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Meet the team

Elizabeth Gordon

Co-Founder & CEO

Born in Kenya and raised in Paris, Elizabeth explored the world from a young age. After graduating from Stanford, she worked in Namibia and started a business in Buenos Aires. Eventually she returned to her passion, Africa and the safari experience, starting Extraordinary Journeys with her mother, Marcia. Elizabeth has visited over 40 countries and taken more than 30 trips to Africa. She is active in the Association for the Promotion of Tourism in Africa and Safari Professionals of the Americas. She was one of Travel Agent Magazine's “30 under 30” and is on Travel + Leisure’s “A-List” of Top Travel Advisors. She is an avid photographer and loves to escape New York City on weekends.

Marcia Gordon

Co-Founder & President

Marcia has over 40 years of experience in African travel. After Peace Corps in Uganda, she spent 12 years in Kenya building Park East Tours, raising three daughters, designing a home overlooking Nairobi National Park, earning her pilot’s license, studying traditional medicine and expanding her vast knowledge of properties in Africa. After a lifetime in the safari world, Marcia started Extraordinary Journeys with her daughter, Elizabeth. Marcia always encourages travelers to gently push outside their comfort zone, because that is where the transformational moments of travel take place. She was named a “Guide to the Super Guides” in Departures Magazine and is a grandmother of five!

Vee Thompson

Game Plan Africa, an Extraordinary Journeys company

Interacting and walking with the elephants at Abu Camp in Botswana is one of the highlights of Vee's safaris experiences.

Vee, previous owner of Game Plan Africa spent most of her life living and working in Africa. She spent 7 years working at game lodges in both South Africa and Botswana, 3 years filming wildlife and cultural documentaries for national television in South Africa and has owned and operated Game Plan Africa in Atlanta, USA since 1998. She brings to her clients extensive knowledge through her personal work experience related to Africa's wildlife, game lodges and culture. She is excited about the sale of her company to Extraordinary Journeys, as they reflect the same passion and ethos of supporting conservation and local communities in Africa.

Jamie Mehrotra

Safari Specialist & Sales Director

Jamie’s wanderlust was fostered on weekend getaways during a summer at Oxford while attending the University of Virginia. During her time away from “work” creating educational programs at the Smithsonian, she explored the world until her appetite for travel led her to Extraordinary Journeys. Some of Jamie's most memorable experiences in travel include being kissed by a giraffe at Nairobi's Giraffe Manor, quad biking on the Makgagkadi Salt Pans of Botswana, soaking up the sun on North Island in the Seychelles and of course her wedding in New Delhi! Jamie can't wait to help travelers experience India and Chile, some of her favorite places in the world outside of Africa.

Lara Ray

Safari Specialist

Lara is a Boston-based member of the Extraordinary Journeys sales team and African safaris are her passion. Since her first safari in 1997, she has traveled throughout east and southern Africa. From horseback riding in the Serengeti, to tiger fishing in the Okavango Delta, to rhino tracking in South Africa and bonefishing in the Seychelles, Lara has had some amazing safari experiences. Having traveled extensively in Africa with her son, daughter and husband, Lara has seen firsthand what a life-changing experience travel can be for children of any age. She loves finding the unique experiences that make a trip special for adults and children.

Jenny Salentine

Safari Specialist

A veteran of the travel industry, Jenny has more than 10 years of experience exploring the far corners of the world. She has been to more than 80 countries but from her first lion sighting in South Africa, Jenny was taken by the beauty of Africa. Since then, Jenny has flown over Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, been scuba-diving in Mozambique, walked through the South Luangwa in Zambia and the Loita Hills of Kenya and come face to face with gorillas in Uganda. She is also the proud completer of all 58 fourteen thousand foot peaks in her home state of Colorado!

Kim Green

Safari Specialist

Having set foot on all seven continents, Kim knows that while languages, cuisine, landscapes, and wildlife are diverse around the globe, it really is a small world. Kim turned her passion for travel into a career and lead small groups around the world as an International Travel Director. In her years as a Safari Specialist, some of her favorite journeys have included mokoro rides in the Okavango Delta, shark cage diving in Cape Town, a balloon ride over the red dunes in Namibia, standing atop the "Roof of Africa" on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and coming face to face with mountains gorillas in Rwanda & Uganda. While she can’t wait to get exploring again, Kim’s newest adventure is motherhood!

Pearl Jurist-Schoen

Safari Specialist

Pearl is a Boston native. She went to Union College where she studied Anthropology, completing field work in Tasmania and Barbados. Later, she returned to Tasmania for a year where she played soccer and Gaelic football, ran a half-marathon up Mt. Wellington and worked at the University of Tasmania. On her first trip to Africa, she fell in love with the Masai Mara in Kenya. In Zimbabwe she developed a keen interest in the wildlife conservation efforts in Hwange National Park. In South Africa, she was blown away by the sheer volume of wildlife in Kruger. She enjoys sharing her passion for travel inside and out of Africa with all who will listen. Next bucket list item: summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro!

Kimi Christopulos

Safari Specialist

Kimi has traveled throughout Kenya and Tanzania by both plane and overland to experience the feel of each country. In Ethiopia, she visited the North’s most holy churches and monasteries. She has trekked for mountain gorillas in Uganda and spent time in the Kyambura Gorge with chimpanzees. She has also lazed on the beaches in Zanzibar and shopped at the Stone Town markets. Kimi has canoed through Botswana’s Okavango floodplains and walked through the bush with a trio of African elephants. She has snorkeled with sea lion and giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands and most recently, enjoyed scuba diving in the Maldives to witness some of the underwater world’s most coveted species.

John Moody

Safari Specialist

John’s life started in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and he grew up in Durban and Cape Town. He departed South Africa for the U.S. in his early 20’s after completing his hotel management degree. His pure passion for Africa is reflected in that his everyday drive vehicle for many years in the U.S. was a 1969 Land Rover Series 11 (a typical safari vehicle) but has since upgraded to a newer model with air-conditioning and heat! He enjoys the majestic beauty of living surrounded by wide-open spaces and spectacular mountain ranges that North Carolina offers. John is passionate about traveling through Africa and has covered Southern and Eastern Africa extensively and looks forward in May 2017 to exploring some lovely camps in Zimbabwe!

Lauren Garcia

Safari Coordinator & Client Relations

Originally from New Mexico, Lauren’s passion for travel was cultivated at a young age when she went to Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Macau on a family vacation. In 2013 she moved to New York to pursue a Master’s Degree in Tourism Management at NYU and joined the Extraordinary Journeys team. Lauren has explored Tanzania and Botswana with Extraordinary Journeys. She is currently working from Cape Town to get the inside scoop for our travelers on all the best things to see and do and to make sure all the restaurants were just as delicious as we thought!

Rachel Cappucci

Safari Coordinator

Rachel is a Massachusetts native with a passion for adventure and spontaneity. She moved to New York to finish her degree in Journalism, while immersing herself in the city's vibrant cultural scene. Later, she would fall in love with the rich wildlife of Kenya’s Masai Mara. In Tanzania, she drove the northern circuit, admiring the diverse landscapes. Rachel has visited Johannesburg, South Africa, where she is particularly fond of the city's street art. Exploring off the beaten track wineries in Stellenbosch tops her list of memories in the Winelands. And, of course, one of her most unforgettable experiences is bungee jumping Victoria Falls. The opportunity to exchange with local people and build friendships around the world is very meaningful for her.

Laura Cicalese

Safari Coordinator

Laura is a born and bred New Yorker with an insatiable passion for travel, adventure, food and culture. Laura has studied abroad in Spain and completed the Walt Disney World’s tourism internship during her studies at Hunter College. She’s already had the pleasure of visiting Europe and Central America and has recently gone on her first, life changing safari in Botswana! Some highlights include quad biking in the Kalahari Desert and enjoying a sundowner in front of a lake filled with hippos. Laura can’t wait to continue exploring and discovering Africa, as well as South America and the rest of the world!

Emma Ravitz

Safari Coordinator

Emma is originally from Los Angeles. She moved to New York to attend The New School where she studied Music Business. Emma fell in love with traveling after her trip to Israel, and her semester abroad in Paris, where she traveled to 15 countries and 30 cities. She has not yet explored Africa but is really interested in Gorilla trekking in Rwanda and bungee jumping over Victoria Falls.

Frances Bishop

Safari Coordinator

Frances has spent the last decade at Game Plan Africa assisting clients in planning and implementing their safaris to eastern and southern Africa. Prior to joining Game Plan Africa, she worked in the corporate and higher education environments. Travelling to Africa, Frances loved the remoteness of Botswana, the incredible beauty of Victoria Falls and touring the winelands of Cape Town, South Africa. She dreams of traveling to Namibia to take in the moon-like landscape of the desert. And, after traveling extensively in the U.S. by train, she also thinks it would be wonderful to travel on Rovos Rail or the Blue Train, two of the luxury trains in Africa.

Schuyler Tompkins

Communications Strategist & Non-Profit Programs Coordinator

Schuyler has lived in the highly culturally diverse Washington, D.C. area for most of her life. She has also been fortunate to travel throughout the United States, spending significant amounts of time on both east and west coasts. She has traveled in central and western Europe, the Caribbean, and central and South America. Botswana and the magic of the Okavango Delta sparked Schuyler's enduring African habit.

Mackenzie Suess

Communications Consultant

Mackenzie grew up in Colorado, which fostered a deep love for the outdoors: mountains, plains and everything in between. With a degree in writing, she has worked in various fields including education, marketing and content development but her heart has always led her back to travel. An incurable nomad, Mackenzie enjoys roaming the globe, from snorkeling the Yucatan Peninsula to exploring ancient ruins in central Thailand, to backpacking across Europe and road tripping through U.S. National Parks. She is passionate about developing community through story and travel. Next stop: Peru!

Catherine Kennedy

Accounts Manager

While living and working in New York, Catherine’s sales and manufacturing position took her frequently to Indonesia, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Singapore, and other parts of Asia. Some of her favorite memories include landing safely more than 30 times at Hong Kong’s infamous Kai Tak airport! It was her sister’s many trips to Africa, and work with Extraordinary Journeys that ultimately brought Catherine to the team. She currently lives with her family in the Southeast where she handles Accounts payable and other financial aspects of the business. In addition to caring for her family and dogs, she enjoys playing tennis, interior design, and organizing just about anything.

Sumendri Govender

In-Country Client Liaison

Sumendri has 12 years of experience working in Southern Africa travel. Based in Durban, South Africa, with her husband and two children, Sumendri is the link between the EJ team and our travelers while they are in Africa. She started her career in travel just out of high school and is now passionately dedicated to making travel a once in a lifetime experience for any traveler. She thinks Durban is one of South Africa’s most beautiful cities and welcomes all travelers to come enjoy a “Bunny Chow” in her home town!

Esther Ndirangu

Itinerary Designer

Born and raised in Kenya, Esther is based in Nairobi and designs our itineraries. She holds a diploma in Tourism Management from the Kenya Utalii College and has had the privilege of traveling extensively within East Africa as a group leader as well as to parts of Asia on familiarization trips. Her favorite park in Kenya is Amboseli for the elephants. She is looking forward to visiting Cape Town and Victoria Falls after reading about them while building itineraries and to the U.S. to meet her EJ family! Apart from traveling, she loves cooking, spending time with her daughter Imaani and Zumba dancing to keep fit!

CONNECT with your personal travel expert.

Have you started planning your safari on your own? Are you totally overwhelmed with all the information out there? Let us help you cut through all the conflicting information online and start planning a safari that is completely tailored to you. Get in touch with us and we can discuss your travel passions and help you begin the planning process for your dream safari.

Elizabeth Gordon