Our Story

Our Story

Our North Star

Our Team

Founded by historian-explorer Chumley Cope in 2004, Explore Up Close has always been an extension of a family impulse to explore an unknown road or trail, and to hear an interesting story from a stranger. New roads remain alluring to this day, and strangers pass into memory as friends, characters, and purveyors of fascinating and enlightening stories.

Today, Explore Up Close helps curious travelers uncover hidden stories of places through immersive travel experiences.

We provide meticulously planned trips and deep-rooted expertise so our explorers can embrace their spirit of adventure without fretting over the details.

Our North Star

We strive to foster deeper connections with the world and each other through authentic exploration. As industry experts with nearly two decades of experience, Explore Up Close holds itself to high standards. As a family-operated company, we’re personally invested in creating a fantastic experience of each and every traveler. When traveling with us, count on a warm and welcoming atmosphere, smart flexibility, and a keen attention to the details from your trip leaders – again, that’s us!

When we say that our travel is “hand-crafted,” we mean it. Each itinerary is unique. Even as we return to familiar places, we approach travel with an explorer’s eye: constantly uncovering fresh and intriguing sites and stories. We hope to inspire enthusiasm and curiosity in our explorers as we immerse ourselves in a place – and expect to discover the unexpected along the way!

We also aspire to lift up our travel partners and global neighbors by choosing to support local businesses and nonprofits, wherever we go. We believe in the power of sustainable cultural tourism, which drives economic growth for communities. We’re grateful for the friendships and partnerships we’ve developed over the years with the small but mighty museums, boutique hotels, family-run restaurants, and local folks who are deeply passionate about what they do – just like we are.

Our Team

Chumley Cope


Chumley grew up with a Jeep and a passion for exploration. With degrees in history from the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University, he worked in education before deciding to channel his passion for history and exploration travel into his own company in 2004. Chumley loves mapping out creative itineraries to new places and sharing stories on location with his travelers. He lives with his family in the South Carolina Upstate.

Caroline Cope Khoury

Marketing & Travel Manager

Caroline, Chumley’s daughter, manages our social media and communications, and researches itineraries down to a T. She loves art, history, and design, and is drawn to places where the land meets the water: from mountain lakes to volcanic islands. She also loves traveling with her husband, Khal . . . and luckily, that’s all part of a day’s work!

Khal Khoury

Business Manager

Khal seamlessly handles our books and logistics, and has been known to soothe even the most prickly of airline security workers. He also researches and writes our Trails and Ales posts, and he’s (nearly) always up for an early morning hike before some of us have had breakfast!