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The Deepen Rai Outstanding Achievement Award

leader deepen raiDeepen Rai was an exceptional Tour Leader who led Explore tours in Nepal for 12 years. He was a leader amongst leaders. Other Nepalese guides and leaders looked to him for advice and inspiration and he regularly received exceptional feedback from clients. Tragically, we lost him in a plane crash in 2012 aged just 37. Deepen was admired by Explore staff and customers alike. He didn't just carry out his duties; he always found ways to ensure that the tour was liked by all including his team, local partners, community and clients. In 2009 he won the coveted Explore Tour Leader of the year award.

In memory of Deepen’s outstanding contribution to tour leading, we have launched a new tour leader award in his name – The Deepen Rai Outstanding Achievement Award. In this award, we are aiming to give recognition to the leader who has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty and/or has made an outstanding contribution to their colleagues or local community. The winning leader’s efforts will be such that they cannot go unnoticed and should be rewarded and celebrated.

How do we choose a winner?
Unlike the Explore Tour Leader of the Year Award, the candidate short-list for the Deepen Rai Award is decided by the Explore Operations Team based on feedback they’ve received throughout the year from customers and local partners. Once the finalists were selected, we asked customers who have travelled with the short-listed candidates to tell us why they think their leader should win. All the information was pulled together and our judging panel decided who the winner is. Find out more about the 2013 results.

The final short-list of candidates for the 2013 Deepen Rai Outstanding Achievement Award was:

leader pabel perez

Pabel Perez - Peru
Pabel’s loyalty to Explore shines through when leading groups through his home country; Peru. Going above and beyond is in his nature, as he truly proved when he very sadly lost a customer to a heart attack on tour in 2012. Explore received a letter from the customer’s wife upon her return to the UK describing the compassion, sympathy and care Pabel (and his family!) conveyed during such an awful time. Even more recently described as “The perfect tour leader”, Pabel has earned his commendation from the first day he joined Explore groups as an Inca Trail guide through to becoming one of our own leaders.

leader david short David Short - various countries
UK leader David Short has been travelling the world with Explore for six years and has recently begun to train local leaders to join the Explore team. Our local agents and new trainees talk of David’s passion for discovery in their home countries and how he is keen to learn and respect their culture. His awareness of and sensitivity to ways of life around the world, make him the perfect candidate to lead our groups through countries where political issues and diverse cultures reign strong including Iraq, Bangladesh and North Korea.  David is an “absolute gem” and a “credit to Explore” in the words of his customers. 
leader haymar aung Hay Mar Aung - Burma
Even though Hay Mar only started leading for Explore three years ago, she consistently receives wonderful comments from customers, as well as from the Explore UK staff that have been fortunate enough to meet her whilst visiting Burma. Remembering to arrange something special for every client’s birthday is just one thing that makes Hay Mar “a real asset to the Explore team”. She has a great understanding of her European guests which supports her abilities to share her passion for her country and make clients’ tours unforgettable. Other Burma leaders are inspired and influenced by her pro-Explore ethos!
leader sue guthrie Sue Guthrie - Ethiopia WINNER
Customers are regularly in awe of Sue whilst watching her lead groups through Ethiopia. Sue has led around the world for Explore over the past 12 years but Ethiopia has become her second home and it appears the passion shows. She is an ambassador of Explore’s responsible and ethical culture, carefully recommending shopping spots in areas where the money will go back into the local community and giving photographs as gifts to the local children that she had personally taken on previous visits. Going above and beyond for Explore clients and the local communities we visit makes Sue a very worthy finalist!


leader udaya

Udaya - Nepal
Nepalese leader Udaya has enthusiasm in abundance and has proved on numerous occasions that he can handle anything! Earlier in 2013 a customer took a serious fall causing suspected head fractures and with no ambulance available, Udaya co-ordinated with his group to carry the client to safety for a helicopter evacuation. The group highly commended his leadership skills in a challenging situation and wrote of their admiration of how he maintained composure and finished the unforgettable tour. After 15 years of service to Explore, Udaya is well respected and loved by his fellow leaders.

leader mohamed et taleb Mohamed Et Taleb - Morocco
As a member of the traditional Berber community, Mohamed has a vast knowledge of his country -Morocco. Only leading since 2010, Mohamed has already made quite an impression as an expert cycling, trekking and family adventures leader. He successfully manages to keep children, teenagers and adults captivated throughout his tours, as well as inspiring people to complete some of the most difficult treks in Morocco - no mean feat!  One client wrote to inform Explore “Mohamed is my superstar!” we’re not sure there is higher praise than that?!


leader sudarshan

Sudarshan (Su) - Nepal
“A credit to his country!” – quite a complement for any local leader. Sudarshan is loved whole-heartedly by clients, Explore HQ staff and all of his fellow colleagues in Nepal. One group labelled themselves as ‘Su’s Step Super Stars’ and remarked on his fantastic smile in all weathers. Having a group evacuated by helicopter from Everest in poor weather is all in a day’s work and his enthusiasm for Explore tours has never wavered. The attention he pays to the group’s health and safety, the wealth of knowledge he has about Nepal and his willingness to go the extra mile are all reasons Su has been shortlisted for the Deepen Rai award.