Leader Awards 2016
Your votes are in. We received over 2,000 nominations this year, each filled with anecdotes and stories about what made your trip so special, the difference your leader made to ensure you had the greatest adventure of your life.
We’ve gone through every single vote, collated the results and are proud to announce the winners of our Leader Awards 2016…
Justin Thomas and Marinella Bozzetti
WINNER: Justin Thomas
Born on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro, it was natural that the mountain became Justin’s place of work. He was a porter initially, but his eagerness to learn saw him qualify as a guide in 2010. He’s renowned for his strength, humour and endless enthusiasm – he’s a big hit with our travellers. Justin is the first of our Kilimanjaro leaders to win a Leader Award – congratulations JT!
What our travellers said: “Outstanding. From initial meeting to saying goodbye, I can say that Justin was a star – organised, motivated, engaging, and great fun. I’m thinking of sending my 2 boys to climb Kilimanjaro and would want them to climb with Justin.”
“The most enthusiastic person I have ever met! Safely got 15 laymen up the tallest mountain in Africa whilst keeping us entertained… Walking up the summit of Uhuru peak with JT and the other guides singing was one of the most magical experiences of my life and for that I cannot thank JT enough.”
What our judges said: “Justin’s incredible enthusiasm and energy helps so many customers achieve their dream of reaching the top of Kilimanjaro. And he received perfects scores from every single customer in their post-trip feedback!”
You’ll find Justin leading Kilimanjaro Climb – Lemosho Route
WINNER: Marinella Bozzetti
Marinella was born and raised in Puglia – the heel of Italy. She’s incredibly passionate about her homeland and loves to share it with her groups. Her bubbly personality, in-depth knowledge and organisational skills make her an exceptional leader – congratulations Marinella!
What our travellers said: “All of the Exodus leaders that I have met are simply inspirational, but Marinella is something else altogether! She is bursting with energy, humour, passion for her job, her region and the desire to share it with her “darrrrlings”! Nothing was too much trouble for her, and it felt like going on holiday with a really good friend. She is simply wonderful.”
“Marinella was a wonderful leader – full of enthusiasm, patience, good humour and energy. Her goal was to ensure that every rider had the best possible time! She mixed easily and confidently with all participants and always helped out if there was a problem. Marinella is the BEST!”
What our judges said: “We were totally won over by Marinella’s warmth and passion for her native region. Combined with her professionalism and skills in cycling and walking, she makes the perfect Exodus leader.”
You’ll find Marinella leading Cycling Puglia & Matera
WINNING LEADER TEAM
Sri Lanka: Roshan Fernando, Sujan Weerakoon, Suresh Bandera, Ruwan Balasooriya
Having four of our Sri Lankan leaders on the awards shortlist made choosing the Best Leader Team an easy task for the judges this year!
What our travellers said:
“Roshan took great care of our group and made this seem completely effortless. He is incredibly organised, friendly, approachable and always smiling. He gave us some fascinating and personal insights into his beautiful country, which he clearly has boundless enthusiasm for, even after so many years of leading tours.”
“Exodus prides itself on having the best leaders in the business, but Sujan was truly outstanding… His expert knowledge on his home country’s history, culture, flora and fauna was second only to his ability to adapt, multitask and lead. His dedication and commitment to the group having the best holiday possible is something I will remember above all else…”
“Suresh made this a wonderful adventure – his kindness and generosity and ability to make a very mixed group come together had an enormous impact on our enjoyment. He has a huge store of knowledge about his country and an infectious enthusiasm and sense of humour.”
“Ruwan was a fantastic guide to Sri Lanka, helping us get to know the country, its people, history and religions. This all enhanced our experience of the landscape and its wildlife with varied treks across the Highlands. I came back feeling that I experienced the real Sri Lanka and would highly recommend it to anyone…”
What our judges said: “To have four leaders from the same team on the awards shortlist is an outstanding achievement. Congratulations to our amazing Sri Lankan team!”
You’ll find Roshan leading our Discover Sri Lanka
You’ll find Sujan leading Highlands of Sri Lanka
You’ll find Suresh leading Cycle the Backroads of Sri Lanka
You’ll find Ruwan leading Tropical Island Wanderer Family Adventure
Leaders: Sara Bull, Roshan Fernando, Alvaro Saiz and Gele Bishokwarma
Exodus stalwart Sara is everything you want in a leader – exceptionally well-organised, knowledgeable and passionate about adventure. But it’s her warm-hearted nature and generosity that sees our customers nominating Sara in our Leader Awards every year.
What our travellers said: “Sara was tremendously good in all aspects of her job. Her organisation was superb with every I dotted and every T crossed – it all ran like clockwork. She looked after us so well providing sweets and biscuits on walks, baking us cakes and always going that extra mile, no pun intended! She is a very hard act to follow for our subsequent trips.”
What our judges said: “For her consistently outstanding work, and for featuring in our Leader Awards shortlist every single year for the 8 years we’ve be running them – well done Sara!”
You’ll find Sara leading: Walking in Tuscany
Roshan is one of our most experienced leaders; he won our Leader Awards back in 2010 and was initiated into our Hall of Fame in 2015 after being consistently shortlisted year after year. He has all the requisite skills of an amazing leader, coupled with a unrelenting passion for his island home.
What our travellers said: “This was our third trip with Exodus so we very much appreciate how well the tours are run. This year was no exception and Roshan amazed us with his widespread knowledge… He also proved to be incredibly professional at all times, whilst making every day fun and building a friendly rapport with every member of the group. We couldn’t believe the number of Exodus tours he has successfully completed and we also learnt that he was responsible for a group when the Tsunami devastated much of Sri Lanka. Along with the tour group who chose to remain for the duration of their stay, Roshan raised a great deal of money to help local families devastatingly affected at that time.”
What the judges said: “Well done to Roshan for delighting our customers on every trip he leads, as well as mentoring and training of such a formidable team of leaders.”
You’ll find Roshan leading our Discover Sri Lanka trip
Great to see Alvaro, one of last year’s winning leaders, featured in the shortlist for a fourth consecutive year. During 2016, he led no less than 22 trips in the Picos de Europa and his enthusiasm and love of his region show no sign of waning any time soon!
What our travellers said: “Always positive, hardworking, sociable, knowledgeable with good organisational and practical skills. A safe pair of hands. 10/10 – the best tour guide yet and this is our seventh Exodus trip.”
What our judges said: “After being one of last year’s overall winners, we had to recognise Alvaro again for making it on our Leaders Awards shortlist for a third year in a row.”
You’ll find Alvaro leading our Walking the Picos de Europa trip
Gele is without doubt one of our finest high altitude leaders. He started with Exodus as a porter in the Everest region a few years ago, but his hard work and determination quickly saw him progress to a mountain guide. Our travellers have a great fondness for Gele, commonly citing his ‘Positive Mountain Attitude’ and excellent sense of humour.
What our travellers said: “Gele was an amazing leader. He was on top of every single detail, from organisation, information to checking on our health constantly, giving us directions and advice and moreover, constant encouragement to the group. Many of us wouldn’t have made it to the end if he wasn’t there supporting us and giving us Positive Mountain Attitude!”
What our judges said: “In just a few years, Gele has worked his way up the ranks from being a porter to one of our most popular Nepali leaders. He works incredibly hard and his positive attitude is obviously much appreciated by our clients.”
You’ll find Gele leading Everest Base Camp Trek
Although he was not on the shortlist, Sukman was so instrumental to the success of our Nepal Earthquake Relief last year that we felt he deserved to be recognised for his hard work and dedication to his community. He played a huge role in the organisation and running of our 3-day Medical Camp in Thulopatel – the Nepali village that Sukman comes from and where his parents still live. Without his expert knowledge and hands-on approach, Exodus would have struggled to get vital aid to the remote Himalayan communities that so desperately needed it. Thanks to Sukman we were able to help thousands of Nepali people rebuild their lives after the devastating 2015 earthquake.
What our judges said: “While we were reviewing our leaders’ achievements in 2016, we had to mention Sukman who was instrumental in our post-earthquake work in Nepal. Not only is he a hugely popular leader, but he also works tirelessly to help his local community.”
You’ll find Sukman leading Everest Base Camp Trek
Congratulations to all our shortlisted leaders! Being shortlisted is a huge achievement and they all received multiple outstanding nominations.
Guillermo Sanchez who leads Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama
Lazaro de la Maza who leads A Taste of Cuba
Danh Nguyen who leads Cycling Vietnam
Suzy Hesselden who leads Walking The Amalfi Coast
Thank you for voting. Our Leader Awards are open for voting all year round.
To nominate a leader you loved for the awards, please fill out the nomination form here.
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