The evolution of what it means to be an exceptional guide and meet modern travellers’ desires for guides that reveal the secrets of a destination
Time was when a zip around town with a tour guide was all that many travellers needed to get a contented feel for a destination. Not anymore. With “local culture” now an attribute to be celebrated on par with “natural wonder,” travellers today want guides that can show them the secrets of a destination as well as the sights. Based in London with operations across six continents, Jacada Travel is the source for bespoke journeys created by expert travel designers and led by exceptional guides who not only know their way around the coolest scenes, but also boast real connections to plug travellers into life, culture and beauty far from the usual tourist stops.
What makes Jacada Travel’s guides a cut above? Here’s a quick glance at some of the access they provide travellers for experiences to cherish across the globe:
Art walk in Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia – One of Jacada Travel’s go-to guides in Australia’s most populous city uses deep background and connections in local arts and culture to clear out sections of the National Gallery of Victoria for private tours. Beyond the country’s most visited gallery, practising street artists guide guests to Everfresh Studio, Melbourne’s most renowned-yet-elusive street art studio, to offer private master classes and studio tours. Still, another guide with insider contacts among senior members of the Australian Football League can gain access for travellers to Melbourne Cricket Ground, one of the world’s largest arenas – not to kick balls on the pitch, mind you, but for a traditional “Welcome to Country” and smoke ceremony with the local aboriginal community.
Boomerang lesson in Melbourne, Australia
Lisbon, Portugal – Think Spain is the only spot for tapas? Think again. The “hosts” (not guides) of Petiscos Tours excel at fashioning authentic Portuguese tapas tours through Lisbon. Led by local creative types who are often friends with chefs and restaurant owners, Petiscos offers a whole new way of exploring the capital city, accompanying guests to either “hop” between the best small restaurants or to pull up chairs and linger for long meals of shared plates.
Exploring Lisbon, Portugal
Galle, Sri Lanka – If crystal blue becomes you, an excursion to the private home of Sri Lanka’s “Sapphire King” (as dubbed by the British press) in the coastal city of Galle is not to be missed. Hosted by a highly respected, fifth-generation gem merchant of Moorish and Persian heritage whose great-grandfather presented British royalty with their blue sapphires, the intimate experience includes a private lunch with the genial host, including an opportunity to meet his family and plenty of time for conversation to learn all about the fascinating history of Sri Lanka as a significant source of gemstones.
Excursion in the private home of the “Sapphire King” in Galle, Sri Lanka
Bogota, Colombia – Travelers who want to immerse in the creative scene in the high-altitude capital of Colombia will find entrée from the art curator of Espacio KB, a well-known gallery in chic San Felipe whose vibe has been described by Lonely Planet as “No tourists here!” The curator will lead travellers around her and many other independent galleries in Macarena and San Felipe through connections garnered from seats she holds on the committees of ArtBo, the Bogota Biennial, and other notable local art events. The curator can also arrange private visits to the studios of masters, up-and-coming artists, and fashion designers; arrange “behind the scenes” tours to meet tailors and artisans in their places of creativity; and host private dinners in art galleries across the city, with menus personalised by notable local chefs. One such gallery is a 35-year-old cornerstone of the Bogota art scene, La Cometa Gallery.
Guided private access
Hanoi, Vietnam – The street is more than just the place to eat in the capital of Vietnam. Join a renowned street food blogger whose knowledge of Hanoi’s most happening places and passion for local food and culture are tickets to discover little-known restaurants, markets, and small-but-beloved coffee shops. Or join a local art curator with inside access at the Hanoi University of Industry Fine Arts to meet professors and students poised to become the artisans of the future while learning about the many facets of Vietnamese art and the contradictions of old and new. Travellers can even join a class taught by students who are excited to share their work as well as their dreams.
Woodcut art is a symbol of traditional culture and aesthetic value of Vietnam.
Jacada’s relationships with exceptional guides run deep, and travellers can trust that they will receive expert recommendations from someone who knows the destination inside out. Jacada Travel Designers don’t just ask where but why — because understanding travel motivations and expectations help find the most exceptional guides for each client.
Local food and culture demonstration in Vietnam’s capital