Wanderlust, the go-to magazine for independently minded travellers, has announced the winners of its annual World Guide Awards for 2017. This year saw Khalid Lamlih, a Moroccan guide who grew up in the Atlas Mountains, clinch first place at the ceremony at London's Royal Geographical Society on Thursday 5 October 2017, receiving his Gold Award from legendary travel writer Bill Bryson.

These awards, now in their 12th year, recognise the world's best tour guides and honour these far too often unsung heroes of the travel industry, as voted for by Wanderlust readers, intrepid explorers, and a range of knowledgeable and experienced judges.

Moroccan born Khalid Lamlih has had a passion for both travel and tour guiding since he was very young. Before he began his successful 10-year career as a tour guide, Khalid formed a symbiotic relationship with other tour-leaders; he would act as their sidekick, helping them out in any way he could, whilst gaining the knowledge, passion and enthusiasm he shares with his groups today.

New-Zealand born Hayley Shephard received the Silver Award. Her family moved to British Colombia, Canada when she was growing up and here she became an outdoors education teacher before she found her true calling – guiding in Antarctica. Meanwhile, Dinesh KC's desire and dedication to sharing his love for his native Nepal over the past decade has been rewarded with the Bronze Award.

Thousands of unforgettable and caring guides who went above and beyond for their travel clients were nominated this year, making it tough job for the winners to be chosen.

The industry-experts who judged this year's awards include: Wanderlust co-founder and editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes; experienced wilderness and adventure guide Myles Farnbank; travel industry gurus Mandy Nickerson and Derek Moore, and Gill Russell from Craghoppers UK – this year's sponsor. At the ceremony, they were also joined by special guests and previous judges, legendary travel Writer Bill Bryson and author, photographer and TV wildlife expert, Mark Carwardine.

The winning guides all receive a generous bursary donated by Craghoppers to put towards community projects and charities of their choice. Swarovski Optik and Powertraveller also provided some additional prizes for the winners.

Wanderlust co-founder and judge, Lyn Hughes, stated, “Every time the judges and I come together, we spend hours smiling and being inspired by the bucket load of anecdotes and testimonials that have been sent in by readers.”

“It never gets any easier to narrow such an incredible list down to just three. And then, picking an overall winner is even trickier still! As always, though, these accolades only serve to utterly convince me of their importance in making your experience one that's extremely special.”

Many comments made by Wanderlust readers and Khalid's past clients which truly convinced the judges that he deserved this year's Gold Award. He was nominated for reasons such as “he went out of his way on several occasions to provide different options and activities. He was also a great storyteller and great fun” and “when I think of Morocco, I think of Khalid. He cared for us like a kind father cares for his family, creating life long memories”.