Whether you’re learning about Cape Town’s history while snacking on biltong or hearing about wolf pack politics as you watch cubs playing in the grass, a great guide or expert can lead you to a deeper, richer connection with where you are.
We’ve worked with many of our guides and local experts for years, while others are rising stars. With this, our 25th Anniversary Global Guide Awards, we want to celebrate the people who’ll introduce you to the heart and soul of our destinations and who consistently make the difference to your trip.
Wildlife experts & naturalists
From grizzly bears in Canada and the Big Five in South Africa to active volcanoes in Hawaii and rocky Kangaroo Island, an Australia in miniature, these guides can help you see the natural wonders that dot our fragile planet. They’re experts in their local ecosystems, and will help you spot the animals like wolves and elephants, or explain the complex natural science of these remote, far-flung regions.
Australia: a microcosm with a conservationist
I see myself as a facilitator of experiences, sharing my connections and relationships to celebrate the very best our community offers. This might include arranging for you to spend time with local ecologists, winemakers, beekeepers, or artists, often at their homes.
Who: Craig Wickham
Years guiding: over 35
Craig masterminds sustainable encounters with Kangaroo Island’s wildlife, but he also designs bespoke tours, from photo safaris to food-and-wine routes. He’s a conservationist. He’s a custodian. He’s a raconteur, recounting tales of resilience and derring-do. He also cooks a mean barbecued fish supper. For us, Craig is more than a tour guide, he’s part of the lifeblood of Kangaroo Island and its greatest ambassador.
Experience this for yourself: See Kangaroo Island as part of a driving tour of South Australia.
Tanzania: on foot with a master of bush walking
I’m first and foremost a teacher, and guiding allows me to impart bush knowledge in what’s perhaps the world’s greatest classroom. A huge sense of fulfillment comes from watching our visitors develop over a few days’ stay into full-blown nature-obsessives.
Who: Andrew ‘Moli’ Molinaro
Years guiding: over 20
Raised in Kenya, Moli developed a passion for nature ‘straight out of nursery.’ After pursuing a zoology degree in the UK, he found his way to guiding in Tanzania’s remote Ruaha National Park, where he’s a walking safari expert. We love how Moli uses his highly tuned skillset to give you an immersive experience — he can show you the big animals on foot, but his true genius is keeping you utterly enthralled while he spends 20 minutes talking to you about termites or other smaller inhabitants of the bush.
Tanzania: a safari with a wildlife advocate
I enjoy getting to know my guests as they get to know me, my culture, and Tanzania. Along the way, I offer an insight into Swahili life, whether that’s trying the different bananas at Mto wa Mbu or meeting the Maasai mamas outside Tarangire.
Who: Alfred Sakita
Years guiding: 21
Alfred lives up to his nickname, ‘Papaa’, meaning someone who’s eager to make others happy. Growing up on the slopes of Mount Meru, he credits his love of wildlife conservation to his mother, who taught him how to protect rice fields from birds without harming them. He’s evangelical about showing you the Great Migration, as well as everyday Tanzanian life.
Experience this for yourself: Search for the Big Five along with giraffe, zebra, and hippo on this Northern Tanzania safari.
Zambia: the bush with a birdwatcher
I grew up in villages surrounded by nature, and ended up loving my local environment. As the years went by, I understood that I could contribute to nature by working in travel.
Who: Webster ‘Big Webby’ Sitwala
Years guiding: 14
Often found with his head in a bird book, Webster’s ornithological knowledge seems to know no bounds. But in some ways it’s the least remarkable thing about him. A birdwatching walk with Webby is so much more than spotting birds — it’s also an insight into rural Zambian life as it’s been lived for centuries. And, his sense of direction is famously unmatched.
Experience this for yourself: See big game and plentiful birdlife on this suggested Zambia safari itinerary.
Canada: grizzlies with an ecologist
When my Audley guests see a grizzly bear for the first time, especially when we travel on foot in a remote estuary, I see delight, passion, curiosity, love, and yes, sometimes fear. But they all come away moved by the grace, beauty, and power of these animals.
Who: Tim McGrady
Years guiding: 29
If you want to see one of Canada’s lumbering grizzly bears, a visit with Tim at Farewell Harbour Lodge in British Columbia is an excellent choice. A fervent advocate for wildlife conservation, he’s most at home explaining the region’s fragile ecosystem, where he’s lived and worked for decades. He and his wife, Kelli, co-own the lodge, and everyone who visits raves about their exceptional food and welcoming ambience.
Experience this for yourself: This road-trip through western Canada includes a stay at Farewell Harbour Lodge and time in the Yukon.
USA: active volcanoes with a man who’s felt their heat
I love to share details of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption from my own experience — I’m one of the few residents who didn’t evacuate, which let me see the raw power of the volcano from just feet away.
Who: Scott Wiggers
Years guiding: 10
Scott’s private tours of Volcanoes National Park are the best way we know to explore Hawaii’s fiery nature. He’s known for his relaxed ‘aloha’ personality, and can answer any question you can think of, from discussing the ecology of kīpuka (isolated patches of jungle surrounded by lava flows) to knowing which mineral causes the green sand on Mahana Beach.
Experience this for yourself: This trip of Hawaii’s highlights includes a private tour of Volcanoes National Park.
USA: wolves with a backcountry tracker
Yellowstone has four true seasons, all of which offer their own sense of wonder. Seeing the park in different seasons often inspires people to return again and again.
Who: Michael Leach
Years guiding: 20
Michael’s backcountry nickname is the Rev, a nod to his ardent advocacy for Yellowstone’s wildlife and landscapes. He leads one-on-one safaris into the heart of the wilderness, helping you to spot wolves, grizzlies, bison, and elk, as well as smaller animals like coyotes and ravens. His zealous storytelling is backed up by an intimate knowledge of every valley, waterfall, and mountain.
Experience this for yourself: This trip to Yellowstone in winter (with far fewer crowds) allows you plenty of opportunities to spot its celebrated wildlife.
A visit with these winners is like putting on a pair of 3D glasses — suddenly, everything you see acquires more dimension. They can shine a light on the nuances of the culture you’re visiting, adding texture and depth to the sights, as well as pointing out the small-but-vital details that you might have overlooked on your own.
Japan: tea with a geisha expert
I like to give our clients a slice of normal daily life. People choose to visit Japan for a host of reasons: great food, architecture, scenery, culture, history. But what they leave with is an appreciation for the people.
Who: Duncan Flett
Years guiding: 13
Son of a Scottish father and a Japanese mother, Duncan has guided exclusively in Kyoto for Audley since 2008 and always receives rave reviews. He’s deeply knowledgeable, especially about geisha culture and history, but he can tailor your experience around even the most niche interests — he once built a whole tour around a passion for pens, including a private calligraphy workshop.
Experience this for yourself: This classic Japan tour hits all the country’s highlights, including Kyoto.
Ecuador: Galapagos & more with a cultural champion
I like to work with guides who are proud of Ecuador and can translate that enthusiasm to our visitors. The more visitors understand the country, the more they appreciate it: they’re Ecuador’s best advocates.
Who: Marjolein Rientjes
Years guiding: 21
Dutch by birth, Marjolein arranges tours of Ecuador’s Highlands, the Amazon, and the Galapagos led by guides she’s trained. She’s particularly skilled at delivering trips focused on very specific interests: once, she masterminded a four-week trip exploring orchids. The greater the challenge, the better for Marjolein — though she has a particular penchant for outdoor adventure activities.
Experience this for yourself: Visit Quito, one of South America’s best craft markets, and the Galapagos on this three-stage tour of Ecuador.
Cambodia: sunrise at Angkor Wat with a passionate emissary
I’m not shy about sharing my personal history and life experiences with visitors, and love to help them try authentic Khmer dishes. And, of course, show them our temples at Angkor Wat.
Who: Solin Aing
Years guiding: 21
Whether you’re interested in a picnic at dawn amid the temples of Angkor, cycling through the jungle, or meeting locals, a tour with Solin is the best way to understand Cambodia. She can enthrall you with stories about temple carvings, help you navigate crowds, and share recipes for authentic Khmer dishes, all with equal ease.
Experience this for yourself: Tour Angkor Wat on this trip of Cambodia’s cities and southern coast.
Historians & art enthusiasts
Visiting a museum or ancient ruin with a great guide — like our winners — can transform your whole experience. Their stories can provide the context that illuminates a painting or a solitary column, opening a window into a different culture or place.
Italy: la bella vita with an art historian
I always suggest combining a tour of a museum with a master class in an art technique, like fresco or mosaic. It gives you a chance to touch the art and develop a deeper understanding of what you just saw.
Who: Martina Gatti
Years guiding: 20
Martina focuses on ‘slow tourism’ — helping you take time to immerse yourself in Rome’s culture so you can relish the experience. Whether she’s teaching you about ancient mosaics or explaining the precise techniques of Renaissance painters, Martina embodies la bella vita and is happy to share her passion for art.
Experience this for yourself: Take a tour of Italy’s venerable art cities — Venice, Florence, and Rome.
Turkey: an ancient culture with an art authority
When I studied at the University of Marmara in Istanbul, I went into the old town at least once a week and soon discovered that my destiny was sharing my love for Turkish culture.
Who: Canan Tunçkanat
Years guiding: 16
Istanbul requires a special sort of guide to unravel the long skeins of the city’s history and its multi-layered modern culture. Canan is that guide. Her academic background in art history and archaeology, combined with a childhood spent exploring the ancient site of Ephesus, makes her uniquely suited for the task. We also love her warmth and enthusiasm for sharing Turkish culture and history.
Experience this for yourself: You can plunge into Turkey’s past on this tour of historic Turkey.
Ireland: Titanic’s last port of call with a historian
Don’t try to visit Cobh all in one day. Take time to experience a traditional Irish sing song, imbibe the smell of a turf fire, and taste the elixir of a triple-distilled Irish whiskey.
Who: Dr Michael Martin
Years guiding: 23
All our guides are experts, but Michael's credentials are exceptional — in addition to holding a doctorate in Irish history, he’s considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the Titanic and has written and lectured extensively about the doomed ship. Cobh was the Titanic’s last port of call, and Michael offers private tours based around the ship and the city.
Experience this for yourself: Spend time in Cobh on this wide-ranging driving tour of Ireland.
Egypt: storied sites with an Egyptologist
What do I love sharing most with visitors? Egypt’s history, of course, but also modern Egypt, and the food — I’m a cook, too.
Who: Mostafa Abd El Aziz Anwar
Years guiding: 10
Mostafa prides himself on keeping up with all the latest research and theories about ancient Egypt. His stories and knowledge not only bring the pyramids to life, but also the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities and the many sides of Cairo itself. He’s fluent in the city and all its complexity, as well as carrying a deep knowledge of the temple of Karnak in Luxor and Abu Simbel on Lake Nasser.
Experience this for yourself: This overland trip through Egypt takes in the country’s ancient highlights.
Passionate local experts
While many of our guides are experts in their specific fields, these winners are all-round experts in their destinations. We chose them for their exceptional depth and breadth of knowledge as well as their abiding passion for their countries. Also, we find them to be cheerful and exceptionally helpful.
Argentina: off the beaten track with a former farmer
My love for local culture, and the extreme differences between Argentina’s cities and its countryside, are something I try and bring visitors closer to.
Who: Raul Evaristo Zanotta
Years guiding: 16
Originally a greenhouse farmer, Raul moved to Salta in 2005, ready for a fresh start. He quickly established himself as one of the most knowledgeable guides in Northwest Argentina. His expertise in Argentina’s history, politics, and culture is deep-seated, and he continues to study. He’ll introduce you to the landscapes along Ruta 40 — the salt flats, renowned fossil sites, vineyards, and pre-Columbian ruins.
Experience this for yourself: Road-trip through lesser-known Argentina with this tour of the northwest.
New Zealand: the Māori community with one of its members
The best travel experiences are about exciting one's senses so I add a sixth sense — Wairua, which means spirituality or cultural point of difference.
Who: Ceillhe Sperath
Years guiding: 16
Ceillhe, a proud Māori with Irish ancestry, has been one of our most trusted guides for New Zealand for many years. We love her tours of Auckland with a focus on the city’s Māori heritage and identity. Her tours are about helping you form real-life connections to her culture. It’s for this reason she describes herself as a ‘host’, not just a guide.
Experience this for yourself: This New Zealand trip allows you to immerse yourself in Māori culture.
Myanmar: a glimpse of local life with a multi-time winner
Right now is a difficult time in Myanmar. We have challenges that have created even more difficulty than just the pandemic. When the time is right, visitors will be essential to the return to normal life.
Who: Hnin Le Khaing
Years guiding: 19
A multi-time winner of our annual guide awards, Hnin wins glowing praise from everyone who explores with her. She has a deep-rooted knowledge about every aspect of Myanmar, but we particularly love her enthusiasm and the care with which she treats visitors. She always takes the time to get to know you so she can adapt your visit to explore what you’ll find the most compelling.
Experience this for yourself: This highlights of Myanmar tour takes in the temples of Bagan, Inle lake, and Yangon.
Vietnam: history & food with a passionate storyteller
Prepare your heart for surprising things. I love to share our long history, especially the Vietnam War, but also the new view of our present and our future.
Who: Le Dinh Ngoc (Jade Lee)
Years guiding: 10
Better known to his guests as Jade Lee, Le Dinh’s unrestrained affection for Vietnam is as infectious as his smile. His generosity of spirit garners the most praise — he goes out of his way to create thoughtful tours that accommodate everyone’s needs and interests. He’s always thrilled to share his life story as a way of enhancing your understanding of his home country.
Experience this for yourself: This tour through the highlights of Vietnam includes time in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and a junk-boat tour of Halong Bay.
Croatia: Roman ruins with a history buff
That moment when visitors see laundry hanging on the windows of Gothic mansions or local people having their coffee in the middle of the Roman palace, surrounded by ancient Roman columns and temples — the look on their face is just precious.
Who: Ana Tomić
Years guiding: 12
All of our winning guides have received consistently glowing feedback, but Ana has garnered effusive praise from literally every guest and staff member who has ever taken a tour with her. Everyone praises her warmth and genuine pleasure in sharing her country’s history, as well as her deep knowledge of Croatia’s culture, especially its Roman history.
Experience this for yourself: Tour Split and Šibenik as part of this suggested Croatia itinerary that includes Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, and Zagreb.
Sri Lanka: the capital & the countryside with a photographer
Colombo is no longer only a gateway city. With jazz clubs, rooftop pubs, boutique shopping, and globally famous restaurants, it’s also a terrific spot to simply settle in and get a feel for local life.
Who: Unus Lebbe Nawfer
Years guiding: 31
One of our long-time driver-guides in Sri Lanka, Nawfer (as he’s known) is an expert birdwatcher who’s happy to share his knowledge about the country’s varied species. He’s also a passionate wildlife advocate and an accomplished photographer. In the end, however, it’s his warm personality that makes him one of our best-loved guides in Sri Lanka.
Experience this for yourself: Look for birds, leopards, and elephants on this suggested itinerary of Sri Lanka's wildlife highlights.
Mexico: from taqueria to pre-Columbian ruins with an accomplished scholar
I love taking people to a taqueria, and the whole sensory experience that entails: the smell, the atmosphere, the green and red sauce, the nopal cacti, all of it. We watch how the tacos are prepared and then eat them standing in the street, together.
Who: Sonia Waldo Licea
Years guiding: 33
Aztec pyramids, the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, church design, Moctezuma, and Mexican cuisine. These are just a smattering of the subjects that Sonia can help you explore. A scholar of Mexican history and culture, she’s passionate about showing you her country in all its rich complexity, and to give you a perspective on, ‘where we come from, and our way of being.’
Experience this for yourself: Visit Mexico City, Palenque, and Chichén Itzá on this classic itinerary through Mexico’s highlights.
We’ve always thought that one of the best ways to know a destination is through its food, and that’s reflected in our winners. From personal cooking lessons to walking food tours to a homestay on a spice plantation, these are people who can help you fall in love with their cuisines.
Greece: a traditional meal with a professional chef
I love sharing my passion for authentic, home-cooked Greek food with my guests. Offering dinners and cooking classes at my home is my way to say “welcome to my culture”.
Who: Michalis Stamatellis
Years teaching: 4
A charismatic professional chef, Michalis inherited his love for Greek cooking — along with his recipes — from his grandmother. Today, he shares that lifelong passion with visitors in Athens, giving cooking classes and demonstrations that end in an evening meal on his balcony overlooking the Parthenon. A class with him is the best introduction to Greek food and culture that we can imagine.
Experience this for yourself: Get to know Athens on this trip to Greece, which also explores ancient sites and the Peloponnese coast.
Italy: home-cooked lunch with a Michelin-trained nonna
For me, the cooking classes are an occasion to share recipes and pieces of my life with my guests. After the cooking class, we’re friends, because food is magic.
Who: Laura Niccolai
Years teaching: 33
Italy’s first woman to train as a Michelin chef, Laura combines technical expertise with a deep love of Sorrento’s traditional cuisine. She opens her home to teach visitors Italian cooking skills, from making fresh pasta to filleting the catch of the day. Many clients say the morning they spent cooking in Laura’s kitchen — and the lunch that followed — was the highlight of their visit.
Experience this for yourself: Study with Laura on this culinary tour of Italy.
India: an intimate homestay with two spice farmers
Dewalokam isn’t a destination most people know about, but we think sharing our corner of the world is an enriching experience and we encourage you to participate in all the activities on offer.
Who: Sinta Jose & A. J. Jose
Years hosting: 15
To really immerse yourself into Kerala’s culture, we love to spend several nights at Dewalokam, a homestay run by Sinta and Jose. The couple will share their meals with you, and they personally lead walking tours through the nearby village and the fragrant fields of the farm.
Experience this for yourself: Include a stay at Dewalokam on this Kerala trip, which also includes a cruise on a traditional rice barge.
South Africa: a vibrant food scene with a gourmet
My tour is more than a food tour — it’s a cultural immersion for a day. We use food as a language to start a conversation that reflects both the past and our city's current reality.
Who: Pam McOnie
Years guiding: 14
We can’t think of a better advocate for Cape Town’s food scene than Pam. She might take you to a lady on the corner who makes fresh samosas, and then on to an artisan coffee shop, followed by a Cape Malay curry house. On her tasting tours, you sample food in eateries you’d never experience on your own, and finish feeling you know Cape Town like a local.
Experience this for yourself: Sample Cape Town cuisine on this suggested South Africa itinerary.
Was this useful?