I always give the same advice when friends ask me about this: start with the guide. You’ll want to know who your guide will be, and what kind of experience they have. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to find videos of them working online.
Your guide will have a big impact on your experience with the tour. There are plenty of wonderful locations out there that will delight and awe you no matter who your guide is. But an incompetent or annoying guide can take a lot out of the experience, just as a great guide can add a lot to it.
The best guides are usually locals who are good with people and have a lot of experience with the location. Going on tours guided by people connected to the local aboriginal culture can add a lot to the experience, since these guides can provide a different perspective to the locals you visit, on top of being intimately familiar with the location. The website of local non-profits like Welcome to Country is a good place to find this type of guide, click here to see it.
Reading reviews can also tell you a lot about the quality of the tour, both when it comes to the locations visited and the services provided by the guide. Most professional guides are pretty reliable, but if a guide or agency has a history of problems with punctuality or providing a bad service, their online reviews will reflect those issues.
Finally, it’s wise to keep an eye out for the requirements of the tour. Some tours require that you wear certain things, or that you arrive in a car so you can tag along. Make sure you ask your tour guide or their agency what you can do to improve your experience when booking the tour, as they can give you tips based on what they have seen other tourists struggle with in the past.