We’ve whittled your thousands of nominations down to ten great tour leaders and guides – now we need your help to choose an overall winner
They’re rarely in the limelight but they’re a crucial cog in the world of travel. They help convert a good trip into great one. Yep, we’re talking guides, and now’s the time to give something back to those who lead us around the planet. This year – the 13th Wanderlust World Guide Awards – we received well over 4,000 nominations, a record.
We’ve squeezed your choices down to just ten. They are all remarkable, dedicated individuals so now the judges need your help. If you’ve either worked or travelled with any of the guides here, please send your comments via the link below to help the judges decide on who to award. The shortlisted guides will be invited to the ceremony at London’s Royal Geographical Society on 4 October 2018, and the top three will be recognised and awarded bursaries.
Where she guides: Worldwide
Booked through: Dragoman
Hailing from Preston, Julie left home as a bright-eyed 19-year-old in search of travel. She went from designing self-drive tours in New Zealand to managing a ski company in France, with a lot squeezed in between.
After a few seasons in the Alps, she joined Dragoman in 2013 as a trainee guide and found herself stepping in to join a tour to Patagonia much earlier than expected. But she thrived on it and has since led trips across most of South America, India, China, the Silk Road and, most recently, Africa. But, as she puts it: “Helping to make someone’s holiday the trip of a lifetime is such a great feeling.”
Where he guides: Worldwide
Booked through: Abercrombie & Kent
Born in 1975 in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe and raised in Botswana, it’s no surprise Garth has developed a passion for adventure, travel, wildlife and ancient cultures.
He’s flourished into a brilliant tour leader, achieving some of sub-Saharan Africa’s toughest guiding qualifications. Garth has also visited some of the planet’s remotest regions, from private islands off the coast of Panama to safari lodges in Africa, India and northern Russia. Now, with 24 years’ experience under his belt, he has grown into an ideal companion for solo or group travellers wanting to visit a number of off-the-grid destinations.
Where he guides: Egypt
Booked through: Abercrombie & Kent and AHI Travel
Using his vast experience in guiding, Ashraf is comfortable leading groups of people from any walk of life. He has even guided the odd star name along the way, crafting and leading trips through Egypt for the likes of actors Elizabeth Hurley, Hugh Jackman, Adrien Brody and Nicolas Cage as well as tennis champ Rafael Nadal. And that’s just to name a few. One person who travelled with him said: “His vast knowledge meant we not only learned about the ancient splendours of Egypt but also the complexities of Egyptian culture, and we came away with a deeper appreciation of this interesting country.” Surely, that is what guiding is all about?
Where he guides: UK
Booked through: Unique Devon Tours
Alex started guiding early, showing guests around the gardens of his mother’s bed and breakfast at just ten years old. It was unpaid, of course, but it was the first step in his dream of becoming a tour leader. Years later, it’s safe to say that his dream has become reality, having set up his tour company three years ago. “Every day I’m out with guests is a treat for me, and while I love what I do, I’m always looking to learn and to improve what I offer,” says Alex. He loves where he works, too, and he recognises Devon is not just a place of pretty landscapes, mixing his tours with legendary tales that inspired the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie.
Where she guides: Worldwide
Booked through: Exodus Travels
With an immense passion for nature, the outdoors and travelling the world, Sara was always born to be a guide. Beginning a career 23 years ago with the Outward Bound Trust and The Prince’s Trust, she is now adept at leading all kinds of tours: snowshoeing trips in the Dolomites, walking in northern Tuscany and treks to K2 Base Camp, Mount Damavand
and the Simien Mountains. Sara sees guiding as something that builds cross-cultural relationships, informing travellers through her wealth of knowledge and sense of
fun. Not only that, she fundraises for many charities, too, including doing a 1,000km challenge run.
Where he guides: Morocco
Booked through: Intrepid
Born to a large family on a farm high up in the dusty and rugged landscape of the Atlas Mountains, Abderrahim has been leading tours for Intrepid for over six years. It’s safe to say
that he loves his job, enjoying meeting those who join his tours and getting to know who they are and their backgrounds. He’s very much a people person, and is one traveller described him as “Knowledgeable, always on hand to help with any problems and sensitive to everyone’s needs”. Others say he is approachable, helpful, patient and energetic. These qualities, along with his love of his home country, have made him the guide he is today.
Where he guides: Europe
Booked through: G Adventures
Since reading Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne at the age of six, Gabo has wanted to follow in his hero Phileas Fogg’s footsteps. His first taste of travel was at 16, when he hitchhiked to Patagonia and was overwhelmed by the nature and landscapes of
his homeland of Argentina. His colourful career has included being a theatre actor, rock ’n’ roll band manager and even a master of reiki. In 2010, he spent a year working in New Zealand before taking in 87 countries in a two-year epic adventure. He joined G Adventures in 2014 and hasn’t looked back, sharing his infectious passion for travel with everyone who roams with him.
Where he guides: South-East Asia
Booked through: G Adventures
A self-confessed history buff, Phauk spent hours exploring Cambodia’s Angkor Wat complex when he was younger, reading about the temples and listening to guides recalling their history to travellers. It was these grassroots interactions that inspired him to become a guide. Meeting people from all over the world is the thing Phauk loves most about his job and he is passionate about sharing cultures, beliefs, food and, in his own words: “Being part
of something bigger than he is.” He goes above and beyond in his role, not just introducing travellers to various sites but also educating them about local projects that give back to the communities they visit.
Where he guides: Ecuador
Booked through: Galakiwi
Being passionate about wildlife for as long as he can remember, Pablo definitely guides in the right place: the Galápagos Islands. Even decades after moving to the archipelago, he’s still astonished by its local residents, just as he was when chasing grasshoppers as a child in mainland Ecuador. He originally split his time between working at the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre, but later moved into guiding visitors around the Sierra Negra volcano. Today, he lives on Isabela Island in the Galápagos and continues to guide around this wildlife wonder, with travellers highlighting his infectious, easy manner and love for nature.
Where he guides: South America
Booked through: G Adventures
Neil’s feet didn’t itch immediately. It wasn’t until he began studying in Hong Kong that ink first touched his passport and he caught the travel bug. He soon set about making up
for lost time, though, and has lived in Barcelona, climbed mountains all over the world and cycled from England to Turkey. In 2011, he joined G Adventures and has led groups in South America for them over the past five years. He sees these tours as life-changing experiences and encourages people to step out of their comfort zones. Most importantly, he loves watching the personalities of his charges shine and writes a personalised postcard
to each traveller as a thank you at the end of every trip.
Congratulations to the following guides, who also deserve a special mention:
Adrian Gallop, Journey Latin America
Arnold Tsaneb, Ultimate Safaris
Carlos Borda, Peru Summit
Ghanshyam Singh, Intrepid
Javier Rodriguez Soto, Forever Barcelona
Julian Matos, Urban Adventures
Sanju Shakya, Inspire Nepal
Surya Singh Chundawat, Wild Frontiers
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