The Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya (Shutterstock)
List Words : Kirtey Verma | 09 October 2019

8 epic adventures led by our 2019 World Guide Awards winners

Each of these guides was commended for their excellence in the Wanderlust World Guide Awards 2019. So, why not join them on their next trip, to Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Japan and beyond?

1. Go tribal in Papua New Guinea

The men of the Huli tribe in Tari area of Papua New Guinea in traditional clothes and face paint (Shutterstock)

The men of the Huli tribe in Tari area of Papua New Guinea in traditional clothes and face paint (Shutterstock)

Silver Award Winner: Nitin Dhami

Discover rich cultures, rugged mountains and birds of paradise on A Tribal Odyssey with Nitin from Eldertreks.

Visit local villages and encounter tribes, such as the Asaro Mudmen to Trobriand Islanders, before experiencing a two-day ‘singsing’ festival, where tribespeople sing and dance in traditional dress.

Then take to the waterways and canoe down the Sepik River, spying crocodile cults and clay pot makers on your way. 

Who? Eldertreks (0808 234 1714)

When? August to September 2020, and August to September 2021

How long? 21 days

How much? From $11,995/around £9,731 (excluding int’l flights) 

2. Find Sri Lanka's sweet side

The channel of famous Buddhist Temple of the Tooth Relic, Kandy, Sri Lanka (Shutterstock)

The channel of famous Buddhist Temple of the Tooth Relic, Kandy, Sri Lanka (Shutterstock)

Bronze Award Winner: Indika Prasad Kumara 

Discover the best of Sri Lanka with Indika on Intrepid Travel’sCircle Sri Lanka trip.

Get your historical fix by exploring Kandy’s Temple of the Sacred Tooth and the ancient kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, before losing your breath at Sigiriya, where you'll climb to the top of Lion Rock for panoramic vistas over central Sri Lanka.

Trek through lush tea plantations, then put your feet up and indulge in seafood feasts and beachside escapes at Mirissa. Bliss. 

Who? Intrepid Travel (0808 274 5111)

When? Selected dates 2020 

How long? 15 days

How much? From £1,249 (excluding int’l flights) 

3. See another side to Japan

Okunoin Cemetery, Koyasan, Japan (Shutterstock)

Okunoin Cemetery, Koyasan, Japan (Shutterstock)

Top Tour Leader Guide: Brett Plotz

Get an authentic peek into the Japanese way of life with Brett on Inside Japan’s Hidden Japan trip.

Rest your head at ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) and a Buddhist temple on top of Mount Koya, before hopping over to Shikoku and the ‘Art Island’ Naoshima, where you can enjoy hot springs and museums that hosts everyone from Yayoi Kusama to Claude Monet.

Soak up more of the local culture with a visit to a bunraku puppet theatre, then admire the vine bridges of the lush Iya Valley with a boat ride across its rugged gorges.

Who? Inside Japan (0117 244 3380)

When? Selected dates 2020 

How long? 13 days

How much? From £3,675 (excluding int’l flights) 

4. Take on the bush in Africa

Buffalo in Masai Mara, Kenya (Shutterstock)

Buffalo in Masai Mara, Kenya (Shutterstock)

Top Safari Guide: James Nampaso

Fly in from Nairobi and soak up the wildlife at Kicheche Bush Camp on a bespoke Mara Conservancy Safari with James.

Whether you prefer to explore the open savannah at dawn or dusk, you can spy predators in their natural habitat all day long, away from the crowds of the Mara reserve, at Olare Conservancy.

Walk among the wilderness, visit a local village and get some great wildlife photos under James’s expert tutelage. Book up to a year in advance, though – James is one of the camp’s most  requested guides. 

Who? Kicheche Bush Camp

When? Dates TBC

How long? Six days 

How much? From $3,995/around £3,241 (excluding int’l flights) 

5. Follow the path to peace in Northern Ireland

Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland, UK (Shutterstock)

Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland, UK (Shutterstock)

Top UK Guide: Paul Donnelly

Learn about Belfast’s troubled past on A History of Terror withDC Tours’ Paul. Find out how and why the Troubles started on a stroll through the city centre and Cathedral Quarter up to the banks of the River Lagan, while visiting the sites of the period’s most tragic events.

Allow Paul’s storytelling to take you back in time to when these incidents unfolded and see for yourself how the city has transformed into the vibrant place that we know today. 

Who? DC Tours (07716 949460)

When? Year-round. Confirm Paul’s schedule when booking.

How long? One day 

How much? £18 (excluding int’l flights)

6. Take time for tipples in France

Wine ageing in Oak Barrels in Burgundy, France (Shutterstock)

Wine ageing in Oak Barrels in Burgundy, France (Shutterstock)

Top Specialist Guide: Tim Syrad 

Follow Tim and your taste buds on a Wine Tour of Southern Burgundy. Sample fine vintages from the great wine regions of Côte Chalonnaise, the Mâconnais and Beaujolais, before exploring the lush valleys and vineyards where the grapes slowly ripen and mature.

Then meet family winemakers and hear the tricks of the trade, before resting your slightly tipsy head at the Hotel Panorama 360 in Mâcon, which offers views over Mont Blanc, the Rock of Solutré and the Saône.

Who? Tim Syrad Wine Tours (020 7060 4529)

When? 13 May 2020 and 10 June 2020 

How long? Five days

How much? From £1,149 (excluding int’l flights) 

7. Lose yourself in Italy's ancient past

Pompeii and Vesuvius (Shutterstock)

Pompeii and Vesuvius (Shutterstock)

Top History & Culture Guide: Eireann Marshall

Let Dr Marshall take you back in time on Andante Travel’sPompeii, Herculaneum & Classical Campania trip. Not only do you get exclusive access to the Theatre of Herculaneum and the Cave of Sejanus, you’ll also explore the storerooms at Paestum to see Lucanian painted tombs.

Hike Vesuvius to stare into its volcanic crater, delve into ancient Roman villas and spend a full day in Pompeii, where Eireann brings to life a whole cast of characters from slaves to senators alike.

Who? Andante Travels (01722 671085)

When? 16 March 2020

How long? 7 nights

How much? From £1,995 (including int’l flights) 

8. Go wild in Costa Rica

Mangroves in Costa Rica (Shutterstock)

Mangroves in Costa Rica (Shutterstock)

Top Conservation Guide: Johnny Villalobos

Trek through Costa Rica’s lush mangroves, lava fields and cloud forests with Exodus Travels’ Johnny.

Spy howler monkeys, caiman and sloths, before heading to the beaches and waterways of Tortuguero, where green turtles nest from August to October.

His 2019 dates have already sold out, so keep an eye on the website to check when he’s free. 

Who? Exodus (020 3993 2997)

When? Dates TBC

How long? 16 days

How much? From £3,079 (including int’l flights) 

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