Alumni Life

In the Footsteps of Giants

Ken Pulvino’s new travel company traces the routes of famous explorers

Ken Pulvino and Teri Graf-Pulvino at the summit of Machu Picchu, Peru

Ken Pulvino (MBA ’81, BA ’75) and Teri Graf-Pulvino at the summit of Machu Picchu, Peru, in 2013

By Lauren Newkirk Maynard

“This isn’t about getting off a bus and going to casinos.”
Ken Pulvino

After decades in hectic sales and IT jobs, Ken Pulvino (MBA ’81, BA ’75) and his wife, Teri Graf-Pulvino, bought a ranch outside Yosemite Valley and struck out on a new path.   

Their tourism company, ToMarket Geotourism Journeys, offers geotourism with a twist. Building upon the tenets of eco-tourism, with its focus on conservation, geotourism aims to sustain the distinctive geographic features of a place—its history, culture, traditions. ToMarket goes one step further, using historical journals from famous explorers and naturalists, and tracing their adventures. Travelers gain a visceral understanding of a place through these explorers’ experiences while their dollars go toward supporting indigenous cultures. “We give travelers a fun, yet contextualized experience that preserves the cultures, histories and natural environments of rural communities,” Pulvino says. “This isn’t about getting off a bus and going to casinos.”   

The company held its first trip, to Chile, in January 2013, following Charles Darwin’s 1835 journey on the famous H.M.S. Beagle to the remote island of Chiloé. The Pulvinos plan to expand their Latin and South America offerings to include Peru and Ecuador. Closer to home, they helped launch the John Muir Geotourism Center, which will eventually offer tours along Muir’s famous hike from Oakland, Calif., to Yosemite.