MEET OUR TEAM
Get to know the talented individuals who power Heart of Travel
CHELSEA | Founder
At the age of 19, Chelsea boarded a plane to Guatemala on her first-ever solo trip abroad. Knowing little about Central America, and not speaking a word of Spanish, she hadn’t the faintest clue of the incredible journey she was embarking on. What was supposed to be a few weeks turned into three years, a new language, hundreds of friends from around the world, new jobs and skills, and more importantly a deeper insight into the world we all live in. These experiences inspired her to found a small group travel company that was dedicated to dispelling myths about Latin America and promoting positive and meaningful interaction between visitors and locals.
Currently based in Antigua, Guatemala but with frequent visits to her hometown Sacramento, CA, Chelsea dedicates herself full time to Heart of the Travel. Be it organizing and guiding trips, researching new destinations, writing blog posts or snapping shots for Instagram she lives and breathes travel, connecting with new people, and celebrating diversity and culture throughout the world. In her downtime, she enjoys running, cooking, horseback riding, reading, and above all else catching up with family and friends. While she loves Guatemala, Sacramento is forever home and she is grateful for the opportunity to bring people together and bridge the two worlds. This year Chelsea and her boyfriend, Luis Miguel, are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their firstborn, Madeline, due in January!
Favorite Trip: Cuba
CHIVA | Co-founder
Born in Guatemala and raised in the city of San Lucas, Chiva is 100% chapina through and through. Life, however, has taken her all over Asia and to many parts of Latin America and the U.S. After living in Tennessee for a few years at a young age, Chiva developed total fluency in both English and Spanish leading her to pursue a career teaching ESL abroad in her early 20’s. While studying to get her certification she met Chelsea in 2011 and within days they were fast friends, an experience that deepened both of their understanding of and appreciation for one another’s culture.
Chiva’s bright spirit, passion for travel, and dedication to keeping customers safe, happy, and healthy while sharing the beauty of Latin America with them makes her a stellar business partner and incredible tour leader. When she’s not guiding, Chiva oversees logistics, creates itineraries, works on consulting projects, and strengthens our relationships with communities throughout the Latin American region.
In her free time, Chiva enjoys eating ramen, listening to podcasts, being in nature, and spending time with her familia y sus amigos. She’s also obsessed with bugs and marine animals.
Favorite Trip: Ecuador
MAFER | Wedding & Event Planner
María Fernanda “Mafer” was born and raised in Guatemala in the incredibly beautiful city of Antigua Guatemala, the countries most visited site famous for its cobblestone roads and colonial architecture. Since a young age, Mafer has been passionate about the culinary arts and sports, with a particular love for fencing.
In 2016 Mafer began to work in Antigua’s tourism scene, managing a small bed and breakfast, café, and boutique clothing shop that catered heavily to visitors from around the world. During this time she gained valuable skills and experience that made her the perfect addition to the Heart of Travel team in June of 2019.
Currently, Mafer runs our Antigua based Airbnbs, assists our reservations departments, and is involved in new tour development. In addition to these tasks, Mafer is also actively involved with our sister non-profit, Fundación Fénix, working alongside the women to improve their designs and the quality of their craftsmanship while developing a strategic sales plan to help them get their products to a larger market.
Mafer, while sweet and nurturing by nature and always fashionable, is also a fan of adventure and outdoor exploration and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty! In her free time, she likes to go hikes, spend time with her dog, and make cookies and cakes, a talent that is much appreciated by the whole team!
Favorite Trip: Chichicastenango, Guatemala
They are here to:
- Dispel myths and foster positive economic growth while respecting local customs, cultures, and communities.
- Change the way you travel and shake up an industry historically dominated by men.
- Provide you with a travel experience that is not only fun but also encourages you to broaden your perspectives and look at the world from various lenses.
- Create a type of travel that is sustainable and empowering for local communities and individuals, and kind to our environment.
- Share experiences that connect us with people from around the world.
- Challenge the status quo and shift paradigms as well all embark on a constant journey of discovery and growth.
- Be good and honest people and have fun while we’re at it!