Duncan in Scotland, Mauricio in Patagonia, Heath in Tasmania, Jay in Wyoming, Ibrahim in Iran, George in Kenya. As we were planning this year’s “Tours of a Lifetime” feature, knowledgeable and yes, good-looking guides from my own past trips kept coming to mind.
I realized that the people whose job it is to show us their corners of the world and keep us safe are as integral to a great trip as the place itself. And yet we rarely consider guide quality when we choose a tour, so busy are we examining the itinerary to ensure it hits everything on the bucket list and looking up the hotels on TripAdvisor. But a World Heritage site or plush pillows don’t make a trip sublime. The guide is the X factor.
Here’s to the men and women who showed me how to tell wombat scat from wallaby poo; who explained the complex workings of an African termite colony; who told true tales of love and conquest in fifth-century B.C. Persia so that I was hanging on to every word; who taught my sons how to shoot an Amazonian blowgun; who literally stood between me and a hippo contemplating a charge. And who demonstrated time and again the ties that bind us all.
Our sixth annual “Tours of a Lifetime” highlights the world’s best guided trips– from India to Italy– that emphasize community and human interaction. Plus we profile 10 expert guides.