Geographical Society of Philadelphia

Explorer Series


Kae Lani - culinary journalistKae Lani Palmisano, an Emmy Award-Winning television host and food & travel writer can speak to many ways in which food expresses cultural identity and how her travels across four continents changed the way she thinks about what we eat. Kae Lani shares the perspectives she’s gained over her career and how her travel experiences inform her reporting. She also explores how we as avid travelers and passionate foodies, can be mindful of how we approach and appreciate cuisines from around the world.


George L. Armistead is all about birds. George is a lifelong birder who enjoys photography and writing about birds. He is based in Philadelphia, holds a master’s of environmental studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and is an associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Isabelle Betancourt is an entomologist, photographer, and science communicator! As a Curatorial Assistant of Entomology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Isa manages LepNet, a project to digitize over 50,000 North American moth and butterfly specimens in the Academy’s entomology research collection. Since 2013, she has been documenting insect biodiversity in Center City Philadelphia through collecting insects that get trapped in the iconic Swann Fountain.

Ryan Pyle is an adventurer and author, BBC Earth TV host and great speaker.  With a degree in International Politics, skills in photography and writing, and an adventurous spirit, Ryan has explored lesser-known parts of the world by motorcycle and brought his vision to audiences around the globe. He has taken his “Extreme Treks” and “Tough Rides” through India, China, and Brazil. We honored Ryan as our 2014/15 Explorer of the Year, and proudly welcome him back.


The India Ride presented by Ryan Pyle 3 film series navigating India on a motorcycle.

Egypt’s Secret Side presented by National Geographic Explorer Karin Muller
Film exploring the everyday life of Egyptians during a time where their country is in conflict.

Behind the Veil presented by Dr. Sabrina Deturk, Assistant Professor, College of Arts and Creative Enterprises, Zayed University, Dubai
Presentation of everyday life of women in Iran

Border Crossing– a series humanizing stories making world news. Guest speakers were:
Salau Rogei, Maasai Leader. Life in a Maasai Village
Michael Scullin, Honorary Consul of France. Terrorism in Europe
Salam Al Kuntar,Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria. Syrian Culture Heritage in the Crossfire


The Middle Kingdom Ride presented by Ryan Pyle
Film clips or extreme explorer circumnavigating China on a motorcycle.

Life of Spice presented by Cynthia Clampitt in collaboration with Monell Chemical Senses Center and the Chemical Heritage Foundation

Border Crossing: a new series humanizing stories making world news. Guest speakers were:

His Excellency Zygimantas Pavionis, Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania. The Threat of Putin on his Country
Kyle Olson, PhD. Life on the Zolotoye Koltso, Russia.


Madagascar presented by Marlin Darrah

Hit the Road with movie star Andrew McCarthy

Unseen Philadelphia and Beyond presented by 4 award winning photographers of the American Society of Media Photographers: 
Amanda Stevenson journeys to China, Rob Cardillo tours gardens of the world, Victor Engelbert adventures through Africa and Latin America and John Welsh treks the vast and amazing Iceland.
A GEOfeast was held at the City Tavern.

Portraits of the Human Spirit– presented by Alison Wright,National Geographic Documentary Photographer, presented her amazing stories and her photographs capturing endangered cultures and issues on the human condition.

Lure and Lore of Deserts- presented by Sandy Mortimer
Mysterious castles, temples, and ghost towns were visited in Egypt, Israel and America.

Angry Planets- Volcanoes – presented by Peter Rowe, The TV Series host of Angry Planet,  presented his amazing  film from years of trekking to the world’s volcanoes.


Transforming Power of Travel- presented by Andrew McCarthy
Movie Star Andrew McCarthy’s life was changed by travel. He engaged the packed theater to hear the tales and get a copy of his book, “The Longest Way Home.”

Southern Europe- presented by Marlin Darrah
A wonderful tour of the natural wonders, architectural treasures and cultural highlights of Paris, Barcelona, Granada, Croatia, Greece and Istanbul.

Marco Polo Travelers Networking Night Stories and photos were shared by Tom Tauber’s travels to Jordan, Ted Burket’s travels to Mexico and Alyce Stick’s travels to Scotland over dinner at Positano Coast Restaurant.

Amazon to the Andes – presented by Mary Theresa Bonhage-Freund
A tour of the remote villages, archaelogical sites, mountains, canyons, lake and jungles of Peru and Ecuador.

Documenting the World’s People and Places-presented by Bob Krist, an award winning photographer with National Geographic. His world of being stranded on a glacier in Iceland, nearly run down by bulls in India and knighted with a cutlass in a Trinidad voodoo ceremony amazed a packed theater.

Cuba: The Inside Storypresented by Karin Muller
The film presented Karin’s three months spent in Cuba documenting life in an oppressed country.

DayVenture to NY- Ground Zero and the Financial District

Secrets of Chinatown with Master Chef Joseph Poon
Chef Poon took us on a tour of the hidden scenes of Chinatown followed by a hearty Chinese feast.


Pakistan – presented by Marlin Darrah
Fascinated by the beauty of a country that was in the news, Marlin decided to visit as tourist and travel extensively in the cities, towns and mountains filming the culture, warmth of the people, and beauty.

Race to the Bottom of the World – presented by Todd Carmichael
Documented Society honoree Todd Carmichael’s solo trek to the South Pole.

Oceans 8presented by Jon Bowermaster
Exploring the world from the seat of a kayak, viewing edge-of-the-world locations: Tasmania, Gabon, and Croatia.

Mongolia – presented by Buddy Hatton
Film of a world hardly changed from the time of Genghis Khan.

Northern Europepresented by Marlin Darrah
An inspired journey to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Prague, Copenhagen, Kiel Canal, Amsterdam and more.

South Canal and Central America — presented by Marlin Darrah
A spectacular tour of Santiago, Lima, Cuzco, Macchu Picchu, the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands, Panama Canal, San Juan, the National Parks Costa Rica and the volcanoes and colonial cities of Nicaragua.

Around the World: One Man’s Journey — presented by Doug Jones
Shot on six continents and in 60 countries, Jones showed an amazing assortment of different cultures and nations and how the world has changed.

Budapest to Istanbul – presented by Clint Denn
The historic Danube River viewing spectacular Budapest, Hungary, to Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and on to Istanbul, Turkey.


COLORFUL MEXICO – presented by Fran Reidelberger
The Copper Canyon Railroad, Baja, Pacific beaches from Puerto Vallarta to Zihuatanejo,  Morelia and the Spanish “Silver Cities” Taxco, Guanajuato, and Zacatecas.

CUBA – HAVANA to SANTIAGO DE CUBApresented by Marlin Darrah
Havana, the lovely Vinales valley, sparkling 
beaches,  Trinidad and the carnival city of Santiago de Cuba.

WINE REGIONS of FRANCEpresented by Mary Lee and Sid Nolan
Paris,  the regions of the Loire, Bordeaux, Pays Basque, Languedoc, Provence, Côtes du Rhône, Burgundy, Alsace, and Champagne.
RUDY MAXA’S SECRETS of WORLD TRAVEL – presented by Rudy Maxa
One of America’s best-known travel writers and broadcasters. Known as “The Savvy Traveler”.

DISCOVERING the DUTCH – presented by Sandy Mortimer
Explored nine of the twelve lowland provinces.

EAST AFRICAN SAFARI – presented by Rick Ray

An exotic look at Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and more.
REMOTE CORNERS OF CHINA – presented by Photographer Ryan Pyle
A Himalayan hill walk on the Chinese- Tibetan Divide, sharing stories and photos of pilgrimage routes near Minya Konka and Kawa Karpo. A keen observeration of China’ fast-paced development and vanishing culture.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA to the ENDS OF THE EARTHpresented by Anne Doubilet, underwater explorer, writer, and photographer.   Journeys on land and under the seas.

2009 – 2010

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF MARCO POLOpresented by Denis Belliveau and Francis O’Donnell, two fearless adventurers tracing the path of famed 13th century traveler Marco Polo. For two years and 33,000 hazardous miles, they explored and photographed his exotic world … Venice, Turkey, Afghanistan, Silk Road outposts, Tibet, China, Sumatra.

SOUL OF INDIA – presented by Rick Ray
India through the perceptive lens of filmmaker Rick Ray … huge cities, simple villages, thousands of languages, and myriad religions.

SOUTH AFRICA– presented by John Wilson
A film safari with spectacular scenery, incredible wildlife unique resorts, Cape Wineland’s gracious estates, coastline of the Garden Route and Cape Town.

IRAN — PERSIA TO THE PRESENT – presented by Buddy Hatton

 – presented by Mary Lee and Sid Nolan
From Venice, Split, Dubrovnik,  the Greek islands, Turkey, Cyprus, Rhodes and Troy as well as Israel’s Biblical sites.

 – presented by Walter Keats

PORTUGAL – presented by Clint Denn

PERILOUS PASSAGES – presented by Karin Muller, adventurer, author, and documentary producer with her impressions of Cuba, Sudan, and regions of conflict. Traveling solo, she learned local languages and lived with humble families while evading hijackings, disease, hunger, and danger.

2008 – 2009

BAVARIA – presented by Fran Reidelberger

SOUL OF MOROCCO – presented by Rick Ray

ITALY! INSIDE THE TUSCAN HILLS– presented by John Wilson


Caribbean beach


EGYPT – IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF MOSESpresented by Dennis BurkhardtEgypt's Sphinx

2007 – 2008

BHUTAN: The CLOUD KINGDOM presented by Tom Sterling

 – presented by Clint Denn

CRUISING the ORIENT on the QE2 – presented by Doug Jones

SILK ROAD ODYSSEY: From BEIJING to the BLACK SEApresented by Mary Lee and Sid Nolan

ROAD TO MANDALAY-MYANMAR and ANGKOR WAT – presented by Buddy Hatton

VOLCANIC SAFARI-INDONESIA – presented by Grant Foster

WORLDS of the MAYA: GUATEMALA and BELIZE – presented by Sandy Mortimer

2006 – 2007

THE OTHER SIDE of MEXICO – presented by Fran Reidelberger
World premiere about Mexico’s unique and unknown places.

EPIC VOYAGES of RA I and RA II – presented by Captain Norman Baker,  Thor Heyerdahl’s navigator, radio operator, and second-in-command, gave a gripping firsthand account of wind, waves, sharks, and deteriorating reed boats in this epic tale. The Ra expeditions were Heyerdahl’s efforts to show that ancient Egyptians could have sailed the Atlantic in papyrus vessels and carried Mediterranean culture to the Western Hemisphere.

IN SEARCH of the ALBINO – presented by Tom Sterling
A nine-year odyssey began when a friend told him about sighting a white moose. Searching North America from the forests of northern Ontario to the swamps of Louisiana, Sterling filmed more than 40 rare albinos, including a white alligator, porcupine, bear, robin, and boxer dog. 

FESTIVALS of INDIA – presented by Marty Malgieri
Stunning images from a master photographer’s 29 trips to India.

10 QUESTIONS for the DALAI LAMA- presented by Rick Ray
If you only had one hour, what would you ask? This was the basis for Rick Ray’s personal account of his visit with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

The volcanic slopes of Costa Rica, Maya ruins in the Yucatan, mystical Machu Picchu, to the plains of Kenya.

CRUISING ST. PETERSBURG to MOSCOW – presented by Clint Denn