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Our US and Cuba Team


Michael Sanders, President and Founder


Michael Sanders is the President and Founder of Mariah Travel, LLC, and EAC Tours, LLC. Renowned for their collaboration with local and national non-profit conservation organizations, Mariah Travel and EAC Tours have earned accolades, including recognition by the National Wildlife Federation as one of the Best Wildlife Tour Companies in North America.


With a rich background as a biologist, Michael's journey into ecotourism began after years of dedicated service with federal, state, and local governments across the United States. In 1998, he founded EAC Tours (later Mariah Travel), driven by his deep-seated passion for preserving open wild lands and safeguarding the diverse wildlife that inhabits them. His biography, "The Beast in the Garden," serves as a testament to his unwavering commitment to environmental conservation and education.


Michael's expertise spans natural science projects throughout the Americas, ranging from polar bear tracking and aurora borealis viewing in the Arctic to conducting bird census and monitoring green sea turtle populations in the Caribbean. He has traversed landscapes across Europe, Asia, Latin and South America, the Galapagos, and most recently, Cuba.


Earning a master’s degree in Natural Resource Management, Michael seamlessly blends his love for travel and education, making him the ideal planner for your next adventure. Whether it's exploring remote natural areas or immersing oneself in cultural experiences, Mariah TraveI is dedicated to providing enriching and sustainable journeys that leave a lasting impact.

Mariah Travel and EAC Tours' Vision 

Mariah Travel and EAC Tours was founded and is operated by a team of dedicated and experienced biologists, scientists, historians, naturalists, and educators. With a collective wealth of expertise, our travel consultants are recognized as authorities on the world's premier destinations, committed not only to facilitating unforgettable experiences but also to understanding and safeguarding the planet’s natural resources.


We hold a firm belief in the importance of responsible tourism, and are proud to contribute to the local economies of our destinations by prioritizing the hiring of local naturalists, guides, and support personnel. This not only enhances the authenticity of our travelers' experiences but also fosters economic empowerment within these communities. Moreover, we recognize the broader impact of our programs on humanitarian efforts worldwide, viewing each endeavor as a meaningful contribution to global well-being.


To us, success is not solely measured by the number of destinations we explore or the accolades we receive, but by the tangible positive outcomes we achieve for both the environment and the communities we engage with. In addition, we are driven by our commitment to sustainability, cultural exchange, and ethical travel practices, ensuring that every journey leaves a lasting legacy of social and environmental stewardship.


Andres Santana Diaz serves as lead ecologist and distinguished guide, offering unparalleled insights into Cuba's National Parks and Nature Preserves. With a background rooted in education, Andres excelled as an elementary and middle school English professor before pursuing his passion for languages further. He earned a PhD in Foreign Language Teaching of English and Italian, laying the foundation for his multifaceted career in ecotourism.

As one of the most esteemed eco-tour guides in his native Topes de Collantes National Park and other natural areas across Cuba, Andres is celebrated for his exceptional knowledge and engaging leadership style.

His educational hikes are renowned for blending informative narratives with a touch of humor, creating memorable experiences that resonate with guests long after their Cuba tour concludes.


Beyond his role as a guide, Andres is recognized as an expert in eco-tourism management, bringing invaluable insights and strategic vision to Mariah and EAC's team. His dedication to environmental conservation and cultural preservation aligns seamlessly with the company's mission, making him an indispensable asset in crafting sustainable and enriching travel experiences for every adventurer.


Andres Santana Diaz's passion for exploration, coupled with his academic background and expertise in ecotourism, epitomizes the spirit of Mariah Travel and EAC Tours. Whether leading expeditions through Cuba's pristine landscapes or sharing captivating anecdotes during educational excursions, Andres exemplifies the commitment to excellence that defines our approach to responsible and immersive travel.

Nils Navarro

Nils Navarro Pacheco resides in the picturesque Vinales Valley of Cuba, and is a distinguished figure in the realm of artistic education and biodiversity conservation. Renowned as one of Cuba's foremost illustrators, Nils has carved a niche for himself as a passionate advocate for natural preservation and scientific communication.  


Nils illustrious career spans the publication and illustration of notable scientific articles and books, with a particular focus on the rich reptilian fauna of the Caribbean showcased in "Wildlife of the Caribbean." Not content with merely illustrating the works of others, Nils has also authored and illustrated his own acclaimed publications, including the seminal works "Endemic Birds of Cuba: A Comprehensive Field Guide" and "Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Cuba."

Currently, Nils is hard at work on his latest endeavor, "A Comprehensive Field Guide to the Birds of Cuba," a project poised to further solidify his legacy as a leading authority in ornithological literature.


In addition to his literary contributions, Nils is revered as a consummate birding and natural history tour guide, leading expeditions that traverse the diverse landscapes of Cuban geography. His intimate knowledge of Cuba's avian biodiversity and his infectious enthusiasm for sharing this wealth of information make him an invaluable asset to our travel and education team.


Mariah Travel and EAC Tours are privileged to count Nils Navarro Pacheco among its esteemed collaborators, and his expertise and passion for conservation enrich every journey we undertake. With Nils's guidance, travelers are not only treated to breathtaking encounters with Cuba's natural wonders but also gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of environmental stewardship and wildlife conservation.


Felipe Rodriguez Alonso

is a legendary figure among Cuba's fishing guides, renowned for his exceptional expertise and unwavering commitment to aquatic conservation. Hailing from the vibrant community of Jaguey Grande, Cuba, Felipe has garnered widespread acclaim not only among local anglers but also among fly fishing enthusiasts from across the globe.

An ardent advocate for environmental stewardship, Felipe channels his passion for angling into meaningful action by sharing his knowledge and experience with the next generation. Recognizing the importance of nurturing a deep connection to nature from an early age, he founded the "Youth Fly Fishing School" in his hometown. Through this initiative, Felipe imparts the art of casting alongside invaluable lessons in aquatic science and conservation, empowering young minds to become stewards of their natural surroundings.


Felipe leads the charge in curating unforgettable fishing experiences that showcase the pristine waters and abundant marine life of Cuba. His intimate understanding of local ecosystems and his unparalleled skill as a fishing guide ensure that every excursion is not only a thrilling adventure but also a lesson in environmental responsibility.


Felipe Rodriguez Alonso's dedication to both his craft and his community embodies the ethos of Mariah Travel and EAC Tours, where sustainability and education are paramount. With Felipe at the helm of our fishing programs, travelers are not only treated to world-class angling experiences but also play an active role in supporting the conservation efforts that safeguard Cuba's aquatic treasures for generations to come.


Xochitl Ayón Güemes is a distinguished figure in the field of ornithology, serving as the bird curator at the National Museum of Natural History of Cuba. With a rich and extensive research portfolio, Xochitl has authored over 30 scientific papers and presentations, solidifying her reputation as a leading authority on avian biology and conservation.

Her expertise extends beyond academic publications, as Xochitl has also contributed significantly to the literary landscape of ornithology as a co-author of chapters in two seminal books: "Las Aves de Cuba" and "Libro Rojo de los Vertebrados de Cuba."

These contributions not only showcase her profound understanding of Cuba's avian species but also highlight her dedication to raising awareness about the conservation status of vertebrate species in the region.


Xochitl's commitment to advancing her field is evident in her pursuit of specialized training. She has honed her skills in Collection Management at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and acquired invaluable insights into monitoring bird communities during her time at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY.


Currently, Xochitl is deeply engaged in a scientific collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, focusing on the study of Cuban birds. This groundbreaking project promises to deepen our understanding of Cuba's avifauna and contribute vital data to global conservation efforts.


As a curator, researcher, and collaborator, Xochitl Ayón Güemes epitomizes the spirit of scientific inquiry and conservation advocacy. Her contributions to the field of ornithology are not only significant in advancing our understanding of avian biodiversity but also in informing conservation policies and initiatives that are essential for preserving Cuba's rich natural heritage for future generations.


Edwin Rojas, a native son of Cuba, stands as a vital figure in the study and conservation of avian populations across the island. With an unwavering passion for ornithology, Edwin has emerged as a leading authority on both resident and migratory bird communities, contributing significantly to our understanding of Cuba's rich biodiversity.


Equipped with a master’s degree from the prestigious Ecology and Systematics Institute in Havana, Edwin combines academic rigor with practical field experience as a seasoned nature and birding guide. His intimate knowledge of Cuba's diverse ecosystems and his keen eye for avian species make him an indispensable asset for travelers seeking immersive and enlightening birding tours.

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