TravelQuest International President, Aram Kaprielian, grew up within the travel industry. In the 1980s, he worked for and managed his father’s group travel company, Travel Bug International, one of the original pioneering astronomy travel companies.
Having traveled to almost every region of the world, Aram fell in love with the mountains of Arizona and founded TravelQuest in Prescott, Arizona in 1996.
Since that time, he and the TQ Team have made it their passion to create innovative travel programs to all parts of the world – from the American Southwest, to Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and even Antarctica and the North Pole – and provide the very best in client services
Aram personally scouts out emerging destinations, and has visited all seven continents. His passion for sharing unique, one-of-a-kind travel experiences with travelers from around the world is evident in every TravelQuest program.
Cody Carter, Office Manager and head of Client Relations, strives to deliver a friendly, informed and heartening experience to the sum of TravelQuest’s patrons. With an ability to sculpt a positive and memorable interrelation with the consumer, she is set to help mold the creative clay of upcoming tours and provide a harmonious relationship with all of TravelQuest’s clientele… the heart of our business.
Cody has led four total solar eclipse tours since the dawning of her career with TravelQuest in 2014. She’s stood in the Moon’s shadow in Sulawesi, Indonesia, Jackson, WY, and Vicuña, Chile. You may have seen her most recently for the 2021 eclipse, where TQ witnessed an unobstructed sky and picture-perfect totality in the Antarctic interior.
The behind-the-scenes phases of tour development and document writing provide a gratifying combination of continually expanding knowledge, and the recognition that there are always new and exciting adventures on the horizon. Cody eagerly awaits the next unique travel experience, while maintaining the TravelQuest standard of excellence in between celestial happenings.
Sunde Gonzalez, Client Relations, is the newest member of the TravelQuest team. Born and raised on an organic pumpkin farm outside of TravelQuest’s hometown in Prescott, AZ, she developed a strong character performing vigorous tasks, acquired invaluable life skills, and secured the incredible work ethic that she brings to TQ each and every day. With an affinity to get things done, an eye for detail, and a love of people, cultures and foreign destinations, she naturally secured her space with the TravelQuest team.
Sunde is the proud mother of four beautiful children and loves sports and the outdoors. Her passion for travel was first born when she traveled to Australia as a youth. It was there she realized how immense the world is, and how much she has yet to see and experience. Her love of exploring and adventure has resulted in her “notriphobia,” or the fear of not having any trips booked. She is dedicated to making sure TQ travelers do not suffer that fate! Sunde looks forward to becoming acquainted with the many friends of TravelQuest.
After acquiring a BSc in Physics and Astronomy from the University of British Columbia, Jay became a weather forecaster with Environment Canada, the Canadian government’s official forecast agency. He compiled a study of weather prospects for the 1979 total solar eclipse and has been producing studies of the climatology along eclipse tracks ever since, first for the U.S. Naval Observatory and, after 1990, with Fred Espenak, under NASA auspices, official compilations of upcoming eclipses. When the NASA publications ended, Jay continued to make his eclipse weather studies available on his web site eclipsophile.com. In the more than four decades since the weather studies began, he has travelled to over 30 eclipses.
In 1994, he joined Travel Bug (the precursor to TravelQuest) to help find an eclipse-viewing site in Bolivia. When Travel Bug turned into TravelQuest, Jay became an instrumental part of TravelQuest’s eclipse-site location team and has worked with Aram Kaprielian steadily since that time. He has also led numerous TQ eclipse tours. After his retirement from Environment Canada, Jay taught classes in meteorology and climate change at the University of Manitoba for a number of years. He still helps in teaching a storm-chasing course at the University. From 2005 to 2015, he acted as editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and still continues to write for the publication. Jay has recently completed a book, The Peterson Field Guide to Weather, with co-authors Jay Pasachoff and John Day.
Bill is an associate editor at Discover magazine, where he writes and edits stories about all the sciences, but he remains the resident “space guru.” Before joining the Discover staff, he worked as an editor at Astronomy magazine and spent time at the Mayo Clinic and New York Times Student Journalism Institute. He’s always loved space and the physical sciences, and enjoys convincing people (in person or through his writing) that they do, too. He even has a favorite equation, and knows how to juggle.
Bill lives in Milwaukee with his wife and her cat, taking every chance to talk about astronomy and visit other exotic locales. Since his youth, he’s enjoyed varied and storied travels, from the tunnels beneath Seattle to the rooftops of MIT, and the swamps of south Florida to the cafes of Paris. Perhaps one day, he’ll watch c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
Kelly is a Senior Editor at Sky & Telescope magazine and has been explaining the science and wonder of astronomy to the public since 1974. An award-winning writer and communicator, he specializes in planetary science and space exploration. He holds a Bachelors degree from the California Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University.
Kelly enjoys sharing his passion for astronomy with a wide spectrum of audiences, from children to professional astronomers, and his work has appeared in numerous other magazines, newspapers, and encyclopedias. You’ll occasionally hear his interviews and guest commentaries on National Public Radio. He observes the night sky often through one of his eight telescopes.
He has been leading astronomical tours since 1991, including eleven total solar-eclipse expeditions. Two of his three TQ airborne charter flights that carried passengers literally to the ends of the Earth — skirting the North and South Poles — to witness totality. He orchestrated TQ’s viewing of the 2004 Transit of Venus from Castel Gandolfo, Italy, served as Trip Leader/Astronomer for the 2012 Venus Transit tour in Tahiti and led a trip to Costa Rica in 2015 to enjoy the Southern Sky.
Cathrine was born and raised in Norway and later studied economics and history in Norway and Sweden and returned to the cold, natural beauty of Norway where she now lives (albeit part time). For years Cathrine worked as an alpine ski instructor while also escorting large incentive groups all over Europe. Nowadays, in addition to living with her family in a small town by the Oslo Fjord, Cathrine spends time in Paris which she also loves.
In 2001 Cathrine fell in love with Africa and, for the past 8 years, she has managed her own company, Ditt Afrika – a tour operator which allows her to indulge another passion, camping in the African bush. In fact, Cathrine met our TQ team on a train in South Africa, and then joined us on a South Pacific Cruise in 2012, adding a new passion! Being a proud Norwegian she obviously joined us for the Svalbard eclipse in 2015.
Cathrine is super-organized and accepts travel challenges with her great smile and infectious laugh.
Hans Clugston trained in anthropology at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He had the typical stints of university teaching, museum work, lab work, and fieldwork in Latin America. Hans also worked on-tour for a national travel company and as the Director of Operations for a Central American tourism development company. For more than 20 years, Hans and his family have made their home in Prescott, where these days he is a partner at one of the oldest law firms in Northern Arizona.
Hans has accompanied eclipse-chasing TravelQuest travelers since 2008 — to the Gobi Desert, Shanghai, and Mt. Kenya. He has also participated in TravelQuest’s pre-tour scouting trips and worked with numerous TravelQuest trip leaders and tour professionals. Without question, eclipse travel has become one of the most important destinations and journeys in his personal and professional life.
For more than four decades, Paul has been helping others discover the wonder and beauty of the night sky via his work at several Canadian planetariums and as an editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. While at S&T, he joined his first TravelQuest trip — a 2002 northern lights tour to Alaska. Since becoming a freelance astronomy writer/editor, Paul has combined his passion for astronomy with his love of travel, journeying with TQ to China, Turkey, Chile, Iceland, and Norway for eclipse and aurora viewing. He maintains that Iceland is one of the most amazing (and photogenic) places on Earth.
Travel and education have been at the heart of David’s life path. David has found a way to combine these two endeavors, leading to hours of adventure, service, and learning. As a former classroom teacher, school principal, and now teacher of teachers, David has helped lead learning experiences all over the world.
As a Director for the Green Schools National Network, David works to make education for sustainability a common practice in all schools. Part of that work involves deepening connections for students and adults to the natural world, a corresponding aspect of a TravelQuest opportunity! David has assisted TravelQuest participants on phenomenal trips resulting in rich, deep learning and mind-blowing eclipse experiences.
Michel has been involved in the South African eco-tourism industry for the past 36 years. Having worked with well known safari lodges such as Sabi Sabi and Djuma ….Michel now consults in the eco-tourism field, and his consulting experience, in places as varied as Madagascar and Bhutan, stands him in good stead when dealing with operations at diverse destinations.
His association with TravelQuest started in 2002 when he coordinated our South African Solar Eclipse tour in Venda. Once exposed by TQ, he was instantly hooked on this unique astronomical niche. Visiting exotic places to view “when the crocodile eats the sun” (a Shona proverb for a solar eclipse) has becoming a passion for Michel. He has subsequently worked for TQ as a Trip Manager for eclipses in Turkey (2006), China (2008), Easter Island (2010), on the Paul Gauguin South Seas cruise (2012), Ethiopia (2013), Faroe Islands (2015),Bali Indonesia (2016), USA (2017) and Peru/Chile (2019).
Raised in South Africa, Warren has an immense appetite for the natural world. His career has steered him through a variety of organizations from the Wilderness Leadership School, where he pioneered trails and led groups through South Africa’s unspoiled wilderness, to Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, South Africa’s premiere Private Reserve. Here he worked as a game ranger and escorted more than 5,000 travelers on photographic safaris, including prestigious groups for the Museum of Television & Radio and National Geographic.
Currently Warren resides in rural Virginia where he operates a niche marketing company dedicated to supporting those tourism ventures that show commitment to the environment, both natural and cultural, in which they operate. His first eclipse trip with TQ was in 2012 in the South Pacific and he joined TravelQuest again in Svalbard in 2015.
César is a student of history, art, food, and good wine. He also loves languages and is fluent in Spanish, English, French, and Italian. It’s said that César lives, breathes, and eats the past, as he is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable experts on 16th- and 17th-century Spain. He resides in Spain with his wife and daughter.
He has guided numerous TravelQuest groups through Europe, including a 2014 Expressions of the Past trip through northern Spain and southern France; 2016 Portugal & Spain – The Age of Discovery trip exploring the Iberian Peninsula. He has led many TravelQuest eclipse trips including Libya (2006), China (2008 and 2009), Easter Island (2010), Australia (2012) and the Faroes (2015). Besides possessing great knowledge about the places where he leads groups and the people they meet, it is probably César’s charming wit and humor that make him such a popular TravelQuest trip leader.
Thomas D. Jones, PhD is a veteran NASA astronaut, scientist, speaker, author, and consultant. During 11 years with NASA, he flew on four space shuttle missions to Earth orbit, and led three spacewalks to help build the International Space Station. He has spent nearly 53 days living and working in space.
Tom is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and holds a doctorate in planetary science from the University of Arizona. Before joining NASA, Tom piloted B-52D strategic bombers, studied asteroids for NASA, engineered intelligence-gathering systems for the CIA, and now consults and writes about the next generation of human space exploration and how to prevent a future asteroid collision with Earth. Dr. Jones has published six books, is a regular on-air TV space commentator, and is active in the debate about our nation’s future in space.
Jim lives and works where he grew up. He is a Family Physician and medical director of a busy Urgent Care clinic in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and has a special interest in travel and wilderness medicine. Jim’s father started a family tradition of eclipse chasing more than 40 years ago, a tradition Jim carries on with his wife Carolyn and son Zack.
In 2010 Jim joined TQ for a total solar eclipse on the remote island of Mangaia in the Cook Islands; in 2013 he traveled with TQ’s eclipse group through Ethiopia. He is looking forward to August 2017 when a total solar eclipse passes through his backyard in Jackson Hole, Wyoming! When he is not working or traveling, Jim also enjoys skiing, hiking, photography, flying, and amateur astronomy.
Although born and raised in northern Germany, Martina fell in love with the Icelandic countryside at the age of 18. For several years thereafter, Martina lived in both Iceland and Germany. She attended the Iceland Tourist Guide School and graduated in 1992. That same year she started guiding visitors as a summer job. After receiving her bus-driving license and moving permanently to Iceland in 1996, she began working full time as a freelance driver-guide.
Martina specializes in leading hiking and camping tours through Iceland’s wilderness during the summer, but in the winter she takes groups all around the country on hotel/bus tours. Her favorite Icelandic sites are usually well off the beaten track, located primarily in the highlands of the interior. She also loves Icelandic folk tales and saga stories, and delights in sharing them with her touring companions. She has guided each of TravelQuest’s Iceland aurora tours since the first one in 2002.
Born and raised in America’s midwest, Kristen Rafdal’s passion for travel and exploration was sparked by her time in Florence, Italy as a student and an Au Pair. She then moved out to Seattle where she found Tour Directing and attended the International Tour Management Institute. After a summer escorting guests through Alaska and the Yukon, she started leading US and European tours full-time for a large American tour company.
Now in charge of several itineraries throughout Iceland, Scandinavia, and Finland, Kristen can often be found bundled up near the Arctic Circle, hunting for the elusive aurora borealis. In 2017, Kristen joined TravelQuest for the Great American Eclipse in the Pacific Northwest.
Dean was born and raised on a dairy farm outside of St. Louis, Missouri, in the great American Midwest. He always knew that travel was his passion and he started his career as a travel agent fresh out of high school. He started with Air 1, an all-first class carrier based in St. Louis. A bigger and better opportunity landed him a fifteen-year career with TWA. American Airlines eventually purchased and Dean is now a flight attendant for American. Based in St. Louis, Dean has been flying on international and domestic flights, and was honored by having a plaque in his name put on a 767 aircraft in recognition of outstanding inflight service.
Dean’s extensive travels, both professional and personal, have taken him to Europe and Africa, on cruises in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Alaska, and on explorations of Asia, Australia, and Indonesia. His experience in handling large corporate groups as well as small, special interest groups is a great asset to managing TravelQuest’s tours. In recent years, Dean has led several TQ eclipse trips including to China in 2009, Mangaia in 2010, and a Cruise to Totality in 2012; in 2017 he joined TQ for totality in Oregon.
Gary has always had stars in his eyes. From childhood on, the night sky has excited his imagination and fueled his curiosity. He has spent more than two decades sharing his passion for backyard astronomy with the public. From his early work as a show presenter and producer at Vancouver British Columbia’s famed MacMillan Space Centre, to his current positions as Contributing Editor at Sky & Telescope magazine and columnist for SkyNews in Canada, Gary has encouraged thousands of people to look up and enjoy the wonders of the universe. In 2008 he received the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Simon Newcomb Award in recognition of his outstanding writing.
Gary is a seasoned traveler and led TravelQuest’s eclipse tour to Egypt (2006), Australia (2012), and the Faroes (2015). He has also served as the ‘resident’ astronomer for TravelQuest’s annual Costa Rica Southern Sky Fiesta since its inception in 2004.
Chuck has called Phoenix, Arizona his home since the age of six. He has worked in the transportation and tourism industry since 1974. In 1999 graduated from the International Tour Management Institute in San Francisco and began his career as an Independent Tour Director and Guide.
Since 1998 Chuck has worked with TravelQuest on trips both in the USA and abroad to Central America, North Africa and China. Chuck’s management experience relates to any country he travels to, and he loves to extend his care and knowledge to make our travelers’ experience with him as rewarding and special as possible.
Dr. Angela Speck is a Professor of Astrophysics and the Chair of the Department of Physics & astronomy at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Until Fall 2019, she was an astrophysics professor at the University of Missouri for 17 years, where she built both the astronomy academic program and their public outreach program. She has also been co-chairing the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Eclipse Task Force since its inception in 2014. While her professional science research focuses on the nature of origin of stardust, she became an expert on eclipses over the last decade or so and led many efforts to prepare the US for the 2017 Total Solar eclipse, including appearances on the NASA 2017 Eclipse Press Launch, C-SPAN and NPR’s Science Friday. Originally from Yorkshire (England), Angela went to college in London where she was able to pursue her childhood dreams by majoring in astrophysics. After a brief stint as a R&D technician in a Lancashire company run by crazy new-age hippies, she returned to London and completed her PhD in astronomy in 1998. She has lived in the US since 1999 and became a US citizen in 2012.
Paul began his travel career in the safari industry in 1987 as an apprentice guide in the remote Linyanti Region of Botswana. He steadily worked his way up through the ranks at some of the finest game reserves and lodges in Southern Africa, and was recognized by the Condé Nast Portfolio as a preferred African safari guide. Before moving from South Africa to the USA in 1997, Paul served as General Manager for the award winning Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve in South Africa, where he was instrumental in the development of the original “Game Rangers Course” for guests. He is currently the president (and the founder) of Natural Migrations.
A master of logistical planning, Paul has led ten previous TravelQuest eclipse trips to South Africa, Zambia, Libya, twice in China, Cook Islands, Easter Island, Australia, Kenya, Svalbard, and most recently Indonesia in 2016. When he is not in his office he enjoys whitewater kayaking, snowboarding, and horseback riding.
Bill Whittington is a practicing attorney in Arizona, with a passion for travel and anything TravelQuest does. He is a veteran traveler with TravelQuest, having joined us in West Africa in 2013 and Indonesia in 2016. Bill brings to the table a substantial travel experience, including Spain, Morocco, Australia, Malaysia, England, Ireland, Costa Rica, France, Italy, Turkey, Portugal, Belize, Cancun, the Canary Islands, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, St. Lucia, Hong Kong, the Bahamas, China, Mexico, Senegal, St. Martin, and the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii). Bill has a special affection for Yellowstone National Park and the Snake River, just outside of Jackson, WY, and has spent many days fly fishing the backcountry there.
Josepha has traveled the world by land and by ship, for work and on holiday, with her husband. She has visited all the continents except Antarctica, but that is at the top of her bucket list. Born and raised in a small town in the southern part of the Netherlands close to the Belgium border, Josepha has worked in the travel industry for more than 20 years as a travel agent, a location guide for a cruise line and, for the past several years, as a group leader on board different cruise ships. She currently spends at least 200 days a year at sea on cruise ships.
Josepha has a passion for nature, beautiful landscapes, and wildlife, and when she is not sailing on a cruise ship, she enjoys working at home in her lovely garden. She is very excited to be joining TravelQuest for the 2019 South Pacific solar eclipse cruise.
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