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Women Explorers: Elise Lockton

My love for learning about the natural and cultural history of the places I visit provides me with a sense of place, and through that connection I am able to share what I learn with the people around me.
Naturalist, Lindblad Expeditions

A wanderlust that has taken her around the world

Since leaving college Elise Lockton has never unpacked her bags. Her wanderlust has taken her around the world—leading trips in Alaska for two decades, searching for polar bears in Arctic Svalbard and Churchill, Canada, exploring the ice and wildlife of Antarctica and South Georgia, and traveling the length of the Russian Far East coast Get Inspired By Photos, Videos, Webinars, Stories, And Exclusive Offers. Sign Up


A degree in environmental studies introduced her to the world of interpreting nature, which evolved into both a passion and profession. She launched her career by volunteering as a naturalist in the jungles of Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador—despite the fact she spoke no Spanish, knew nothing about tropical ecology, and was terrified of snakes! That bold leap into the unknown paid off; she credits those early experiences with helping to shape who she is as a naturalist. It also laid the groundwork to get her where she is today—working for, in Elise’s words, ‘the best expedition travel company on the planet!’

Aboard our ships Elise is outgoing, funny, and a valuable resource for both our guests and our other staffers—she loves learning the historical parts of the places we visit, always has notes and resources, and is genuinely happy to share. Need to find her? Just look for the naturalist in purple. Purple hats, purple jackets, purple scarves. Elise wears her love for the royal color right on her sleeve.

Those rare moments when it’s time to take a break from work and travel, Elise immerses herself in pure wildness. You can find her splitting her time between the garden island of Kauai, Hawaii and her home just outside the entrance of Denali National Park in Alaska. If you are ever fortunate enough to travel with her make sure you ask about her now famous Alaska outhouse!  

We asked Elise Lockton:

Why do you explore?
Exploring the world on land and sea allows me to come into contact with different cultures and environments, and I am fully inspired by what I see and learn from those experiences. I am constantly in awe of our planet’s diversity:  the people, plants, wildlife, and landscapes. Learning and sharing fuels my exploration and working as a naturalist is an incredible match for my love of exploring and lifelong learning.


What is your favorite Lindblad Expeditions destination?
People always ask me that as I have been blessed with the opportunity to work in latitudes both North and South. While I am enthralled by all the places I work and travel, I always seem to come back to Alaska. While it could be my sense of place that has evolved with twenty years of leading trips there, I think what really strikes me about Alaska is the sheer size and enormity of it all. With such a small population in such a huge space Alaska is the epitome of wilderness and wildness. You just never know what is going to cross your path.

What’s a dream exploration you haven’t done….yet?

What advice would you give the next generation of women explorers?
I encourage young women explorers to step out of the familiar and expose themselves to things that might not come naturally and may even leave them feeling uncomfortable (initially). Study abroad, be an SCA volunteer, or take a NOLS course. When I was in high school I signed up for a month long NOLS trip having never been camping or backpacking. That experience exposed me to the natural world and from that point on my life was forever changed.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have to go outside to go to the bathroom (reason alone to live on Kauai in the winter) where I live in Alaska and our outhouse made it into the Outhouses of Alaska book!