Your nominations have come in droves, but now we need you to separate the best guides from the rest…
Guides can turn a good trip into a great one. And while they’re often the unsung heroes of the travel world, your appreciation of them hasn’t wavered – nominations from you have arrived in their thousands, singling out those guides who really have made your trip an adventure of a lifetime.
Now we’ve achieved the ever-tricky task of narrowing our shortlist down to just eight guides, we turn to you to help choose a winner. The top three will be awarded bursaries in a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society on 6 October 2016.
Where she guides: Thailand, Laos & Burma
Booked through: All Points East
One of the founders of All Points East, Wipaporn has built her excellent guiding on 15 years of experience. Born in Bangkok, her expertise spans across not only Thailand, but Burma and Laos also. Being a mum herself, Wi – as she’s known to her friends – particularly enjoys leading family trips; she also uses her experience to coordinate projects for under-privileged hill-tribe children and their families in all three countries.
“She’s almost as nice as my mum. Actually, she’s nicer,” recounts one traveller. Another, Sandy Bagnall, adds: “Wi is so thoughtful, kind, generous and just a lovely, lovely person. She shared so much more than just facts about what we were travelling through.”
Where she guides: Spain
Booked through: Back-Roads Touring
Leticia really is a student of her trade. Since studying tourism and marketing at university, the Spanish-born guide has spent the last decade leading tours in several European countries and has established herself has one of the top guides at Back-Roads Touring after joining in 2014.
Even now, she’s still studying how to make everyone’s experience a personalised one. “I try to adapt tours to bring a much more personal and intimate experience for all. My favourite part is seeing people’s reactions when they finally get to discover places they have been dreaming about for so long,” she explains.
Where he guides: Cambodia
Booked through: G Adventures
Bopha has only been guiding for G Adventures for three years but he has already made an impression. Heralding from a village in Kampong Cham province, he worked as a silk farmer and goldsmith while still at school, before moving to Siem Reap to kick-start his career as a guide.
A true people’s person, he loves to give travellers a genuine sense of Cambodia, having his clients interact with the locals, providing the community with invaluable language skills in turn. But his favourite thing is watching the group’s reaction when he introduces them to his favourite place, Angkor Wat – and taking the opportunity to explore it once more himself.
Where he guides: Egypt
Booked through: G Adventures
Samer is a shining beacon for visitors to Egypt – and the perfect antidote to the recent headlines. Prior to becoming a guide, his passion for his country led him to becoming an Egyptologist; now that enthusiasm and knowledge of the country’s ancient history – and how that shapes the Egypt of today – is passed on to his clients.
But as well as enhancing the experience for travellers who visit the country, ‘Sem Sem’ is dedicated to making a difference to the locals, too. He coordinates a women’s sewing project at a community library in Luxor and has spent a number of years as a Scout leader in central Cairo.
Where he guides: Sri Lanka
Booked through: Intrepid Travel
Just like Wanderlust, Asanga has a passion for satisfying and sustainable travel. He took up guiding – specialising in wildlife and archaeology – after leaving a successful career selling fast-moving consumer goods behind and hasn’t looked back.
Sri Lankan through and through, Asanga mixes his caring and gentle personality with a passion for all things to do with his home country. Known to his friends as ‘Thattaya’, Asanga’s been impressing you for a while, as he also made the final eight in last year’s World Guide Awards, too. In his spare time, he can be found roaming one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks.
Where he guides: Bhutan
Booked through: Panoramic Journeys
Living high up in the Bhutanese Himalaya with his two sons, Kuenga is perfectly placed to help others see his home country at its resplendent best. And that’s exactly what he does: he runs a thriving trekking equipment and bike rental firm from his internet café and to ‘escape’ his day-to-day business, he proudly guides travellers around his homeland.
Having built up nine years of experience, the plaudits have rightly followed. “After 30 years of travelling with guides, Kuenga is the best we’ve ever had,” say Sue and Paul Tanner. “He’s truly a wonderful ambassador for Bhutan and he is a role model for all,” adds Suzana Radovic.
Where he guides: UK
Booked through: Tours From Antiquity
Edward’s long been fascinated by prehistoric archaeology in the UK, exploring 4,000-year-old burial tombs, pondering the mysteries behind stone circles and rambling ancient trackways. This passion led him to set up his own tour company – Tours From Antiquity – in 2011, to share his knowledge with others.
Now he feeds his enthusiasm for archaeology to others, specialising in tours to Stonehenge and Neolithic remnants, while also offering educational workshops. He explains: “I give a voice to the stone and earth monuments left by people who no longer have a voice to share. In my opinion there can be no better job.”
Where he guides: UK
Booked through: Unique Devon
When Alex set up his tour company three years ago, it was the realisation of a childhood dream, when he used to give garden tours to visitors of his mum’s bed and breakfast. Alex has become an expert in his field, fusing his life and work experiences across a number of industries prior to becoming a guide as well as his desire to go beyond the extra mile.
Guiding isn’t the only string to his bow – he’s not too shabby at photography either, being named a highly commended finalist in the Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year 2014 competition. Away from guiding, he loves exploring the Devon countryside in his own time with his partner and two children.
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