Who are we?
Jim Louth – Director and founder of Undiscovered Destinations
Jim developed his passion for travel from a young age. Firstly, thanks to his father’s employment with British Rail and the concessions on offer, he explored Europe by train. After leaving school Jim began to travel further afield; Greyhound bus across America, an independent overland trip through Africa and the Trans-Siberian railway all by the time he was 20. A couple of years living and working in New York were followed by a two year stint teaching English in Brazil, plus plenty of travel in between. It was then time to settle down. Jim was delighted when his application to work for the UK’s leading independent travel agency Trailfinders was accepted. This meant a move to the north east of England, which he now considers to be very much home. After five years with Trailfinders it was time to take the plunge and to set up Undiscovered Destinations. Since then there’s been no looking back as Jim has developed his love for travel into a highly successful business. When asked what motivates him, Jim always gives the same answer ‘That’s easy. It’s the fact that I know we’re making a real difference, opening up countries to the potential of responsible tourism and the benefits that this can bring.’ When not travelling, Jim can be found with friends tucked away in one of Newcastle’s legendary pubs.
Favourite country/destination – Bangladesh
Best travel experience – Cruising down the Ganges Delta onboard a 100 year old ‘Rocket’ paddle steamer
Describe yourself in 3 words – Adventurous, Considerate, Curious
If I had a superpower it would be – Bring more equality to the world
Mark's love of geography and the natural environment stems from an early age. After leaving school Mark embarked on a round the world trip that embedded a passion for experiencing new countries and cultures. Mark has over 10 years of experience in the travel industry and recent travel highlights include scaling the limestone peaks of the Tsingy in Madagascar, feeling very small at the vast canyon of Jebel Shams in Oman, and getting up close and personal with elephants at a conservation project in Myanmar. All-time travel highlight? Tough one but it has to be scaling the awesome tepui mountain of Roraima in Venezuela. Mark is a passionate environmentalist and has also worked with communities and the third sector across the North East of England promoting renewable energy and resource efficiency, raising awareness of the local and regional impact of Climate Change and raising the profile of fuel poverty. In his spare time Mark is a sports and outdoor enthusiast with a particular love of cycling and recently completed the 1000 mile ride from Lands End to John O'Groats.
Favourite country/destination – Tough question but if you’re gonna push me then I’ll go for Italy
Best travel experience – Climbing Mt Roraima in Venezuela inspiration for Conan Doyle’s Lost World
Describe yourself in 3 words – Totally sport mad (to the annoyance of my wife!)
If I had a superpower it would be – To fly (without being in a plane)
Linda joins Undiscovered Destinations having relished the thrill of travel for many years during a career in Hospitality Management and, for the past 14 years, in the travel industry. She has been fortunate enough to visit a number of destinations worldwide but has a particular love for Africa, admiring the beauty and history of the continent, its magnificent wildlife and wonderful, proud and resilient people who exhibit a real joy for life in often trying conditions. She shares our keen interest in emerging destinations and is looking forward to the day to day involvement with them. When not travelling Linda has a love of nature and wildlife, in particular England's Lake District and is an avid reader.
Favourite country/destination - Ethiopia
Best travel experience - Waking up on the first morning in a new country
Describe yourself in 3 words - optimistic, empathetic, engaged
If I had a superpower it would be - To possess a cloak of invisibility
Jan "Llama" Tvernoe
Nicknamed "The Llama" by friends, family and colleagues, Jan is known to be an intrepid and always "over" curious traveller always coming up with crazy ideas for new adventures. Jan has a special passion for Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Galapagos which he has travelled from A to Z, obtaining a unique knowledge of logistics and infrastructure in these destinations. Another of his passions are our more unusual destinations such as Guyana, Mongolia, Easter Island and Sudan, all of which he has recently traveled too.
Jan eventually met with Mark from Undiscovered Destinations in Sudan, of all places, and from the first moment it was clear that there was a mutual travel philosophy. Stranded in Istanbul with a few pints of Turkish beer it was obvious that we had to meet again, so after a short meeting in Newcastle, Jan joined the team in June 2014.
Favourite country/destination - Peru - which was where I got my serious and potentially fatal travel bug infection! I also feel very much at home in an Amazonian dug-out canoo, on the Galapagos Islands and in rural mainland Greece feasting on Souvlaki and Tzatziki.
Best travel experience - Climbing Peru's and the tropics highest mountain, Huascaran at 6,768m in the amazing Cordillera Blanca stands out. Also Kaieteur Falls in Guyana and sitting face to face with a leopard in Yala NP, Sri Lanka. It could be staying with nomads on the vast Mongolian steppes or drinking a Pint of Guinness with my wonderful parents in Kilkenny celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
Describe yourself in 3 words - Exploring, Entrepreneurial, Persistent
If I had a superpower it would be -Teleporting myself and my clients around the world instead of spending days in flights and airports.
Rhia joins Undiscovered Destinations after spending a year in London working at a specialist South East Asian tour operator. Having spent many holidays in Spain, Rhia soon caught the travel bug and developed an interest in the history and culture of destinations. Some travel highlights include living with a local family in Russia, cruising down the Mekong Delta and spending a winter in Lapland. Now back in the North East, Rhia is looking forward to developing her knowledge, all whilst planning her next adventure (the only difficult thing is deciding where to go!).
Favourite country/destination – Spain (although Hoi An is a close second!)
Best travel experience – watching the sun set over the Mekong Delta from the top of a mountain.
Describe yourself in three words – optimistic, smiley, spontaneous
If I had a superpower it would be – to be able to read people’s minds. It would make life so much easier at times.
With over twenty years experience in the travel and tourism sector, ranging from airlines to travel agents and tour operators, Aled still maintains a passion for travel. A qualified diver and keen motorcyclist, any destination with good diving is a favourite and he has still not ruled out his ambition of riding from Cairo to Cape Town on a motorbike, despite what his wife may say! Aled deals with the marketing and business development aspects of Undiscovered Destinations but will often be found with his head down working on a new tour or a private itinerary for our clients.
Favourite country/destination – Romania - having just had a wonderful trip around this stunning country, I can honestly say this is one place I would return to tomorrow.
Best travel experience – Finding a caracal having a snooze in our room while on safari in Africa.
Describe yourself in 3 words – Concise
If I had a superpower it would be – to say no when someone says 'one for the road'!