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The Paul Morrison Guide Award 2007



Paul Morrison Guide Awards heading

Maasai guide, Tanzania

The final shortlist for the Paul Morrison Guide of the Year Award has been announced – now's your chance to help us pick the winner

The contest for the title of Best Guide in the World is hotting up. In December we asked you to nominate the best guide with whom you’ve ever travelled – and you voted in your hundreds. You told us about your inspirational experiences with guides everywhere from South Africa to Romania to Mongolia. Narrowing down the nominations to a shortlist of six was tough, so commiserations to all the great guides who didn’t make it this time.

Now we need your help again. Many of you will have travelled with these guides, so we need to know whether you, too, consider them to be among the world’s best. Once we’ve received your comments, the judging panel (including Michael Palin and Bill Bryson) will lock themselves away to determine the overall winner based on your comments. The top guide will win a bursary of £5,000, while the top three will win gear goodies from Nomad Travel Store.

The results will be announced at a special event at the Royal Geographical Society on 4 October; details of how you can join us will be announced soon. You can also read about the winner in the November issue of Wanderlust.

Selwyn Davidowitz
Where he guides:
South Africa (especially in the Western Cape)
Booked through: www.ilovecapetown.com (independent)

Eight years ago Selwyn, then owner of a clothes factory, realised that he enjoyed showing friends around his native Cape Town so much that he wanted to do it on a professional basis. An independent guide, he creates personalised itineraries for his guests. He is heavily involved with the township of Kayamandi, where the foundation he founded funds two crèches. He also runs projects providing up to 250 children with fresh fruit in return for clearing up litter. Reader Mitchell Danzik was guided through the Western Cape for 12 days by Selwyn. He says: “Selwyn cares deeply about the underprivileged of South Africa. He is a fountain of knowledge, is very proud of his country and has a profound love for it. “Prior to arrival, I had injured my arm. Immediately, he took me to a hospital, arranged for treatment and tests, and got me in to see a specialist within a few minutes. By the time we arrived in South Africa we were already friends; by the time we left, we were family.”
Lenni Wynn comments: “It is a rare guide who can make all his clients feel as though being with them is something interesting and special to him, that he too is having a great time, but that is the way that Selwyn makes everyone feel.”

Dan Marin - guide in Romania

Danut 'Dan' Marin
Where he guides: Carpathian Mountains, Romania
Booked through: Exodus

Dan has lived near Zarnesti all his life. He left school at 14 and started work on a production line in an ammunition factory. In 2000 he took a wildlife-guiding course and has been working in the Piatra Craiului National Park area and the Danube Delta ever since. In 2003 he became involved in the Rowan Romanian Foundation, where he designs and carries out cultural and social programmes which benefit the long-stay psychiatric hospital and Roma communities in Zarnesti.
Elaine Powell and Mark Edwards met Dan in September 2006: “Dan’s passion for his country and its wildlife shone through. We felt honoured to gain a flavour of the real Romania: corruption, ethnic tensions, hidden orphanages and mental institutions.
“Dan and his wife actively support a local orphanage by collecting donations of food and money which are given directly to the children.”
Arthur Birch, who was on the same trip, adds: “Dan would know when someone in the group was struggling and would give them support and encouragement without making that person feel they were slowing the rest of the group down.”

Sameer Rathore - guide in Delhi, India

Sameer Rathore
Where he guides: Delhi, India
Booked through: Imaginative Traveller

On our shortlist for the second consecutive year, Sameer is a member of a Rajput royal family and was educated in India’s leading private school. He was a talented athlete but was forced to abandon his ambition to become a member of the Indian national team when he suffered a back injury overseas. Back in India, Sameer has worked as a tour guide since 2004.
Robert Poff was a member of one of Sameer’s groups in December 2006. He says: “Sameer was simply a magician, with cakes materialising for a wedding anniversary and a Christmas Eve party. He would secure tables at hard-to-book restaurants whenever the group would signal a desire at the last moment.
“He went beyond the call of duty when he stood in line for several hours for tickets to a Bollywood movie in India’s premier movie palace.
“It was through Sameer’s ambassadorship that we were able to experience the warmth of Indians and gain a fuller appreciation for the dizzying complexity of Indian culture. Sameer is a walking encyclopaedia of all things Indian.”
Diana Poff adds: “Sameer was the tour. We would have understood and noticed probably a mere 40% of the details had it not been for him.”

Mohamed Sebaiy - guide in Egypt

Mohamed 'Big Mo' Sebaiy
Where he guides: Egypt
Booked through: Peregrine Adventures

Originally from Zefta, a small city on the Nile delta, Big Mo moved to Cairo when he was seven and went on to study commerce at university. Five days into his job at a financial consultancy firm, he realised an office job was not for him – so he packed it in to work in tourism.
Larger than life in many ways, Big Mo should perhaps be renamed Mini Mo: he recently lost a remarkable 80kg as he felt that his weight was hindering his work. He has an unforgettable belly laugh and a huge personality, and has been working as a tour guide since 2000.
Tori Burns was deeply impressed by Mo’s professionalism: “Big Mo changed my life. He showed such balance between passions for his country, profession, clients and family that
I think of him every day, and speak about him often.”
Carrie and Gary Wienheimer admired Mo’s resourcefulness: “Mo has a knowledge base available on speed dial. When we commented on an interesting flower that Mo did not recognise, he took a picture of it with his cellphone and mailed it to a friend who responded within minutes with the name of the flower.”

Serle Chapman – guide in USA

Serle Chapman
Where he guides:
'Native America', USA
Booked through: Skedaddle Trails in the UK or direct at www.gonativeamerica.com

Serle is an accomplished author and photographer as well as a guide. He has written seven books about Native American history, art and culture. The Associated Press considers him ‘one of America’s fifty most influential writers’. Serle donated the first royalties he received to the Head Start programme in Martin, near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, helping disadvantaged children.
His ancestors include the famous frontier scout Amos Chapman and the ancient Kalderas.
Patricia Chadderton took a two-week tour with Serle. She says: “He is passionate about the lives and experiences of Native American peoples and no one could possibly be a member of the tour group without being deeply moved and influenced by his knowledge and insights.”
Rachel Hamilton has been visiting this region with Serle for the past eight years. She says: “Serle’s unique insight into the lives of the tribal leaders paints a dramatic picture. He tells you how it was: the pain and the suffering, the broken treaties and misunderstandings – explanations that are left out of the history books, not only from the Indian point of view but also from those of the soldiers and pioneers as well.”

Goyotsetseg Radnaabazar - guide in Mongolia

Goyotsetseg Radnaabazar
Where she guides: Mongolia
Booked through: Panoramic Journeys

Born in a small town in the Gobi Desert, Goyo worked hard at her English and was awarded a scholarship to study tourism at the University of Surrey.
A chess demon and proficient at several musical instruments, Goyo has also set up a fund supporting her mother’s tree-planting conservation project. Sophia Lawson who travelled with Goyo in 2005 says: “She could turn her hand to anything, from emptying a chemical loo in the middle of the Gobi to cooking and collecting wood. She would then put on her best clothes and show the guests around a site or accompany them to dinner.”
John Hemming was very impressed by her adaptable attitude: “She found us nice alternative accommodation when we were dumped from our hotel because of the arrival of the Japanese Prime Minister. She got us tickets to an outdoor performance of a Mongolian opera, but when (bored and cold) we wanted to leave in the middle, she did so without a murmur – even though she was enjoying it hugely.”
John Man, author of Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection, also rates her highly: “My own feeling is that she should instantly be made Mongolia’s Minister of Tourism and put the industry on a sound footing.”

Who gets your vote?

Have you travelled with any of these remarkable guides? If so, send us your experiences of them and let us know if you believe they merit the ultimate award. Equally, if you are meeting these memorable characters for the first time, tell us who strikes you as the best of a brilliant bunch. Michael Paling, Bill Bryson and the rest of the panel of judges will decide the final winner, and we’ll publish the results in our November issue.

Send your votes and opinions to: Wanderlust, Paul Morrison Guide Award [name of guide], 1 Leworth Place, Bachelors Acre, Windsor SL4 1EB, or email topguide@wanderlust.co.uk, writing the name of the guide in the subject field.

Closing date for submissions: 21 May 2007




19 July 2007
And then there were 3!


The Paul Morrison Guide Awards 2007

The final shortlist for the Paul Morrison Guide of the Year Award has been announced. 
Join us at a special event at London's Royal Geographical Society in October to meet the winner




Goyotsetseg Radnaabazar - guide in Mongolia

Dan Marin - guide in Romania

Goyotsetseg Radnaabazar

Selwyn Davidowitz

Danut 'Dan Marin


Awards & Reception – Thursday 4 October, 6.30pm, £12 (including a drink)
Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR

Join Bill Bryson and the Wanderlust team at this unique event honouring that unsung hero of travel – the tour guide. Discover who has won the Paul Morrison Guide Award, as nominated by the public and judged by Michael Palin, Bill Bryson and Wanderlust magazine. Special guests to be announced.


4 October 2007

The finals!










Selwyn Davidowitz, Goyotsetseg Radnaabazar, Lyn Hughes, Danut Marin and Bill Bryson


To see some of the letters of recommendation made by Selwyn's past visitors for the Paul Morrison Award click here.


Please click here to see Selwyn's Wanderlust awards trip report 

Please click here to listen to Selwyn being interviewed on CapeTalk radio

Please click here to listen to Selwyn being interviewed on SAFM radio
Please be aware this is a large file and could take a while to download before playing


Internet links to the 2007 Paul Morrison guide award


Wanderlust Magazine

Easier travel


Green Traveller

Exodus travel



Hotel Travel News



The Guardian

The Cape Times

You Tube - Bill Bryson & Manda Chisanga

You Tube - Goysetseg Radnaabazar

You tube - Gold Award winners


 You tube - Danut Marin

 You Tube Selwyn Davidowitz 1

 You Tube Selwyn Davidowitz 2