Meet the Acanela Team
Kylie has spent numerous years living abroad leading tours across the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa. She studied Business Strategy and International Development at the Marriott School of Management. Further, she attended the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge to study Social Innovation and Business Strategy and has lived in Portugal, India, and Malawi. Her international experience and love for authentic travel led her to found Acanela Expeditions, allowing individuals the opportunity to immerse themselves in hands-on cultural experiences around the world.
Andrew grew up in the metropolitan city of Hong Kong, where he had the opportunity to learn about a variety of different cultures from a very young age. He spent his childhood and teenage years volunteering for groups such as Habitat for Humanity in Thailand, Climbing mountains in Malaysia & Indonesia, and biking through the beautiful trails of Australia & New Zealand. He studied Business Strategy, after which we chose a career in Management Consulting. He has a passion for travel, rock climbing, and anything that has to do with innovation.
Holly has spent many years traveling and putting together trip itineraries all across the globe visiting countries such as India, Costa Rica, and Italy. She is a globetrotter at heart, and always welcomes a new adventure. She is married and is the mother of two beautiful children, making it a priority to travel and explore the world with her family.
Shazia's first trip to Pakistan as a child kicked off a life-long interest in travel. After getting married and earning a degree in communications from Brigham Young University, she spent a year traveling to 35+ countries. She also founded a real estate business with her husband and eventually settled down in Heber, UT. As a new mom, Shazia is passionate about making travel accessible for everyone, especially families. Her responsibilities at Acanela include facilitating brand partnerships, outreach and university/corporate travel initiatives.
Ashley is passionate about photography and capturing the beauty of the world, and has spent years developing her talent as a content creator and digital marketer. She received a Fine Arts degree in Photography and has spent the past several years directing large scale photography projects on land, overseas, and underwater. She loves traveling and enjoys learning about new people, places, and cultures - while still taking a moment to capture each moment on camera. She is originally from Idaho where she developed a love for mountains, lakes, and wildlife.
Randi grew up in the military, and that's where she got her taste for traveling. She's attending school at Weber State University, where she is studying microbiology and chemistry. Some of her most memorable travel experiences were trekking across the eastern Balkans and experiencing life there. When she's not working or studying, you can find her curled up with a good book, raising her baby succulent plants, or hiking in the mountains.
Amelia is passionate about people and loves to see them live their lives doing the things that inspire them and what they love the most. Amelia is a dedicated yoga instructor and teaches nearly every day. She studied communication at Utah Valley University and is currently in grad school working on her MHA. Several years ago, during her undergraduate degree, Amelia was able to travel abroad to France and live in a small town called Mazamet for an entire year. After exploring and learning a new culture, she then moved to Florida to work at Walt Disney World as a character performer. Working at Acanela and being in an environment with people who love to travel and love to make that happen for other people is a complete dream. There is so much to learn. By stepping out of your life into a new place to gain a new perspective is one of the best ways to do that.
Whitney is a travel writer currently based in her home state of Utah. In the past, she has lived in France and Ireland, and her resume includes former positions at a transportation startup based in Paris, a Swiss Alps tour operator, and a popular travel media company. At Acanela, she focuses on developing content, stories, and articles that help travelers find their next big adventure. In addition to her passion for travel, Whitney loves archaeology, floral design, and photography, and she's always thinking about sustainability and the ways that it intersects with travel.
After graduating college with a degree in Spanish from the University of Georgia, Grace spent three years working for an international nonprofit called Young Life in San Jose, Costa Rica. She spent most of her downtown traveling throughout the beautiful country of Costa Rica, as well as exploring various countries in Central America, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe and Africa. During her time abroad, she became impassioned about the development of responsible travel. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in International Community Development, and she is thrilled to be writing articles and developing content for Acanela!
Sarah was born and raised in a small town in Utah, USA. She studied at Utah Valley University, and is looking forward to one day going back to school at an Art Institute and study design. She loves traveling and all things adventure- especially spontaneous adventures and last minute road trips. Some of her favorite travels so far have been to Peru and Machu Picchu, and a two week trip to Iceland spent living out of a camper van - an epic experience! Art is something that is so important to Sarah as she is a graphic design artist on the side, and loves anything that has to do with expressing herself creatively. Studying and exploring new cultures is also important in her life, and she can’t wait to continue to get to know and understand more beautiful humans from around the world.
To visit Sri Lanka and not learn about its culture would be a huge disservice to the locals, whose way of life is absolutely fascinating. Acanela emphasizes human connection, and our artisans add the touch of humanity to make any trip unforgettable. Here are just a few of the incredible artisan experiences you’ll enjoy on our Sri Lanka expedition.
At Acanela Expeditions, we work with artisans in dozens of countries around the world, making our travel experiences both immersive and transformative. Our talented artisans have taught us about culture, creativity, entrepreneurship, and community — but before our guests arrive to their destination, they’re not always certain what an artisan does.
Today I want to introduce you to one of the most incredible women I have ever met, her name is Haju and she is a nomad in the Desert of Morocco!
I am in Bukit Luang with my friend Lillix, the man who talks to monkeys. Lillix grew up in a small village in the jungles of Indonesia, and from a young age, learned to love the jungle. Ever since he was six years old his father would take him to explore the most remote parts of the jungle to help him develop an appreciation for its beauty and importance.
Meet my friend Espional. He is from a small village in Papua New Guinea called Asaro, home of the Mudmen Tribe. Experience the Goroka Show and Sing Sing Festival in Papua New Guinea.
Imagine taking a 10 hour flight, 3 hour drive, 1 hour train ride , 30 minute public bus, and a a 15 minute hike, you will find yourself at a place voted to be one of the New 7 Wonders of the World--Machu Picchu. While many people visit Machu Picchu, which don't get me wrong - is a spectacular site- they often miss exploring the beauty of the valleys & villages that surround it. Like visiting Juan, his family, and their 1000 alpacas.
Born and raised in the small village in the Peruvian mountains, Juan has dedicated his life to farming and caring for his family’s home and herds. Because the conditions are so extreme at the top of the Andes mountains, only certain products can survive, namely potatoes, corn, and, of course, Alpacas. This is how they survive in the mountains.
Espional was born and raised in Papua New Guinea. A a native to the Asaro Mud Men tribe, his fondest memories of his childhood were simply spending time in his village, fishing, hunting, and going to school with his friends. “I love where I live,” he admits, “because of the many cultures and traditions that I have. I’m very proud of that.”
As the CEO and founder of Acanela Expeditions, a boutique travel company that offers small group tours all over the world, Kylie has dedicated her life to learning how to use travel to create a positive impact on local communities in almost every continent.
Growing up in the second largest city in Morocco (and the only city in the country that doesn’t allow cars!), Rostom quickly learned the ins and outs of the famously warped streets of Fez. As the son of an historian and a tour guide, Rostom had the unique opportunity from a very young age to soak up the rich history and culture of the city that has inspired great artists, scholars, and writers for centuries. Even today, Rostom’s favorite hobby is still wandering the streets of Fez, discovering the history of the best hidden spots, and then sharing those discoveries with travelers from all walks of life. As he reflects on his life, he shares, “My most influential experiences are being with travelers who love my town and have stayed here forever.”
Originally from a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Angela grew up running away from home with only the necessities. She was curious to learn about the unknown and continues to seek such knowledge. Her first trip out of the United States was a year study abroad trip to Australia, where she became addicted to seeking out new places and more importantly immersing herself in the culture. Angela has spent time in over a dozen counties, doing everything she can to fully immerse herself including, hitchhiking in New Zealand, speaking only Italian in hole in the wall cafes trying to pass as a local and participating in WWOOF.
Grace is currently a student at the University of Tampa studying International Relations and French. Her love for travelling blossomed from her love of community service, and she’s been hopping on flights since her first international trip in high school. Originally from Chicago, her favorite trips have been Quebec City, Canada, and the three weeks she spent in Ghana. Grace’s post-grad dreams all include connecting with people from across the planet, becoming educated on various cultures, and hopefully making the world a little bit of a better place."
Sophie is a 21-year-old Communications major studying at Southern New Hampshire University. Being from a rural town in Northern New Hampshire, Sophie knew from a young age that she wanted the opportunity to travel the world and to be exposed to new cultures. Living in Switzerland for three months in the summer of 2018, enabled her to check multiple dream destinations off of her bucket list. In her free time, Sophie enjoys photography, writing, and traveling. Some of her dream destinations are Antarctica, New Zealand, and Cuba!
Originally from Athens, Georgia, Grace grew up traveling with her family, but did not become an avid traveler until college, when she did several internships in Latin America and fell in love with the language and culture. After graduating from the University of Georgia, she moved to San Jose, Costa Rica to work with an international non-profit for three years and became an expert traveler with an insatiable desire to explore new places and experience different cultures around the world.
Hi my name is Alex and I’m 25 years old from a small town in eastern North Carolina. I graduated with a biology degree from East Carolina University in ‘14. My favorite place to be is on a beach and my favorite saying is “A rainy day at the beach is better than a rainy day home”. My dream travel destinations include Australia, Ireland, and Argentina.
My name is Kelly, and I live in San Diego, California. Travel has been an important part of my life, and I’m ready for more. Most of my traveling has been for school. I had projects for my Bachelors in Sustainable Tourism in Ecuador and Turkey. Then I did part of my research for my Masters in Huanchaco, Peru. The rest of my travels have been due to my involvement in the competitive world of dodgeball. Yes, you read that correctly. I have traveled to places like Hong Kong to compete against other counties, and it has been amazing to experience. I have a full time job as an animal trainer. I work closely with a lot of species, but my favorites are wolves and cheetahs!
Jiayi Wang (@diaryofanomad) is a multilingual photographer, content creator and writer whose passion for discovering the world began at a young age. Born in China, she spent most of her upbringing in Rome, Italy, where she calls home. She then went on to live in the US, Peru, France, Japan and Australia and loves integrating the different cultures she's experienced into her dynamic identity. She's never identified with just one culture, group of people or language. She's always been a citizen of the world. She currently resides in London but spends all her free time exploring more corners of the globe, especially the lesser-known ones.
Angela Li (@angela) is a designer, content creator, and avid traveller. She was born and raised in Toronto, and now currently resides in Seattle. By day, she is a product designer working in tech and in her spare time, she volunteers for nonprofits that advocate for youth opportunities, creative growth, and idea sharing.
Emilie Ristevski (@helloemilie) Forever wandering with a camera in her hand, Emilie Ristevski is a Australian based creative. Built upon natural light and curiosity, her work gathers beautiful moments together to simply tell stories through the images she creates.
With an innate sense of adventure, Emilie’s collection of work documents her appreciation for the hidden beauty found within this world. Capturing the fleeting details that often go unseen, Emilie is drawn to the unexpected. Her distinctive style of imagery has led her to work with many clients internationally – travelling and photographing her journey, wherever it may take her...
Gillian (@glsr330) is a human-centered designer, theater geek, foodie, and #dogmom from Dallas, TX. She has an affinity for adventure and can’t help but start to plan her next trip the moment she walks back in her front door. Some of her fondest memories abroad involve getting lost, finding something beautiful and unexpected, and meeting and eating with locals. More than anything, she loves stories — hearing them, sharing them, and making them up along the way.