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Kipchoge Spencer

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.

Liz Mcgregor

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.

Phil Boyer

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!

Piero Vellutino

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 expeditions or safety kayaking, he is wrestling with his three sons Lorenzo, Lucio, and Nahuel.

Rio Jose Hibarger

Originally from Arkansas, Rio has been on rivers his whole life, runs the river year round and his favorite run in our winter is the amazing Futaleufu during the Austral summer.

He is a man who lives life according to his “river time” ethos, which means he never stops, just as a river never stops flowing… He mends, fixes and restores whatever he can. Out on the river, he is talented, at one with the river and makes you see his lines, sometimes they are the harder ones. But he will get you the most your bang for your buck, guaranteed! At the camp-fire he will entertain you with tales, adventures past and songs while strumming his guitar or banjo! He is also the only person we know who has taken a paddle board from ‘Bridge to Bridge’ section on the Fu!!!

Santiago Ibañez

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 Pan-american 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 bird-watching, 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), 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!”

Stan Ricketts

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!

Terry Elizabeth Owens – Alvarez

Originally from Alabama, now living in Truckee and Patagonia. She not only adds her design input (She owns and runs THID design firm), but is one of your camp hosts and Yoga leaders. You will enjoy her soothing voice as you practice your yoga and stretching on one of our glorious Yoga decks or rooms. Her class was recently reflected on by one of our guests, who thanked for providing “nonjudgemental Yoga practice”. You need not worry if you are new to it or an experienced Yogi… you will breathe, relax, regain flexibility and restore. Thereby getting your ready for all the fun activities every day! Terry also enjoys going out with y’all on our trusty steeds for equestrian pure enjoyment and adventure!