Have you ever had a tour guide that wasn’t quite up to snuff? Whether you’re going on a 3-week or 3-hour tour, you rarely get to choose your guide. Yet, a tour guide can make or break a trip. Some are knowledgeable, courteous, helpful and pleasant. And some others… not so much.

Below are four personal stories of less-than-ideal travel guides I’ve encountered over the years.

The air head

During a whirlwind tour of Egypt (with a well known tour company), our tour leader was a British woman who turned out to be pretty useless. Not only did she seem more interested in flirting with the boat staff on our Nile cruise than assisting her own passengers, but she even encouraged us to go swim in the Nile. (I didn’t.)

The geographically-challenged

While on a camping trip in Namibia with another well known tour company, our tour leader kept reading us cultural and geographical information from a stack of printed notes as we travelled through the country. As if it wasn’t bad enough that she didn’t know that stuff without having to refer to her notes, she told us, as we were crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, that we were at 23.5 degrees of longitude south (instead of latitude). I was tempted to speak up but I let it pass. While she didn’t seem too academically gifted, she was very resourceful and could (with a few helpers) whip up a meal for 20 out of an expedition truck in the middle of an African semi-desert.

Expedition truck, Namibia

The touchy-feely dude

During a day trip to Fatehpur Sikri, an abandoned Mughal city in Northern India, local “guides” were offering their services for a small fee, so I hired one. Although he was informative, he started putting his hands on me when there really was no need, under the pretext of “steadying me”, or just while pointing at something in the distance. I concluded that he was touching me just because he figured he could. So I called him on it and asked him to stop, saying it made me uncomfortable. He played innocent, like he couldn’t possibly fathom why I would have a problem with that!

The born again Christian

While travelling on my own in South Africa, I joined a morning excursion with a local guide to see the flora in Fernkloof Nature Reserve near Hermanus. I was the only one on the “tour”. The guide knew a lot about the local plants, but as we approached the top of a low hill with beautiful views of the town and sea below, he suddenly started quoting scripture and summarizing gospels (proof here). Oh my. There was no stopping him. He said he had done “bad things” in the past, but now he had found Jesus. (Bad things? What bad things?) I could’t wait to shake him off. When he finally drove me back to my hotel, completely unaware of the creepy vibes he was giving off, he asked if I wanted to have lunch with him! Huh, no thank you.

Guide, Fernkloff Natural Reserve

(The featured photo on the home page and Facebook is actually of the Inca Trail in Peru. Our guide there wasn’t crazy, but climbing non-stop for five hours at altitudes over 3000 metres seemed a little crazy!)

Have you had any weird guide on your travels? Let us know in the comments.

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