Revealed: The Wanderlust World Guide Awards 2019 shortlist

After thousands of nominations, we've narrowed them down to 14 exceptional tour guides. Meet the shortlist here, and help us separate the best from the rest...

3 mins

They’re rarely centre stage but, for anyone who has had the pleasure of being led by a great guide, they are indispensable. They are the backbone of travel, helping us feel, experience and understand cultures and places that we couldn’t hope to fathom on our own.

So, now is your chance to give something back to those who give so much. This year – the 14th Wanderlust World Guide Awards – we received over 3,000 nominations, but we’ve whittled your picks down to just 14; now we need your help.

If you’ve travelled with any of the guides here, send us your comments via post, email, Twitter or Instagram to help our judges decide who should win our special awards. Three guides will be awarded bursaries in a ceremony at London’s Royal Geographical Society on 2 October 2019.

Check out the 2019 Wanderlust World Guide Awards shortlist...

Johnny Villalobos, Exodus Travels

Johnny guides through Costa Rica, which he's done since 1995. He may be quiet by nature, but his impressive knowledge makes him a firm favourite among travellers.

A keen naturalist, what he doesn't know about Costa Rican wildlife isn't worth knowing!

Nitin Dhami, ElderTreks

Worldwide guide Nitin has taken travellers through Asia and Africa, and speaks three languages.

He's happiest in the mountains of Northern India, putting his advanced mountaineering skills to good use. He speaks Hindi and Punjabi, too.

Jay Burleson, Trek America/Grand American Adventures

Jay's area of expertise is the wonderful USA, and he loves getting travellers to try new things.

Pro photographer Jay particularly loves the Rocky Mountains, where he moved after falling in love with the outdoors as a teenager.

Dr Eireann Marshall, Andante Travels

Raised in a 15th-century villa in Vincenza, Italy, Eireann has history and guiding running through her veins. 

She's trekked Italy's ruins, has completed almost 100 Andante tours to date, and even has a PhD in ancient history. Now there's a guide who knows what she's talking about...

Indika Prasad Kumara, Intrepid Travel

Indika's native Sri Lanka is his pride and joy, and his love for his country shines through his tours. And a local's knowledge makes all the difference when unravelling the country's rich history and culture.

He's already been commended in the World Guide Awards, back in 2015, and has been guiding for seven years now. Surely, that says it all!

Meas Chantha, G Adventures

Chantha guides in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, and is a hit thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge of South-East Asia.

He's been a CEO (Chief Experience Officer) at G Adventures for 10 years now, has an infectious presence and an undeniable gift for fun.

Tanya Cox, Natural Exposures

Canadian native Tanya hosts tours around the globe, a dream of hers from a very early age. She interned at tourism agencies and even managed a mobile lodge in Hudson Bay, among the polar bears.

Tanya also helps travellers find the right spots for their photography, and ensures everyone goes home with a fond memory.

Brett Plotz, Inside Japan

USA-born Brett's always loved Japan, and started guiding there in 2006. Kudamatsu in the Yamaguchi prefecture, his first Japanese home, is still very important to him.

His tours are full of surprises, and you can expect to find a few of Japan's secrets during a day on the road: arcades, games bars, even Japanese archery...

James Nampaso, Kicheche Camps

James' passion for his home region of East Africa is illuminating. His knowledge is unparalleled, particularly each and every inch of the conservation areas he guides.

His deep, rumbling laugh is very memorable, as is his commitment to helping local areas and giving back to communities. He's also an award-winning photographer.

Tim Syrad, Tim Syrad Wine Tours

Tim first set up his wine tours in 2001. To be a successful guide taking travellers through the world's wine regions, you need an impressive palate, knowledge of grape varieties and a gift for descriptive language.

Fortunately, Tim has this in abundance. Guests are also impressed by his easy humour, and how he puts each wine into context of its local area. Many guests return; some even become lifelong friends.

Tim Pendlebury, Insight Vacations

Aussie-born Tim found his place in the world among the diverse cities of Europe. He's been all over, from east to west, and has guided visitors through (to name a few) Spain, France, Italy, the Balkans and Poland - where he now lives.

Tim's greatest joy as a guide is watching a new traveller's eyes open to new cultures and the complex histories of the regions they visit. We can understand why.

Ismail Ingrioui, Moroccan Guides

Born in the Atlas Mountains, Ismail moved to Marrakech to study as a young man. Now he guides visitors around Morocco, from the mountains of his youth to the capital city and beyond.

Ismail's passion? Connecting guests with Moroccan culture and connecting with people from different backgrounds. "I'm privileged to play a role in changing people's lives," he said.

Paul Donnelly, DC Tours

Paul guides in Northern Ireland. He grew up in Belfast during 'The Troubles' and saw first-hand how the city's evolved over the decades. It informs his tour, Peace and Reconciliation, which has been running since 2013.

Before guiding, Paul worked as a teacher and mediator, helping communities in some of Belfast's hardest-hit areas. 

Thank you for sharing your testimonial about the guides you've travelled with!

They're all so helpful. Now, time for us to choose the winning guides...

Related Articles