Guides can make or break your trip.
So how do we ensure you get guides that are “exceptional”, “beyond expectations”, “the best guide I have ever had”?
We grow them
1 Select good saplings
To be a guide in Peru, you need a tourism degree. After three to five years, you leave with a piece of paper saying you are a now a guide. But you’re not. As with any career, being a guide is about experience.
We scour other companies to find guides that are developing well. We also bring some up through our system from seed, such as Samuel, who we first knew as a ten-year-old son of a porter.
2. Help them grow
We take guides with strong roots and train and encourage them to grow in the right direction.
3. Thin them out
Not all guides will make it. They might be good, but we need excellent.
4. Continue to nurture year after year
Key to this is our annual guide training week which takes place at the start of March. Themes vary each year but the aims are the same- to provide you with the best guides possible.
This is how we ran our 2019 guide training:
A First Responder first aid course was provided by Gherson, our favourite paramedic. He is local and trained in Europe. Not only has he trained our guides for four years, but he also provides year-round support. Any time they have a query or a difficult situation, they can pick up the phone and he will guide them through it. Where there is a signal of course.
His courses go above and beyond, this year we learnt how to use defibrillators and practised injecting each other. While we do not carry either defibrillators or injectables in our first aid kits at present, should the situation arise, if the equipment is available, we may be able to save a life.
Stretch people’s comfort zones
A workshop on gender equality and identity. The first by a Peruvian tourism company and one of the first by any company here.
Experts from Lima ( also B-Corps colleagues) delivered, what was for many, an eye-opening and challenging course. These subjects are rarely touched upon in Peru- but we hope others will follow our example.
Carbon offsetting is complicated. So Frank, from Nature Services Peru, a fellow B-Corps, who we use to offset carbon in Manu, explained it in a simple way, so our guides can explain how we make your trips with us carbon neutral.
Guest speakers included José Luis, former general manager of Cascada, our Chilean ATLAS partner and Joaquin, owner of El Albergue, one of our partners both in Queñua Raymi tree planting, and the Manu carbon offset programme. Both companies who like us believe in protecting our planet and offering great experiences.
Inspirational videos, from the Do Lectures, one of the best things to come out of Wales, including Why Museums are F#cking Awesome and sent our guides into Cusco in groups to act on it, to get creative and reimagine how they run city tours. And we made people cry, with Albatross, a video about our effect on the planet.
- Efrain, our “World’s Best Guide” told us about his project, working with the Totora community near Lares to reduce plastic.
- Miki, our head chef and head bike guide, told us about his project, mending and equipping the bikes of the children of Patacancha community in Lares.
Our long-awaited Lake Huaypo base is almost built. Set amidst the patchwork fields of the Chinchero plateau, overlooking the Urubamba snow peaks, this will offer you relaxing, fun, active and cultural experiences, amidst beautiful scenery.
It was natural that we closed our course here:
- Santiago and Ernesto inflated boats for 50 of us to take to the water on the route we use for our guests
- Miki ran our first pop-up kitchen cooking class
- Pedro and Enrique inaugurated our Pachamanca area with a delicious traditional feast
Get outside, have an adventure, enjoy time together, experience Peruvian traditions and food, and share ideas to protect our environment. It was a very Amazonas Explorer way to end.0