Meet Our Team

Our tours involve a dedicated team of local guides, porters, cooks, and all the people whom make our being there possible. This rapport has been forged over the years through mutual respect given and received.

Silvana Gottini

Owner, sales & marketing

Originally from Canterbury, Silvana studied zoology and marine biology in Christchurch, before heading overseas and living in Switzerland, the US and Latin America. As owner of SET, she manages sales, reservations and marketing in New Zealand. Fluent in Spanish and German (her parents are from Switzerland and Austria), she loves getting out and leading trips. Especially to Patagonia, Costa Rica and the European Alps.

Steph Christoffersen

Admin, Travel Specialist

Steph is from Motueka and has been in the travel industry for over 20 year. Starting out working for Ansett New Zealand, before becoming a Travel Agent in Motueka and working alongside Silvana. Travel is one thing she is passionate about, and she will do her best to make everything as seamless as possible for your trip of a lifetime.

Lenin Ampudia Iturralde

Tour leader - South America

Lenin was born in Quito – Ecuador, where he began as a local guide, working at different archaeological projects. Then he became a tour leader at the age of 23, all over South America and Cuba and always travelling with his guitar. Ancient knowledge and music are his big passions. He’s always curious about local cultures, so he’s the right person to ask about any of the places you visit. His local experience and relaxed style of travel will put you in true holiday mode.

Sophia Padilla Villacres

Tour leader

Sophia was born in Quito-Ecuador and right after having graduated from Tourism business administration, she made her biggest dream come true: traveling the world! She backpacked extensively on her own, gathering new experiences and knowledge about different cultures. The wonderful world of tour leading was introduced to her in Peru. She has now led tours all over South America and Africa, hiking being her main passion. We are lucky to have her freelancing for SET.

Janet Ellis

Tour leader - Central America

Janet was born in Canada, moved to the UK when she was 8. Later she moved to Japan, traveling through Asia, and other parts of the world. Settling in the beautiful mountain town of Monteverde Costa Rica, 17 years ago. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience in Costa Rican tourism.  Running Horse Trek Monteverde riding stables and with her husband and guiding the 8 day horse tour. We are lucky to have her in Costa Rica, as she’s committed to creating authentic local experiences.

Marcos Mendez Sibaja

Tour Leader - Costa Rica & Cuba

Marcos is a certified naturalist guide and has devoted himself to excellence not only in naturalist guiding, but facilitating a better overall understanding of Costa Rican culture for all of our clients. Marcos understands travellers’ needs since he has travelled to over 25 countries (and is still counting)! He is fully bilingual and is a dual citizen of the US and Costa Rica. When he’s not guiding, Marcos is working on his farm, following international football and raising his two children.

Karen Platzer

Africa tour leader

Karen has lived in in Switzerland, Africa and Greece and is now is settled in New Zealand. She is very passionate about travel and everyone who travels with her loves the relaxed and flexible style Karen has made her trademark. The tours are a perfect blend of leisurely walks and fascinating cultures. You’ll find Karen taking the Africa tours which offer private game lodges and superb wildlife viewing.

Marcello Senatore

Italy operations

Marcello was born and raised in Cava de’ Tirreni, a town with a rich history located in the lush green hills of Southern Italy. Growing up with the wonderful Amalfi Coast as a backyard. He's walked some of the best trails in the world, but prefers to share his homeland’s paths and “way of life” with travellers from all around the globe. He spends his time directing the operations of our Italian hikes, exploring new Italian destinations and working with the guides to make your trips exceptional.

Nicholas White


After spending 13 years living and working in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Nick has recently returned to his home in Central Otago and moved on from SET to pursue interests in New Zealand. His vast knowledge and passion of the Galapagos and South America has been carried on through the company, to pass on to our clients.

Emma Tate

On maternity leave - Admin, Sales and Marketing

Originally from the UK, Emma now calls New Zealand home. She has over 15 years experience as a Travel consultant both in the UK and New Zealand and has travelled to over 40 countries in this time, with South America and South East Asia being her favourite continents. You will find her as part of the invaluable office team behind the scenes taking enquiries, booking flights and administration.