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KE's Leader of the Year 2024


The votes are in and it’s time to announce KE’s Leader of the Year for 2024. There are many elements which make an adventure unforgettable, but one of the most vital is a passionate guide. Each year we ask our travellers to tell us why their leader should be Leader of the Year. Without further ado, we are delighted to announce this year's shortlist and winner...



Rajendra Rai - Nepal

Rajendra Rai Photo 4

We have a fantastic team of leaders in Nepal who all get outstanding feedback and we’ve received many votes for our Nepali leaders in this year’s Leader of the Year competition. However, one Nepali leader stood out this year from all of our leaders worldwide, both from numbers of votes received and his customer feedback.

Rajendra ‘Raj’ Rai is originally from the Makalu region of eastern Nepal but now lives in Gorkha, the historic capital of Nepal, with his family. Raj has been leading KE groups in Nepal since 2011, although he has been leading trekking groups in Nepal for over 20 years. He’s a highly experienced leader and has led a wide variety of trips throughout Nepal for KE, with his favourite trips being the Gosainkund and Langtang Trek and the Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Sanctuary combination trek. In May 2024, Raj is scheduled to lead a KE Tenzing Hilary Everest Marathon group of runners to the start line at Everest Base Camp on, what will be, his 5th time leading this trip.

Congratulations to Raj, a deserving winner of this year’s Leader of the Year award and as a thank you, we'll be sending him £200 worth of equipment of his choice from Cotswold Outdoor. Here are just some of the fantastic comments Raj has received from happy KE customers this year.

“Raj has been the best guide/leader that I have ever had the pleasure to meet. He is SO caring, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He is such a lot of fun, has a phenomenal memory and made sure that each and every one of us was happy and safe. He really couldn’t do enough for us. He managed his team really well. They respected him and worked really hard for him. I really hope that he will be the guide when I go back to Nepal”

“Raj was an exceptional trip leader in all respects. We had evening updates on what to expect the following day, interesting information on Nepal, and always a steady and considered approach to each days trek. Raj and his team made sure we were all together on the trek and kept checking in that we were all doing well. I would heartily recommend Raj for any trek in the Nepal region.”

“Raj was absolutely brilliant and, as a first time trekker and first time in Nepal, gave me a lot of confidence. He was pleasant with a good sense of humour whilst maintaining a gentle but firm level of control on the trip. His setting of pace was just right to enable the party to achieve its goal without feeling over-stretched. His knowledge of flora and fauna was really good and helped to increase the interest in each days walking.”


Runners up

Tolga Kanik - Turkey

Tolga Kanik 02

Tolga has been working as a qualified tour guide in Turkey since 2001. As well as being a cultural guide, Tolga is also a mountain specialist with over 30 ascents of Mount Ararat and 25 ascents of Mount Kackar. Over the last year, Tolga has led a wide variety of KE trips including the Lycian Way, Trek the High Taurus and Cappadocia and our Active Family Lycian Coast holiday. His love of tour leading and of his native country shines through and is reflected in his feedback and the many votes he’s received for leader of the year.

“Tolga is not only an amazing guide, but a wonderful human, full of kindness, care and compassion. It’s not easy guiding such a large group on a walking holiday, all with different abilities and walking speeds, but he managed it with ease and kept everyone in our group happy. Nothing was ever too much trouble and we were always well informed. A fine ambassador for Turkey and KE.”

“Tolga was kind, informative and highly organised. He took all our worries and stresses away. He was so interesting to listen to and descriptive. His knowledge was highly impressive. Overall he made the holiday. Our kids loved him he should be voted tour guide of the year!”


This year’s shortlist features 2 leaders who work with KE groups in Patagonia. Both have received so many votes and such fantastic feedback that we had to include them both.

Natalia Grande - Patagonia

Photo Natalia Grande III

Natalia ‘Nati’ Grande is a qualified mountain leader who specialises in southern Patagonia. She’s based in El Calafate, Argentina and has been leading KE groups in Patagonia since 2022. Nati has worked a variety of jobs in the mountains such as glacier guiding in Iceland, managing a refuge in the Peruvian Andes, managing a mountain hut in the Italian Alps as well as guiding groups and managing a base camp on Aconcagua, Argentina. When not leading KE groups in Patagonia, Nati is a keen climber and skier. Here’s what some of the KE customers who travelled with Natalia in 2023 had to say:

“Nati was an outstanding guide. Nothing was too much trouble and without doubt she made the holiday very special for the group. She has great knowledge and a lovely sense of humour. She dealt with issues calmly and efficiently, inspiring confidence throughout.”

“Nati (Natalia) was amazing as a guide. Incredibly helpful and caring for the group. Her dedication to making sure we all had a good time was above and beyond what you would expect. She was always there for us checking we were ok. Also her deep knowledge of the environment and the areas we were in made the whole trip a pleasure.”


Luis Govetto - Patagonia

Luis Govetto Photo 2

Luis was born in the Argentinian Lake District town of Bariloche and has now settled in El Calafate. As a qualified mountain leader, Luis has been guiding groups in Patagonia for more than 20 years. Luis has guided in most of the national parks of Chile and Argentina, as well as leading expeditions to the northern and southern icefields. Luis has been working with KE groups in Patagonia for 2 years and has proved to be one of our most popular leaders. We’ll let Luis’ feedback do the talking:

“Luis was top notch and made sure we were well informed about the itinerary, what was coming up the next day, and very knowledgeable of the area. Luis went beyond the call of duty to make sure we were safe, informed and cared for. His love for the area and knowledge was evident in everything he did. KE hit a homerun with Luis Govetto.”

“Right from the start Luis was a true professional, caring for the group as a whole but also supporting each individual in a personal way. His knowledge of geology (glaciers in particular) was excellent and we learned a lot from him about their formation. When trekking he was constantly looking out for wildlife and fauna to widen our enjoyment and appreciation of the environment.”


Enekoiz Rodriguez - La Gomera, Canary Islands

Enekoiz Rodriguez

Enekoiz has been leading KE groups on the Canary Island of La Gomera since 2014. He was born on the island and after a period on mainland Spain studying and working, he returned to La Gomera to work as a walking guide. Enekoiz is passionate about sustainable tourism and has a deep knowledge of the history, flora and fauna of the island. Our clients tell us that everyone they meet on the island seems to know him and with him, a warm welcome is assured from all they meet. Enekoiz has always received outstanding feedback from KE clients who’ve travelled with him. Here’s a selection of his feedback from 2023:

“I’ve always had fantastic guides through KE but Ene was by far the best. He was insightful, enthusiastic and great company. The trip wouldn’t have been the same without him.”

“Enekoiz was highly knowledgeable & passionate about La Gomera, his ancestral family home, and very keen to share his wealth of experience with the group. Also very supportive and sensitive to any individual issues. In short, the perfect guide!”

 Would you like to travel with one of these incredible leaders on a KE Adventure, or find out more about one of these trips? Call us on +44 (0) 17687 73966 or US/Canada toll-free 1 888 630 4415

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