Tari, Papua New Guinea

Meet the Expert: Amber Medkiff

Zegrahm Expeditions|August 31, 2020|Blog Post

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Amber Medkiff

Where are you from and where have you lived?

I was born in Tucson, Arizona, grew up in the Los Angeles area, and lived for short stretches in places all over the world.

Tell us about yourself—what path led you to becoming a Zegrahm Leader? 

Fate has been my guiding light. After graduating from fashion college in London, I worked for fashion designer Emilio Pucci in Florence in the 1990s.While working in his boutique, I met a very interesting couple. The man, William Dultz, was the owner of Travcoa; we became friends and he offered me a job. That was 27 years ago.

What other jobs, positions or credentials do you have? 

I have a Bachelor of Arts and I also worked for an international incentive company, taking care of top entertainers and CEOs from Fortune 500 companies. 

What other fields are you passionate about? 

Where do I start? I’m passionate about film, contemporary art, yoga, hiking, my family. and my wonderful husband. 

What excites you about working for Zegrahm Expeditions? 

My life is blessed and my work with Zegrahm Expeditions is a large part of that. Even after 27 years, I am thrilled to be revisiting some of the favorite places I’ve traveled to before as well as discovering all new adventures. I never stop learning or being amazed by all the wildlife, people and experiences along the way. Zegrahm is a great company. I have an enormously professional support system and I am empowered, like all of the Travel Directors, to make the appropriate adjustments to our trips and deliver the most incredible Zegrahm Expeditions experience for guests. 

What is your favorite Zegrahm memory? 

I was leading a trip to Papua New Guinea several years ago with 14 guests that was very memorable. This particular trip is fascinating because you are living in the world of Papua New Guinea’s tribal cultures, which we witnessed immediately on our first short flight. We were circling to land on this dirt runway in the bush when the pilot aborted the landing because two warring tribes were having a spear fight on the runway. 

Adventures were abundant. 

At another point, one of the tribal chiefs at a small village we visited was negotiating with our translator for several minutes when I asked him what was going on. He said the chief wanted to trade two of his prize pigs for me. 

But the most extraordinary thing that happened was one of our guests, a beautiful VIP travel agent from Los Angeles, fell madly in love with the wonderful naturalist guiding the trip with us. They were engaged by the end of the tour and everyone was celebrating. Six months later I attended their wedding. Just goes to show, anything can happen in Papua New Guinea! 

Dani Man, Papua New Guinea

Can you tell us about a time that you were on a Zegrahm expedition that ended up taking an unexpected turn or made an unexpected discovery that took you off the planned trail?

I have so many amazing memories but this one stands out for many reasons. A few years back, I was leading a trip to Nepal and Bhutan. We left Kathmandu the day before the huge earthquake that caused so many lost lives and much destruction. We left most of our possessions in a hotel in Kathmandu and went off to spend a few days on the other side of Nepal on safari. When the quake hit, we really felt it in the lodge and lost most communication with the outside world. But I learned so much on that trip as we improvised to find a way out of Nepal. We had to get visas and get to India by bus very early one morning—we hired a driver who navigated ruined roads for 22 hours to bring us the luggage that we had left in Kathmandu. We finally crossed the Indian border after a six-hour delay at the customs office and eventually made it to New Delhi. 

What non-for-profits or causes do you support or feel strongly about?

Anything that has to do with protecting animals and the environment. 

What are your top three countries or regions in the world to explore? 

India, Italy, and Bhutan. 

What’s left on your explorer’s bucket list/where do you still want to go that you haven’t been yet? 

Iran: I would love to see the amazing historical ruins, get to know the people and learn more about the centuries of art, poetry and culture. 

Antarctica: I am longing to kayak with the whales through the ice fjords and icebergs. I would love to see the amazing scenery, the stars and the wildlife. 

Maldives: I would love to see the most beautiful beaches, the sea life and the most remote islands in the world. Witnessing its starry skies and sensational sunsets has long been a travel goal of mine.

The Maldives

What does being a part of the Zegrahm family mean to you?

It’s wonderful to belong to such a well-respected and caring family. I am proud to work for a long-standing brand that stands for integrity, sustainability, and great customer care. I know the Zegrahm’s team will be there to support me and empower me to make the right decisions for the Zegrahm mission.

 Who is the Zegrahm Explorer/Traveler?

 They are an independent, curious, adventuresome, and well-educated explorer who wants to learn about the precious world we are all blessed to inhabit.