We are a small, personal, woman-run travel operator based in Northern Vermont with big ideas about travel. Mountain Kora’s small-group, active adventures are geared toward travelers that seek to experience deep, cultural connections and transformative moments on the road. To that end, our community-based team of expert guides are local to each Mountain Kora destination we visit, and our itineraries explore far-flung towns and villages in unique regions of the world. With an eye toward the journey, itself, each Mountain Kora trek is designed to be flexible, spontaneous, and take advantage of our local contacts.
In Tibet, the word kora means a journey made around a sacred mountain or site. This idea speaks a lot to how we like to think about travel, as well.
We all lead busy lives. Most of us don’t get to experience those rare moments of authentic, transformative adventure as often as we might like. Because of that, Mountain Kora’s meticulously designed itineraries are as much about the journey, the road, the getting there, as they are any one iconic site, location, or summit.
Designed for active, independent travelers, our curated trips promote unparalleled connections with incredible people, places, and experiences in some of the world’s most remote and pristine corners.
As the founder and owner of Mountain Kora, Ashley was born in Vermont and raised on the hiking trails of the Green Mountains and the Swiss Alps. From an early age, Ashley spent summers at a Swiss family farm while her parents led Swiss Challenge; a summer hiking, climbing, and ski camp for American students. Before long, Ashley, herself, was hiking the Bernese Oberland with Swiss Challenge groups on hut-to-hut trips that fostered her love of adventure travel and deep appreciation for mountain cultures.
As an undergraduate at Middlebury College, Ashley spent a semester in Nepal and quickly became enchanted by the rich culture and thriving traditions of high-mountain Himalayan communities. During her twenties, she trekked throughout the Himalaya of Nepal, India, Tibet, and Bhutan, before creating and leading her own trips for intrepid travelers to Ladakh, India. First, she pioneered a trek alongside nomad groups as they followed their annual migration routes, relocating their herds higher into the hills where they could graze throughout the summer. Come winter, she organized a cultural exchange to remote Western Ladakh, where she put her background as a college ice hockey player to work, bringing coaching and equipment to girls and young women in the region. Through these unique, first-hand experiences, Ashley felt the power and potential of intimate exchanges as incubators for meaningful connection.
Fast forward a decade and Ashley is blending her passions for travel and making connections with her prowess for organization at Mountain Kora. Following six years of professional experience in the adventure travel industry, Ashley launched Mountain Kora with the aim of providing engaged, adventurous travelers with extraordinary experiences in the places that inspire her most. With an eye for detail and a dedicated, ‘boots on the ground’ approach, Ashley has crafted a portfolio of experiences designed to foster meaningful connections in unique mountain communities and wilderness areas.
When she’s not on the road, Ashley lives in Burke, Vermont with her husband and two young daughters.
Ashley Nesbitt: With more than two decades of experience in adventure travel -- first as a trip organizer and guide to remote regions of the Himalaya and then as a curator for a luxury tour operator -- Ashley founded Mountain Kora in 2017 to offer active adventures set apart from the mainstream. Directing day-to-day operations and development of Mountain Kora, she brings an intimate knowledge of each trip and passion for organizing custom adventures. Clients interface directly with Ashley from time of inquiry to return from your adventure.
John "Nez" Nesbitt: Nez has been the backstop for Mountain Kora since its inception. He brings in-depth experience as a former ski patroller, educator and guide for wilderness trips and mountain adventures. He has trekked in Nepal, hiked with our inaugural group on the Bernese Oberland Traverse and ventured to the "bush" on our walking safari in Botswana. With his keen eye for collaboration and knack for promotion you may find him preparing tasty appetizers and delivering inspirational slideshows on recent Mountain Kora adventures. For his day job, he serves his local community in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont as an Emergency Physician.
We work with local guides in each of our destinations who are dedicated to making our adventures exceptional in every way. At Mountain Kora, we believe you cannot underestimate the value of a top-notch guide, and our longstanding relationships with some of the best in the business are a testament to that fact. Our guides are natural leaders, highly professional, safety-conscious, and well-connected with local communities. They are also spontaneous, flexible, and—above all—committed to meeting your every need along the trail, creating a seamless experience from start to finish. Our goal at Mountain Kora is that you will leave your adventure, not only awed by your guide’s service and expertise, but with a new, lifelong friend from a unique part of the world.
We craft our adventures based on years of experience on the trails, treks, walking, and biking paths of the regions we explore. By being both innovative and adaptable, we are able to keep our itineraries fresh and relevant. We tailor each adventure to the needs and interests of our private groups, thereby providing unique access to less-visited regions and fostering once-in-a-lifetime connections with local communities.
Our adventures center around giving back to the communities that host us along the trail. It’s our goal to have a positive impact every step of the way—whether that’s staying in small, locally run lodges; engaging with grassroots organizations working to improve livelihoods; eating regional cuisine; or supporting the ban on single-use plastic. Our footprint is light, our exchanges are rich, and our net effect is positive.
HEALTH & SAFTEY
Ensuring that our participants are in good hands and well looked after every step of the way is our top priority, from the food that we eat to general health and safety on the trail. All of our guides have undergone comprehensive training in their home countries, and each one takes these responsibilities seriously. By anticipating the needs of the group while considering each traveler as an individual, our guides will put your mind at ease while seamlessly crafting your experience in a competent and thoughtful way.
As a small company that prides itself on personalized attention for each traveler, you will be taken care of from the moment you contact us to the moment you return home. We keep our overhead low and are firm believers in maintaining a consistent, “boots on the ground” approach. Mountain Kora staff travels regularly to each of our destinations, ensuring we keep our itineraries fresh, immersive, and exceptional in every way.
Mountain Kora believes that the ultimate travel satisfaction comes when you challenge yourself physically along the way. Each day of our itineraries provide opportunities to push yourself outside your comfort zone, offering a sense of awe and accomplishment at every turn in the trail.
Whether enjoying the camaraderie that comes with a cohesive group of travelers or forming new friendships with our guide or local hosts, we believe in fostering connections and creating long-lasting bonds with the people we encounter on our adventure.
Our guides, with their extensive local knowledge of the trails and locations we explore, provide our groups with unique insights into the various communities we visit. As leaders, they look after our travelers in every way, creating safe, immersive, and challenging experiences that will forever shape your understanding and worldview.
By traveling in small, private groups, our itineraries offer a great amount of flexibility, allowing us to foster genuine relationships with our hosts and to maintain a low impact when we’re on the trail. We limit our group size to 8-10 guests, but will often take groups as small as 2-4 participants.
Our overarching approach to travel centers on engaging with the communities we visit in a sensitive and thoughtful way. This philosophy is imbued in every aspect of our journeys, where we not only work to minimize our environmental impact, but carefully vet our on-the-ground network of guides, porters, lodge owners, and partner organizations. In this way, Mountain Kora works to foster culturally sensitive exchanges and to contribute positively to the places that we visit. As our guest, you can be assured that your dollars will go directly to local mountain communities, whether it’s a family-run mountain lodge, nuns at the convent where we enjoy a meal, or porters that have been hired at a fair wage.
We only partner with reputable local companies and organizations that actively promote responsible tourism and give back to the areas where we travel. Each of our trips directly supports these partner organizations in the work that they do, while also providing our guests with the opportunity to engage with their activities on the ground.