On my recent trip I avoided guides and tours like the plague and chose to wander aimlessly. Am I missing out? Do guides and walking groups make a cultural heritage site more fascinating and worthwhile?
Perhaps the question can be simplified; Information or Ignorance?
While visiting Tulum and Chichen Itza I would walk past a dozen tourists led by guide who were waiting patiently while he explained the significance of a particular rock.
The group moved when he said move, kept shoulder to shoulder and listened politely.
Every once and a while I would wander by one of these tours an hear something interesting about Mayan life and culture that without a guide or a detailed book I simply could not know.
And would ask myself; Why have I never taken a tour? Why do I run from tours like they are burning buildings?
Surely they can’t be that bad, look, they are all earning about Mayan cosmology that casts the whole scene in a new light. So I would lend an ear for a moment or two, pretending to be fiddling with my camera, and then move on alone.
Although I love to learn about the history and the people that compelled such dramatic backdrops, my chosen method of enjoyment for ruins and heritage sites is to wander through with my imagination cranked full blast.
I don’t need to know facts, reconstructing a dead city in my mind and walking with its ghosts, taking a divergent footpath, stopping for 10 minutes to film several angles; this is how I enjoy sites like Chichen Itza, Angkor Wat and the Roman Forum.
What do YOU think? To tour or not to tour…
Defend or destroy guided tours in the comments.