About Your Primary Travel Guide

Dianne Aigaki is an artist, grant writer and advocate for the Tibetan culture in exile.  She has lived in Dharamsala, India (the major Tibetan refugee community in exile) for eleven years, working as a volunteer for various non-profit organizations and Tibetan exile government departments, training individuals and groups to write solid plans and fund-raising proposals and helping to develop adult education and community garden projects.  She was Coordinator of the Gyudmed Tantric Monastery Compassion Tours in the United States, traveling with the Gyudmed monks while they were in the States in 2000 and 2001.

Since 2004, she has spent the summers traveling in Eastern Tibet, sketching and painting botanical illustrations of flora growing at 11,-000 - 17,000 feet altitude. She is a well-known motivational speaker and a member of WINGS Worldquest (supporting women explorers), the Society of Women Geographers (the premier organization of women explorers in the world), Rotary International, the American Society of Botanical Artists, and the Guild of Asian Botanical Artists.

Blog: www.dianneaigaki.wordpress.com


About the Support Staff


Aku Tsega lives in Oh Szang Village
and has worked with Dianne for the last two summers, arranging for expeditions into the hills and mountains of Kham. He comes from a long line of traditional healers and is knowledgeable about the location of plants, their medicinal uses, and is a tireless plant seeker and assistant. He speaks no English, but is excellent at charades!





                 Russell Monk

Because of a scheduling conflict, Ron Zak, our photographer lead for Tour #2 will not be able to travel with us this summer.  Stepping right up to provide our guests with an extraordinary experience, Russell Monk, a professional photographer of renown, will be with us in 2011.  We guarantee you a remarkable experience with this knowledgeable adventurer.

For nearly 25 years, Russell has travelled widely, photographing political campaigns and humanitarian crises; he covered the Rwanda crisis for Canada's National newspaper, the Globe and Mail. He has also photographed for NGO's and numerous charities including Greenpeace (where he spent a month in the Amazon) and Médecins Sans Frontières and he shot the current World Wide Tourism Campaign for Cuba.

Russell has directed television commercials and worked for a variety of national and international clients, shooting annual reports and major advertising campaigns for companies including Microsoft and Yahoo.  His photographs have appeared in numerous editorial publications including National Geographic, Time, The Wall Street Journal and the London Sunday Times.

Russell's photography has garnered numerous awards--the Canadian National Magazine awards where he also won a "Gold" for his travel writing; and has appeared in the American Photography Annual, Applied Arts, Zoom, Graphis magazine and the prestigious Communication Arts Awards Annual. He self-published an award winning book called "Amusing World" with images from over twenty countries  Russell has had  solo exhibitions in Toronto, New York and Mexico and is currently working on a new personal series "Mexicanos en mi casa".

Russell's commercial work is represented by Westside Studio, the largest studio of its kind in Canada. His stock photography is represented by both Getty images and Masterfile.  At present Russell lives in Mexico and Toronto. When in Mexico he also writes and records songs he has written and involves himself in various community projects.           www. russellmonk.com



About Lobsang Tsering, our guide on Tour #3:

We are honored to have Lobsang Tsering, former monk from Gyudmed Tantric Monastery and University, as the co-leader on the Sacred Sites and Traditions Tour. He is knowledgeable about all aspects of Tibetan Buddhist rituals and ceremonies, symbolism and history.  A witty and charming companion, he speaks excellent English and will be able to help tour guests journey deeply into the sacred traditions of Tibet.

Lobsang and Dianne have been close friends for more than ten years, and co-led the Gyudmed Tantric Monastery fund-raising tours in the United States in 2000 and 2001.