In 2014, child­hood friends Panos Karka­nias and Stavros Makris com­bined their pas­sion for sus­tain­able tourism, adven­ture trav­el, and their home coun­try of Greece to cre­ate Bear­ing True South, a com­pa­ny that con­nects adven­ture trav­el­ers with authen­tic expe­ri­ences. We sat down with Stavros to talk about Bear­ing True South, adven­ture tourism, and more.

What is your back­ground in adven­ture trav­el and the outdoors?
My mum is an avid trav­el­er and made sure we spent a ton of time explor­ing the great out­doors grow­ing up. After explor­ing most of Europe and North­ern Africa while study­ing, I got a job work­ing with pri­mates in Thai­land and then spent a cou­ple of years trav­el­ing around Asia as a doc­u­men­tary pho­tog­ra­ph­er. In between assign­ments I’d come back to Greece and explore the nation­al parks or go sail­ing with friends and in time this led to the cre­ation of Bear­ing True South.

How did Bear­ing True South get started?
Show­ing peo­ple around Greece is some­thing I’ve always done. It tru­ly brings joy to my life. When I’ve trav­eled, I’ve been lucky enough to have had peo­ple show me around and I’ve always felt like giv­ing back the favor.

Bear­ing True South is the prod­uct of my child­hood friend Panos’ aca­d­e­m­ic research in sus­tain­able tourism and my eager­ness to be a part of some­thing new. In a lot of ways we com­ple­ment each oth­er, so the whole project, from incep­tion to real­iza­tion, was pret­ty straightforward.

What were some of the chal­lenges you’ve faced in start­ing your own company?
Find­ing the right peo­ple to work with was the great­est chal­lenge we faced when we were start­ing out. It took us the bet­ter part of 3 years to per­son­al­ly vet every sup­pli­er we work with and run every itin­er­ary we designed mul­ti­ple times in order to get the prop­er feedback.

Why adven­ture tourism?
Most vis­i­tors to Greece tend to stay on the beat­en track, which means areas affect­ed by mass tourism. This isn’t a bad thing, but it makes hav­ing an immer­sive trav­el expe­ri­ence that much hard­er. Our phi­los­o­phy is to steer our guests away from the crowds by get­ting them in touch with locals, show­ing them beau­ti­ful sights, and cook­ing them authen­tic food. That’s what adven­ture trav­el is all about for us.

What is the best way to expe­ri­ence Greece?
Sail­ing in the Cyclades arch­i­pel­ago is a great way to spend time away from home, and no mat­ter how many times I’m out there it’s always spe­cial. The food, the peo­ple, the ever-chang­ing land­scapes, it doesn’t get much bet­ter than that.

You’re the co-founder of Bear­ing True South and still guide on a reg­u­lar basis. What draws you to guiding?
It’s always been impos­si­ble for me to stay put, so I try to get out of the office as much as pos­si­ble. Con­nect­ing with guests and ensur­ing they have a tru­ly mem­o­rable trip is why I do it. Plus, the oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet peo­ple from all over the world and show them our cul­ture, that’s why I do it.

What’s next for Bear­ing True South?
We’re in the process of adding a few new prod­ucts on our web­site. At the moment they’re in the research and test­ing phase, but I can say that they involve land­scape astropho­tog­ra­phy. We’re work­ing togeth­er with an accom­plished pho­tog­ra­ph­er and astro­physi­cist, in order to cre­ate astropho­tog­ra­phy work­shops in the nation­al parks of south­ern and north­ern Greece start­ing in the sum­mer of 2018.

Last­ly, what’s your dream adventure?
Hands down, explor­ing Alas­ka. I’ve been fas­ci­nat­ed with the state since I was a kid. I hope I can make it there in the next cou­ple years.


To take an adven­ture with Bear­ing True South, check out the Clymb Adven­tures page.