The judges have studied your testimonials and now the 2017 top three guides have been selected...
After a long and nail-biting judging process - perhaps the toughest yet - the final three guides have been selected for this year's Wanderlust World Guide Awards. In no particular order – Dinesh KC (Nepal), Khalid Lamlih (Morocco) and Hayley Shephard (Antarctica) have made the final cut.
The final results will be announced in a ceremony at London's Royal Geographical Society on 5 October and all three guides will be awarded Paul Morrison bursaries, courtesy of Craghoppers, to spend on furthering their skills or on community projects. They will also receive prizes of binoculars (courtesy of Swarowski) and gear (courtesy of Craghoppers).
Where he guides: Nepal
Booked through: Intrepid Travel
Dinesh is Nepalese through and through. Born in the Everest region in the east of Nepal, he has worked for Intrepid for 11 years. He started as a porter before being promoted to a group leader, but whatever role he’s taken on, he’s always been passionate about ensuring travellers explore the country’s stunning mountain ranges.
He’s been described as friendly, helpful, hard-working and dedicated to promoting Nepal’s treasures. But traveller Matthew Gates says that an ability to create togetherness is Dinesh’s greatest attribute: “He made us feel like a family after just a few days, a wonderful dynamic that made my trip so much more special.”
Where he guides: Morocco
Booked through: Intrepid Travel
Khalid was always meant to be a guide. Growing up in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, he was fascinated by passing tours, listening closely to their leaders. When he was old enough, he began assisting other guides, learning from people from all across the planet and slowly building up an understanding of how travel could change people and the way they saw the world.
Now, having worked as a tour leader for ten years, Khalid loves showing visitors his home country, and still has a burning passion for meeting people from all corners of the world. If he had to pick a highlight? Helping a group of travellers join in at a traditional Moroccan wedding party.
Where she guides: Antarctica
Booked through: Polar Latitudes
Hayley loves her office job: extreme weather, remote locations and wildlife and scenery that takes the breath away. Even after 13 years of adventuring to Antarctica, she never gets tired of walking among the penguins, floating past icebergs or waiting for a humpback whale to breach. In her own words, she’s "addicted". It’s an obsession that rubs off on her clients, too.
Prior to guiding, Hayley was a school teacher specialising in outdoor education and environmental science, before extending her classroom to the wild. Now she lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, the perfect home for a lover of the outdoors, and is a keen kayaker in her spare time.
The judges found this one of the toughest years yet, and were impressed by all the final eight guides. As chief judge Derek Moore said, "In another year, any of the other five guides could have been the winner! I hope we see them in future years." The five who did not make the final, have each been awarded a Highly Commended.