After receiving almost 1000 votes for over 260 different Tour Leaders, we have finally managed to whittle them down to a shortlist! We're doing things slightly differently this year and have shortlisted leaders in four different categories - Discovery, Family, Cycling and Trekking. While many of our Tour Leaders lead a variety of different types of tour, this allows us to acknowledge those who excel in specific areas. Our judging panel will not only pick a winner in each category, but also one of the shortlist will be named Explore Tour Leader of the Year 2013. Without further ado, here they are, the Explore 2013 Tour Leader Awards shortlist! (Once you've read about the shortlist, keep reading to find out who the people are with the tough job of choosing the winners).
These are those leaders whose knowledge of culture, history, nature and wildlife make your adventure unforgettable.
- Firat Solak (Turkey)
- Myo Naing George (Burma)
- Sue Guthrie (UK leader)
- Abishek Chordia (India)
- Babagalleh Jallow (Senegal & Gambia)
- Rajesh Verma (India)
Being able to relate to both adults and children is a skill these leaders have demonstrated again and again - and it's a skill which is not always easy!
- Rejanish V.S. (India)
- Mohamed Bennacer (Morocco)
- Upali Jayakody (Sri Lanka)
Looking after a group who are all likely to cycle at their own pace presents a unique challenge for our cycling leaders. They fix punctures at the side of the road and help out those who are struggling, all while imparting information about the area you're cycling in.
- Andrew Perryman (France)
- Aung Ko Ko Win (Burma)
- Tobias Raforth (Spain)
One thing we hear again and again from those who join our treks is 'I wouldn't have completed it without the Tour Leader'. These are the people who not only encourage you and give you the determination to complete your trek, but they also ensure you don't miss out on the beauty of the scenery and history around you as you do.
- Jaime Balza (Bolivia)
- Nilton Carrillo (Peru)
- Sudarshan KC (Nepal)
The Deepen Rai outstanding Achievement Award
We've also introduced a new award this year, The Deepen Rai Outstanding Achievement Award. The winner of this award will also be decided by our judging panel.
The Judging Panel
Choosing the winners this year are a group of people who face a very daunting task! It's not an easy job but they'll use their knowledge and experience - plus feedback from you, the people who have travelled with these leaders - to pick their winners.
- Ashley Toft - Explore Managing Director and former Tour Leader
- Margaret McEwan - Explore Head of Governance and Customer Relations
- John Telfer - Explore Product and Operations Director and former Tour Leader
- Rob Hitchings - Rob is the owner of Nomadic Travel, an independent travel agency specialising in adventure travel. With his team of well-travelled consultants he has arranged literally thousands of adventure holidays for Nomadic Travel’s clients over the past 13 years. Mountains are Rob’s particular passion and he counts Everest Base Camp, the Inca Trail and Mount Kenya amongst his favourite trekking experiences. He has travelled with Explore on many occasions and knows the importance of an exceptional Tour Leader in ensuring a good trip becomes a great one in the right hands.
- Rosie Fuller - Editor of Adventure Travel magazine, Rosie caught the travel bug on a tree-planting gap year to Australia when she was 18. Since then she has trekked in Peru, snow-mobiled in Svalbard, eaten giant clams straight from the sea in Samoa and most recently tried ice climbing in Alaska. She knows that an inspirational Tour Leader can turn a good trip into an unforgettable one – and that judging Explore’s annual Tour Leader Awards will involve some tough decisions!
- Nicola Pyne - In 1981 I went on my first ‘adventure’ holiday to Nepal and Central India, with Pennworld. Once Travers Cox and Derek Moore took over forming Explore I travelled to North India and Ladakh in June 1982 with Derek as leader. Great trips, amazing people, spectacular scenery, fantastic cultural eye-openers, and I have many photos! Love Explore trips. After a long gap I’m catching up! I worked for many years in IT training and marketing with IBM, and now do Science and Maths tuition. I can now be flexible with my time so have done fifteen trips, mostly in the Middle East, Far East, Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. I have one out of three tours booked for next year already...so exciting!