Why use a Tour Guide?
We first visited the North Highlands back in 2004 and travelled the North Coast 500 - except it wasn't marketed as the NC500 back then. We scoured our textbooks and planned our route, driving round and skimming the surface of what lay before us. Beautiful yes, but did we understand what we were seeing - resoundingly NO!
Move forward to today – and after numerous visits to the area resulting in a final move – we have visited, revisited, interviewed local people and formally studied this beautiful unspoilt area and can now pull back the different layers of the vista, and explain what we see in front of us.
So, what is the value of a tour guide?
The benefit of someone who can explain what you see, who can bring to life the history of where you are standing and who can take you off the beaten track and uncover spots which other tourists will probably never see!
Admittedly tour guides will vary – and we have experienced that ourselves. Even one of our guests told us “I had been to the NC500 previously, on a shorter non-personalised tour with another company, but I felt like I discovered a whole new part of Scotland (when doing the same route with Robert)”.
Any guide worth their merit will have studied, read, visited, experienced, and will continuously update their knowledge base of, the area. The skill of a guide is that they can then build a story from the views, stories and information they share – even about a ‘pile of old stones’! In short, they can transform a visit and make an area ‘come alive’.
The narrative experience is key and North Coast Explorer has created its own database of over 2500 sites complete with explanations and historic photographs to ensure you learn as much as possible about the lives, culture and landscape of the North Highlands – both past and current.
Meanwhile we also recognise how the little details are appreciated by guests too – such as handling our historic replica axes or enjoying our drinks' tastings of traditional Scottish beverages.
If you want to really know a place – the first step should be to enjoy the journey with a guide and only then return to take in the parts you liked best – full of knowledge, understanding and intention.