Friday, August 22, 2014

To Hire a Guide or Not

I have always been a do it yourself traveler. I love the time I spend planning my next trip. I will consult several guide books, on-line resources and friends. To me the planning of a vacation is half of the fun.

But this trip, which I did not plan, but which was planned very well, had a new experience for me. Our group hired a personal guide for our time in Salvador. For four of our 10 days in Salvador (plus transfers to and from the airport) we had a native Baiano to arrange everything we needed to make our trip a success. And our guide was fantastic.

Josuel giving us historical background in The Pelourinho

Josuel was born and raised just outside of Salvador. He is a primary school teacher of Portuguese and English, and has been guiding tours for 18 years. He knows the ins and outs of Bahia and was great at creating a tour to meet our needs, something a larger tour company might not have been able to do. He is also a really nice guy, who made us feel like friends, even though we had just met.

Our stay included 4 day-long tours with Josuel:

1) A city/history tour
2) A visit to a condomblé temple and to a community organization
3) A beach tour
4) A trip to Cachoeira

Each of these tours included door to door buses, all of our entry fees and lunches at excellent restaurants.  Now it is true that there were commercial tours available for some of these tours, but the level of service and planning for our group's individual needs that went into Josuel's tours made me realized the we were getting a great deal.

First, we would never have been able to do everything that we did without his planning. He knew all of the places to go and all of the people to get us in. This was especially true for the trip to the Condomblé temple and the visit to the community group Ile Aiye. I will write more about these in a future blog, but I would never have been able to make arrangements for these trips.

He also added a personal touch to everywhere we went. He knew the people and the history and could tell us the behind the scenes info and made us feel like we were locals.

I wouldn't hire a guide for every vacation I take, but the next time I am heading someplace where there is not a lot of information available, or where I want to know and have access to more off-the-beaten-track stuff. Or where I am just really unsure of what I might be getting myself into, I would certainly look into finding someone local to help me navigate the territory.

Josuel Queiroz


  1. I totally agree. I like visiting other cultures and experiencing life from a different perspective. But I hate getting there and I hate the stress of trying to manage getting around a new and different society. As I get older, I just can't deal with the details, foreseeing problems, maneuvering transportation, dealing with time management and on and on. These details spoil the whole experience for me, so I usually let Jonathan run with it. But having Josuel take care of all these details made for less stress. In his hands we could all just sit back and enjoy the ride. Special cudos to our friend Gloria who made all the connections necessary. Without her, we would have never found our great guide. AMD

  2. I am so happy that we had Josuel as our guide. He cared enough to first find out, through emails and conversations with Gloria, what our interests were and then put together our days and the places we visited accordingly. It was because of his knowledge of Salvador and his connections to community organizations, that we were able to have a richer, more in depth and personal experience of well as Cachoeira and the beaches outside of Salvador. Josuel is not only an excellent guide but a wonderful person as well. We all had a great time.