Tips for choosing a tour guide in Belize

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I am a strong advocate for hiring a local guide whenever travelling. Guides have a wealth of knowledge of the destination and are trained to spot things that you would miss. When it comes to choosing a tour guide in Belize, it’s easy, being certain that you’ve selected the best possible guide is a different story. This is because with the rise of tourism, and lack of jobs in other industries, more and more people are deciding to become guides but truthfully, not all of them have the passion and drive to be exceptional at their jobs. And as my job to educate you on Belize, I will offer you a few tips that can assist you in picking the right Belizean guide.

Tour operator or free-lance guide

Tour operators usually charge more for tours but you can find deals when booking as a group. Many of the best guides are usually under their employment since they offer a steady salary.

You can find free-lance guides while walking the streets or at sites. These guides are typically cheaper to hire but you must ask about their reputation. Do note that some of the guides who work for tour operators might also work free-lance.

Experience

Ask for the guide’s background and how long they have worked in the industry. It is also very important to ask if they specialize in a particular area. Although many guides have a vast knowledge of all of Belize (since it’s such a small country), if they regularly do fishing tours, for example, that will be their forte, and not something like Maya Archaeology or wildlife and jungle treks.

Likeability

You choose to spend time with friends because they are fun to be around, it should be the same with your guide. On your travels you make memorable experiences and the people you encounter help shape them. First you need find a knowledgeable guide and then seek out someone who is also always smiling and loves to crack jokes. By the end of your stay, you’ll want to adopt him/ her.

Reputation

This one should be common sense. Ask around about your guide or tour operator and search online to see if they don’t have any bad press. I do ask that you be critical of what you read online, as you may know, information on the Internet can be fabricated.

Private or Group tour

I enjoy both options, therefore, choosing a private or group tour is entirely up to your personal preference. For large families or if you want to go slower and receive more information, I recommend you hire a private guide. If you’re a couple or single, a group tour is a great way to mingle with other travellers and it’s very likely you’ll have post-tour drinks with the crowd, including the guide (haha). If you’re coming off a cruise ship, you should definitely hire a private guide because the group tour that the cruise offers is immensely crowded.

Safety

Safety concerns should be top priority whenever you’re on a tour. Check that your guide has the needed safety equipment and it’s working properly. Ask if they have had any accidents and how it was handled.

You are also responsible for yourself, state any issues you have and make sure you follow the outlined safety guidelines.

Reviews and referrals

Before you visit Belize you will most likely search online for the best tours in Belize. Make sure to check out review websites such as TripAdvisor and look for recommended guides and tour operators with great reviews. If you read some of the tour reviews, you will notice that names of guides are mentioned when people are exceptionally pleased.

Lastly, do they practice responsible tourism

Go with people and organizations that support the local economy and take the matter of safeguarding the environment seriously. Click here to read about a few ways you can support responsible travel and why it is important.

 

Did you like my tips? Do share yours if you have any.

 

About Lorenzo Gonzalez

Lorenzo Gonzalez is the founder of Belizeadventure.ca, a resource for travel information on Belize. He enjoys traveling, social media and Paranda music. Contact him at lorenzo [at] belizeadventure.ca. Learn more...
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  • Lenn A

    Nice tips and great article! Might want to add these little things:

    1. People might want to ask to see their license before hiring them.(both tour operators and tour guides should have) since many people pose as guides and do not have a valid license, hence operating illegally. As a paying customer, they have the right to ask for that.
    2. Hiring a free-lance guide (cheaper option on first tip) is not recommended, given that then they are acting as a tour operator. Hiring a free-lance tour guide would be running the risk of not being covered in case of injury on any tour. Licensed tour operators have to pay for liability insurance for their tours, hence why their prices are higher.

    Just thought I’d add. Your articles are always a great read Lorenzo!

    • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

      Good tips Lenn, I’m always glad to hear from others… Thanks!

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