Naturalist Guides aboard the Integrity

Every voyage of the Integrity is lead by a highly trained naturalist guide.  Integrity's naturalists share scientific and historical knowledge blended with insights and humor.  

 
Richard Polatty

Richard Polatty

Originally from Atlanta, Richard has been living in Ecuador for the past 26 years. Educated at Vanderbilt and Emory Universities, Richard began guiding in the Galápagos in 1985 to rave reviews.

Richard has also been guiding expeditions in Antarctica for over 18 years. He has been an expedition leader on four different ships and is a veteran of nearly 60 round trips to the Antarctic. Additionally, he has done research with the Antarctic Site Inventory for Oceanites (funded by the National Science Foundation).

An avid astronomer, Richard has ground his own telescope lenses, constructed telescopes and taught astronomy classes for the Galápagos National Park Naturalists Course. He has travelled internationally to witness and photograph 7 total solar eclipses. Richard is also an active pilot with land and seaplane ratings in the US and Ecuador, and also serves as a patrol plane pilot with Galápagos National Park Service.


Tanya Helmig

A veteran guide of Galapagos, Tanya has been working and living in Galapagos for almost a quarter of a century! Her guiding career started in 1991 in the jungles of Ecuador where she had the privilege to work with and learn about the Cofan Indians that live along the Aguarico River, in the north-east corner of Ecuador.

Before her jungle adventure, Tanya was a student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland where she enjoyed studying Physiology, Biochemistry, and Zoology, although my major was in Chemistry.  While at university, Tanya learned to dive in the frigid waters of the Scottish lochs.  In 1992 Tanya completed the Galapagos Naturalist Guides course which was delivered by the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station. About a year after the course, Tanya was certified as a PADI Dive Instructor. She then lead dive trips in the Galapagos for a few years after which she changed to land based guiding, but Tanya never misses an opportunity to go snorkeling.

Tanya now shares her time between guiding, her hobbies which include gardening, bicycle riding and reading, and raising her two daughters.


Jan Post

Jan Post

Born in Schellinkhout, Netherlands, Jan's entire childhood centered about sailing, windsurfing, birding and, when possible, ice skating.  After graduating in 1989 from Werenfridus College in Hoorn, Jan developed a passion for high end restaurants, and graduated in 1994 as a chef.

After successful positions across Europe, Jan's culinary career eventually led to chef aboard a private sailing yacht in 1998. It was during the following years that Jan developed an interest in zoology, bio-geography and geology.  After 5 years of sailing, Jan met Paulina Aguirre, a naturalist guide from the Galápagos. She convinced him to come to the Galápagos, where they eventually married and started a family. Jan commenced Galápagos naturalist guide training and has been leading trips ever since. Fluent in English, Spanish, French and German, Jan enjoys sharing his love of the islands with guests. 


Patricia Stucki

Patricia Stucki

Patricia Stucki was born and raised in St. Gallen – in the eastern part of Switzerland. Her interest in Galápagos was awoken when she was a girl selling Swiss chocolates to protect this archipelago.

Working as a journalist for the Swiss news agency and newspapers as well as writing articles for magazines awoke in her a genuine fascination for travel and natural history.

Her journeys took her to Asia, Australia and Central America and finally in 1996 landing in the Galapagos where ocean and islands captured her awe. Her work as a naturalist and dive guide in the islands are coined through her passion for flora and fauna.  When she’s not on board guiding she enjoys her home, garden and a little Cocoa plantation in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. She’s dedicated to photography on land as well as underwater and active as a conservationist. She speaks fluently Spanish, English, German and French.


Greg Estes

Greg Estes

Born in the United States, Greg Estes first arrived in Galapagos in 1982 leading the Cambridge Darwin Centenary Galapagos Expedition to conduct research on the feeding ecology of marine iguanas. With a degree in Biology from the University of London, England, Greg stayed to assist with several other ecological projects, including studies on sperm whales and the endangered Galapagos petrel. For the past few years Greg and his wife Thalia have been retracing Darwin’s footsteps through Galapagos using information from his original notebooks and manuscripts of the famous voyage.

Greg has served as a licensed naturalist guide of the Galapagos National Park Service since 1982 and continues to work as naturalist and expeditions leader in the islands. He is in high demand by university and natural history organizations alike.


Desirée Cruz

Desirée Cruz

Native Ecuadorian, Desirée Cruz graduated with a degree in Biology from the University of Guayaquil, and a degree in Linguistics and Literature from the Technical University of Loja.  Involved with tourism and management of natural protected areas since 1987, Desiree started guiding in the Galápagos National Park as a Naturalist.  

 As a Galápagos Naturalist Guides’ spokesperson, Desirée oversaw its growth as an organization, working very closely with several municipal institutions. Desirée also worked as Deputy Director and External Relations Officer for the Galápagos National Park Service.  As a tourism consultant for CAPTURGAL, the Galapagos Provincial Chamber of Tourism, Desirée helped start promoting quality in land-based tour operations on Santa Cruz Island, to place a strong emphasis on environmental awareness.