It began – like all good things – as a love story.
Way back in the 1980s Dag Goering and Maria Coffey stumbled across each other on Vancouver Island (far from their respective home countries) and discovered a shared passion for adventure trips and exploration. Not long after marrying, they bought a folding kayak and set off on a wild year-long trip around the world. Their journeys turned into published books, photographs and presentations; then, as Dag and Maria love sharing the magic they discovered, inevitably their skills and passions melded into Hidden Places. The love story continues – they are still exploring the world together, scouting and creating new trips, protecting elephants and other endangered creatures. And Hidden Places has kept true to its roots, offering authentic and uncommon experiences, with many special and personal touches.
Hidden Places Travel is a fully licensed tour operator and travel agency, founded in 2000 and based in British Columbia, Canada. A three times winner of the National Geographic “Tours of a Lifetime” award, our specialty is crafting journeys in the world’s most unforgettable places — complete with incredible local food, one-of-a-kind hotels, and more. Renowned for our innovative small group tours with many special touches, Hidden Places has also become a leading light in conservation efforts and support of local communities.
Hidden Places founders Dag Goering and Maria Coffey have been exploring the planet for well over 30 years. Dag, a globetrotting veterinarian (did someone call for a camel medic?) and internationally published photographer (see website), brings his artistic and detail-oriented eye to travel — while Maria, a journalist and award-winning author, brings her poetic sense of wonder to every journey.
Dag and Maria have also cultivated a close, tightly-knit network of local experts and trip guides to round out the Hidden Places team — warm, genuine, and fascinating people who have become close friends, and share the same ethics and ideals.
Expedition Leader André Gloria ticks all the boxes: he’s strong, skilled and multi-lingual; funny, smart and caring. He’s a climbing instructor, a dive master, a paddler, a biker and a hiker. He’s crazy about exploring the world and he loves to take others along with him. With André as their expert guide, our groups have trekked in the Indian Himalaya, journeyed through Sri Lanka and biked the length of Portugal – which is Andé’s native land. He’ll be leading our Douro River kayaking trips and he’s always up for new adventures.
Stefy Raju is our amazing Kerala trip leader. The moment you meet her she makes you feel totally at home, and confident that you are in the most capable of hands. Lively, funny and full of energy, Stefy shares her vast knowledge of Kerala in an entertaining way. And as well as being a top guide, she’s a dancer (Indian hip hop lessons anyone?) an artist, and a true people person. You couldn’t have a better companion for your adventure in Kerala.
Office Manager Denise Nicholls is the perfect person to keep our base camp in order while we careen around the world (and when we’re home). She is a stickler for detail, incredibly dependable, and has a huge heart. (We return from journeys to find French pastries and flowers on our counter, and beautifully crafted messages on our chalkboard). She’ll be your direct contact for getting you organized for your trip!
We travel humbly and with open eyes. Along the way sometimes we encounter hard things: human/animal conflict, environmental issues, humanitarian needs. We don’t just turn away. We’ve committed ourselves, seriously and for the long haul, to protecting the hidden places we love — and the people and creatures who call those places home.
We know we can’t single handedly fix all the problems. But we believe that every action makes a difference — and it’s our responsibility, as travelers and as humans, to try.
Our efforts include the following:
A background in veterinary medicine gives co-founder Dag Goering a deep understanding of the needs of animals. The suffering of elephants is of particular concern to him and in 2009, he and Maria Coffey launched Elephant Earth to protect these majestic animals and their habitat. Elephant Earth supports grassroots, practical and evidence-based projects that directly help conserve elephants and their habitat — from supporting community anti poaching projects in Kenya, to mitigating human-elephant conflict, to introducing humane training and handling methods for captive elephants in Asia.
Hidden Places organizes and runs spectacular fundraising expeditions to amazing places where we support conservation and humanitarian projects that are doing great work. Through our 100 Miles for Elephants trek we have raised over $100,000, which has been instrumental in reducing elephant poaching in Kenya. Our new Snow Leopard trek has kickstarted a project in the Indian Himalaya to protect these beautiful cats by mitigating human-snow leopard conflict and collecting valuable data on the local snow leopard population. Upcoming Adventures for a Cause include biking for baby elephants in Sri Lanka.
We are active members of The International Ecotourism Society. Our mission is to travel with awareness of and deep respect for local environments and cultures — ensuring that our trips are both enlightening for our guests, and life-enhancing for the communities with whom we engage. Whenever possible, we work with family-run hotels, restaurants and boat companies, source food and supplies locally, and foster eco-consciousness among our partners and employees.
We support many conservation and humanitarian organizations, including:
Space for Giants
The Kesho Trust
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES)
Human Rights Watch:
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society: