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Wanderlust World Guide Awards

World Guide Awards - 2014 shortlist announced!

15th April 2014

Which of these guides is the world's best? You decide...

They’re the unsung heroes of the travel world, the ones who make your trip memorable. You guessed it: we’re talking guides. And it’s that time of year when we try to give something back to the people who lead us around the globe. We received over 2,200 nominations – a record – for the ninth Wanderlust World Guide Awards, and as usual, shortlisting just eight was a vast task. But now we need your help: if you have ever travelled or worked with the guides shown here, please send us your comments via post, email or through the World Guide Awards website to help the judges decide (see below for details...).

The top trio will be recognised and awarded bursaries – the Gold award winner receiving £5,000 – in a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society on 21 October 2014. Author Bill Bryson will be on the judging panel this year, and will also attend the awards ceremony... We'll be revealing the other judges soon!

The shortlist

Charlie Jaques

Where he guides: France
Booked through: Back-Roads Touring

You can tell Charlie – aka CJ – has an adventurous spirit just by looking at his passports: all 12 of them, full to brim with stamps from every continent. He’s collected these through his 15 years of guiding, where he’s pioneered routes through Russia, Mongolia and China. He returned to school to get to grips with his German, French and Spanish language skills, and even became a qualified skipper. You lauded his “willingness and flexibility” and vast knowledge of every destination. He now divides his time between guiding – focusing on France in particular – and training NGO personnel for hostile environments.

What you said:
“Whilst driving through Bordeaux we came across a group harvesting the grapes on their property. Charlie talked to them and sure enough we were soon in there helping with the harvest and trying their grapes. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!”
“By the end of the tour, Charlie was almost part of the family.”
“One of our party is a history buff and prides himself on knowing everything about a country's history – but that was until he met Charlie.”

“What particularly added to our great tour was his willingness and flexibility to be able to show us things that were not part of our itinerary but added so much to our experience.”

 

Bunyong Roeurn

Where he guides: Cambodia
Booked through: G Adventures


It only took Bunyong Roeurn – or ‘Bun’ – two years to make his mark at G Adventures, where he’s a CEO (chief experience officer). The company recognised him not just for his ability to “change travellers’ lives forever", but also his passion to aid local communities worldwide through responsible travel. Before becoming a local guide around Angkor in 2003, Bun was a secondary school teacher in Cambodia’s Siem Reap, but his desire to educate and inspire has found the ideal outlet: “Having Bun as my guide was like having: a historian, my father, a translator, a Buddhist monk, and a good friend travelling with me.”

What you said:
“Everywhere we went he was met with such warm welcome by all of the local people.”
“Having been a soldier, a farmer, a Buddhist monk [and now] a guide, he has accumulated a vast and in-depth knowledge base.”
“He is the most energetic person I have ever met – his enthusiasm never waned.”
“He showed compassion to everyone and everything that we came across.”
“Getting to know him was the highlight of my six months travelling around the world.”
“He has foreve
r changed my life.”

Daniele Binaghi

Where he guides: Latin America
Booked through: Journey Latin America


Whether its enjoying an oven-baked empanada in the Andes, traipsing through the tropical forests of Brazil, or delighting at people’s reaction as they finally stumble upon the abundant temples and pyramids of the Yucatán – there are few people as passionate about Latin America as Daniele. Born in Italy but with a Latin heart, his most treasured memory of his extensive travels is seeing Machu Picchu beneath a rainbow-filled sky, a moment he loves sharing with his charges – along with an energy boosting chocolate bar. In turn, they’ve been quick to support him, saying he is always “on sparkling form, full of energy and happy to talk about anything”.

What you said:
“He turned a very enjoyable holiday into a truly memorable one.”
“I believe he made a major contribution to this being the best holiday I have ever had.”
“He made the holiday by the sheer fun and personailty that he brought to the event.”
“He managed to make each one of us think that we were his favourite!”
“Always ready with chocolate to cheer a girl up!”
“We have been on many tours before, but we have never had a guide who was so universally praised and loved by the whole group.”


Cathy Harlow

Where she guides: Iceland
Booked through: Discover the World


Gutting herring, stacking salt cod and packing frozen fillets was Cathy Harlow’s ticket into Iceland. She was so passionate about the quirky country growing up that she worked a stint in a fish factory to learn more about its culture – before becoming a qualified guide in 1987. Since then this “professional and enthusiastic” guide has accompanied around 200 groups on hiking, trekking, natural history, whalewatching and northern lights tours around Iceland, as well as nature and walking trips in the Azores, Bahamas, Florida, Norway, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Madagascar.

What you said:
“[After the trip], my knowledge of Iceland – its history, its genesis, its folklore... its EVERYTHING – was 1000% more than it was when I landed... and I've been to Iceland many times before.”
“I have been in the holiday business since 1985... Cathy is the most professional and enthusiastic guide I have ever come across on all my time in the industry.”
“I have never had anyone go to such amazing efforts to help me have a good birthday and a great trip.”


Lewis Mangaba

Where he guides: Tanzania
Booked through: Asilia Africa



“His knowledge and passion for the land, the animals, the trees, and the history are authentic and heartfelt.” This is just one of the many testimonials we’ve had about Lewis Mangaba. Born in Zimbabwe, he has been guiding ardently across Africa for over 16 years: tracking big game on walking safaris, canoeing past hippos and swimming elephants, and teaching travellers to interpret tracks. Now, as Head Guide for Oliver’s Camp in Tarangire, Tanzania, he’s literally become the guide’s guide – sharing his unwavering enthusiasm and knowledge with his fellow guides, training them in the ways of African people, wildlife and conservation.

What you said:
“He shares his knowledge and great experience with other guides, educating them to a higher level.”
“I was told by his colleagues that during his proficiency exams he could tell the examiners even more than they could find in books...”


Dheeraj ‘Monty’ Bhatt

Where he guides: India
Booked through: Intrepid / Exodus



Having been ‘Highly Commended’ several times in previous years, could third time be the charm for Monty? Born in a tiny village in Rajasthan, Dheeraj ‘Monty’ Bhatt grew up in Bundi where he began leading tours aged just 16. Now a wellrespected, passionate guide, his journeys into the rural parts of Rajasthan have been described as “trips of a lifetime” with supporters praising his instinct to go the extra mile to make their trip better.

What you said:
“He knew I was a music teacher looking for authentic instruments from India, so he put me in contact with another well-known music professor in Varanasi.”
“The world needs more people like this.”
“Dheeraj always gave more than he had to.”
“Monty treated us like a personal guest in his country and even invited us to his apartment in Jaipur for dinner. He also took us to his Mother's house in Bundi and she and his Aunt cooked us a wonderful dinner.”
“This was a trip of a lifetime and it would not have been without having a great leader.”
“Monty is very respected and liked by all those who know him in the towns and cities that we visited.”


Suryaveer Singh Chundawat

Where he guides: India
Booked through: Wild Frontiers



Suryaveer – or ‘Surya’ as his many supporters know him – loves to share his remarkable Rajasthani family history (he’s a descendent of one of the state’s most important feudal barons) and the rich, hospitable culture of India with whomever he can. In a nutshell: guiding is his dream job, and it shows: “He combines information with a deep spiritual understanding of the culture,” you said, commending his passion and intelligence. He introduces travellers to India’s many different sides, from its folklore, mysticism and spirituality to romance and luxury. You can even visit his home, which he has transformed into a heritage hotel – now that’s dedication.

What you said:
“He has the capacity to communicate on a range of levels.”
“He has a great combination of intelligence and sensitivity.”
“He showed extreme cool and ingenuity when necessary.”
“He does his work with a real passion and concern.”


Efrain Valles

Where he guides: Peru
Booked through: Amazonas Explorer


You cannot help but love ‘Effie’. Since graduating from Cusco’s Tupac Amaru University, he has spent the last 12 years leading treks across Peru, projecting his infectious energy and enthusiasm onto every group he takes on, as well as sharing his boundless knowledge of the country’s history, culture and nature. Amid guiding, looking after his family and charity marathon training – he did London 2012 dressed as a chaski (Incan messenger) – Effie also volunteers with the charity Chicuchas Wasi, helping girls in extreme poverty. You described him as a “great ambassador for Peru who wants nothing for himself” and someone who communicates through “humour, smiles and hugs”.

What you said:
“I owe so much to his personality and dedication for the depth and breadth of my experience in a mere two and half weeks.”
“Efrain communicates through his humour, smile, hugs, constant energy and true empathy.”
“He has a special knack for accommodating individuals without compromising the group.”
“He introduced us to a school that he set up some years ago for girls from mountain tribes who would never otherwise get any form of education.”


Have you travelled with one of these extraordinary shortlisted guides?

If you have a tale to tell or praise for one of our eight incredible tour leaders, please drop us a line. Tell us what you love about their work and why you think they deserve this coveted industry accolade – the only one of its kind.

How to send your comments...
POST: Wanderlust World Guide Awards [name of guide], 1 Leworth Place, Mellor Walk, Windsor SL4 1EB
EMAIL: topguide@wanderlust.co.uk
ONLINE: Post your comments online via the World Guide Awards website.


The deadline for testimonials is 23 May 2014.

Commended Guides


Many congratulations to the following fantastic guides who also deserve a special mention:


Gill Girard
Freelance, Guernsey

Chhon Chhea Yut
Angkor Walkers, Cambodia

Simon Segali
Vered Hasharon, Israel

Ronald Collado
Crees, Peru

Mehmet Gungor
Walking Mehmet, Turkey

Dingo Walsh
G Adventures, Australia

Mayer Magdy
G Adventures, Egypt

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 Your Comments (19)

  • 16th April by Fran Casey

    Dheeraj ‘Monty’ Bhatt is the best tour leader I have experienced. I have been on 3 escorted trips with Monty and his standard as a tour leader is excellent. Every detail and request is met with courteous efficiency. he is very friendly and able to offer more experiences with the local people due to his extensive local knowledge. I have been on many escorted tours and Monty is top of the list for the best experience I have had. Thanks Monty 


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  • 18th April by jennyg

    Surya - A remarkable man, an excellent guide. 


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  • 20th April by reine.89

    Dheeraj 'Monty' Bhatt was our excellent tour guide on a trip from india to nepal. We took us to great places and answered all of our questions. We learned a lot about the indien culture. He has friends everywhere, so we met some local people.

    He was always very nice and we laught a lot with him (e.g.: laughing-yoga on the ganges). :)


    Report as inappropriate
  • 20th April by reine.89

    Dheeraj 'Monty' Bhatt was our excellent tour guide on a trip from india to nepal. He took us to great places and answered all of our questions. We learned a lot about the indien culture. He has friends everywhere, so we met some local people.

    He was always very nice and we laught a lot with him (e.g.: laughing-yoga on the ganges). :)


    Report as inappropriate
  • 20th April by reine.89

    Dheeraj 'Monty' Bhatt was our excellent tour guide on a trip from india to nepal. He took us to great places and answered all of our questions. We learned a lot about the indien culture. He has friends everywhere, so we met some local people.

    He was always very nice and we laught a lot with him (e.g.: laughing-yoga on the ganges). :)


    Report as inappropriate
  • 20th April by reine.89

    Dheeraj 'Monty' Bhatt was our excellent tour guide on a trip from india to nepal. He took us to great places and answered all of our questions. We learned a lot about the indien culture. He has friends everywhere, so we met some local people.

    He was always very nice and we laught a lot with him (e.g.: laughing-yoga on the ganges). :)


    Report as inappropriate
  • 30th April by SushKE

    I have had the pleasure of Lewis guiding myself and my family in Tanzania early this year. He made a massive difference to our safari; his knowledge, passion, enthusiasm made for an unforgettable safari! We made a friend in Tanzania and we miss Lewis!!! My vote goes to Lewis......Good luck Lewis and we really hope you win the award which you so very much deserve!!! Sush



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  • 30th April by dhsnel

    Lewis is absolutely brilliant, the best I have seen so far on many safaris in Africa



    Douwe Snel


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  • 30th April by Anjali

    Voting for Lewis


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  • 30th April by Kristien

    Lewis is such a knowledgable guide, and he really opens one's eyes to the generous amount of beauty and details that nature holds. He shares information easily, and to any type of crowd, and he has the biggest, friendliest smile ever!


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  • 30th April by Kristien

    Lewis is such a knowledgable guide, and he really opens one's eyes to the generous amount of beauty and details that nature holds. He shares information easily, and to any type of crowd, and he has the biggest, friendliest smile ever!


    Report as inappropriate
  • 30th April by Kristien

    Lewis is such a knowledgable guide, and he really opens one's eyes to the generous amount of beauty and details that nature holds. He shares information easily, and to any type of crowd, and he has the biggest, friendliest smile ever!


    Report as inappropriate
  • 6th May by lizzieskedaddle

    My vote goes to Efrain! I had the most incredible trip in Peru in 2008 with Efrain, the best guide ever and have kept in touch ever since. Hope you do well Efrain, this competition is made for you! 


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  • 18th May by aforton

    My wife and I, we choose Monty.



    Monty has been a fantastic guide during our two tours in India. We will never forget the way he makes us to love india and his inhabitants.



    Mondy is passionate and has the ability to share his passion.





    Thank you Monty!



    Antoine and Jeannine





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  • 20th May by AbigailL




    My vote goes to Lewis. I love Lewis's energy and wealth of knowledge. -  Good luck Lewis





     


     


    owledge. 


     


    His knowledge is extraordinary and he is so willing to share.


     


     


     


     


     



     


     


     


     


     


     


     


     




     



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  • 20th May by John100

    A vote for Lewis Mangaba. The best and most informative walking safari I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying.


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  • 20th May by jrigbyjones

    Lewis Mangaba gets my vote! I had the good fortune of being guided by Lewis on a visit to Tarangire National Park in Tanzania last December and he was exceptional. Having spent a lot of time on safari throughout East Africa, I can easily say he stands above the rest!


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  • 22nd May by Olivertz

    Lewis is an outstanding guide. His relaxed yet all seeing style to deliver a quality visitor  experience is in my opinion unsurpassed in Tanzania. He gets my vote! 


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