Philippe J.R. Kok, PhD
Besides my scientific research, I am involved in “nature-based science tourism”. I think that scientists have more responsibilities than creating knowledge and transferring it to peers and students. They should also disseminate scientific knowledge to large audiences, and be more engaged in environmental education (see here). It’s a win-win situation: you are guided by experts and the benefits are injected in scientific field research.
I work in collaboration with Juan Mora – a registered local tour operator in Venezuela – to organise educational trips (“edu-trips”): adventurous wildlife and natural history journeys for travellers who want to explore stunning regions of the world with a desire to learn more about them. You are in good hands, check our short bios below. These trips are specifically geared towards amateur or professional naturalists, bird-watchers, wildlife-watchers, wildlife-photographers, or simply nature lovers.
The edu-trips currently focus on Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Lost World” (the iconic tepuis of South America), but there is more to come. Juan is dealing with most of the logistics and permits in Brazil and Venezuela while I personally guide all our trips, which are available at different difficulty levels: from mild (accessible to everyone, even to the less fit, e.g., Roraima-tepui) to extra hot (mental and physical skills required, e.g., Maringma-tepui). I guide groups of maximum 8 customers mostly to minimise our impact on the ecosystem (we leave no trace) but also to allow better interactions among people and optimise our chances to observe wildlife.
The price of these journeys includes everything (food, drinks, lodging, all local transportations, porters [when needed], helicopter [when needed: most tepui summits are not accessible by foot], etc.); except international plane tickets. We take care of your equipment while hiking so you can focus on your binoculars for the best observations and on your camera settings for the best shots.
Indeed! Weather on tepui summits is largely unpredictable and can be very harsh (heavy rains, strong winds). The success of field trips in such extreme environments strongly relies on your preparation and the quality of your equipment. This is the reason why we also provide, free of charge:
– High-quality tents (MSR®), with light inside (single = 2 person-tent, double = 3 person-tent, so you have room enough to be comfortable with some of your gear)
– High-quality inflatable mattresses (Exped®)
– A large high-quality base camp tent (Big Agnes®) for group gathering
– Comfortable chairs to sit in the field/in your tent (Crazy Creek®)
– All kitchen tools
– High-quality headlamps for night excursions (Ledlenser®)
– Access to solar batteries (GoalZero®) to charge your cameras, phones, etc.
– High-quality hiking poles (Gram-Counter Gear®) if necessary
For security reasons we always carry a satellite phone (Iridium®)
Customers to Roraima also receive a digital map to download on their smartphone/tablet
After being duly registered, every customer receives a complete list of recommended personal equipment (shoes, clothes, sleeping bag, etc.) to make the journey as comfortable as possible. We are at your disposal for any recommendation needed. For every piece of kit that we do not provide, we suggest the top (best on the market in our opinion, but often expensive) and middle range (good quality at accessible price). Too busy to take care of this? Tell us your size and we will prepare everything for you thanks to our collaboration with online retailers.
Dr Philippe J.R. Kok
Born in 1970 in a small village of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Philippe holds a PhD in Biology and is doing hardcore field work for more than 25 years. For his research and teaching he spent 880+ days in the field, including more than 350 days in the Pantepui region only. He explored 15+ tepui summits (some several times) and camped up to 46 days in a row on a tepui top. Philippe has been teaching “Field Herpetology” at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium) to Master 2 students in biology for 7 years (234 h study time/year), taking his students from the lush tropical rainforests of the Guiana Shield to tepui summits and high paramo in the Andes (and bringing them back home safe and sound). He published 80+ refereed papers in primary journals and books (including high ranked international journals such as Current Biology, Scientific Reports, Journal of Biogeography, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, etc.), and described 48 new taxa of amphibians and reptiles so far.
Juan was born in Venezuela, in Maracay (Aragua State), in 1977 and is living in the Gran Sabana area for 35 years. Juan started working in the tourism industry at 18 years old and thus has more than 24 years of experience. Together with his wife, Aljam Naim, he built his own company, which is located in Santa Elena de Uairén at the border between Venezuela and Brazil, and promotes eco-tourism and adventure travels in and around the Gran Sabana. Juan is fluent in English and Portuguese (in addition to Spanish, his mother tongue). Juan and Philippe know each other for several years, mostly in the framework of Philippe’s scientific research.