Our Tour Leaders
Exodus is incredibly proud of our diverse team of leaders across the globe and we invest a huge amount of time and effort into them. We believe that running a dynamic and structured leader training programme is a vital component of a desire to have the best leaders in the business running our trips.
Our leaders work in some of the most exciting places around the globe. Below they tell us a little about themselves and why they have the best job in the world.
Valerie Parkinson - Asia Base Manager
Many people dream of trekking in the magnificent Himalaya. But this is not an activity to be taken lightly. When it comes to turning that dream into a reality you want to be sure that you are in the hands of experts. Exodus is very fortunate to have many experienced leaders in the Himalaya, many of whom have benefited from training by Valerie Parkinson.
"I started working for Exodus in 1986 leading treks in Kashmir, Ladakh and Nepal. For the last 24 years I have spent my summers in Ladakh and autumn and spring in Nepal. My favourite areas are the Everest region of Nepal and Ladakh – I have led the ascent of Stok Kangri more than 20 times and I have spent at least 14 Christmas days trekking to Everest Base Camp."
To read Valerie's full story, please see her leader page
Balvinder Singh (Bali) - One of our local leaders from India
I am Balvinder Singh (nickname Bali), a Sikh Indian married man living in Delhi along with my family. I’ve been married eight years and have one son so far, who is 6 years old. I was born in 1974 and in 1996 I enrolled in a Travel and Tourism Course and simultaneously started a diploma course in French. In 1999, after leading French groups, I started to lead English groups with Exodus. Thereafter, it continued from season to season until 2001.
To read Bali's full story, please see his leader page
Ana Kunstek - One of our local leaders from Croatia
Born in Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb in 1973, Ana was always a keen sportswoman, playing handball, skiing, synchronised swimming and of course cycling. She has been leading groups for Exodus since 2007 and sees the role as much more than simply a job. She always has everything under control and is only happy once all of her group are satisfied with the trip. One of her hobbies is choir singing and she often practices during the trips she leads, even singing on some steep up hills when a bit of extra encouragement is needed!
She feels that leading cycling tours through her beautiful country must be the ultimate job.
To read Ana's full story, please see her leader page
Adnan al-Hamwi - One of our local leaders from Syria
I was born in Damascus, and have lived here all my life – actually, I hope to live here forever, “Inshallah”! I am lucky to have two beautiful daughters and a son. A graduate of Damascus University, I am a historian and writer. I have been a licensed guide with the Syrian Ministry of Tourism for over a decade, and have been leading tours for several years now. I am the author of three books, the latest a 850 page reference used by Syrian tour operators and tourist guides as well as students of tourism.I am devoted to my job as a tour leader with Exodus. I am always proud to welcome travelers to my country and I treat them as if they were members of my own family – and while they are here I take care of them 24 hours a day. Syria features many splendid sites; if I have to name a preferred place for Exodus travellers it would be Palmyra (Tadmour) – every traveller who comes here with me is impressed by the size and magnificence of this ancient Roman site. As a tour leader you experience some strange incidents ...
To read Adnan's full story, please see his leader page
Michael Asher - Britain's greatest desert explorer
Michael Asher who has travelled more than 17,000 miles by camel leads our Southern Morocco Camel Trek. A fluent speaker of several dialects of Arabic, he has lived for three years with a traditional Bedouin tribe. In 1987 he became the first person ever to cross the Sahara desert from west to east by camel and on foot - a journey of nine months and 4,500 miles. There is little that he does not know about the Sahara and the people that inhabit it. In short, he is the perfect guide for this type of expedition.
To read Michael's story, please see his leader page
Michael Asher will be leading for Exodus on the Southern Morocco Camel Trek (AMC) on 21 February, 10 October and 14 November 2010.
Ingrid Stengård - International Leader
I'm Ingrid Stengård from Finland but at the moment I spend most of my time in Norway and Sweden because I love the mountains and outdoor life there. Since 1997 I have been leading walking and trekking tours and skiing holidays for different companies in Scandinavia. The five last winters I have spent in Norway leading for Exodus. My Exodus base in Norway is Rondablikk except for a few weeks when I led from Kvitåvatn last winter. There have been quite a few trips so I can soon celebrate my 50th trip for Exodus.
To read Ingrid's story, please see her leader page
Matthew Lyimo: One of our local leaders for Kilimanjaro
I was born in 1975 and completed secondary education before attending a short tour guide course. My first work on Kili was in 1996 and I clearly remember my career development. I started working as a porter and was in some of the first Exodus groups in 2000 and 2001. On-the-job training improved my communication skills, and in 2003 I successfully passed my chief guide licence. I remember working with Jim Eite (now Exodus’ Head of Product) when Jim was leading Kili trips. I observed from Jim how important it is that the chief guide / leader is self-motivated at all times and takes responsibility for all aspects of the trek.
To read Matthew's story, please see his leader page
Karl Mather – International Leader
I am Karl Mather, a qualified International Mountain Leader (IML) and Mountain Bike Leader and have been working with Exodus for the past five years. Before this, I lectured in outdoor education and sport. I've been leading treks since I was in my early 20's but mainly as a volunteer. I must have led seventy trips for Exodus and enjoyed them all. I think that it's wonderful that Exodus is able to send me groups of such interesting people every week.
To read Karl's story, please see his leader page
Rattapoom Chanapim - One of our local leaders from Thailand
My name is Rattapoom Chanapim. My nickname is Bond. Why do I have the nickname Bond? This is because my father is a James Bond movie fan. I am from Chiang Rai, a city in the northeast of Thailand, 800 km from Bangkok. I have been working with Exodus for over six years. I have travelled to many different places around Thailand – sightseeing, trekking and cycling. Every tour from Exodus is good fun, and we have nice cultural experiences and enjoy the local food. If I have to choose only one Exodus trip, I would choose the 16-day ‘Trails of Thailand’ (Trip Code: AOD) trip, which includes Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Krabi beach. It’s a great combination of Thai culture, hilltribe trekking and beach relaxation. In January 2007 I had one of my best trips with Exodus.
To read Rattapoom's full story, please see his leader page
Pasang Sherpa - One of our local leaders from Nepal
Well the first time I went on a trek with Exodus clients was sixteen years ago. My Dad joined Exodus in 1988 for a British army expedition team climbing a mountain called Gejungkhang. I am very glad to be his son as he is the one who brought me into this field. I am 23 years old now so I was seven when I first trekked with my Dad with an Exodus group - I used to join my Dad on treks during the school holidays. I first got to the Everest Base Camp when I was nine years old. I suffered from altitude sickness but still managed to get to the base camp. I wasn’t working for Exodus until I was fourteen as I was like a client on trek before that. I was very well looked after being a son of a guide and the clients used to give me lots of sweets and play with me. But when I reached fourteen I joined Exodus as an Assistant Guide.
To read Pasang's full story, please see his leader page
Pablo Montalvo - One of our local leaders from Ecuador
My name is Pablo Montalvo. I have always loved the outdoors and began exploring the mountains of Ecuador and cycling as a boy. Since then, I have travelled throughout Ecuador and South America, climbing, trekking, and biking. I started my work as a Tour Leader 11 years ago in Ecuador, and I am passionate about it. I have guided more than 30 groups for Exodus - in Galapagos, the jungle, the highlands and the coast of Ecuador. Whether it is snorkelling with sharks and eagle rays or appreciating the landscapes and cultures, Exodus gives people fantastic opportunities. One of the many amazing experiences that I have had was on a recent trip to Galapagos with Exodus.
To read Pablo's full story, please see his leader page
Roshan Fernando - One of our local leaders from Sri Lanka
My name is Roshan Fernando. I was born in 1975 and in 1995 I completed a course at the Ceylon tourist board in order to obtain a licence to work as a National tourist guide lecturer. I have been working for Exodus since 1997 and in that time I have led 138 Exodus trips to date and have attended 4 Exodus training programmes.
I am proud to say that I was chosen as one of the best three Exodus leaders at the Exodus training programme in 2004, nominated for the Wanderlust Paul Morrison Guide of the Year Award in 2006 and I was awarded the Responsible tourism award in 2007 by Exodus for my work with a Tsunami project.
To read Roshan's full story, please see his leader page
To travel the world, rucksack on back, living day-to-day, never quite able to anticipate what experiences the day will bring. To see sights that you never imagined could be so beautiful, to speak to people that you may never have met otherwise and to share these experiences with others are just some of the reasons why I’m still so passionate about what I do.
To read Sara's full story, please see her leader page
Ashok Talashi, India Leader - Family Adventures
On family trips a lot of attention is given to the children, so it is vital for a leader to be able to interact well with kids. To help them get the most out of their holiday, it is important to explain everything in a fun, child-friendly way.
I try to entertain the children whilst also providing them with a genuine learning experience. It is satisfying to see their excitement as they explore new lands and discover different cultures.'
George Samire, Egypt leader - Family Adventures
With its intriguing past, wealth of cultural sights and relatively short flight time from the UK, Egypt is one of Exodus' most popular family holiday destinations.
I have a family of my own, so I am comfortable around young children and find it a pleasure to teach them about the history of Egypt. Most of them find it really captivating!'
José Miguel García Fraile – one of our leaders in Spain
I’ve been a mountaineering guide and climbing instructor for the past 20 years. I was born and brought up in Alicante where I did 4 years of English Studies at the university. I’ve been climbing and exploring the mountains of our area since I was a teenager. At the age of 23 I moved from the city to the small village of Sella (560 people!) where we run part of our trips, and where I developed my interest in climbing, putting up many new routes and developing the climbing areas of this popular place. I went on to set up a tour company with my business partner, and for the past 10 years I’ve lead most of the Sierra Aitana treks for Exodus. The itinerary takes place literally in the background of my house!
To read José's full story, please see his leader page
I am one of the Kilimanjaro old-timers. I was born in Marangu village at the base of Kilimanjaro in 1955 and my working life has been guiding on Kilimanjaro. I started leading trips in 1999 and I admit that at that time I was not as good a guide as I am now. This improvement is due to the regular training sessions that I’ve attended over the past 10 years.
To read Samuel's full story, please see his leader page
Lazaro De La Maza - Cuban Cycling Leader
“For me cycling is more than just a job. You learn how to enjoy every single part of it, from meeting local people by the road to pedalling between a mountain ranges and the Caribbean Sea on almost empty roads. If you really want to get to know the real Cuba get a bike, a helmet and let us know!”
Lazaro can be found leading our Cuban Highlights Ride.
Liz Proctor - International Cycling Leader
Liz personifies working in the outdoors – super fit, perma-enthusiasm (and perma-tan!) with a huge range of skills and attributes, Liz leads our mountain biking trips in Morocco (and numerous other trips in a wide range of exotic locations). She is an expert leader and is popular with clients and the local Berber support team alike.
Ammar Al-Satari - International Cycling Leader
“A keen cyclist since 1997, I ride both competitively and for leisure. I have been in Jordan’s national team for seven years, five of which I was the captain. Racing (and winning!) in various destinations across Europe and the Middle East really ignited the travel bug inside me.
I have been lucky enough to ride through a lot of countries around the world: Switzerland, Italy, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Thailand and Indonesia – to name just a few!
My main passion has always been cycling. But travelling is not far behind! I love seeing the world from my saddle, so the decision to become a cycling leader was an easy one. I love meeting new people, learning about other cultures and discovering new destinations – which makes being a cycling leader the perfect job for me!
Nowadays, in addition to working as a leader, I compete in cycling and triathlon events and I am currently the head coach of Jordan Triathlon National Team, working with the best triathletes in Jordan.”
Exodus Leader Awards - 2013
THE SHORTLIST - voting has now closed for 2013, 2014 opens voting opens in March!
From the nominations you sent in, we will compile a shortlist of the top ten Exodus tour leaders for 2013. A panel of widely travelled expert judges will then make the final decision, based on client votes, comments and feedback from the trips that they have led during the year.
Voting closed on 27 January 2013 and we announced the winners at the end of February 2014.