Latin America Tours – Will Your Tour Guide Be A Liability?
If you’re considering Latin America tours, a very important part of the package are the guides who are used. They can make the difference between an incredible, unique experience and a dull walk-through. Even for sites as popular as Machu Picchu in Peru, a good tour guide can make you feel like no-one else has experienced the same Latin America vacation before.
So how do you find out if your guide-to-be will deliver a great experience? Try asking the five questions below to your Latin America tours operator when getting a quote for your trip.
Question 1: Do you use local tour guides?
There’s no substitute for a well-trained local guide. As well as having a unique perspective of their native country and surroundings, they will probably be more passionate about their home turf than a foreign guide. When asked, they will probably have a few local stories, legends and personal experiences up their sleeve to give a unique twist to your tour.
Question 2: Do your guides speak the local language and English?
Your guide won’t be much good if they can’t communicate in Spanish or the local dialect if you’ve got any questions for members of the community that you’re visiting, or if you run into trouble and need a bit of help.
Fluent English should also be a must, especially if your language skills aren’t up to scratch. At the very least you’ll want to get good value out of the guide that you’re paying for and if you can’t understand them, you’re wasting a lot of cash!
Question 3: Are they qualified in first aid?
Especially important for adventure tours or situations that take you into remote places like Patagonia, you need to make sure you’re covered if something goes wrong. Even basic first aid can stop a simple problem escalating into something major.
Questions 4: What travel experience do they have?
Is your guide a veteran, or fresh out of guiding school? Some guides (especially in Peru) like to make up answers to questions on the spot if they don’t have an answer. Whilst entertaining if you already know the answer and are just testing them, it can be annoying if all your cultural knowledge turns out to be false. It also removes the point of travelling with a guide!
Question 5: What measures does the guide take with local communities and the environment?
Are efforts made to minimize the negative impacts of tourism in your destination? Are members of the communities that are part of the tour treated respectfully? Respect for the local communities and the environment should be a consideration for your guide and tour operator.
Are there any other questions that should be asked about tour guides in Latin America? Have you had any outstanding or disastrous tour guide experiences?
Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America