If you’ve ever been on a guided tour, you know that the tour guide can easily make or break the whole experience. Bad ones can make the most interesting place seem incredibly boring, while others can literally make your year. If you’re looking for a truly amazing experience while traveling, consider booking with some of the best tour guides in the world, recommended by top travel bloggers!
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- North America
- South America
Monument Valley, Arizona, USA
Emily from Two Dusty Travelers
We will never forget the day we spent in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in Arizona with Navajo Spirit Tours. Most people recognize the iconic red sandstone rock formations of Monument Valley from famous Western movies, but few take the time to step off the beaten path there. Our tour took us behind the scenes to landmarks that visitors can’t visit unaccompanied, but it was our guide who made the experience truly special.
Larson Homer was raised in Monument Valley, and his connection to the history of the land and the culture of his people was evident in every word he spoke. He took us inside a hogan (a traditional Navajo dwelling just like the one he grew up in) and shared his deep knowledge of the significance of the structure and everything inside. Larson is also an avid photographer, and he thoughtfully helped us frame the perfect shot at each beautiful location we visited.
But the moment that sticks with us is when we took a break in the shade of a huge rock arch. Larson invited us to lean back against the walls and look up at the clear blue sky through the hole at the top. As the rock cooled us against the heat of the scorching summer day, Larson brought out a wooden flute and played a hauntingly beautiful tune that echoed off the walls of the arch. The moment stretched out forever even as we silently hoped it would never end. The only way to describe it is magical.
If, like most visitors, we had driven through Monument Valley and snapped a few photos from the road instead of spending the day with Larson, we would have completely missed the real significance of this place. Rock formations became icons wrapped in historical context, and the photos we took became treasured memories of an unexpected connection with a total stranger. Thanks to Larson, we left with a deeper understanding of and respect for the land and the Native Americans who call it home.
To book a tour, visit Navajo Spirit Tours’ website and make a reservation by phone or email.
Na Pali Coast, Hawaii, USA
Kiyoko from Footsteps of a Dreamer
I’ve had two truly amazing tour guides over the course of my travels… so I had to include both of them. The first was when we were in Kauai, Hawaii.
We had decided to visit the Na Pali Coast, known for it’s beautiful sea cliffs. After doing some research, we decided to go with the Na Pali Experience tour group. The Napali coast boat tours with the Na Pali Experience all include not only a tour of the entire Napali coastline, but they also go inside all of the sea caves as well as stop for an hour to allow visitors to go snorkeling.
We met at Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor, the Na Pali Experience’s launching point. There, we met the two other couples who would be joining us on our tour as well as Captain Nate, our captain and tour guide for the evening.
While we ferried over to where the tour of the Na Pali coast would actually begin, we chit-chatted with Captain Nate. As a native, he was very informed about the area, talking about the history, pointing out how the landscape had changed over time, and much more. In particular he would point out long red spots indented into the cliffs where waterfalls used to run.
Throughout the actual tour, Captain Nate was very professional and energetic, but at the same time he was easy going and down to earth. It was more like we had a knowledgeable friend with us, as opposed to a standard tour guide. Even now, he’ll check in with me and see how my adventures are going!
You can book this tour on the Na Pali Experience website. If you specifically want Captain Nate, I highly suggest giving them a call or sending them an email.
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Kiyoko from Footsteps of a Dreamer
The second tour guide who absolutely blew me out of the water was Victor from Ocean Tours in Mexico.
I had started the morning in a pretty sour mood because I had lost my underwater camera the day before. Victor, the tour guide, and Arturo, the van drive, picked us up at our hotel, and while we waiting for the other guest who would be joining us on the tour, I sat on my phone researching where I would be able to buy another underwater camera. Eventually, I found that there was a Walmart nearby where I could buy a new camera, but the website was all in Spanish and it didn’t show whether the camera was actually in stock.
When I explained the situation and the reason I was so salty to Victor, he was happy to act as my translator and call Walmart on my behalf to see if they had the camera available. I’ve never seen a tour guide go so out of their way to help one of their guests with something non-tour related. However, it was nothing to him. He actually looked at me with an expression like, “duh, you have a translator standing right here.”
Once we actually got started with the tour, we found that Victor was super personable, and really made an effort to get to know everybody who was in the group. When it came to visiting the different sights, we found that he was super knowledgeable, but also explained it in a way that made it fun, even if Mayan culture and history was at the top of your interests list.
Plus, he’d laugh, talk, and make jokes the whole way. For example, when we were in one of the souvenir shops before we went snorkeling, and he recommended that my boyfriend and I think about purchasing rash guard shirts so that we didn’t have to worry about getting sunburnt. I still remember what he said to my boyfriend, “No offense, but you a WHITE man.” Maybe it was one of those you-had-to-be-there-moments, but the way he said it was absolutely hilarious.
Sarah from A Social Nomad
The Real City Walking tour in Medellin is quite simply the best walking tour I’ve been on – and I take tours in every city that we travel to. The Real City Tour follows the free tour model very popular around the world, but it’s the superb guides that make this tour really, really special.
Our guide was Pablo. His attention to detail and to everyone’s names on the tour was immense – he not only memorized all our names but remembered and use this and snippets of information we gave him throughout the tour. That enough would be great, but combined with his delivery on the information about Medellin was nothing short of amazing. This tour is simply one of the best things to do in Medellin. Pablo combined a good and thorough overview of the history of Medellin and Colombia – starting with her founding, and covering the problems the city and the country had with the drugs trade. His personal stories were astounding and enthralling and really gave an aspect to a city tour that is often missing. His personal stories, related alongside the historical information and with a great overview of the psyche of the Colombian people kept everyone fully engaged throughout the 3-hour tour.
Not every tour guide can have a personal story as deeply moving as Pablo, nor have to tackle such deep topics that a tour of Medellin must, but this tour and Pablo’s delivery of the content and his stories is a truly special experience that you should go out of your way to experience.
Mt Mateo, Peru
Philip from Zen Travellers
Your guide definitely can make or break your experience which was the case for us while hiking in Huaraz, Peru. One of the first guided treks we did in Huaraz was the three-day Alkipo-Ishinca Trek and our guide was frankly, awful. The landscapes and scenery were amazing, but the guide managed to get lost on three separate occasions and even got chastised by the more experienced cook for going the wrong way.
In stark contrast was the trek that we booked afterwards to climb Mateo Peak. (Also in Huaraz) From the first moment when we sat down with Dario at Peruvian Classic Adventures, it was clear that the agency did business differently. We had only a couple of days left in Huaraz and we asked him to give us some recommendations aside from the standard day tours. He took the time to listen to us and recommend a couple of itineraries, all of which made sense based on our experience and time availability. We ultimately landed on joining an existing trek to Mount Mateo which worked out perfectly.
We met up with our guide, Agri early the next morning and he went over all of our equipment, ensuring that everything would be suitable for the glacier traverse required to summit the 5,165m mountain. As it was our first glacier traverse we were a little nervous and appreciated the time he took and attention to detail.
Once on the trail, he pointed out local flora, distant mountains, and explained the local culture as we walked through farmland and tiny villages. Agri was passionate about the mountains in his homeland and completely professional; he was everything we were looking for in a guide.
Our first night we were appreciative of the high-quality gear that Peruvian Classic Adventures rented out, especially given that a thick sleeping bag, thick mattress, and a four season tent are not common rentals in Huaraz.
The next day we headed towards the glacier and when we got there we stopped to put on our gear for glacier travel. Rather than rushing to reach the top Agri patiently helped us all put on our gear and explained how to travel safely on the glacier as a group. After a couple of hours, we made it to the summit which was the highest mountain we had ever summited at that point in time! Agri made the trip a memorable one and we appreciated his fantastic guiding skills.
You can book the tour by contacting Peruvian Classic Adventures in Huaraz, Peru.
The Pantanal, Brazil
Margarita from The Wildlife Diaries
When visiting such a remote and wild destination as the Brazilian Pantanal, it is always best to employ the services of a local guide. So, on a friend’s recommendation, we booked our Pantanal adventure with The Pantanal Trackers’ Julio André Monteiro locally known as Julinho, who absolutely made our trip.
Our main destination was the community of Porto Jofre, lying on the bank of Cuiaba river and recognized as the jaguar watching capital of the world. And to our utter amazement, we learned that it was Julinho who pioneered jaguar tourism on the river.
When Porto Jofre was just a small fishing community, Julinho, who already was a nature guide in the Pantanal, often spent his free time fishing on the river. And during these fishing trips, he realized that he was seeing more jaguars on the riverbanks than anywhere else in the Pantanal. But the sightings were very brief, the jaguars would flee at the first sound of a boat’s engine.
Captivated by the idea of being able to bring tourists to the river to show them the jaguars, Julinho spent the next five years learning the techniques for approaching the elusive cats. He changed his boat’s engine to a quieter one, and over the years habituated the jaguars to the sound of the boats and the sight of people. Eventually, he brought the first European eco-tourists to the river and successfully showed them the jaguars.
Today, jaguar tourism is a huge business in Porto Jofre, but Julinho likes to keep things simple and most importantly, respectful towards the animals. He has his own boat, which allowed us to explore the river independently and as a result, we had some private moments with the jaguars, while the tourist boats returned to the lodge during the middle of the day.
But it wasn’t all about the jaguars, of course. One day, we were invited by Julinho’s friend for a BBQ at his riverside farm. Meeting the people that live so close to the river cats that they regularly loose dogs and chickens to them, gave us a much deeper understanding of the place.
Another friend of Julinho’s we visited on the way back, has a bee-keeping farm and was happy to show us around his fascinating property and treated us to some delicious fresh honey.
Before we left the Pantanal, Julinho took us to the sky (yes, the man is also a pilot!) in a small plane for the bird’s eye view of the Pantanal. And at the end of our 10-day adventure, we felt like we were saying goodbye to a good friend.
Amber from Food And Drink Destinations
Spain has a regional cuisine. This means the food is different in the Basque Country from the food in Catalonia from the food in Andalusia. Any great food tour guide will help to explain what is truly local on a Spanish food tour. When looking for food tours in Spain, it’s important to find a company that focuses on the local specialties. This is just what Javi from Spain Food Sherpas in Malaga did during our tapas and market tour.
We live in Spain and I know a lot about Spanish cuisine. But, our Malaga food tour taught us so much about the uniqueness of the cuisine of Malaga. Javi took us on a tour of the local market and introduced us to some of the local vendors. He explained the differences between Jamon Iberico and Jamon Serrano, which are both produced in Andalusia. He took us to one of the oldest wine bars in the city to explain the differences between the various types of sherry and other Malaga wines produced in the area.
During the tour, we tried some of the best tapas in Malaga, including the most typical tapas of the area along with a few contemporary options. Javi answered all of my many, many questions, helped me with my Spanish language skills, and helped to educate us on the history of Malaga. This includes the story behind its unique cathedral and its most famous native son, Antonio Banderas. He did this all with an enthusiasm and excitement for his city and the food of his country.
Nadine from Le Long Weekend
When we were researching what we wanted to do on our holiday in Corsica, visiting the pristine hidden beaches of Corsica was high on our list. Initially, we thought we could drive there ourselves, but after assessing the first 50m of the long dirt road, we quickly realized this was a job that our trusty family station wagon was not up to.
We rang around and found Saleccia Off-Road could take us to Saleccia and Loto beaches via a 4×4 tour. Originally, we thought the tour was a means to an end, simply a way to get to the remote beaches, but it turned out to be the highlight of our trip thanks to our incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guide.
Sadly, I don’t remember his name, but he was a local Corsican, and he knew the rugged and mystical landscape of the désert des Agriates seemingly by heart. During the hour journey, he showed us many points of interest we would have otherwise missed, he explained the history of the desert and the island, and he expertly maneuvered the 4×4 down the treacherous track. It was by far the most enjoyable tour I’ve been on to date!
His passion for the island really shined through, and it was obvious he wasn’t just reciting the same old information. We were even a little disappointed when we reached the beach and it was time to say goodbye… But he left us in our little slice of paradise with a promise to come back and collect us 3 hours later, along with some advice on how to split our time between the two bucolic beaches. When it was time to pull ourselves away from the seaside, at least we knew we had an enjoyable ride back to the main road to look forward to.
To book your own tour to Saleccia and Loto beaches, contact Saleccia Off Road.
Maura from TravelKiwis
Our best guided tour experience was in the beautiful city of Porto in Portugal.
Traveling to any new travel destination, you always want to learn as much as you can about its history, the must-see places to visit and of course what food you should try. We wanted to get a first-hand experience of all the unique features of Porto. So, our choice for seeing the best of Porto was booking a guided tour with Free Tours Porto with Simply b.
We found the Porto tour through Freetour.com. We thought we had booked a standard guided tour of Porto. How wrong could we be?
Sandra was our tour guide of Porto. She was amazing, energetic, a gifted storyteller, talented singer, and an abundance of contagious enthusiasm. We loved our two-hour walking tour of Porto with Sandra.
The tour started inside the fabulous Sao Bento train station. Sandra made everyone feel welcome and got started with the history of Porto. Next was a story at the statue of the town crier who use to read the newspaper aloud — demonstrated by Sandra, remarkable.
And no surprises, it is Porto, the heavens opened, and we rushed underneath an awning. Feeling a little wet, Sandra didn’t miss a beat. She started to explain the history of Portuguese Fado music where songs are either a happy love or a tragedy.
And to explain more, Sandra started singing. Magical.
But her talents didn’t stop there. When Sandra saw the overcrowded Livraria Lello bookstore of JK Rowling fame, she purchased tickets for us to visit in the afternoon.
We stopped to sample a local food of Bacalhau (salted dried cod) with a delicious white port. Well, Porto is the city for Port wine. Sandra took us to Porto Welcome Centre (Tourist Information) for us to get even more information about what to see and do in Porto.
We were walking down the famous Flower Street to the River Duoro, the finishing place of our tour. With hugs from Sandra and suggestions of dishes to try for lunch and where to get the best value for money. Our best-ever guided tour was over.
Sandra gives 100% to her tours and makes you feel special for visiting her beautiful city of Porto.
Joanne from Sunsets and Roller Coasters
We’ve travelled to Europe quite often and in each new destination, we like to hire a local guide to get a true feel of the place. In Hungary we booked Timea from Budapest Jewish Walk and honestly, she is one of the best guides we’ve ever had. We reached out to her before our visit and she was responsive to all our questions while planning our visit and even helped with the translation for my daughter’s allergies. Timea is a teacher and guides when she isn’t teaching. She is truly amazing with kids, ensuring that they have fun and understand what they are experiencing during the tours. My three teens/preteens had such wonderful days with her.
We took two tours with Timea. The first was a five-hour walking tour of Budapest. If you can only do one tour in Budapest, this is it. We aren’t Jewish but really wanted the children to understand the history of the Jewish people in Budapest. Timea met us at our apartment and we first explored the Jewish Quarter. She not only explained history to us and the children but was able to tell us stories of experiences that she and her family faced during WWII and the Communist era in Budapest. We learned about the living conditions, the rules, and the ultimate impact that the Jewish population in Budapest faced during these times. It was incredible, touching, and totally unforgettable. Timea brought us to one of her favourite restaurants in the Jewish Quarter and helped us experience the Central Market Hall. She introduced us to her favourite treats which were amazing. At each location she asked questions to make sure that our food was safe considering our daughter’s allergies. She helped us purchase our transit passes and we explored Old Town and St. Istvan’s Basilica. Before she left for the day, she introduced us to one of her favourite ice cream shops which the kids loved.
Our second tour with Timea was to the Danube Bend area including the villages of Szentendre, Esztergom and Visegrád. It was an amazing day and since Timea and her family have a cottage on Szentendre Island, it was an area with which she was fully familiar. We explored the small nooks and crannies of each location, enjoying every minute. I would love to return to have Timea show us around other areas of Budapest and its surrounding areas. She is truly amazing!
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sinead from Map Made Memories
One of the best tour guides we have had on our family travels was a walking tour guide we met in the historic city of Mostar in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia Herzegovina. Sevko is a Mostar local and resident who runs his own company called Sheva Walking Tours. The company offers reasonably priced, multilingual, private tours of the classic sights of Mostar or a more in-depth tour which focuses on Mostar’s role in the wars of 1992-1995. Sevko also operates a hugely popular free walking tour. We did the free, two hour evening walking tour which explored key sites of Mostar, as well as lesser-known locations. The fascinating tour encompasses Mostar’s iconic Stari Most bridge, the old town and the beautiful Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque. The tour also crosses the Neretva River to visit the modern side of the city. Payment for the excellent tour is on a donation basis.
Sheva was entertaining and highly informative. He has extensive knowledge of his city’s history and culture and he engaged and kept the attention of our group for over two hours. Historical stories and facts were supplemented by personal anecdotes and memories. Even our three children were fully engaged the whole tour! Sheva delved into Mostar’s complex and traumatic recent past and his words were balanced, considered and emotional. He answered all and any questions. I felt it was a tour only a local who is passionate about his city and culture could give. Bookings can be made for these brilliant tours via Shevas Walking Tours on Facebook or via mostarfreewalkingtours.com.
Dagney from Cultura Obscura
Keen to discover as many of Tallinn’s dark tourism sites as possible in our short trip, the KGB Hotel Viru Museum was top of our list. We’re big fans of walking tours, but we don’t typically go on guided tours. However, you cannot visit the KGB Hotel Viru Museum any other way, so we sucked it up and booked our spot online. And we’re so glad we did because it ended up being the best tour we’ve ever been on, and the highlight of our trip to Tallinn.
Upon arriving at the Hotel Viru, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised to find we would have the tour entirely to ourselves. We were even happier when we met our guide, Pawel, a young Estonian with a strong handshake and a dry sense of humor.
Pawel directs us to an elevator and takes us to the top floor of the hotel. Once there, he says, “This is not real top floor. The top floor does not exist. Follow me, please.”
We follow Pawel around the corner to a locked metal gate. Pawel unlocks the gate and with that we enter the non-existent 23rd floor of the Hotel Viru. This infamous floor was used as a KGB radio center during the Soviet era, and enabled the KGB to spy on guests of the hotel.
Pawel regales us with tales of his childhood under communism and Soviet rule. He tells us scary stories of oppression, such as being interrogated for wearing jeans, or disappeared after a tipoff from a neighbor. Yet throughout he maintains a sense of humor, joking that perhaps the KGB were jealous of their fashion sense.
In the hour we spend with Pawel, he answers endless questions, provides awesome facts about the museum and makes us laugh out loud on more than one occasion.
If you are planning a trip to Tallinn, the KGB Hotel Viru Museum is a must. And if you’re lucky, you’ll also have Pawel as a tour guide!
St Petersburg, Russia
Bernadette from A Packed Life
We’re not really people to book tours, but when we found ourselves due to visit St Petersburg for two days, our mind started to fall off the edge of all the possibilities for the trip. Reaching out to fellow travelers, we had many recommendations for Alla Tours. So we booked up via their website for their two day Grand Tour. NOTE: The itinerary has been reorganized since we went, but the components of the two day trip are the same.
We were met by Anna and our driver Sergei, and the experience began. Every second was full of color, information, and spectacular sights making for a complete sensory overload. Our stops included the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Church on the Spilled Blood, the Tsars’ Village, a subway ride, a canal trip, the Hermitage, and a wonderful hydrofoil trip across the still and mirror-like Gulf of Finland.
I cannot begin to tell you how much got packed into the two days. But looking back on the number of photographs I took, I can verify that each of the 30000 steps per day was worthwhile. Throughout it all, Anna’s voice echoed through our earbuds, making sure we had a comprehensive understanding of what we were seeing and its relevance and impact. Little things stuck in my head. Peter the Great’s trick fountains at Peterhof, where Anna advised us of someone about to get a soaking. Hearing her sing under her breath when we stopped to listen to a band. The beautiful Delft stoves imported to warm Catherine’s Palace, as we all shuffled past in our Smurf-blue protective footwear. The need to duck – often and deeply – to avoid the bridges on the canal trip. All her words were delivered with humor and patience, and a steely determination that we got to see the best of the city. Not only did Anna guide us superbly, but she created an atmosphere where we bonded as a group of travelers, making the experience all the more vivid. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Flo from Yoga Wine Travel
The historic city of Ayutthaya was the second capital of Thailand, or what was once known as the Siamese Kingdom. Today, it is a sprawling complex of well-preserved temples, stupas or pagodas, and monasteries. As one of the world’s largest cities of its time and a major political, economic and religious center, Ayutthaya was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and is one of the most popular day trip destinations from Bangkok.
Last year, I toured the massive ancient city with TakeMeTour, a booking website that connects travelers with local Thai experts to learn about culture and insider secrets. My guide, Jareya, is a petite Thai woman from Ang Thong province (just north of Ayutthaya) who majored in tourism at university and leads daily tours to Ayutthaya. Though Jareya was soft-spoken, her explanations of the history of Thailand and Ayutthaya were colorful and in-depth, and she patiently waited for me to take photos at each of the sites. When I asked to stray from the itinerary slightly to visit one of the lesser-known temples in Ayutthaya, she was happy to re-arrange our schedule to accommodate my last-minute request.
As part of the tour, Jareya brought me to a Thai restaurant that only local people seem to know about – a hidden gem, if you will. We feasted on a selection of dishes including dried pork rib massaman curry, pad thai, tom kha gai, yum hua plee and topped it all off with homemade coconut ice cream served in a coconut shell. If you’re after a day of culture, history and delectable Thai food, look no further than the “See the Giant Buddhas of Ang Thong and Ayutthaya and Taste Classic Thai Food” tour with Jareya – you can book the tour on the TakeMeTour website. If you travel with Jareya, you don’t have to worry about transportation (or anything else, really), she’s an excellent driver and can pick you up in Bangkok and drive you from temple to temple (away from the scorching heat!) before dropping you back off again.
Everest Base Camp, Tibet
Annalisa from Travel Connect Experience
Having Tibet on your bucket list means that sooner or later you’ll have to look for the right travel agency that provides you travel permits and a guide to escort you for most of your travel time. Tourist regulations are clear: if you’re not a Chinese citizen, you need to apply for a Chinese tourist visa first, and then for permits to enter and visit the Tibetan autonomous region via an official travel agency. I usually travel independently, but Tibet was my dream destinations for years, and I decided to put aside my travel habits and book a tour.
The guide for our four-day tour of Lhasa was Kalsang Gyaltsen from Wonders of Tibet. I traveled with him in June 2018 and I felt very happy and blessed to have found the perfect guide for my dream destination. I felt totally at ease with Gyaltsen and the other few travelers in the group (I was traveling alone, and, in order to save some money, I had asked the agency to find me travel buddies.) The tour includes entrance tickets/permits and guidance for the main historical and cultural sites in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, like the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple (both Unesco heritage sites), and day-trips from Lhasa: Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery.
What I liked the most about the guide is that he was prepared on Tibetan Buddhism and history, his English was excellent, and he was friendly and shared a lot about how it feels to be a Tibetan nowadays. Gyaltsen also helped me when I was feeling sick from the altitude. The agency organizes tours and treks in many locations in Tibet.
Taryn from Happiest Outdoors
Before my trek to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal, I had never hired a guide before. I can’t believe how much of a difference having a guide made! My guide Chandra of Friendly Trekkers Adventure has a motto: come as a guest, leave as a friend. And he definitely made good on that promise with my group.
We didn’t have much time to organize our trek, so it was so helpful to have Chandra make all the arrangements. Before we even arrived in Nepal he organized trekking permits for all four of us, designed a custom 10-day itinerary, reserved hotel rooms, and booked us transport from the airport to the start of our trek, hours away.
Once we were on the trek, having Chandra along was so helpful to learn more about Nepali culture and the local environment. As we walked, he told us the name of each mountain and river and a little bit of about their history. Every day he taught us a few words of Nepali so we could chat with the locals.
He also made sure we learned a bit about the food grown on the farms we passed. When we ordered food at tea houses, Chandra made sure to point out which dishes included the foods we had seen growing. The highlight was a pizza made with local mushrooms a local family had picked that morning.
At the end of our trip, he invited us back to his house to meet his extended family. We enjoyed a home cooked meal expertly prepared by his teenage daughters, then helped them practice their English.
After hiking with Chandra, I recommend hiring a trekking guide in Nepal rather than going on your own. Chandra’s bright smile, friendly attitude and cultural commentary really made our trip to Annapurna Base Camp exceptional. If you want to book a trek in Nepal with Chandra, visit the Friendly Trekkers Adventure website.
Madhya Pradesh, India
Maria from Europe Up Close
If you want to see a tiger in India, you have to come to Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh. What makes this National Park so special? Two things: First, the park has one of the highest tiger densities of all Tiger Reserves in India, which increases your chances of spotting the coveted creature. And second: If you stay at Pugdundee Safari’s King’s Lodge, you will meet Naturalist and Assistant Manager Harpreet “Happy” Singh. This means, even if you should not spot a tiger, he will make sure you will still have an unforgettable experience during your safari at Bandhavgarh.
What makes Harpreet the best tiger safari guide?
1. His passion for wildlife, conservation and nature.
As a travel blogger, I have taken a lot of tours and to be honest, some tour guides had no motivation to make the tour fun, or even slightly entertaining. But Harpreet was different. You can see the passion for his job in his eyes. When he talks about Bandhavgarh, wildlife and conservation, his eyes light up and he gets excited like a kid in the candy store. He loves what he does and you can feel that.
2. His knowledge about the local wildlife, birds and fauna.
Before leading safaris, the Naturalists at Pugdundee Safari go through extensive training. They all know a great deal about the parks, the fauna and flora, have a trained eye to spot birds and wildlife and also about the history of the park, conservation practices in India and so on. Harpreet took this knowledge to the next level though. He had only been working at Bandhavgarh for a few weeks and I was on one of his fist safaris. Yet he could share so much in-depth information about the park’s terrain, the different tigers that lived there, how they tend to behave as well as interesting facts about the local tribes and history of the park.
3. His sense of humor.
Harpreet’s nickname is Happy and when you meet him, you know why. You will never see him without a smile. He radiates his happiness and it is impossible to not get infected by his good mood.
You can book this tour through King’s Lodge, a Pugdundee Safari lodge.
Leanne from The Globetrotter GP
I have had many tour guides having travelled extensively with both G Adventures and Intrepid Travel. There are many that stand out in my mind but I’d like to give a shout out to Zaf, my G Adventures tour guide in the Maldives.
I took a week-long Maldives dhoni cruise with G Adventures and had the absolute time of my life. Days spent sailing past tropical islands and reefs, exploring the Indian ocean in all of its various shades of blue. We swam with sharks and snorkelled with dolphins and ate dinner on a deserted beach lit up with candles.
From day one, my tour leader Zaf and our fabulous boat crew went above and beyond for us to make sure our trip was amazing. One guy lost his sunglasses on the ocean floor. Or guide hopped in and went free diving for over half an hour trying to find the sunglasses. When that didn’t work, the captain hopped on the dinghy, went to borrow dive equipment and rescued the glasses! Now THAT is service!
We joked that my tour leader Zaf saved my life and though we laughed about it, I was actually in a very risky situation. I had an equipment malfunction when diving (with an external company.) I started to float back to the surface at an alarming rate which is really dangerous. In just 5 seconds, I had ascended more than 4 metres! Knowing it was my first dive and I was nervous, Zaf came with us and stayed close to me. Thank god he did as he quickly spotted me in trouble and came to rescue me potentially saving me from a diving injury. This actually inspired him to become a diving teacher himself!
I am eternally grateful to both Zaf and the crew on my G Adventures trip for making our Maldives trip so amazing!
Rhianne from Wanderfully Living
Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. It’s so big that its roughly the same size as Hong Kong! The island is situated on the East Coast of Australia, about 15km off the coast of Hervey Bay and easily accessible by a ferry from here. It’s a great place for adventure-seekers and nature-lovers.
What I love most is that it’s natural beauty has been really well preserved, so much so that there are no sealed roads on the island at all and only one general store, a hostel, some dingos and nothing else. The beach is the road and the only way of getting about the island is by driving on the beach being careful to avoid driving during high tides. It is for this reason that you absolutely need a 4×4 to explore the wonders of Fraser Island. Since I had zero experience driving on sand and no access to a 4 wheel drive, I booked on the ‘Nomads Tag Along Tour’ which I booked in advance on the ‘Nomads’ website. The tag along part means that you drive in a convoy of 4 jeeps with the front jeep being driven by your experienced tour guide who in our case was called Dan.
Dan revealed to us pretty early on that this was only his third time guiding the trip and he was new on the job but he could have fooled us easily. When we got off the ferry at Fraser Island and started to maneuver the car on the sand it was evident that this would be trickier than I initially thought and there was a certain technique in order not to roll the car and seriously injure yourself. However driving on the beach was exhilarating and a totally new experience for me and most of the other people on my tour. Dan had explained everything beforehand but we had radios in the car to communicate between the vehicles and receive advice from Dan. Dan radioed us and explained that we would have to time our driving really well in order to avoid the waves that were crashing up the beach towards us. The tide was coming in quick and we had to make it to our hostel snappy or we would find ourselves in a sticky situation. Just that second, the car in front of us got a flat tire. We stopped and got out our cars as Dan quickly set to work trying to change the tire as the waves got nearer, threatening to crash right into the cars. He was sweating by the time he fixed the new tire to the car and we quickly jumped in and got moving.
The rest of our trip went very smoothly and it truly was the highlight of my East Coast trip. Dan astounded me with his in depth knowledge of the island and its ancient aboriginal history. He took us to some amazing off the beaten path spots that I would never have known about or been able to find had I done a self-guided tour. In the evenings he rallied our group of around 20 or so people, getting us involved in beer pong and other daft games that gave us all a laugh. By the time I left Fraser Island my belly was sore and the corners of my mouth hurt from smiling and laughing so much. I would definitely recommend Dan and The Nomads Tag Along tour to anyone else travelling the East Coast of Australia!
Andrea from Happy Days Travel Blog
Hamid Oumezdou, the Best Tour Guide in Morocco – if not the world!!
We recently completed an eighteen-day tour around Morocco with Intrepid. We traveled from Casablanca to Marrakech via the ancient medina in Fes, the snow-capped mountains of the High Atlas, the beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen, as well as many other amazing places. We traveled with a fantastic group of people from the four corners of the world and formed friendships which will surely endure. Throughout it all, we were accompanied by the best guide we’ve ever had, Hamid Oumezdou – or ‘Hammy’ as we came to know him, a nickname coined by our Antipodean friends on the trip.
What makes Hamid such a good guide?
Firstly, he is passionate about Morocco and incredibly knowledgeable about all aspects of his country’s culture, cuisine, people, politics, geography, and religion. Hamid wants his guests to understand and learn about Morocco, but he never overwhelms you with too much information. He is always ready to answer questions, but, when it comes to the logistics of the tour, he makes sure you are told everything you need to know, so no questions remain.
Since he has been a tour guide for several years now, he understands that some tourists may not be keen to spend several hours on a bus, or that others may not always dress appropriately. He ensures that nobody has to wait too long without a rest stop, and that no-one embarrasses themselves by showing too much flesh at a religious site!
Hamid is endlessly patient. He never so much as rolls his eyes when he is asked the same question for the fifth time in a day! He also has boundless energy. Hamid must have been so tired, particularly towards the end of our long trip, but he never gave us a hint of it. Plus, he understands people. When we were joined by a family for the second half of the trip, Hamid related just as well to their teenage children as he did to the rest of us.
Above all else, Hamid is a very funny guy! He entertained us with stories, and with his imitations of different English accents, especially Australian English. We laughed so much during the trip!
You don’t have to take my word for it when it comes to understanding what a great guide Hamid is. Earlier this year, he was chosen by Peak Travel, out of 1000 tour leaders worldwide, to be their ambassador. In this capacity, he travelled with just 25 other tour guides to the Intrepid Group Global Summit in Melbourne, Australia where he represented Morocco. It is a fitting tribute to him – I’m sure all of his past, present and future guests will agree!
Claudia from My Adventures Across The World
I met KD on my 8-day safari of Botswana with And Beyond, and I still can’t believe how lucky I was to have such an incredible guide. I immediately noticed that his badge said something like “tour guide of the year” and it didn’t take me long to understand why and how he got the title. He honestly is the best tour guide one may hope for, for a safari but even in general.
KD proved to be incredibly kind and helpful, always happy and ready to listen to guests requests and feedbacks. He is a great conversant, so each meal became a pleasant moment to discuss the sightings of the day, as well as issues of conservations and to get information about the following day. He has a very trained ear that allows him to identify the direction from which the sounds of animals may be coming, and an excellent eye to look for tracks and to follow them to find the animals for the best sightings.
KD is very knowledgeable in all things wildlife and environment, and is always ready to answer guests’ questions about an animal. I feel I have learned a wealth of information about the life of lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants and other animals that I wouldn’t have learned with a different guide.
More than anything else, KD is an incredibly kind person whose passion for wildlife is easily transmitted to his guests.