Experience Mamoní powers ecological restoration, inspires biological and cultural preservation, local stewardship and global environmental leadership through facilitating and curating hands-on learning, events and sustainable tourism.
Mark Knetsch serves as Managing Director for Experience Mamoní. He facilitates all programmatic development, both in and out of the Preserve, and is in charge of creating your meaningful experience in Panama. Mark has been leading local and international student groups of all ages throughout the Valley and parts of Panama for the past three years, and has developed a deep knowledge of the local biodiversity and culture. He is our resident PAWGI certified wilderness guide, trained in emergency response and jungle survival. While living in Canada Mark studied accounting and business administration at Laurentian University, where he graduated Cum Laude. During this period he also specialized in landscape construction and heavy machinery operation, and is a true waterman, having been raised in Aruba. His ability to speak 4 languages: English, Dutch, Spanish and Papiamento has helped Mark with supporting our NGO partner Earth Train in program development and management, along with many personal global adventures, which includes extensive time in Latin America and Asia.
Anna Gili is Experience Mamoní’s Business Development and Program Coordinator. Utilizing her experience as a postgraduate in International Cooperation and Development she is focusing on expanding our curricula offerings for EM’s experiential learning programs, along with a strategy to market those through our web and social media channels. Originally from Barcelona, Anna studied Biology at Barcelona University and Agronomy Engineering at the Polytechnic University; later on, while living in England, she got her MSc. in Natural Resource Management.
She is a dog lover who has recently finished a graduate diploma in Canine Unit Instruction, a wanderer with a passion for travel adventures, and an outdoor enthusiast finishing her Wilderness Guide certification with the International Wilderness Academy.
Her experience as a researcher, animal trainer, dancer, diver, and world traveller has adapted Anna to be our perfect candidate for creating all types of user experiences while understanding the challenging environments we offer our adventurous visitors.
Nico Armstrong serves as Facilities Manager for Experience Mamoní. With six years of hosting and management experience Nico is our key guy who manages your experience in Mamoni. His programmatic involvement is focused on agriculture and community development. Arriving to Bocas del Toro, Panama in 2006 as a Peace Corps volunteer Nico integrated himself with indigenous Ngabe cacao farmers to teach sustainable techniques to increase the production of their plantations. After completing his services Nico moved on to become a tour guide and operator for six years in the highlands of the Chiriqui province, specializing in treks, agro-tourism and indigenous cultural experiences with his Ngabe friends. He is a PAWGI certified wilderness guide and in his spare time he loves to go on “waterfall quests” — in search for beautiful, undiscovered falls.
Guillaume Barros is our Permaculture Internship Program Coordinator. He holds a Master in Chemistry and Business sales. After working in a conventional company in France, he left everything to become a backpacker traveler in Latin America, working as a volunteer in different eco-farms along the way. He discovered that one of the most effective vehicles to promote a sustainable lifestyle is education. He has worked 3 years with children improving his teaching skills before starting a 3 acres Permaculture fruit forest in Panama. As an experienced Permaculture designer, Guillaume has been participating at various Permaculture design Courses in Costa Rica and Panama. Now, his focus is empowerment through education, combining scientific knowledge with low tech DIY.
Ezequiel Coniglio manages our Communications and Digital Marketing through the Photo and Video Journalism Internship Program. After several years working as a journalist in Argentine media, he decided on traveling to seek communication styles in other areas in search of further inspiration for his master’s thesis in journalism. He worked as a photographer in Costa Rica and finally adopted Panama as his second home. While working at the Isaac Rabin high school as a communications officer, he discovered his passion for education and it was there where he found the ideal balance. Being a musician he believes that “Art is everywhere and is one of the best ways to communicate. If you want to compose you have to know how to look, listen, process and express and, if you know that, you can apply that to almost everything in life.”
Gabriel Salazar serves as Wilderness Guide for Experience Mamoní. His programmatic involvement is focused on local jungle expertise in survival, animal tracking, and navigating. In his youth Gabriel was once a prolific hunter trained by Noriega’s military forces in the Mamoní Valley, but he has since been able to create a more sustainable livelihood for himself when joining our partner NGO Earth Train in 2006– a start of a new era as he is now one of the Preserves biggest supporters for conservation. Running a quaint but efficient and beautiful integrated farm system, while also developing and managing our animal husbandry program, Gabriel is a true ‘hombre de la selva’ (man of the jungle); he is a master horsemen and agriculturist and he has a deep knowledge of the plants and animals of the Mamoní Valley.
Leandro Toribio serves as Facilities Caretaker. Leandro was raised in the Valley and the jungle has always been his backyard. He’s worked with our partner NGO Earth Train since 2001 and is now in supporting both organizations as the on-site carpenter and in maintaining the grounds around our jungle campus, Centro Mamoni. When not maintaining our site beautiful, Leandro helps out with guiding and adventure trips and in his spare time he helps out on his family’s farm and tends to his gardens that include unique, native species of orchids.
Enrique “Kike” Arias serves as Principle Advisor – Indigenous Affairs for Experience Mamoní. His programmatic involvement is focused on GIS mapping and community development. Kike is a Guna elder from the San Blas archipelago of the semi-autonomous indigenous Guna Nation. He served as the Assistant Secretary General of the Guna Congress, and is one of the original cartographers of the Mamoní Valley, as well the indigenous Guna territory (“comarca”) to the North. He spent many years trekking and mapping the jungles of Mamoní and the comarca, and is an invaluable part of our guiding and activities offerings. Kike is also an important member of the operations team for the Mamoní100 partnership and the Mamoní Valley Preserve.
Carlos Andres Gonzalez is our internal legal counsel and has since 2008 been working on our projects in the Mamoní Valley with our partners Earth Train, the Mamoní 100, as well as other for profit and non-for-profit partners operating in the Valley. He also participates in acquisitions and sales of land for the Mamoní Valley Preserve and its partners, developing legal strategies around titling and conservation easements, as well as supporting our community development and sustainable livelihood initiatives.
James Bolle serves as our mentor Chief Biologist. His programmatic involvement is focused on all things biology as well as integrated farming systems and land management. James also serves as Chief of Operations with our partners Rainforest Capitals’ Panama projects. Before working with Rainforest Capital, he designed and managed an integrated prawn and fish project on a coconut plantation in the interior of the country. Trained as a biologist, he has worked extensively in the field and lab for both United States Geological Service in the Colombian River Basin and Prince William Sound Aquaculture in Alaska. James served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia; focusing on rural aquaculture and sustainable economic development. After studying the efficacy of international aid interventions with World Fish Center, he consulted in climate smart agriculture on the shores of Lake Victoria. He balances his life with commitment to rural development and a passion for surfing, diving and science.
Matt Brewer serves as our mentor Master Forester. His programmatic involvement covers all project development, implementation and management, as well as feasibility assessments, community development, land appraisal and procurement, and due diligence needs related to forestry, carbon, bioenergy and community development projects, which as the Chief Forester with our partners Rainforest Capital Management he manages projects in Panama, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ghana, Bahamas, Peru, Brazil, Nicaragua, and the USA. Matt also serves as Chief Forester. After receiving a Master’s Degree from the Yale School of Forestry, he spent most of the past ten years in Latin America managing forestry, bioenergy, forest carbon (AR/REDD+), and land use optimization projects. He is fluent in Spanish. Matt’s work includes design and implementation of landscape management and agro- forestry investment packages, biodiversity and watershed conservation programs, and participation in several REDD+ initiatives. Matt Previously Matt worked with US Forest Service wilderness programs for five years as a ranger and forestry technician and loves being in the mountains and wild places.
Conveniently located 2 hours east of Panama’s international airport, and in the heart of the Mamoní Valley, lies our rainforest campus amidst land governed by the not-for-profit Mamoní Valley Preserve. Our efforts support its large-scale land conservation and habitat restoration within the 28,000-acre Upper Mamoní Valley Watershed and beyond. Our unique campus lies within the biological corridor that is the bridge for culture and wildlife throughout the Americas and home to many endemic and endangered species.
Mamoní Valley contains a mixture of tropical primary rainforest, advanced secondary forest, natural regeneration, plantations of native and exotic timber trees, and a patchwork of large pastures with areas of slash and burn agriculture.
Your participation contributes to this unique environment through research, sustainable practices, and community development programs that will allow the restoration of this fragile ecosystem– a cooperation for environmental conservation with livelihood goals.
Our rainforest campus, Centro Mamoní, is an off-grid facility where students, interns, researchers, and adventure-seekers help us achieve the goal of becoming 100% self sufficient. A site sustainably powered 24/7 by a unique hydro electric system with cabanas and hand-crafted furnishings built from locally salvaged hardwoods.
Nestled amidst the forest are six distinctive, open-air raised cabanas sleeping up to 26 guests in beds, or as many as 50 when combined with tents. All cabanas are equipped with plush beds, or private tents, showers, western flush toilets, and electricity — conveniently connected to the outside world via high-speed internet service.
Enjoy fresh meals containing organic locally grown ingredients in our open-air dining area. When not used for dining, this space is converted into our lecture and practice space for up to 50 guests.
Lounge peacefully in a hammock while hummingbirds fly overhead, swim laps in our 25m Olympic-length stream-fed natural pool, get creative in our amphitheatre, or get hands-on in our workshop or organic gardens.
Let us plan your next retreat in Panama with the help of our professional staff. We can help personalize your entire all-inclusive retreat at our rainforest campus, which can include a mix of adventures and activities throughout Panama.
Immerse yourself in nature space while our masseuse, chef, and professional bi-lingual staff take care of you from the moment you arrive in Panama. Whether it’s for health and wellness, leadership building, a celebration, science or biology; enjoy our comfortable, large open spaces ideal for group activities, workshops, or business planning.
Our open-air cabanas and facilities are nestled amidst the tropical rainforest where guests easily can reconnect with Mother Nature, while still having access to high-speed internet.
Contact us to see how our unique tropical setting, eco adventure activities and high level of service are ideal for your next group retreat.