Top Guides


Jock Montgomery in Ladakh, India


Lewis Kemper at the Pushkar Camel Fair, India


Sanjay Saxena entertaining
monks in Eastern Tibet


Architectural photography with Lewis Kemper
Dera Dune Retreat, Jamba, India


Sanjay Saxena & Mingmar Sherpa with trekking staff
Trek to Everest Base Camp, Nepal

The views are majestic, the food is sumptuous, and the weather has held—sounds like the makings of a great trip. But as any seasoned traveler will tell you, it is the Tour Leader and Guide who makes or breaks a trip. In remoter regions across the world, the role of Tour Leader is particularly crucial. The presence of an experienced Leader—one with sound knowledge of the local system, the language and the people—serves to make a journey smooth and trouble-free.

Here we highlight a few of our star Tour Leaders: Those who not only know the ins and outs of the region, but who actually design and guide the journey themselves.


Lewis Kemper specializes in nature and outdoor photography; the author of The Yosemite Photographer’s Handbook and The Yellowstone Photographer’s Handbook, he has been photographing the natural beauty of North America and its parklands for over 29 years. Lewis’ work has been exhibited and published in magazines, calendars, and books worldwide, including publications by The Sierra Club, The National Geographic Society, Little Brown, and APA Insight Guides. Lewis teaches photography for the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, the Santa Fe Workshops, the Lepp Institute, BetterPhoto.com, and others. He is a contributing editor to Outdoor Photographer and PC Photo magazines, and has been named to Canon USA’s elite group of photographers, The Explorers of Light.

Not just an excellent photographer, Lewis is also a skilled teacher who will assist you in every way, enabling you to bring home wonderful memories suitable for framing. For more on Lewis, please visit his website.

Lewis is scheduled to lead the following trips for TourDirect in the coming year:
1. Photographer’s India – Land of Tiger
March 30 – April 12, 2017


Jock Montgomery


Jock Montgomery, owner/operator of Compass Rose Exepditions, has been leading trips around the world for over 30 years. In 1983, Jock moved to Nepal to train raft guides and lead river expeditions and treks in Nepal, Tibet, India, and Bhutan. He was based in Kathmandu for 12 years and now (along with his French wife and co-explorer Annie Miniscloux), makes his home in Bangkok. In 1989, Jock began organizing his own expeditions and establishing himself as an entrepreneur in the adventure travel industry. He leads sea kayaking, trekking, and mountain biking trips around much of Asia, North America, Patagonia, Greenland, Ecuador, and the Galapagos. He speaks Nepali and is conversant in Thai. Jock is also in demand as a commercial and editorial photographer and a photography instructor. He was the sole photographer for Menam Chao Phraya, River of Life and Legend, a coffee-table book about Thailand’s principle waterway.

Jock often co-leads photography trips with other professional photographers, including Sean Kernan and renowned National Geographic photographer Mike Yamashita.  Upcoming trips include:

1. Sri Lanka – Land of Serendipity
October 31 – November 13, 2015

2. Bhutan: New View of the Buddhist Kingdom
November 18 – 30, 2015

3. Ladakh – In Search of Snow Leopards
January 15 – 31, 2016

Sanjay Saxena


Founder and CEO (Chief Exploratory Officer) of TourDirect, Sanjay has over 35 years of guiding experience under his belt. A professional guide since 1979, Sanjay has led numerous groups trekking, climbing, touring, and on safari to Tibet, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Iran, Venezuela, Peru, and India.

In January 1992, Sanjay and mountain climber/cinematographer David Breashears co-led the first western descent of India’s Brahmaputra River. The 250-mile whitewater rafting trip was filmed for the BBC series “Classic Adventures.” In 2001, Sanjay led the first western group to journey overland from Kunming to Lhasa along the “southern road,” close to the Tibetan/India border.

Sanjay’s deep, insider’s knowledge, together with his talent for creating unique itineraries to traditional and remote destinations, make him one of the world’s top-ranking trip planners. For twelve consecutive years (2003 – 2014), he has received Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top Travel Specialist” award for his exemplary work in South Asia, specifically India, Tibet, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Sanjay will be guiding the following trips in the coming year:

1. Through the Highest Himalaya
October 12 – 24, 2015

2.In the footsteps of the Inca
Peru – November 2016

Mingmar Sherpa


Mingmar Dorji Sherpa is a Nepali trekking guide par excellence. In true Sherpa fashion, Mingmar started his career as a trekking/climbing porter and soon rose through the ranks to become one of mountaineer & cinematographer David Breashears’s most accomplished assistants. An experienced climber, Mingmar has summited Everest four times, thrice from the Nepali (south face) side and once from the Tibetan (north face) side. Mingmar is also a noted journalist and videographer, reporting for NTV (Nepal Television) on mountaineering and other sporting activities.

Mingmar’s first Everest summit took place in 2004, when he was working with David Breashears on a filming project on Everest. The resulting film, Storm over Everest, recounted the dramatic events of the tragic 1996 climbing season. He achieved his second summit with Conrad Anker, while on assignment with Altitude films and Atlantic Productions; Mingmar was the filming sherpa in charge of the expedition, which was dedicated to recreating George Mallory’s legendary 1922 expedition. That documentary, The Wildest Dream, was released in 2010. (Mingmar also played the role of Mallory’s Sherpa in the film.)  Mingmar also guided Michael Palin on the Nepal episode of the BBC series, “Himalaya with Michael Palin.”

April 21 – May 8, 2016, Mingmar will guide  a small group of trekkers to the Base Camp of Everest in Nepal.

Chelsea Wills

Top-guide-chelsea-copyright-chelsea-willsChelsea is an artist, educator, and traveler. She holds a Master’s degree in Arts Education from UC Berkeley and has shown her work nationally and internationally at museums and galleries such as the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Jose Museum of Arts, and the London Biennale. She has lectured at Yale, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz. Her artwork is deeply informed by place and reflects her passion for exploring the world. Raised in a family of adventure travel guides, Chelsea began traveling as a baby and never stopped. She has lived and traveled extensively in Latin America, Asia, and Europe.

Chelsea’s guiding expertise lies in her commitment to culture and the arts, and in her unprecedented access to a community of artists worldwide. Her tours connect people to artists and their art through intimate explorations of studios, museums, and galleries; her passion and enthusiasm for art and culture is contagious.

She can often be found exploring new places through food traditions as well, from labyrinthine markets to traditional gardens to avant-garde restaurants. Food and its central role in culture and place is an inspiration in Chelsea’s artwork, and great food finds a prominent place in her travels. Her trips are full of unique aromas and inspiring flavors.

Chelsea is scheduled to guide the following trips:
1. Japan Country Inns
September 24th – October 5th, 2016

2. Deep Kyoto
Dates TBA

Top Guide Favorites

Photographer’s India – Land of Tiger

30 Mar 2017 - 12 Apr 2017
On this wildlife photo safari, we visit Bandavgarh and Kanha national parks, the two finest tiger sanctuaries in .....
From $5,200

In the Footsteps of the Inca

29 Oct 2016 - 10 Nov 2016
An area of phenomenal natural beauty, friendly people and fabulous mountain scenery, Peru has long been .....

Everest Base Camp Trek

22 Apr 2017 - 07 May 2017
Rising above all the Himalayan peaks is the “goddess” of all mountains, the colossal Everest.  Reaching .....
From $4,085

Ladakh: In Search of Snow Leopards

15 Jan 2016 - 31 Jan 2016
I stood back, taking pictures in the pouring rain, watching my friend Andy dig a foot-deep hole in rocky soil over-looking a sacred .....
From $4,700

Bhutan: New View of the Buddhist Kingdom

18 Nov 2015 - 30 Nov 2015
Our first experience of Bhutan is extraordinary, landing in a deep, wide valley surrounded by distant Himalayan .....

Through the Highest Himalaya

10 Oct 2016 - 22 Oct 2016
On the Roof of the World, locked away for centuries, Tibet has always held a unique place in the human imagination .....
From $5,880