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Staff Stories: our tour managers reveal their wildest travel tales

We chat to seven of our tour managers about their most shocking, memorable, and downright hilarious moments abroad.

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People make Newmarket Holidays tours different. They add that little something extra. Of course, the people we refer to includes our customers, but also, our tour managers who have been bringing their local expertise, personality, and passion for travel to our tours since the beginning. For this reason, we have just launched a page to spotlight our tour managers

Recently, we got the opportunity to speak to some of our best tour managers around the world, everywhere from Kenya to Canada to Costa Rica. Having spent two, sometimes even three, decades travelling the world for work, they have unsurprisingly, seen some rather surprising things.

So, we have rounded up some of our favourite stories from our tour managers. Here are their wildest travel tales:

Carmel: hungry racoons and supine iguanas

Carmel has spent nearly three decades in the travel industry. She has led many of our Ireland tours, including Galway, Connemara & Ireland's Stunning West and Dublin and Ireland's Ancient East. While she’s an Irish girl at heart, one of her most memorable moments took place in the beautiful rainforested nation of Costa Rica.

“I had to share my balcony picnic with a racoon in Costa Rica. In this incredible country, I also got trapped inside a shop because a giant green iguana decided to lay across the doorway blocking my exit. This animal was more than six feet long, but it was quite harmless. Eventually, it was shooed away by the locals.”

Bonface: one crisp-loving creature

Nairobi-based Bonface has worked with us since late 2018 and has managed our Kenya safaris, including Kenya Grand Safari and Kenya Beach & Safari. He has the good fortune of spending a lot of time with the gentle giants of the wild, which is where all the fun began.

“While on tour in Lake Nakuru National Park, three giraffes came close to the Jeep. They were very curious, and as we were taking photos, one put its head inside the vehicle through the open roof! It was majestic and without hurry. It took a pack of crisps one guest was eating, threw them on the ground, and slowly walked away. This has never happened before nor is it something imaginable given that the giraffes are one shy and gentle mammal.”

Jeff: a Grecian winter wonderland

Jeff has been managing our Canada tours since 2002, taking customers on holidays including Canadian RockiesAlaska Cruise and The Canadian Rockies, and Niagara Falls to the Rockies. While he’s used to cold weather in his home city of Ottawa, he was not expecting it in the Greek Islands.

“My wildest travel story is when I was stuck for three days in a little village on the island of Crete because of a snowstorm.”

Julie: the accidental cowherd

Julie travelled all over, but she is particularly fond of the United States. During her 15 years of leading tours with us, she’s taken customers on trips including CaliforniaLas VegasSan FranciscoTexasNew Orleans, and New England. Her funniest travel moment involves her switching gears, from travel guide extraordinaire to something slightly more agricultural…

“Trying to herd cows back into a field to get a coach down a narrow lane.”

Carol: the stranded 55

Cheshire-based Carol has been a tour manager for three decades, having also spent time as a cruise director. She manages our local tours, including Scenic North Wales and Chester and Liverpool Beatles and Merseyside. For her, she can never forget that fateful day on September 11, 2001.

“The craziest thing that happened on tour happened during 9/11. My 55 Scottish passengers and I were stuck in San Francisco. There were no flights out for 10 days. When the skies finally re-opened, there were no seats available on any flight to the UK. I was told by the airline that they could not get us on a flight for another month. I soon realised that this was because I was looking for 55 seats. I decided to split us into smaller groups and to accompany them on a streetcar, down to the airline's office in the centre of San Francisco. There we had to join a long queue to obtain any available seats. Over a period of three days, I managed to get them all booked on flights leaving the following week and had to sort out accommodation for that period. It was quite stressful for everyone involved and a situation that was totally unexpected.”

Oscar: an easy mistake

Oscar is based in San José - the capital of Costa Rica - and has led our tours throughout the country for more than four years. His wildest travel moment happens to be something that a few of you might have done before (but would probably rather forget!).

"Left my passport three hours from the airport the evening before heading back home."

Anthony: the roof that whistled

Croydon-based Anthony has been with us for a decade. After a long career in hospitality, from being hospitality manager in a range of hotels to lecturing in tourism, he became a tour manager in 2011. He’s travelled all over the world, but one of his wildest travel moments happened right in the UK.

"On a trip to North Wales, the room I was allocated was on the top floor of the hotel. The hotel was on the seafront and the wind was whistling all night. It even raised the ceiling up and down!"

Curious to find out more about the people running our tours? Check out our new tour managers page.

Serena is a writer based in London. Born in Malaysia and raised in Australia, she calls the UK home despite only recently acclimatising to the dearth of sunshine. Her writing has appeared in The Independent, Business Insider, South China Morning Post, i-D, Refinery29, Glamour, Vox, Metro, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan. She has also published a book of aerial photography: How Women See The World. Throughout her decade-long career, Serena has told the stories of Arctic explorers, human rights activists, award-winning chefs, refugees, and the UK’s last lighthouse keepers.

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