In the first of our series profiling this year's Wanderlust World Guide Award finalists, Peter Moore speaks to Hossam Moussa, an Intrepid guide from Egypt
One of the finalists is Hossam Moussa. Hossam’s supporters declare that “travelling Egypt with Sam was fantastic.” He’s proud of his nation and has a passion for history, but is equally open to introducing travellers to the Egypt of today – showing sensitivity around cultural issues such as Islam, Middle-Eastern stereotypes and the treatment of women. His supporters describe him as honest and tolerant with “a wonderful sense of humour” and “always genuinely willing to help.”
Hossam takes time out of his busy schedule to chat to Peter Moore about the challenges – and rewards – of being a guide.
How long have you been a guide?
I began leading small group tours in Egypt in 2009, after spending six years working in a number of Cairo's five star hotels including the Hilton, InterContinental, and Marriott.
Why did you become a guide?
Since I was a child, I have always had a keen interest in history and being a tour leader is a great way for me to share my passion for, and knowledge of Ancient Egypt with visitors from all over the world.
What have been the highlights? And the lowlights?
Being paid to travel, meeting people and making new friends, showing others my country and explaining our history and freedoms are all highlights.
In my opinion, the only lowlight is being away from home for long periods of time, which can make it difficult to balance my personal life and work.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as a guide?
I have had so much fun in my work as a guide. It is hard to name one memory and call it the funniest one, but recently I had to trap one of my clients inside a bathroom while I prepared a birthday surprise for him. When we finally let him out of the bathroom, he found his birthday cake in front of him and half of the village singing happy birthday.
What is the most serious thing that has happened to you as a guide?
A client decided to swim to the other side of the Nile, despite my warning not to swim too far because of the strong water current. Until he reached to the other side, I was beside myself with worry for him but thankfully it worked out well.
What do you think makes a good guide?
Someone who is organised, calm, knowledgeable and easy going. A good guide treats their clients as they would like to be treated themselves when travelling to places they don't know, and as potential friends rather than a source of income.
What advice would you give someone wanting to become a guide?
You can't know everything, so don't be shy to say that you don't know something and that you will try to find out. Your clients will respect you if you tell the truth and you will gain their trust. You need to share the fun of travelling with your group, but don't forget that there is work to be done and that you are responsible for your clients care and safety.
What will you do with your bursary if you win the Wanderlust World Guide Awards?
If I win a bursary, I plan to use it to help educate and care for street children in Egypt, so that they have alternatives to selling souvenirs to tourists.
Have you got your ticket to the Wanderlust World Guide Award event yet? You can get yours here, but hurry! Time is running out.
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