The Destination Experts

Tour Managers & Guides

Photo credit: Desert Adventures

Tour Managers & Guides

Our tour managers and national guides are experienced, caring, multilingual leaders who bring good humor and a love of their work to ensure your satisfaction. Their expert leadership in the field is unmatched and has earned them rave reviews from our past MIR travelers.

Farkhod Alimbaev

Farkhod Alimbaev of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan has been guiding groups and individuals on Central Asian cultural and outdoor programs since 2006. He is fluent in four languages – English, Russian, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek – and is known for his friendly demeanor. Farkhod is a fan of music, travel, basketball, swimming, and reading.

Bekhruz Kurbanov

Bekhruz Kurbanov, a native of Bukhara, has a background in both archaeology and in tourism. Though he has participated in archaeological digs throughout Uzbekistan, his specialization is in the metalwares produced in and around Bukhara (his hometown) from the 9th to the 16th centuries CE. He is also interested in epigraphy and numismatics. Bekhruz has led a range of tours for both small groups and large ones covering all of the 5 ‘Stans. He loves sharing not only his knowledge of Central Asian archaeology with his travel companions, but also his firsthand understanding of modern life and culture in the region.

Yuliya Aukhadeeva

Yuliya Aukhadeeva has been guiding and managing tours around her native Uzbekistan since 2007. Fluent in English, Italian, and Polish, Yuliya received her degree in English language and literature from Tashkent’s National University. She is very well-traveled across Central Asia and the Silk Road, having led many groups by private train as well as overland. She is an accomplished, sociable and knowledgeable leader.

Togrul Bagirli

Azeri national guide and tour manager Togrul Bagirli was born and raised in Baku, and has dedicated the better part of the last decade to guiding travelers to the lesser-known spots in his hometown and across Azerbaijan. He speaks Russian and English in addition to his native Azeri (and is studying German), and maintains a travel blog cataloging some of Baku’s hidden gems. Togrul has been leading MIR groups as a tour manager/guide for many years. 

Michel Behar

Michel has been leading tours for MIR since 1998 and has led tours to every corner of MIR’s realm. A Dutch citizen, Michel speaks a host of languages, including Russian, Italian, Turkish, and Hebrew. He specializes in current affairs and the 20th century history of the former Soviet Union, Europe, the Near East, and North and West Africa. Michel’s interests include photography and world music.

Amiran Chighoshvili

Amiran Chighoshvili, a native of Georgia, is an experienced guide and has been leading groups around Georgia for over 13 years. He has also worked in other areas of the travel industry, including a hotel and a tour operator. Amiran has studied Georgian folk dance and winemaking and practices both when he is not guiding travelers. He is also a DJ and has a degree in business administration! Amiran brings a passion for learning and new experiences to his guiding.

Jamshid Fayzullaev

Born and raised in the ancient city of Bukhara, Uzbekistan, Jamshid is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable person who is familiar with every corner of Uzbekistan and extremely well versed in the other Central Asian ‘Stan countries of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Fluent in English, Russian, Uzbek, and Farsi, Jamshid spent several months in the U.S. as an intern with the Mississippi Consortium for International Development. He has been a tour manager for MIR for more than 15 years, and is well versed in the history and traditions of the Silk Road and beyond. Jamshid also leads MIR tours across throughout the Middle East, including to the destinations of Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq including Kurdistan, and Iran. Clients enjoy his buoyant personality and his wholehearted engagement with each tour he leads.

Shokhrukh Ibadullaev

Shokhrukh Ibadullaev began his career in hospitality and tourism in 2010 as a tour manager in Tashkent. After obtaining a degree in Global Economics in Moscow in 2014, he moved to Dubai and worked as the manager of restaurant services for Dubai Marina Resorts. In 2016 he returned to his native Uzbekistan to become fully devoted to leading tours in his beloved country and throughout the ’Stans of Central Asia. Shokhrukh has a passion for cross-cultural communication and understanding, with language skills in English, Russian, casual French, and his native Uzbek.

Farrukh Ibodullaev

Farrukh is the eldest son in a family of tour guides, and he has led programs in Uzbekistan and across Central Asia since 2010. He studied tourism and hospitality in the United Arab Emirates and Russia, received his degree in management from Moscow Technological University in 2014, and speaks English and Russian fluently, as well as a bit Spanish, and of course, his native Uzbek. He greatly enjoys communicating with travelers from all around the world, and looks forward to guiding more visitors along the Silk Road in the years ahead.

Farzaneh Khademi

Ms. Farzaneh Khademi is from Tehran. She holds degrees in English and German and taught English at an institute in Tehran before beginning her career as a guide. Farzaneh has worked as a guide for nearly three decades and has been leading MIR tours of all sizes to Iran for much of that time. She also has extensive experience guiding Iranians on trips abroad to destinations across Asia, Europe, and even South America and Africa. Farzaneh’s passion for Persian culture and history is infectious, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy traveling with her and that you’ll find her as personally approachable and informative as our past travelers have.

Yuriy Kim

With a background in the hospitality industry, “Yura” guides MIR travelers throughout Central Asia, Turkey, and China. A resident of Bukhara, he is fluent in English, Russian, and Tajik and communicates easily in Uzbek as well. He has great enthusiasm for his country, which his clients appreciate.

Martin Klimenta

A Czech national and former teacher, Martin has been leading MIR tours since 2000. He speaks four languages, including Russian, German, English, and his native Czech. He is extremely well traveled, travels as much as possible year-round, and is always up for an adventure. Martin has led countless MIR groups on journeys to the Balkans, Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia, China, the Baltics, Central Asia, and all over Central/East Europe. Martin’s flexible, active style and inquisitive nature make him a perfect travel companion who can be called upon to assist with virtually any special request.

Nikoloz Mazanishvili

Nikoloz (Nick/Nika) Mazanishvili has been working in the travel industry since 2007 and has extensive knowledge of all the cultural sites in Georgia, as well as a deep knowledge of cultural attractions in the neighboring countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia. He is fluent in English and Russian, in addition to his native Georgian language. Nika hails from the Kakheti region in Eastern Georgia– the main wine producing of the country, and is well acquainted with the wine industry. He has a detailed knowledge of Georgian Christian art, frescoes, and iconography, plus more than a passing acquaintance with Georgia’s pagan, pre-Christian roots. A graduate of the Tbilisi State University, he still loves studying up on French history and culture. He also enjoys a good detective series from anywhere in the world.

Mariam Merebashvili

Mariam Merebashvili has become one of Georgia’s more experienced and well-traveled guides since completing her B.A. and M.B.A. in tourism at Ilia State University. She is an alumnus of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations’ program and the Guide Association’s Guide School, and trained as a tour guide at Georgia’s Ministry of Cultural and Historic Heritage in 2011. She currently makes her home in Tbilisi and has led many culinary and wine tours for travelers, wine aficionados, and foodies. She has been leading MIR trips throughout the South Caucasus region for several years. 

Anvar Nasimov

Anvar has worked in the tourism industry in Uzbekistan for more decades, interpreting, guiding, leading tour groups, and working in a tour office. He studied languages at Samarkand State University, and speaks fluent English, Russian, and Tajik. Anvar spent a year as the interpreter for a UN consultant in Samarkand, and regularly escorts MIR groups around Central Asia’s Five ‘Stans along the Silk Route. Anvar has been a MIR tour manager for close to two decades, and has also led MIR trips to Mongolia, along the Trans-Siberian Railway, and to the South Caucasus countries of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia.

Davit Nozadze

Davit (David) Nozadze was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, and raised in Borjomi. He’s been working as a guide and tour manager since 2009, specializing in off-road trips, large and small cultural tours, wine and gastronomy throughout the South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan), Eastern Europe, and parts of the Middle East, including Iran, South Iraq, Kurdistan, United Arab Emirates and Oman. Having earned a degree in law, as well as human geography, Davit has also worked as a interpreter for OSCE Georgia during elections; as a local fixer for a UN Georgia documentary film; was a part-owner in a youth hostel; and has worked with the National Tourism Administration hosting international press trips to Georgia. Davit is fluent in English and Georgian. He says that, “meeting people – and through them experiencing local cultures around the world – drives my travel engine.”

Erika Poluden

Based in Vilnius, Lithuania, Erika Poluden has been a tour manager since 2005. Erika holds dual degrees: one in economics and business management, and a second in Lithuanian language and literature. She began her career in translation and project management, but she is most proud of her work in the tourism industry. Erika has been enamored with literature, history, art, and travel since early childhood, and so her transition to becoming a tour manager almost two decades ago was an a natural one. Her job allows her to marry her hobbies and her professional interests, and to share her knowledge and passion with fellow explorers. In addition to leading tours in the Baltics and beyond, Erika is also involved in training and mentoring aspiring guides.

Furkat Pulatov

Furkat was born in a village near Samarkand and studied at Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages. He has worked in the travel industry since 1996, and speaks Uzbek, English, Russian, and Tajik. Furkat’s interests include the history and traditions of Central Asia and sports (especially soccer).

Abdu Samadov

Born and raised in Samarkand, Abdu Samadov is full of inside information about his hometown. He has studied international relations, business, and hospitality management in his native Samarkand, as well as in England and the U.S. Abdu is fluent in English, Farsi, Russian, and Uzbek, and also speaks some Tajik, Turkish, and a bit of Japanese. Abdu has been guiding MIR’s travelers throughout Uzbekistan and across the Five ‘Stans for many years, and with a background in teaching, he thoroughly enjoys sharing his knowledge with other travelers. Abdu also regularly leads MIR trips throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – a destination he considers endlessly fascinating.

Paul Schwartz

Paul led his first MIR tour in 1999, but his connection with Russia began long before. Paul first traveled to Russia and the former Soviet Union on a semester-long language program while studying Russian at Grinnell College. A few years later, he returned to live and work abroad, working on Soviet factory fishing ships as an interpreter and troubleshooter. It was here that he refined his Russian language skills and enhanced his cultural understanding of the different ethnic groups within the Soviet Union.

Paul has since led over 100 tours covering all the former Soviet republics, diverse parts of China, Mongolia, and most of Eastern Europe. Besides travel, his interests include hiking and camping, reading (especially travel books), and Russian literature.

Batir Shamakhsudov

Hailing from the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, Batir has been working as a guide in Central Asia since 1997. He studied English at Tashkent’s World Languages University and is also fluent in Uzbek and Russian.

Max Sjoeblom

Max is a well-traveled, experienced Swedish tour manager with Hungarian roots. He speaks Swedish, English, German, and Russian, and has traveled and worked in more than 25 different countries, from the deserts of Turkmenistan to the Siberian tundra. His interests include indigenous Siberian culture – he lives part time in Yakutsk – Eastern Europe, the arts, literature, scuba diving, and fridge magnets.

Jurate Terleckaite

A native of Vilnius, Lithuania, Jurate has worked as an interpreter at the Lithuanian Parliament; a freelance journalist for Lithuanian, French, and English magazines, and Lithuanian radio and TV; a translator of four English and French books; and an organizer of international conferences. She is a long-time tour manager and guide in the Baltics.

Nutsa Tskimanauri

Nutsa Tskimanauri joined the travel industry in 2011, arranging and guiding cultural and trekking tours in the Javakheti region of Georgia. She is passionate about nature, trekking, and horseback riding, has been an actress, and lived in a Georgian monastery. Nutsa has also worked with NATO and hosted delegations of Russian bishops. She took part in Georgian Wine Guide Training in 2016-17, and loves to learn about wine and wine culture.

Halyna Zadorovska

Born and raised in Lviv, western Ukraine, Halyna studied English language and literature, as well as history and arts, at the University of Lviv, Ukraine. For 10 years, she worked as land tour director, then got into cruising as the Cruise Director on Dnieper cruises on routes ranging from Kiev to Odessa via Crimea. Halyna’s been a tour leader for Volga River cruises as well as has led group tours across the region throughout Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. Halyna is also an instructor of guide training courses in Lviv and loves to show travelers her city and country, and is always happy to see her former students leading groups of travelers around town.

Shokhrukh Abdullaev

Shokhrukh is a native of the ancient Timurid capital, Samarkand. For over six years he has been leading travelers throughout Uzbekistan, sharing his love of Silk Road history and culture with them. In addition to guiding, Shokhrukh has also worked in the hotel industry, honing his interpersonal skills as he interacted with travelers from all over the world. Shokhrukh has degrees in ESL instruction from institutions in Tashkent and Samarkand and has taught English at the Westminster Academy Samarkand. He speaks Uzbek, Tajiki, Russian, English, and some Chinese.

Deborah Heath

Always prepared to teach interesting courses from Cyborg Anthropology to Multispecies Ethnography, one course stands out to set the stage for this trip — Wines and Vines, exploring the anthropology of viticulture and enology across the globe! Her commitment to faculty-student research allowed her to offer students additional opportunities working on a range of projects including site visits to vineyards and wine fairs in the U.S. and France. Deborah joined the Lewis & Clark sociology and anthropology department in 1985 and after serving as Associate Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Gender Studies Program, and Fulbright advisor she retired in 2022. Deborah accompanied alumni and parents to explore the Willamette Valley Wine region in 2021. Deborah has traveled widely around the country of Georgia and looks forward to additionally exploring with Lewis & Clark College participants Armenia and Azerbaijan this Fall.
Learn more about Deborah’s Alter Ego here.

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