It is a privilege being a tourist guide as you get to meet the most amazing people, besides your clients, along the way, accommodation hosts, chefs and kitchen staff, bus drivers, site guides, other tourist guides, local people and many others.
You also get to see amazing places that you might never have seen before or have on many occasions, but now you see with the fresh eyes of every client, each time you return.
Having lead a number of trips, I always return home feeling ‘proudly South African’. What a privilege!
An itinerary always has three categories. These categories are essential in every tour and contribute to the success of a tour.
The accommodations which I use in South Africa has always more than met my expectations. The hosts have gone out of their way to be gracious, bending over backwards to accommodate the special requests, from extra bedding, to supplying Wi-Fi, coping with peculiar dietary requirements and adding extra touches beyond that which is expected or paid for.
I have generally used Springbok Atlas and have always been impressed with the quality of their coaches, expertise of their drivers and excellent pre and post tour organisation. I always request the driver’s name, cell phone number and copy of his driver’s license before the tour as well as the road worthy certificate of the coach. This has been supplied timeously and well ahead of the tour. As in all ventures it is necessary and wise to keep one’s eyes open, in search for good alternatives and cheaper deals, as the competition is stiff and it is always good to negotiate. Transport is now making up a third of the tour costs.
Food in South Africa really amazes me. The quality is normally very good and portions are always generous. My clients enjoy the variety of quality meats available to us, the tasty specialities of each local region, from a wide selections of dishes which to choose. I love watching their faces when they see counters laden with exotic looking dishes, heavenly aromas and an array of colour and choice. Invariably the comments have been, “We never eat like this at home. I wish my mother cooked like this.” We are spoilt for choice in our country and generally, we South Africans eat a good variety of healthy, wholesome food.
The vast range of places to visit and activities to choose from on a tour boggles the mind. Every place has something unique to offer and most on site guides are well-trained and passionate about their topic. I have had clients so inspired that they return home only to make plans to return as soon as possible. I then know that that tour was highly successful. To me a successful tour is not the size of the tip. Rather, it is satisfied clients who are sad to leave South Africa and express the desire to return with family and friends.
The vast range of places to visit and activities to choose from on a tour boggles the mind. Every place has something unique to offer and most on site guides are well-trained and passionate about their topic. I have had clients so inspired that they return home only to make plans to return as soon as possible. I then know that that tour was highly successful. To me a successful tour is not the size of the tip, rather, it is satisfied clients who are sad to leave South Africa and express the desire to return with family and friends.
In conclusion, a common comment from clients is that we, South Africans, are a nation moving in a positive direction towards peace, reconciliation, enterprise and progress. Clients are humbled by the level of forgiveness between people groups and the positive attitude most South Africans exude, having grappled with the issues, large and small, in the endeavour to find solutions that will benefit all. There is a servant heart among most people to serve their community, to embrace other communities and the foreign tourists as well. We must continue to build on this, avoid Xenophobia, dispel un-forgiveness, push through difficulties and surge ahead to a better South Africa for all. This attitude will then rub off on the tourists, the visitors to our country, and be of greater value to them than taking home a suntan, an African souvenir or numerous photographs.