Who are we?

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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. Two years living and working in New York were followed by a couple of years 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 in 2004 Undiscovered Destinations was formed. 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.’

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 Huggins - Travel Consultant

My passion is geography and the natural world so working in travel is a natural fit. I have a bunch of different hats at UD including sales, designing new tours, and working closely with overseas colleagues to name but a few. Recent travel highlights include exploring the ancient pyramids of Meroe in Sudan, marvelling at the beauty of the High Caucasus mountains in Georgia, and tracking gorillas in Uganda. 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 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 tennis and cycling and has completed the 1000 mile ride from Lands End to John O'Groats amongst other long distance rides.

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 Maguire - Travel Consultant

Linda has relished the thrill of travel for many years, indulging it while pursuing a career in Hospitality Management, before eventually moving to work in travel. She has been fortunate enough to visit a number of destinations but has a particular love for Africa, admiring the beauty, culture and history of the continent, its magnificent wildlife and marvellous, proud and resilient people, who exhibit such a joy for life. When not travelling Linda loves being outdoors, enjoying our own wonderful countryside and wildlife and is an avid reader. However, her greatest joy is walking with her much loved little dog Leader.

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.

Rhia Steele - Travel Consultant

I’ve loved travel from an early age but it wasn’t until I was 18 and took part in a Russian cultural exchange that I developed a passion for travel, in particular learning about other cultures and customs. After completing my degree and working in London (twice), I moved back home to the north east and joined Undiscovered Destinations. Some top travel highlights include cruising down the Mekong Delta, searching for lemurs in Ranomafana National Park and spending a winter in Lapland. I am always looking for my next adventure, the only difficult thing is deciding where to go! 

Favourite Country / Destination – Spain, with Hoi An being a close second! 

Best travel experience - witnessing the evening prayers at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon – it was mesmerising. 

Describe yourself in three words – optimistic, smiley, spontaneous 

If I had a superpower it would be – time travel

Emma Dillon - Administrator

Emma is our super organised administrator and joined Undiscovered Destinations after 5 years in an administrator’s role for a local security company. She enjoys travel and exploring new places, having travelled to many European destinations and she has a particular love for all things Icelandic. A keep fit and food enthusiast (luckily the 2 go hand in hand) Emma is always on the go. As well as working full time at UD and regular visits to the gym, she is also studying towards a degree from the Open University.

Favourite country/destination – Iceland

Best travel experience – Reaching the summit (1,666m) of Eyjafjallajökull

Describe yourself in 3 words – Happy, inquisitive and outdoorsy

If you had a superpower what would it be? – Other than the ability to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull, the ability to make food appear by thought would be amazing. It would end world hunger and my constant rumbling stomach 

Aled Evans - Travel Consultant

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 keen motorcyclist, he has still not ruled out his ambition of riding from Cairo to Cape Town on a motorbike. 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 – Bangladesh

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 make a never ending cup of coffee.

Estelle Hisler - Travel Consultant

My travel adventures all started when I was young. Very young. With a mum living in Italy and a father in France, I used to ride the night train quite often through the Alps. Then, I remember the traditional summer road trip that led me to new lands every time, mainly in Europe at first. This taste for travel has never really left me, and, naturally pushed me to follow tourism studies, with a specialisation in sustainable tourism. After backpacking for several months all over New Zealand, I continued to enrich myself with the miles and riches that journeys have to offer, from the wilderness of Lapland or the absolute speechless starry skies in remote Tataouine, Southern Tunisia, to the half year full immersion in Madagascar. If polar regions (and everywhere which has to do with cold and snow) fascinate me, the African continent also hits me: its vast expanses are a real call to discovery and pure off-the-beaten track adventures. The alliance made of local encounters and landscapes are, to me, real sources of wonder, and this is what I want to share with you, as from today, with Undiscovered Destinations.

Favourite Country / Destination: Norway / Madagascar, especially the Saint Marie Island

Best travel experience: I have plenty memorable experiences but 2016 Rio Olympics Games was a particular thrilling one.

Describe yourself in three words: Cheerful, Positive, Audacious.

If I had a superpower it would be: That during trips, all my thoughts become written notes and pictures instinctively (very useful).