Our Philosophy on Travel
Our aim is to savor the experience of traveling well, but without excess, to travel in ways that are environmentally respectful and that are in tune with local traditions and customs, and to taste the real Crete, away from the trodden path of conventional tourism.
We simply can't imagine a better way to immerse yourself in the life of a region than to walk it, exploring hidden corners and appreciating nuances unavailable any other way. Active travel is, at its heart, a way of connecting more authentically with the world.
Whether you're hiking among picturesque mountains, taking in some of southern Europe's loveliest unspoiled coastlines, or discovering centuries of history in fascinating old Cretan villages and cities, slow travel can bring you closer to the heart of a place by engaging your whole self—body, mind and senses. Soul Treks offers this holistic travel approach to you.
Ken's love of travel and walking in wild nature inspired the creation of Soul Treks. With a deep love for Greek culture, he considers his primary role model to be the fictional Zorba the Greek, brought to life by author Nikos Kazantzakis.
Having traveled extensively since he was a young man, Ken is also the co-author of 2 travel guides with travel guru Rick Steves, America's leading authority on European travel.
Having lived for an extended time in both Cyprus (just to the east of Crete!) and France, as well as the U.S., Ken's lifelong passion is walking the land and studying (and enjoying) human relationships.
"Soul Treks is the perfect vehicle for combining my love and nature, culture, history, good food, and good times while getting to share all of this with kindred souls."
With over 25 years' experience as a Hospice Chaplain, Ken is currently the Director of Social Services for a large hospice in Tucson, Arizona.
His educational background is in Counseling Psychology, Theology, and Comparative Religions. He received his doctoral degree in Pastoral Counseling from The Graduate School of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.
Ken lives in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona (USA), where he shares a life of active appreciation with his wife, Claire, and their young chocolate Labrador, Annie.
Our esteemed local guru, Hans, is a lovable hybrid of ambassador, professor, and billy goat. He knows western Crete very well and is great fun to be with.
Fluent in Greek, English (and his native German), Hans will lead the treks, organize the vehicle transfers, navigate the route, coordinate meals, and facilitate hotel check-ins.
After living most of his life in southwestern Germany, Hans now spends most of the year in Crete.
Before he made his home in Crete, he took frequent trips there to explore the incredibly diverse nature of the island.
During that time, Hans found Greek life to be a natural and easy fit for him, and before long, he was planning on buying land and building a home.
Hans' main passion is to be in a lively, dynamic relationship with the earth: by walking consciously, swimming long distances, writing and painting.
"Along with Ken, I feel a deep connection with Greek culture and the robust, Mediterranean way of life. In Greece,
Hans aims to introduce you to the island's unspoiled and beautiful nature and to a very authentic side of Greek life not typically accessible to the average tourist.
With a doctoral degree in philosophy, Hans is educated both in the fine arts and in educational philosophy. He's written two books about education focusing on 'cosmic identity'.
Born in Mannheim, Germany, Hans has two daughters, two sons and three grandchildren living in Germany. They visit him every year at his home on the southern coast of Crete near Paleochora.
From Denver, Colorado, Kos was introduced to the wilds at an early age by his father, Ken Plattner (see bio to the left). The mold was set; Kos was instantly smitten with playing in and exploring the outdoors.
Nikos, (named after Nikos Kazantzakis), is an accomplished and seasoned professional outdoorsman and certified Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician and instructor.
Kos splits his time between Colorado and Montana, working as a backcountry ski patroller and a Lead Instructor teaching backcountry emergency medicine for Aerie Backcountry Medicine all around the U.S.
Kos moved to Montana at age 18 and began his wilderness medicine career in 2009 when he received his Wilderness EMT training and certification through Aerie Backcountry Medicine. Kos spent 4 years as a senior member on the Montana Snowbowl Ski Patrol Team near Missoula.
Kos recently moved back to Colorado to work on the Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol Team in the winters, while spending his summers teaching for Aerie.
Kos enjoys living and working in the mountains, and his free time is consumed with hiking, fishing, skiing, camping, and mountaineering—usually alongside his girlfriend and fellow ski patroller Jeannie, and their 2 rescue pups, Sweetie Petey and Jake.
"I know Ken and Hans well, as we have each represented our respective countries on the planning committee for an international men's service organization to which we all belong. I've watched these two men 'dance together', and they will bring fire, spirit and laughter to Soul Treks. This will be a memorable vacation adventure.
"Ken, with his sense of humor, his openness to connecting with people, and his passion for new adventures, will offer to each participant his wisdom and an open heart. For me, the time spent with him is always precious. Like a spiritual guide, he offers the chance to revisit the core values of 'being', with great humility and joy.
"Perhaps inspired by the mythological gods, Hans knows how to communicate with the land, how to connect with old trees, how to dialogue with rocks and flowers, and how to dive deep — literally and metaphorically — in the multi-colored waters of the southern Mediterranean.
"I discovered this magnificent area of western Crete last year thanks to Hans who likes to share his knowledge and passion for this country. Consider their great invitation to walk this majestic countryside, going deeper in the discovery of your most connected self.
— Michel van Bellinghen, Belgium
— Michel van Bellinghen, Belgium
“All my life, one of my greatest desires has been to travel...
to see and touch unknown countries,
to swim in unknown seas,
to circle the globe,
observing new lands, seas, people, and ideas
with insatiable appetite,
to see everything for the first time and for the last time,
casting a slow, prolonged glance,
then to close my eyes
and feel the riches deposit themselves inside me
calmly or stormily according to their pleasure.
— Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco