Amazon expedition leader Guillermo

Meet the Expert: Guillermo Knell

Amazon expedition leader Guillermo

We recently had the opportunity to do a quick Q & A with Expedition Leader Guillermo Knell to learn more about his background, interests, favorite expedition moments, travel bucket list, and more. We hope you enjoy discovering more about one of our expert expedition team members!

Where are you from and where have you lived?

I’m from Lima, Peru, where I have lived most of my life, but I did spend two years in Chicago for work.

Tell us about yourself—what path led you to becoming an International Expeditions (IE) leader?

My relationship with nature started very early, when I was a little boy. In college, I studied biology, focusing my interest mainly in field biology. That passion got me involved in nature tourism while I was working on my thesis, and I chose nature tourism as my career path and started working in the Amazon. 

In the beginning, my work combined two different activities: working as a guide at a lodge in the Amazon and working as a consultant for Amazonian NGOs. Those two experiences opened many doors and gave me many different experiences, eventually leading to the opportunity to work with IE.

Picture of Guillermo Knell in the Amazon

What other jobs, positions, or credentials do you have?

Currently, I’m combining my own commitment with my company (basically doing field logistics for several projects) with trips organized by IE and other companies. Since I started back in 1995, I have worked as a naturalist guide in several lodges in the Peruvian Amazon and on expedition cruise ships around the world. I have also worked as a Zodiac driver on expedition ships. 

Additionally, I have collaborated with many conservation NGOs as a consultant, mainly in Ecotourism subjects with native communities. 

Between 2003 and 2005, I worked for the Field Museum of Chicago as an International Programs Field Manager, and then in 2005 I worked as a field manager for the Smithsonian Institution (SCBI) in the Peru projects.

What other fields are you passionate about? 

I really like birdwatching, a bit of photography, and outdoor activities. 

Picture of Guillermo Knell in the Amazon Canopy

Any awards, publications, or television appearances you’d like to share? 

Several publications, mainly field guides, for certain regions in Peru (fauna field guides) and environmental education guides for ecotourism projects in Amazon communities. I have participated in the production of several documentaries and movies about the Amazon and their people (mainly behind the scenes doing logistics). 

What organizations are you a part of?

Officially I don’t belong to any organizations, but I collaborate with many depending on the projects, same as with my field logistics company. 

What excites you (or what do you enjoy) about working for IE? 

I enjoy working once again in the area I love so much, and the opportunity IE gave me was perfect and matched very well with my current work schedule. The IE staff members are a very easy-going people to work with and very professional. I had already worked with many of my colleagues along the river, as well as some of the local naturalists. Seeing them again has been like a reunion. It’s great to work with good people in a place that I am excited to return to again and again.

Picture of Guillermo Knell in Colombia

What is your favorite IE memory?

I always make great memories on IE’s Amazon voyages, although each of them is different. But I also enjoyed leading a couple land trips: one to Colombia with IE and one to Guyana with IE’s sister-company, Zegrahm Expeditions. I really enjoyed both of those trips because they focused on nature and birding, and traveling in a small groups makes such a difference. 

But Galapagos with IE was an exceptional trip for me, because it was on my bucket list for long time. Just being so close to the marine iguanas was an experience of a lifetime.

Picture of Guillermo Knell in the Galapagos

What non-for-profits or causes do you support or feel strongly about?

I feel very strongly about conservations issues, mainly the ones that focus on the Amazon basin and its people and conservation of wildlife in general.

What are your top three countries or regions in the world to explore?

The Amazon always keeps me fascinated, and it spreads across so many countries. The more of these places I can visit to expand my knowledge, the better, whether I’m involved in projects or just there to visit and explore.

I have also been to Africa twice before, but there’s still a lot to see, so I will put that on the list.

Australia and its surroundings is another region I would like to explore someday.

What’s left on your explorer’s bucket list/where do you still want to go that you haven’t been yet? Why there?

The Australian continent is my last continent to visit, but of course exotic places with wildlife are my favorite ones. 

Madagascar, China, and India are also some places I would like to see, but mainly their wildlife areas. 

Picture of Guillermo Knell and guests in Cartagena, Colombia

What does being a part of the IE family mean to you?  

For me, being part of this family means encounters with my passion and the ability to connect with the area I love so much (Amazon) and to connect to other wildlife experiences. I don’t like routine, and I have other commitments in the city, so having this combination of city and field is great for me, knowing that I will be disconnected from the city every now and then is a perfect match. 

Who is the IE explorer/traveler? 

A person who wants to be inspired with firsthand experiences when traveling, a person who is open to learning and that understands the respect you need to show and have when traveling. An IE explorer is a person that, depending on where they are going, is open to trading luxury for experience.