Our Guides

Meet the Bio Bio Expeditions Team

BIO BIO EXPEDITIONS PROFESSIONAL GUIDES AND STAFF

We have assembled a team of professional whitewater and trekking guides who we believe are true international “superstars” in the world of adventure travel. Hailing from Peru, Argentina, Costa Rica, South Africa, the US and New Zealand, these men and women have extensive experience with river safety protocols, river rescue, mountain awareness, high altitude safety, CPR and first aid. From camp hygiene to boat repair and transportation logistics, they’ve got you covered from the moment you are picked up at the airport to your trip home. Many have extensive knowledge of the local areas they guide in and they are always happy to share their wildlife, geologic, cultural and environmental insights with you. Our guides are true Renaissance men and women that combine a variety of in-camp talents with many years in the field. They guide because they love to share the pleasures of discovery, exploration, and adventure.

All of our team members at Bio Bio, including our wonderful office staff back in Truckee, are incredibly skilled, appropriately diplomatic, calm under pressure, confident yet humble, charming and entertaining, and totally committed to combining their passion with their profession.

We are very proud to introduce to you:

Marc A Goddard – Co-owner - Bio Bio Expeditions

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Marc was born in San Francisco, California in 1966 and graduated from San Francisco University High School in 1984 and went on to earn a degree in Geography and Economics from the University of Colorado.

Marc started his rafting and kayaking career while in Colorado and deepened his passion over the next 10 years as he worked as a guide and led expeditions in the United States, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Africa, Chile, Turkey, and Siberia. In 1991, Marc was selected to be a member of Team California who won the World Championships of rafting in Costa Rica (‘92), Turkey (‘93) and 4th place in Africa (‘95).

In 1992, after years spent as a guide, trip leader, and manager on rivers around the world. Marc made his dream a reality by founding, with his close friend and business partner Laurence Alvarez-Roos, Bio Bio Expeditions. For thirteen years Marc has worked very hard, both in the office and in the field to create a first-rate international adventure travel business. Marc also shared his love for teaching by spending 3 years teaching high school geography. Over the years Marc has seen his business grow to one of the most well-respected adventure travel companies in the industry - selected to provide safety for the 2000 International Whitewater Championships, featured in National Geographic Adventure and Outside Magazines. Marc himself was featured in Paddler Magazine as one of the world’s top 10 most active river guides.

When not working in the office or in the field, Marc can be found backcountry skiing in his home mountains, the Sierra Nevadas, kayaking year-round, mountain biking, or pouring over maps looking for his next great adventure. Marc's excitement for exploration led Bio Bio to do the first raft descent of the Drangme Chu River in Bhutan in 2009.  Marc summited Aconcagua (22.800 ft) in 2001 and Russia’s Mt. Elbrus in 2005. Fondly known as the “Wizard of Whitewater”, he lives in Truckee. CA with his wife Damara, son Quinn, and daughter Lilian. 

Laurence Alvarez-Roos – Co-owner - Bio Bio Expeditions

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Laurence was born in Mexico to Mexican and Dutch parents, raised in the Netherlands and immigrated to the United States in 1978. After graduating from San Francisco University High School, he attended University of California at Berkeley for four years to earn a B.A, in Political Economy of Industrial Societies. His focus was trade relations with Latin America and a minor in Spanish Literature.

Laurence started his rafting career at age 17 on the mighty South Fork of the American river in California. Since 1986 he has been an expedition leader, river guide, safety kayaker, dutch oven chef, self taught ecologist and adventure videographer in New Zealand, Nepal, Zimbabwe, Siberia, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica and the United States of America.

From 1993 till 1999. Laurence was the USA Men’s Whitewater Rafting Team captain, competing both in national and international raft race championships. The competition in 1999 included a first raft descent of the Orange River in the green Kalahari in South Africa. At the 2000 World Rafting Championships. Laurence was “safety team” captain on the Futaleufu River in Patagonia. Chile.

Laurence’s fluency in Spanish, Dutch and English make him an invaluable asset on all our South American expeditions. He is an enthusiastic and talented cook who bakes breads on the open fire, makes dutch oven desserts and other exotic river meals. He rock climbs, mountain bikes, and does all the water sports you can imagine - snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and swimming. He has run over 50 rivers on six continents with thousands of actual river miles traveled. When not in his second home of Chile, Laurence lives in the mountain playground of Truckee CA with Terry and their  Patagonia rescue dog named Canela! His daughters Sabine and Saskia are 7 and 5 and attend bilingual school in Kings Beach!

Phil Boyer

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Phil Boyer is a native Californian and grew up exploring the rivers and forests of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. While rafting the Grand Canyon at age 13, Phil knew that whitewater would be his life’s passion.  Twenty plus years and two whitewater world championships later, running hard whitewater is Phil’s niche. Phil became a river guide at the age of 18 starting on the South Fork of the American in the California Gold Country. From there he built his skills as both a raft guide and whitewater kayaker and was soon guiding and kayaking Class 5 rivers all over the state. He was invited to become a founding member of Team California – the US Men’s Whitewater Rafting Team. Team California (that also counted Bio Bio Expeditions founders Marc and Laurence as teammates) traveled the world winning international whitewater competitions in Costa Rica and Turkey. Phil’s passion for guiding people down the best whitewater on earth led him back to where it all began on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon where he has been a guide for many years. In the winter Phil joins us in Chile to guide the Futaleufu River – one of his favorites. In the off seasons Phil travels the world running hard and remote rivers in his kayak. He is a member of Team Jackson – an elite group of paddlers that represent Jackson Kayaks, created by reigning kayaking World Champion Eric Jackson. Traveling to such wild, remote places (such as Pakistan from which he recently returned after completing a first descent) requires incredible amounts of skill, wilderness survival and medical techniques, a calm, cool demeanor, and lots of energy. Phil has all this and more! We are proud to have Phil on the team – and know you will enjoy paddling with him!

Jorge Esquivel

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“Pura Vida” is the first thing Jorge will probably greet you with when you meet him. This greeting, from his native Costa Rica, “pure life”, is the epitome of Jorge’s experience. He developed his incredible kayaking and rafting skills on the tropical rivers of Costa Rica and then broadened his experience by traveling the world as a guide learning to speak fluent English and Italian along the way.

Jorge takes his guiding and kayaking job very seriously and is always learning more about swiftwater rescue techniques and wilderness medicine. He is a great dancer, talented chef, and natural equestrian. He is considered one of the best kayakers and rafting guides in Costa Rica and Bio Bio Expeditions is very proud to have him on the team. Over the past four years Jorge has spent more and more time in Africa guiding our Zambezi trips and also guiding people on KIlimanjaro. Look for Jorge on our Chile, Peru, Africa and California trips.

Liz McGregor

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Liz is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.  She's worn many hats at Bio Bio Expeditions over the years. The creative mind behind our very first Futaleufú promo video, Liz has produced several heartfelt promotional videos for us over the years.  She has worked with us in our office in Truckee, as our Logistics Coordinator in Chile and  as a trip leader and river guide.  Liz received her yoga instruction certification at the Nosara Institute in Costa Rica with the express intention of teaching our guests in Futaleufú.  She is an expert on all things Chilean; having travelled up and down the country more times than she can count, she’s always happy to share her stories of being chased by a horse on Easter Island, falling off a bus in San Pedro de Atacama, over serving herself mate in Villa O'Higgins or spending the night in a funeral home in Chile Chico.  Liz’s enduring interest in and love of Chile began as a NOLS semester in Patagonia in 1991.  She has been either working, living or traveling in Chile every summer (northern winter) since 1996.


Before joining Bio Bio in 2002, Liz worked in the film industry in New York City. She was an assistant director on independent films such as Big Night and Drunks, directed NYC ’s first and only environmental film festival, initiated and co-organized the South American debut of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Chile and also produced several commercials and an award winning public service announcement about recycling. She continues to produce various independent video projects as BoonDocs Film & Video. A kayaker, raft guide, visual artist and writer,  Liz has a deep love for anything blue, especially rivers.  Originally from Connecticut and now dwelling in coastal Maine, Liz enjoys river kayaking, Xtracycling, picking berries, harvesting vegetables and spending quality time with quality people especially her husband Alex, son Sol and daughter Luna.


Alex Nicks

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Alex Nicks is a well respected and known professional kayaker and videographer. He has recently expanded his videography business into outdoor & extreme sports presentations and commentating. Alex’s true passion though lies in taking kayaking as a sport to new and uncharted waters. He is hands down one of the world’s most expert rodeo kayakers.

Alex was born in the UK in 1972 and found only the ocean surf big enough to excite his early kayaking career. Alex has kayaked on rivers everywhere. After running rivers on the continent, he found himself suddenly on the Zambezi in Africa. Several years on that river and 100,000 kayaking miles later and he started traveling again.

His favorite river (at least in February) is by far the Futaleufu in Chile where he is our safety kayaker and instructor. With Alex in front of the rafts one never has to worry that a swimmer is going to get past our safety net. There simply is no better kayaker for the job than this fearless Brit. Beyond his accent, he adds intelligent conversation and is an agreeable, helpful team player.

Alex Obregon

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Originally from Costa Rica, Alex grew up surfing and playing in and on everything that he possibly could. He started kayaking in his mid twenties on the rapids of the Pacuare River, not far from his home in the small village of Cahuita on the southern tip of the Caribbean coast. Alex’s first introduction to whitewater was, in his words, “like meeting the genie of the lantern. I never thought I would go as far as I have. If I could redeem my frequent river running miles. I could probably raft free for the rest of my life!” He likes sports and loves the river because it keeps him on the edge and demands his best. “It’s flow shows me at every moment that there are no limits to the things one can do. Water has shown me incredible places and faces; out of the ordinary people who have shown me life in so many positive ways. Now, I am proud to be part of an excellent team of athletes from all over the world who share the same passion. It is always a rewarding pleasure for me to share my experience of many years of river lessons.” In addition his whitewater expertise in rafting and kayaking, Alex is also an excellent chef, writer, carpenter and craftsman who brings an incredible sense of style to everything he does. Alex has lived and worked all over the globe and currently calls Tahoe his home away from home.

Johny Snyder

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Johnny Snyder, a top kayaker and guide has a passion for spending time in the very wildest, remotest places on the Earth. His expeditions have been featured on many major media outlets such as, PBS, BBC, the Discovery Channel, Fox Family network and the Travel Channel. His outdoor experiences and masterful leadership abilities has made him one of the most sought after guides at premiere health resorts in the Berkshires of Masssachussetts. His love for the outdoors, kayaking, mountain climbing and leading expeditions has helped him tap into the pure energy of life that he brings to all his professional services.

Kipchoge Spencer

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Kipchoge “not kip” Ivanhoe Spencer

Kipchoge joined Bio Bio Expeditions in 1994 while still a student at Stanford University. He wrote us a letter stating that all he ever wanted to be since he could remember was to be a river guide. So he is. He is one of the finest river guides there is. Also a class V kayaker, his expert guiding is no doubt due, at least in part to his strong intuitive sense of timing. Kipchoge, in addition to being a great guide, is a consummate tarp shelter builder, ecologist, natural medicine healer, efficiency champion and vegetarian. With Kipchoge at the helm, we might actually have a chance to save our planet.

Kipchoge’s life story is a great one. At 3 years old he could back up trailers down 100 foot long boat ramps, at 10 he could kayak, at 17 he spent the summer building his mom a 97% energy efficient cabin in Oregon, at 21 he flew with a pair of Tevas, a life jacket and a guitar to Chile. His life would never be the same.

Did I mention guitar? This young man rocks! His original song writing, mutli-timbre voice blended with a virtuoso guitar strumming ability rarely seen, seldom enjoyed under the beaming stars along a burbling river makes campers smile from ear to ear, mumbling “encore, encore!”. Kipchoge is becoming well known as a musician and we are proud to call him a member of the Bio Bio team.

Damara Stone

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Damara became a river guide after falling in love with rafting on the Bio Bio River in Chile in 1992. In her 20's she guided every summer on many of the commercial rivers of California and has run the Zambezi in Africa, the Sun Kosi in Nepal, the Futaleufu and Bio Bio in Chile, the Katun in Siberia, and the Apurimac and Cotahuasi in Peru. She summited Kilimanjaro in 2000.

Damara wears many hats for the Bio Bio team, from office staff, to chef, to safety cataraft, to river guide or Yoga instructor, she can do it all. In addition to a degree in anthropology and Spanish. Damara is a registered nurse and, when not rafting, you can find her working in a hospital in Truckee, California or volunteering at an orphanage in Guatemala. She is one of our main yoga teachers on the Futaleufu providing daily classes for all levels and private classes on request. She has been doing yoga since childhood and did her teacher’s course with Erich Schiffman in 2002. She was featured in Her Sports Magazine in the article “Women who Rule the Water” in July. 2005.

Damara is a Class 3 kayaker, mountain biker, skier, classical pianist and artist. She inherited her love for Latin America from her parents who decided that she should be born in Guadalajara, Mexico. Although she loves every destination we offer. Chile holds a special place in her heart where she and husband Marc have their “home away from home” in the beautiful Futaleufu valley. She welcomed her son Quinn Walker into the world in January of 2006, daughter Lilian Paz in 2008 - both of whom have already spent some summers on the Fu!

Diego Valsecchi

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The eldest of 11 children, Diego was born and raised on a ranch in Argentina and is the epitome of a “Renaissance Man”. He grew up an equestrian raising polo horses, learned the fine arts of culinary magic from his Italian grandmother, and has become not only one of the best whitewater kayakers in Argentina, but one of the best in the world.

Diego has traveled the world working in countries from Switzerland to Nepal to Uganda as well as all over Latin America. He has summitted Aconcagua, run first kayak descents of multiple creeks and rivers in areas as remote as Iran, and speaks 4 languages. After ensuring that you have a safe and fun experience on the river, don’t be surprised if you see Diego demonstrating his salsa moves, preparing an incredible meal for you or sharing a “mate” from his native Argentina.

Besides guiding, Diego is a talented wine maker and is working on a degree in environmental engineering. Diego is a warm, caring, and incredibly talented individual that you will meet on our Chile, Peru, and California trips.

Cristian Vargas

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Cristian Vargas serves as our illustrious Head Chef at the Futaleufu Adventure Camp in Chile. Born in Amsterdam to Chilean parents, Cristian spent his early years in Holland before moving back to Chile. Cristian is a professional chef having graduated from the University INACAP in Santiago, Chile. His degree is in Administration of Gastronomic Production and International Cooking. He worked in many high-end Santiago restaurants before heading to San Sebastian, Spain to serve as head chef at an avante-garde restaurant. Although he loves the fast paced, exciting life of working in big city establishments, Cristian was also drawn to the outdoors. He was able to combine his passion for food with his passion for adventure by traveling to Futaleufu, Chile and working as head chef for a fly fishing lodge. We first met Cristian in Futaleufu and from time to time we would be lucky enough to have him come to the Bio Bio camp as a “guest chef”. Soon enough we had to have him work for us!! He also realized how much fun we have and what great people come to raft with us, and he knew where he wanted to be! Cristian has worked as our Head Chef since 2005. He creates the menu, places the food orders and arranges delivery (a daunting task in the middle of Patagonia!), and oversees the kitchen and bar staff. He has transformed the BBX dining experience to truly gourmet with a Latin American flair. He can creatively and deliciously meet any specific dietary requirements, from vegetarian to food allergies. Cristian is always happy to teach our guests how to make Chilean empanadas or the delicious salsa known as pebre. After dessert he can teach a different type of salsa when our bar transforms into a dance floor playing Cristian’s best Latin dance tunes!

Piero Velluntino

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The youngest of Peru’s famous “Vellutino Brothers”. Piero grew up in a family of whitewater boaters. Raised in Arequipa, southern Peru. Piero has logged first descents of rivers all over his country. He has worked on the Zambezi in Africa and the Futaleufu in Chile.

Along with our Argentinean guide, Diego, Piero traveled overland from Italy to Nepal, paddling as many rivers as possible along the way. He is a certified swiftwater rescue technician and instructor teaching swiftwater rescue techniques to river runners and firemen around the world. He is one of the best kayakers to come out of Peru. Always smiling, Piero is a superb bartender at our sunset bar in with his awesome, handmade “Pisco Sour”.

With a combination of superhuman strength and keen instinct, Piero instills confidence in every crew. Rugged expeditions are where Piero feels right at home, making him the star of our Cotahuasi trips. Piero and his wife Patti run all of our Peru trips and are doing an amazing job creating 5 star experiences for our Peru guests.  They offer the finest, most well organized trips in Peru with incredible personal touches!   When he’s not guiding, teaching swiftwater rescue, organizing expedidtions or safety kayaking, he is wrestling with his three sons Lorenzo, Lucio, and Nahuel.

Diego Ibañez

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Diego Ibañez comes from one of the founding families of Peruvian whitewater adventure.  Along with his cousin, Piero Vellutino, Diego grew up in Arequipa, Peru in an adventurous family that started exploring the rivers of the Andes in the early ‘80’s.  He remembers that his first time in a raft was with his family at age 5 and that he has never been far from the river ever since.  Being on the river has a very special meaning to Diego and he loves every moment on the river that he gets!

                Before working as a guide, Diego studied Hotel Management in university, finishing in 2001.  During this time he worked in the general Peru tourism industry, mainly at the front desk of 5 star hotels, perfecting his English and problem solving skills.  After finishing his studies, Diego began river guiding and kayaking.  As a whitewater kayaker Diego has run hundreds of different rivers around the world including first descents in both Peru and Argentina.  His kayaking pursuits led him to Uganda, Zambia, Ecuador, Chile, and all over his home country of Peru.  As a raft guide Diego has captained boats in Peru, Chile, and Argentina.  He has also led trekking trips all through the Andes and southern Patagonia and helped organize adventure races, and rafting and kayaking competitions in Peru and Argentina.  Diego is a true professional:  wilderness first aid certified, Wilderness First Responder, swiftwater rescue certified and is a certified IRF instructor for Class 4-5 raft guides.

              As part of the Bio Bio Team, Diego has a constant smile and an unflappable personality.  He is a team player - comfortable leading Andean treks as well as Class 5 whitewater as either a river guide or safety kayaker.  Diego is one of our best salsa dancers and loves sharing his love of life, fun, and adventure with our guests. 

Stan Ricketts

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Stanford Ricketts is one of Bio Bio’s most prolific, experienced river guides.  For the past 25 years Stan has been guiding all over the world and we have been lucky to have him on our team for over 8 years.  As you’ll see, Stan’s bio demonstrates that he is a true adventurer and incredibly experienced guide.
Stan’s first river experience was as a kid on his father’s farm in the Cape Region of South Africa. Looking for adventure during school holidays, he and a buddy got hold of two antique canoes and paddled 100 km from the farm on a small river down to the ocean. It was in full flood and the journey took 3 days. They were lucky to survive!  They had absolutely no river experience, but the bug bit hard and they were as happy as could be, even if a little hungry.  In 1989 Stan had the opportunity to train up for a position to guide canoe trips on the Orange River.  After just one training trip they must have realized his potential and bumped him up to “trip leader”.  This was the auspicious beginning of more than 25 years of guiding rivers around the world.  In the world of outdoor adventure Stan has worked as a canoe guide, camp manager, paddle captain, gear boat expedition oarsman, video and photo kayaker, safety kayaker and cayoneering guide in Switzerland.  He also served on the editing staff of the acclaimed international magazine “Kayak Sessions”.  Stan has led trips in New Zealand, Nepal, Zimbabwe and Zambia, Turkey, India, Uganda, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Scotland, Namibia, the Grand Canyon, and his beloved Futaleufu in Chile where he recently bought land (although Cape Town will always be his true home). Stan is a multi-talented, incredibly wise guide who brings a variety of off-river talents as well:  fly fishing, poi spinning, curry cooking….a real Renaissance man!  When not “off the map” Stan loves spending every moment with his adorable son Charles.  In his words:  “Becoming a father is something I have embraced whole heartedly and the unconditional love that comes with nurturing a gorgeous little red headed baby has made me feel more complete and happier than ever.  I’m really looking forward to the next 20 yrs of guiding………”
You may meet Stan on pretty much any trip we offer!

Santiago Ibañez

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Santiago Ibañez was born and raised in the southern Peruvian city of Arequipa.  “Santi” was born into the illustrious, adventurous family of whitewater pioneers that first started exploring Peru’s rivers in the 1980’s.  Along with brothers Diego and Alvaro (both Bio Bio guides as well), Santi began exploring rivers as a young boy and fell in love with whitewater kayaking as a young man.  He started guiding and kayaking on the Chili River in Arequipa, then graduated to the Class 4-5 Cotahuasi River.  He worked on the most popular rivers in Peru and the Diamante River in Argentina.  In 2004 Santi hitchhiked his way south to the mighty Futaleufu River and fell in love with the powerful whitewater and beautiful valley.  He has been returning ever since, working his way from safety kayaker to now one of our head guides and respected trip leader.  Professionally Santiago is part of the ECSI (Emergency Care and Safety Institute), is a Swift Water Rescue Technician and is wilderness medicine certified.  He was a member of Team Peru in the Panamerican Rafting Championship in 2008 and was a safety kayaker for the World Rafting Championships in Costa Rica in 2011.

Besides kayaking and rafting, Santi is an accomplished rock climber and mountain biker, although his biggest passion is Class 5 kayaking! He leads trekking trips and loves birdwatching, bringing binoculars wherever he goes.  In the summer of 2013 Santi came to the United States and spent a month kayaking many of the classic Class 5 rivers of California.  He rowed baggage boats down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, guided the Rogue and the Klamath River in Oregon and the Main Salmon in Idaho, kayaked all over Colorado, Idaho, and Alaska, and capped off an amazing summer with a week in the Black Rock Desert.  After leading two treks up Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) in the fall of 2013 and kayaked the Zambezi River in Zambia (southern Africa), he will return to Peru, then back to the Futa.  Santiago is always quick with a helping hand and a smile.  He has a great laugh, loves to dance, and makes everyone feel special.  As you are about to drop into one of the biggest rapids you’ve ever seen, you will hear Santi say one of the best mantras you’ll ever hear on the river….”PADDLE HARD, SMILE...and...ENJOY!”


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