 2010. He has also summitted Mount Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Americas) in 2003 and 2013, the two volcanoes Cotopaxi and Chimborazo in Ecuador in 2004, Denali (the tallest mountain in North America) in 2004 and 2012, and has joined expeditions to Mount Everest North Col (2007) and Mount Manaslu (2008) in the Himalayas.
Rafa has climbed in Patagonia Argentina, in the Cordillera Blanca in Peru and on Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. In Colombia he has opened many traditional, sport, big wall and bouldering routes.
If Rafa's climbing resume does not impress you, his trip organization, attention to details and Bolognese sauce made from scratch over a camping stove surely will.
Antonio is a climber and mountaineer. His climbing history began more than 15 years ago in Suesca, a municipality an hour away from Bogota and the center of rock climbing in Colombia. His passion for climbing led him to open more than 40 climbing routes in different parts of the country such as Machetá, Sutatausa and El Cocuy National Natural Park. These routes are among the most difficult in the country. His passion also led him to climb various big walls and to open, together with 5 friends, a new route 500 meters high on the wall of Pan de Azucar with pitches ranging from 5.11c to 5.13+.
In 2010 Antonio climbed Mount Aconcagua, known as the colossus of America with an altitude of 6,962 masl, solo. He also joined an Everest expedition where he got up to 7,900 masl.
Antonio’s appetite for climbing is matched only by his appetite for food. Not a believer in packing light when it comes to nutrition, he will always offer more snacks than you can finish.
Although Paulo comes from a family of city folk, he has a natural affinity for the fields, forests and mountains of his region, and for hiking, camping or riding his bike to explore. He is interested in many things but he is especially curious about everything there is to know about all types of animals and plants, and all the processes and phenomena in nature. Paulo feels more at home in forests and páramos than in cities. When he is out exploring in the mountains Paul feels that he is his true self.
Paulo takes pride in having the ability to easily make friends in any place and situation. He likes spreading his joy to those around him and these opportunities abound as a trip leader, making his work very enjoyable for him. Paulo studied Veterinary Medicine but since 2004 has been captivated by tour guiding, a profession that he came across by chance and now is his passion.
Among Paulo's other passions is mountain biking, which he does when he is not trekking or crossing one of the glaciers of Los Nevados National Natural Park. At home Paulo likes to read about history, culture and nature; he also listens to salsa since because of his work he doesn't have many opportunities to go out and dance. Of course, there will always be a good excuse to celebrate.
Jairo Bogotá Benavides
Jairo is an environmental engineer, climber and mountaineer. For more than 20 years he been promoting rock climbing, mountaineering and competition climbing as professional activities. In recent years he has made countless ascents of the highest difficulty in different areas in Colombia and around the world.
Jairo is a chief route setter for national and international climbing competitions, a trainer for kids and adults in climbing gyms in Bogota, and is the president of Technical Committee of the Colombian Federation of Sport Climbing. In 2016 he was certified as a Wilderness First Responder.
Cata is a Biologist and Dive Instructor and has been teaching others how to dive since she was very young. Her passion led her from an early age to get started in this wonderful underwater world and leave her native Bogotá to be near the sea. With more than 15 years of diving experience and 12 years as an instructor Cata has become a passionate leader in her profession. Thanks to her virtues as an instructor more and more people choose to discover the great world of diving with her.
Her commitment and dedication gave Cata the privilege of diving and working in different parts of the world. St Marteen, Bahamas, Tobago, Indonesia, Panama, St Thomas, Anguilla, Amalfi Coast in Italy, the Riviera Maya in Mexico, Colombia and South Africa are all part of her experience in the activity she enjoys doing the most.
Specialties like EFR Instructor (Emergency First Response, RCP and First Aids), Specialty Instructor Digital Underwater photographer, Specialty Instructor Night Diver, Specialty Instructor Wreck Diver, Specialty Instructor Deep Diver, Specialty Instructor Aware Fish Identification, Cavern Diver and Intro to Cave diver, complement her broad curriculum as a Master Scuba Diver Trainer PADI # 199168.
If you want to discover the beauty of the Colombian Caribbean there is no doubt that Cata will be your best guide during this great experience.
Zean likes to bite off more than he can chew. This is most applicable when it comes to food as he can easily gorge down a meal that's good for 3 persons. But other than his voracious appetite for anything edible, he moreover has a big hunger and thirst for new and exciting experiences.
Zean took up Biology in college, hoping to someday become a doctor. But his forays into mountaineering and other outdoor activities changed all of that, and he eventually decided to pursue other "less confining" occupational options. His professional history thereafter became as colorful and diverse as the many places he's been to. Zean has worked in widely different fields, including environmental conservation (whereby he worked as a marine biologist and lived on an island), finance, arts and literature (he was once a dancer and theater actor), education, and information technology. The only thing that remained constant was his passion for travel, adventure, and the outdoors. His itch was just too irrepressible that he left a lucrative and stable office job at an IT company for the freedom and challenges of a freelance career.
Having helped set up the Uncharted company from the get-go, Zean has likewise put up his own creative media business which allows him to indulge in his interests in photography, writing, web development, and graphic design. He is also a scuba diving instructor and likes to spend his free time hiking, rock climbing, freediving, and surfing. Needless to say, he also loves to eat.
Ana grew up with leopards, lions, elephants and hyenas. Her father was assigned in Zambia for work and she spent her childhood happily swimming in lakes and going on safaris and picnics in the land of dangerous beasts. Growing up so close to wild animals prepared Ana perfectly for her future job working with the Uncharted Philippines team. Ana's childhood in Zambia also instilled in her the love of the outdoors. There was nothing to watch on TV so she entertained herself outside, riding her bike and playing volleyball in the African savanna.
In early high school Ana and her family moved back to the Philippines. She spent a couple of years in Baguio City where she enjoyed hiking in the mountains and following streams to waterfalls. Ana went to Manila for college where she took up Accounting and joined the volleyball team. After graduation Ana spent 14 years in Customer Service in one of the country's largest banks. It was there that she met her husband who was (pretending to be) a client at the time. They got married after a whirlwind romance of two months and are currently enjoying their second decade together. After her banking career Ana spent several years in the BPO industry before joining Uncharted Philippines. Her organization skills, many years of experience in customer service, love for the outdoors, and affinity with animals make her our ideal Operations Manager.
Ana enjoys biking and going to the beach with her husband. They are big on road trips and have driven all the way from Ilocos Norte to Davao in three days, taking turns on the wheel and dutifully keeping each other company by sleeping in the passenger seat.
Though Dax has always been a nature-lover and has a post-graduate degree in Environment and Natural Resources Management, he got his first dose of extreme outdoor adventure and physical torture challenge during his stint with the Philippine Navy. After Dax left the Navy he entered the security and safety industry and handled projects for some of the best island resorts in the country. His work required him to spend much of his time on islands and beaches (poor guy) and the outdoors became a major part of his life and livelihood.
In 2012 Dax established his own security consulting firm and he was also an operations officer for a commercial diving company. As if his work protecting people and executing complicated dives wasn't exciting enough, Dax also joined Uncharted Philippines as a trip leader. Leading trips enables Dax to commune with the wild and the sea (two of his great loves) and gives him a chance to show off his beloved country to other people. It also gives him eager audiences for his many interesting life stories. As trip leader Dax makes sure that our tours have the things that he values: excitement, safety, physical challenge and lots of nature.
Dax (whose real name is Jeffrey by the way; like a Navy SEAL he has a cool nickname that fits his personality better), is a family man with a wife, four kids and 20 pairs of Vibram Five Fingers.
Don't be alarmed if you think you see blood in Jody's mouth while hiking with him. He's not bleeding from exhaustion. In fact, while you might be catching your breath, Jody probably hasn't even broken a sweat. Jody has been hiking in the Ifugao mountains since he was a kid and the area's trails are as challenging to him as your neighborhood's sidewalks are to you. The red liquid in his mouth is not blood; it's the juice of a palm tree seed (commonly known as betel nut) that he loves to chew.
Jody is a Banaue local and knows the region's people, customs and culture intimately. He is also very interested in foreign cultures and can speak a surprising amount of French and a smattering of other languages. Living in the small town of Banaue opens up the world to Jody and he is friends with hundreds of people from every corner of the globe. When Jody is not guiding people in the mountains he can be found at a guesthouse that he helps run, on the road riding his tricycle or at home with his young family.
If you've ever seen photos or videos of Ifugao men in their traditional attire racing wooden scooters down a hill at breakneck speed, chances are you’ve seen Marvin before. He's part of the Banaue Wooden Scooter Racing Team and his photo has graced many magazines and newspapers. Yes, Marvin is a sort of celebrity, but he is a tough one – you need to be if you ride a scooter with zero shock absorption at 50 kph on bumpy roads. Many things attract Marvin to scooter racing – the speed, the rugged action, the adoring fans – but it's the tradition and culture associated with the race that is most important to him. Marvin is very proud and knowledgeable of everything Ifugao and he exudes this pride and knowledge when he takes guests around his home region. Get past his infectious smile and you will find a serious devotee of Ifugao culture and history.
Aside from being a racer, celebrity and trip leader, Marvin is also a double major in IT and Tourism.
Jonathan has a gift. No matter what he is doing his hair is always impeccably styled. On the most challenging and rugged trails he looks like he just got out of the salon. In fact, only moments after a swim or putting on a hat Jonathan's hair is already back to its usual form.
Aside from his hair Jonathan has two more things that are always in perfect order: his pleasant attitude and desire to show his guests a wonderful time. Jonathan's grin is as constant as his coiffure and he goes out of his way to ensure that his travel companions wear similar smiles. Though always smiling he takes his job very seriously. From reading to learn more about different cultures to attending various skills training seminars, Jonathan is constantly improving himself as a trip leader. A proud Ifugao and a multi-skilled guide, Jonathan is the ideal person to show you around the Banaue region and surrounding areas.
When not leading trips or styling his hair Jonathan helps run a guesthouse in Banaue and chews betel nut with his friends.
He won't admit to it, but Jhonas is a rock star among tour guides in Coron. Ok, maybe not a rock star but definitely a TV star – he has been on national television thrice, taking celebrities around his beloved Northern Palawan. Jhonas is historian, storyteller, environmentalist, outdoorsman and chef rolled into the ideal island expedition leader.
Jhonas finds beauty, excitement and inspiration in nature. He is an avid photographer, a motocross rider and an excellent cook, and nature provides his subjects, playground and ingredients. Not surprisingly, Jhonas devotes a lot of time on activities that help preserve the environment for future generations.
Jhonas leads our boat expedition in Northern Palawan and shares his passion for nature, culture and cooking with his lucky guests. In his leisure time he likes to play basketball and soccer and go trekking.
Ken De Vera
Don't let his boyish, happy-go-lucky looks fool you: Ken has had a stormy life. No, his life is not all drama – it's just that he often gets caught in typhoons (a typhoon is the Philippine version of a hurricane). Ken has survived being caught in storms on top of a mountain, beside a rampaging river and even in a small boat in the middle of the sea. He is a seasoned backpacker who has explored some of the most remote regions in the Philippines. Ken is serious about taking "the road less traveled" – so serious that he often plans his personal escapades during the stormy season so he can avoid crowds of tourists. Getting caught in typhoons just comes with the territory.
When the weather is more pleasant and less life-threatening Ken leads trips for our guests. He is an outdoorsman, a self-taught chef and a beer connoisseur. Ken is also a licensed Landscape Architect and is the perfect resource for learning about the fascinating plants you see while traveling in the Philippines.
Ken's dream is to settle down in a tropical island and run his own café where he can share his love for good food, coffee, music, literature and films and where he can regale people with stories of his stormy adventures.
Joe became a mountain explorer not for sport but for art. He has been a bonsai artist since 2003 and took to the mountains in search of yamadori which are naturally occurring bonsai. Yamadori are highly prized by bonsai enthusiasts but Joe came to realize that taking them from their natural habitat is wrong. Like other wild plants yamadori are essential to their ecosystem and are more valuable in nature than in a pot. Joe turned to sustainable bonsai art and now rescues hedge plants and other bonsai material that are threatened by construction and development around Palawan.
Joe grew up in Manila but was seduced by the adventure possibilities of Palawan and now lives in Puerto Princesa as a professional guide. He is known as a walking information desk (for being both knowledgeable and talkative), a gym rat who gets into a Zen state while pumping iron, and an endurance junkie who crosses open seas in a kayak. Despite his impressive physical and mental attributes Joe considers his being "sensitive, conscientious, reliable and compassionate" as his key strengths as a Trip Leader. (We'd say his being a drama queen is his greatest strength but this is his profile so what he says goes...)
Joe enjoys making gourmet meals in remote wilderness and at high altitude. He is the happy husband of a wife who taught him how to bake and the proud father of a daughter who dreams of becoming a marine biologist.