What makes a great tour guide?
On my trip to Jordan, I gave a lot of thought to this question. I was there on the invitation of Jordan Tourism Board and because there was so much to see I was not traveling solo. I had a driver and a guide. Ahmed and Mahmoud.
While Ahmed taught me things as well – especially how to smoke a sheesha, (another story for another time), Mahmoud was my guide and an exceptional source of information.
Day one it was hard to tell the difference between Mahmoud and the typical tour guide. He was good but I was tired due to the 7 hour time change and not sleeping on the flight, so I saw nothing special. However, it didn't take long for his expertise and knowledge to reveal itself. It was soon clear to me that he was not run of the mill.
Mahmoud has a Bachelor of Arts in archeology. He is a resident of Petra where many generations of his family have lived. He has a passion for nature and credentials as a tour guide (which took a year of training after his degree and annual upgrades). This combined with over twenty years as a guide culminates in his:
- Deep knowledge on everything from archeology to Jordanian food and culture.
- The intuition and experience to provide enough depth of information on the right topic as per the interests of the person he is guiding.
- Excellent communication skills so that he delivers information in clear, linear packages.
- A passion for his country that he graciously extended to me as well as the school children and anyone else we met along the way.
- Patience when responding to questions that I'm sure made him question the education system in the west.
Mahmoud and I shared many hours in the car and many fabulous meals together discussing his country and the middle east in general. I discovered the antiquities and natural beauty of Jordan with him. I learned how to see and read the landscape – just a little. Rock formations, signs of water and petroglyphs tell stores. With his guidance, I was stunned by the wonder of Amman, Jerash, Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo and Madaba. I take the occasional tour when I travel but in most cases I travel independently. Mahmoud showed me the value of an exceptional guide.
To enjoy Mahmoud at work, watch this video of him explaining the mosaic map of the Holy Land that can be seen on a church floor in Madaba.
For solo travelers, Mahmoud also acted as a great camera man. You'll see his work when I share my time at the spice shop with you. 🙂 If you're going to Jordan, you can reach Mahmoud at email@example.com.
Want other perspectives on Jordan? Check out:
Canyonning Jordan, An Eco Adventure Thrill Ride by The Planet D
Faces of Jordan, Photos of Jordan by Inside the Travel Lab
I was a guest of Visit Jordan on this trip. They did not influence the experiences or opinions I have chosen to share on Solo Traveler.