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The best yet? Winning local guides and services 2011 Competition

Leap Local's winners "10 of the world's best local travel guides" in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/jun/19/world-top-10-local-travel-guides

The best yet? Winning local guides and services from our 2011 Competition

Due to the number and quality of entries this year, we decided to introduce different categories. These included expert guides, specialist guides, hostels, homestays,  drivers and porters.  Despite these categories, the judges were looking for the ‘plus’ element, where guides or services had gone beyond what was normally expected. We knew we wanted to award a minimum of six winners, but narrowing it down was becoming impossible. Fortunately our expert judges coped brilliantly with the tricky process of comparing a homestay with diving for scallops. In the end we all agreed there were not six, but ten worthy winners. 

In addition to these winners, the judge’s wanted to raise the profile of six other entries. These other entries had the potential to be winners, but needed more reviews, see more information here.

The Winners Revealed

Guides – in no particular order

Christian Calla Palomino Christian Calla Palomino - was born and raised in the Sacred Valley. His extensive knowledge of the region will more than satisfy all travellers. Whether your interest is archaeology, local customs, food or history; you will find Christian eager to share all that the Sacred Valley has to offer.

The whole trek was amazing…I would do a trek anytime with Christian!’ - Bradas Natascha

Christian was one of the most considerate guides I have met, judging when to let you take it in yourself, when to help you set the pace and taking obvious pleasure in showing you his beautiful country and culture.’ – Jacqui Chin


Daniel Gordillo Daniel Gordillo – Daniel is a great guide with unparalleled knowledge of Galapagos Islands and the flora and fauna. He is very friendly and enthusiastic, a guide for over 20 years, born and bred on the islands.

I had a wonderful experience in the Galapagos; made more enjoyable by having a guide who knows about the importance of customer service – and demonstrated that he could provide it.’ Brenda Spiller

 ‘From Lonesome George to the incense trees via Iguanas, Turtles, lava tunnels and the history of the islands he took care to make sure that we stayed safe and enjoyed learning about this wonderful part of the world.’ Helen Kelman


Jorge Riveros Jorge Riveros – Jorge is a freelance journalist based in Lima and a savvy guide to the city itself and its culinary circuit, including markets, restaurants and bars. He is also widely travelled in Peru and can guide you to the most popular destinations.

I spent few days with Jorge in Lima and I couldn't have dreamt of better company & guide’ Ania Wajcowicz

He gave fantastic recommendations for regions to visit, and the places to see and eat when there. My time in Peru would not have been the same without him.’ Eileen Roche 


Luisa Zea Luisa Zea – Luisa is from Guatemala City and now lives in Antigua. She offers a wide range of active tours throughout Guatemala: mountain biking, kayaking mangroves and Lake Atitlan, hiking, climbing, caving, experiencing lava up close and personal on active volcanoes and more.

As this forest was the home of the famous howler monkeys, it was even more fascinating to spend the day there. Luisa made it simply magic, we wouldn't have enjoyed it if she hadn't been with us.’ Omrane Fadhel

My experience of Luisa's guiding was outstanding. My tour in the footsteps of my great grandfather, who spent 1879 to 1881 studying insects in Guatemala, required unusual planning and visiting places not necessarily on the tourist track. Luisa handled all this extremely well.’ James Champion


Mardianes "Anes" Praliestyant Mardianes “Anes” Praliestyanto – Various guided tours throughout Java, and Indonesia (trekking, rafting, city tours) - see Anes's website for tour ideas, but note that he is usually willing to tailor any trip to the customer's interest.

The best guide we have ever had! My husband and I just returned from a fantastic trip with Anez in August.’ Jess Windram

Silvermaking and Batik course in Yogyakarta. Tasting delicious food in well chosen spots. A dawn trip to the Buddhist Borobodur temple and the Hindu temples of Prambanan after that. Seeing the hidden Waterpalace!’ Suzanne

Specialty Guide


Silvio Espinoza Silvio Espinoza - 65 year old active guide living in Paracas for 6 years. He has excellent English as he lived outside of Peru for 15 years e.g. graduated as a fishery engineer, MBA from Spain, skipper etc. Visit Reserva Nacional de Paracas for a day of diving for scallops and lunch.

Sincerely, that was a once in a lifetime experience and one of the highlights of my whole trip in Ecuador and Peru. Thanks Silvio.’ Lacey

A highlight for me was the abundance of Humbolt penguins but many of the birds were first in a lifetime sightings (lifers) for me. The boat drove close enough for amazing photos. There were over 200 seals, many with babies along one rocky beach. It was magical to watch them jostle for position while others played in the surf…We had a great day with Silvio and Jose…’ Greg

Drivers Plus – more than just a driver!


Alexey Drozdov Alexey Drozdov - Alexey is a driver (and interpreter) based in Kyrgyzstan, who can take you around the entire country and can arrange activities. When you travel across Kyrgyzstan with Alexey, you are amazed at how many people one person can know.

Alexey drives well on every kind of road and has good knowledge of mechanics which could be a great help in case of a mechanical problem (he had to repair 2 punctures which he did quickly).’ Jost

Laughter. Scenery, Insight. Travelling with Alexey is like travelling with an old friend who knows all the secrets of where he lives.’ Kirsten


Ronio Yupanqui Castillo Ronio Yupanqui Castillo - Roni speaks Spanish and Quechua. He can pick up in Cusco or other town (in the Sacred Valley in Peru) and take you to weaving villages up in the mountains or sightseeing.

He is a delightful companion for exploring the Sacred Valley. His car is immaculate, his driving skills excellent and his charm abundant!’ Rosemary Wilson

It was wonderful to find and make such a good friend in Roni. He salvaged our Peruvian trip and made it truly memorable.’ Marie


Accommodation Plus – more than a place to sleep!

Sonia Guzman Sonia Guzman - A homestay, Sonia has rooms available for longer term rent in her house in the old part of Ollantaytambo with a sunny patio. Great way to practise your Spanish. Her husband Ferdinand has a minibus that you can rent with driver for the day.

I stayed for a week with Sonia and her family and it was the richest experience I had while visiting Peru. The authentic Incan house along a cobblestone "calle" in the pueblo of Ollantaytambo has been her family home for generations… In the words of her charming husband, Ferdinando, Sonia is "very popular" and seems to be the Pacha Mamma for all the local women. She and Ferdinando are low key and wonderfully patient with my Italo-espanol and seemed to be interested in a wide range of subjects.’ Rosemary Wilson


Senor Raul Senor Raul - Sr. Raul helps visitors to Cuba to find local B&Bs and activities, helping you to organise your trip before or during your adventure.

Sr. Raul kept in contact with me throughout the trip, and helped me choose my itinerary of what places to visit and how long to stay in each place. He'd give me the name of a B&B in each city or town and made sure I had directions for getting there.’ Cindy

We booked our accommodation via Raul. He took care for everything! Correspondence before and after the trip was excellent and friendly. Raul was flexible and answered very fast and personally!’ Christian