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Our Team

our fabulous travel experts and local aficionados have been hand picked from around the globe.

SHARRON HICKMAN

FOUNDER EXCLUSIVE TOURS NZ

TOUR DIRECTOR/HOSTESS BREATHTAKING NEW ZEALAND

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After a successful career as a Draftswoman and Interior Decorator Sharron Hickman had a career change and in 1990 when she established Exclusive Tours Limited.    

New Zealand tours that Sharron plans and guides revolve around learning and discovery experiences.   Sharron is always on the lookout for new places to visit, impromptu stops, interesting people to meet, activities that get travellers outside their comfort zones etc.   She proudly says that the possibilities are endless in New Zealand!     As someone once said of her itineraries – “It is not what is included in the itineraries that make the difference – it the things that are not included in the itineraries that make the tours so different and exciting.”

Experience the difference with Sharron.

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FRANCESCA PAPI

FOUNDER FANTASTIC FLORENCE

TOUR GUIDE FLORENCE - ITALY

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Francesca is Florentine born and has been a private tour guide of Florence since 2008. After completing studies in Modern cultures and languages she originally worked on cruise ships until she decided that the time of restless traveling was over, and settled for her love of her hometown Florence and wanted others to see this beautiful city through the eyes of a local.

Francesca is always seeking to improve her knowledge and in the off season attends refresher courses to upgrade her quality of service. The last ones were on scientific museums, Florentine baroque painters, XX century art, medieval architecture in Tuscany, and the XIX century and the period when Florence was Italy’s capital city. There’s so much to know! This year she is attending History of Florence courses at the University of Florence to get her second degree in History. Francesca speaks English, Spanish, German and Italian (of course!). And because she enjoys a challenge she has just started a Hebrew Language course.

“I love being with people and getting to know other cultures and different customs. I am a passionate traveller. I think that traveling is always a mind-opening and enriching experience. I have a true passion for history, especially the history of my city. I believe that it is always possible to learn from the past. I am addicted to the Medici family saga, I love good wine, “croccantino” gelato (a crunchy cream…yummy!), and I am a real foodie… How could it be different living in Italy? You will go back home knowing that you will always have a friend in Florence!”

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KIRSTEN RØDSGAARD-MATHIESEN

Founder Mad Frog Productions

Tour Hostess/Guide & Journalist - New Zealand

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Kirsten is a multi-lingual cosmopolitan born and raised near Copenhagen, Denmark. Since her early teens she’s been exploring the world and has lived in London, Paris, Sevilla and New York. In 2002 she moved to New Zealand.

Kirsten has a B.A. in Journalism and has mainly worked in TV & print media. She is the author of Denmark’s bestselling guide book to New Zealand, as well as the awardwinning book on New Zealand wine, Passion, Pinot & Savvy.

In 2005 she added tour directing and guiding to her C.V. and hasn’t looked back since. She thoroughly enjoys sharing her vast knowledge of New Zealand with quality-seeking travellers. And although her favourite country is New Zealand, she also regularly leads group tours in other amazing countries like Australia, Japan and the USA.

Kirsten speaks English, Danish, French & Spanish and lives in sunny Nelson with her Kiwi husband. Her interests include art, architecture, design, reading, walking, swimming, food & wine, movies and writing scrabble, card games.

 

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MARINA AND STEFANIA (Mother & Daughter)

Owners 'Gioia Di Vivere Cooking School - Tuscany'

Vegan Chefs - Italy

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Marina and Stefania, mother and daughter, are the owners of ‘Gioia di Vivere Cooking School’ a no profit cultural association set in a warm and traditional tuscan farm surrounded by nature in Lucca town. Marina is a 40 years experienced chef of healthy and organic cuisine. From 1976 she studied vegetarian cooking techniques and few years later macrobiotic cuisine with Michio Kushi. Then Marina run three restaurants in three different italian cities. In 1992 she opened her cooking school Gioia di Vivere to teach the healthiest way to cook ingredients and how food significantly affects our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. From 20 years she focused on healthy vegan cuisine.

From 10 years Stefania is an official chef tutor in their cooking school. She became a popular foodblogger in 2014 with her blog cucinaconstefania.com, different from other foodblog, because it has no recipes but only suggestions for an happy dairy-free & vegan lifestyle. In 2015 after a long trip in New York and a food workshop in Firenze she began to promote Gioia di Vivere’s vegan classes in english version. In their cooking school only organic, seasonal, whole, balanced, fresh and delicious food exist and students learn the secrets of italian recipes in an healty balanced vegan version.

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Chelsea Gilson

Tour Curator and Hostess

MOROCCO AND PERU

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Chelsea was raised on a small piece of farmland right near Plymouth, MA. Whilst always adventurous, her passion for travel didn’t develop until college when a friend convinced her to study abroad. There, in Granada, Spain, she fell in love with the world and exploring other cultures. Each weekend they would take a trip to another city in Europe and always felt like her eyes couldn’t open wide enough to take it all in.

Returning to college, Chelsea finished a double major in Psychology and Spanish while starting a hobby travel blog to recount stories from Europe. After graduation, she moved west to California to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Chelsea has worked in casting, as an agent, as an actress.. but best of all, as a travel host! Hosting a road trip show for Weather Channel, a fun show for Travel Channel, and a few independent projects through South and Latin America.

Simultaneously, the blog had started a life of its own and she began consulting other companies and creating content for a number of publications and sites. When Chelsea isn’t traveling independently, she works on mastering new yoga moves and hiking with her two dogs.

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Rania Anwar

Tour Hostess

Jordan

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Rania is a Jordanian licensed tour guide and program director.

Rania is one of a very few female guides in Jordan. Rania loves her country and is a true host for Jordan.

Fascinated as well with the history, culture, religion and traditions, that gave her the passion to introduce it to her travelers. Beside talking about women’s empowerment
and rights in the Jordanian society.

Rania also showed a lot of interest with Cruise Ship Line and started several specialized courses to be a program director and tour leader in Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

What motivates Rania is that she likes meeting people from different cultures, to build a bridge of love and create the atmosphere of peace among people and lighting the spot and giving her travelers an experience with locals.

Rania is presence is delightful to be around, she loves to make others laugh and feel like they are part of her own family.

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Jordan Ashley

Founder of Souljourn Yoga

Yoga Instructor - India

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Jordan Ashley is the founder of Souljourn Yoga Foundation a non-profit dedicated to raising funds and awareness for girls education in developing countries through global yoga retreats.

Drawing on her experience of journalism, travel, and being a full time yoga teacher, she created Souljourn Yoga as an avenue for the practitioner who wants more than just “down dog” and to expand the need for equal education across the globe.

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Alyce Biddle

Community Manager, My Name is Kumar

Yoga Instructor - India

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Alyce has lived and worked in different countries around the world, including Mexico and India, she now calls the Northern UK city of Sheffield home. She has worked for the organisation My Name is Kumar – which works to educate children and empower begging communities in Tamil Nadu – since 2016, after spending time in India with the charity following the completion of her Yoga Teacher Training.

Since then she has worked alongside children and their families in order to increase access to education and alleviate the effects of poverty. She also teaches yoga part-time in Sheffield and is working on ways to bring the practice of yoga to groups of people who might not otherwise get to experience it. She finds joy in hiking, long distance cycling and communal vegan cooking.

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