Top Ten

TOP TEN TOUR DIRECTORS

In our over 90 Tour Director guided trips we have learned, as most travelers would agree, that the success of any trip is contingent or dependent on the individual leading the trip. The travel company, the lodgings, the activity schedule, and the pace are all important but all can be maximized by a GREAT tour director.

As we pursue our travels we will continue to evaluate Tour Directors for their companies and we will reevaluate our list of Top Ten.

Our Top Ten List is in Alphabetical Order

Barikiel J Bee

2009

Best of Kenya & Tanzania

Overseas Adventure Travel

Barikie not only loaded the luggage, drove the Safari van, spotted animals and birds at amazing distances, but he was also one of the most personable Tour Directors we have had the privilege to travel with over the years. His bright smile and positive outlook helped the group to bond together. He led our safari with expertise.

Barikie was very organized and got us up early to take advantage of the best times for spotting the maximum numbers of animals. He worked exceptionally well with our other Driver Guide and together they shared the responsibilities of our African adventure. We even had opportunities to meet local tribesmen, as Barikie seemed to know everyone in both Kenya and Tanzania.

Meltem Çiftçi

2006

Turkey's Magical Hideaway

Overseas Adventure Travel

Right from the beginning of our Turkey adventure, Meltem made sure our calendar coincided with the sites in the city of Istanbul. We arrived on a Sunday and she immediately changed our itinerary to make sure we were able to visit museums that were open and would be closed if we were to visit them on Monday.

In addition to her extensive knowledge of her country's history, Meltem provided us with many sides of the current controversial issues facing Turkey and its citizens in the present.

Our adventure in this ancient land took us to several different locations and countless opportunities for excellent photography. Meltem was a celebrated photographer herself and planned our daily schedule to take advantage of the sunlight and shadows.

This trip was one of our most active as we climbed mountains, explored caves, and discovered ancient ruins. Keeping up with Meltem was a challenge we welcomed!

Le Van Cuong

2012

Vietnam - Ethnic People of the Border

Myths and Mountains

Upon our arrival in Vietnam, Coung took charge of everything; immigration and customs. We started our days early and finished late - at least 10+ hour days and they were full days. His presentation technique was such that we could hear him in the 9-passenger van - facing us and speaking loudly.

He used his discretionary funds for water, soda, treats and the delicacies of Vietnam. He carried a camera and he took photos of us that he shared at the end of the trip.

He introduced us to everyone - young and old, war veterans, and working men and women but he kept the vendors away from us. Cuong never passed up the opportunity to explain how and why certain aspects were important to the evolving Vietnam.

Eva Eggar

2010

Highlights of Eastern Europe

Trafalgar Tours

Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, & Germany

One of the most organized and structured tour directors we have ever traveled with, Eva was a dynamic and passionate representative of her country, Poland. In the welcome meeting Eva reminded us of specific courtesies of traveling in a large group on the motor coach. This set the tone for timely departures and more considerate travelers.

Her knowledge and history of the area were evident in her lectures on the bus as well as the daily tours of Eastern Europe. She was particularly willing to give us insights into the current political and social opinions of the citizens of these war torn countries.

Shahinaz El Afini

2004

Eternal Nile, Egypt

Overseas Adventure Travel

What a delightful and organized Tour Director! Our trip to Egypt was one of our most extraordinary because of Shahinaz's expertise in Anthropology and Egyptology. Having earned two Master's Degrees, she gave us historical facts and figures covering thousands of years of Egyptian Dynasties without notes!

Because of a difficult travel companion, she had to deal with an ugly personality as well as to keep all of us on time and on schedule. Her ability to be professional and personal kept us all intrigued with each day's activities. We were up early and out late covering many more of Egypt's highlights that were not normally included in the OAT itinerary.

Laura Fernandez

2012

Barcelona and Northern Spain

Go Ahead Tours

From our first meeting we were greeted with a smiling, welcoming, and friendly demeanor that put everyone at ease. She worked too hard to make sure, throughout the trip, that we all had working electronic listening devices that did not function well.

In every city we visited she introduced us to city tour guide and then accompanied us on the every city tour. Many guides choose not to do this. She helped keep our group of 40+ people together. Laura is only the second Tour Director in all our tours that would face the group when she presented her material. We would drive in a large bus for hundreds of kilometers and she would be facing us and presenting.

She went out of her way to provide little things for the group. One was a cheese cake like dessert for the group on the bus as we went down the road. Another day she brought a local liqueur and cookies for those of us on the bus. She even had the glasses to serve the beverage! Then on the last day, she gave all of us a special pin that signified the Peregrinos and their trek to Santiago de Compostela.

Michel Rainglas

2005

Best Of Burgundy, France

Overseas Adventure Travel

Michel greeted us as we arrived in Paris and volunteered to show us a little of this beautiful city. During our welcome meeting he asked if any of us had been to France before. Several members reflected that they had been there during World War II as part of Allied Forces. Michel stood, shook hands, and thanked each of them for the service they gave to France.

On the boat Burgundy Canal boat he interfaced with the crew and cook to make our trip seamless. He took the time to show us out of the way places, introduced us to the people, and found little places for us to visit that were not on the schedule.

At the end of the trip he helped Gennie and me get to Paris and gave us special directions to the city.

Eddie Recio

2005 & 2012

Affordable Costa Rica

Overseas Adventure Travel

Costa Rica: National Parks & Tropical Forests

Eddie has been the tour director for our two trips to Costa Rica. The first in 2005 was great as Eddie has a true love of his country and desires to show all his travelers its beauty. Knowing he would do the National Parks trip convinced us to travel with him again.

He was always there to help us out, went to the hospital with sick travelers in the early morning hours and was a true trouble shooter. As we traveled in the mini-bus he sat on the engine cowling and faced us whenever he spoke.

He educated all his passengers on the history, economics, politics, social and domestic issues of Costa Rica. His degree in agriculture was a benefit to all of us.

Ran Tzabar

2010

Israel - The Holy Land and Timeless Cultures

Overseas Adventure Travel

Ran Tzabar did a wonderful job of keeping to a very demanding schedule. He was professional, always knew the OAT guidelines, interacted with the group on all issues - politics, religions, local aspects, travel requirements, etc.

He took us to the Wailing Wall early in the morning and we avoided the immense lines we saw when we left at 9 AM. There were difficult situations during the trip where his expertise solved many problems.

Ran introduced us to his brother and his nephew and later in the trip to a military friend and his family. These two experiences further enhanced our knowledge and acquaintance of the people of Israel.

He had us meet the Orthodox Jews and had a knowledgeable Palestinian speak and discuss life with us. He also introduced us to American émigrés who had resettled in Israel and their contribution.

Phuntsho Wangdi

2019

Bhutan - Hidden Kingdom Of The Himalayas

Overseas Adventure Travel

Young, enthusiastic, and animated, Phuntsho Wangdi was our Overseas Adventure Travel tour director for the Bhutan - Hidden Kingdom Of The Himalayas.

From the first time he welcomed us at the airport in Paro, we knew we were in capable hands for this adventure as he called each of us by our name. Our quest is always to meet the real people in the countries we visit and to get to know about the lives of the people in Bhutan. On our drive to the capital city we had a special opportunity to visit Yenten, our bus driver's home, and learn about the early family ritual to the god of long life. We were welcomed with a white scarf as a sign of hospitality by the Buddhist monk conducting the two-day ceremonies.

Every day we met new Bhutanese people, monks, students, farmers, shop keepers, bar owners, taxi drivers, school teachers and administrators, home builders, little boy monks, and nuns. He was not shy about walking up to people on the street and asking if they would mind spending a few minutes talking with us.

Wangdi had the greatest leadership skills of any trip leader we have had in the recent past. He handled itinerary changes efficiently and effectively and made each of the 14 of us feel like he was helping us exclusively. Although he gave us all individual attention, he made sure we all bonded as a group.

Bhutan is known for its "gross national happiness" and Wangdi made sure we relished experiences that demonstrated the country's reputation. We saw an archery competition, ate roadside foods of dumplings and roasted corn, soaked in a hot stone bath, and enjoyed the music and dancing of his native culture.

Always the teacher, Wangdi made sure we learned the true Buddhist principles of the country's religion that focus on compassion, contentment and calmness. In preparation for the trek to the Tiger's Nest Monastery, Wangdi acclimated us by taking us on longer hikes at higher altitudes over the days leading up to our climactic ascent on the iconic trail.

With his youth, energy, and his great sense of humor, Wangdi was truly one of our all time top ten tour directors. Wangdi made Bhutan come alive for us and will remain a fond memory of the Bhutan - Hidden Kingdom Of The Himalayas.

  Featured Journal

Day 2: Goat Cave Karst Nature Preserve


The Preserve was set aside to buffer some of the ecologically sensitive karsts in the area from encroaching neighborhoods. Karsts are caves that feed directly into the Edwards Aquifer below ground.

Because the three caves can be dangerous to hikers and nonprofessional spelunkers, they are...

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