Being a tour leader is a very privileged life. In many ways. You get to show other people this fantastic world of ours. You might even make their future better, by doing a good job. And you get paid for something you easily would do for free! And, another thing, for the group, you are in many ways their life line. The father and mother. And, if you do a good job, meaning, giving everybody the feeling of being unique and special, they will treat you extremely good in every way. And I have been, every single time, very fortunate with great people, all of them!
So, coming home, ain´t all that easy.
First of all, the sleep you get on a trip is little.You need to stay focused and always be there for them. They hav paid a lot to travel, so that responsibility is heavy. Than, even though you have local guides, who lecture and explain, you are the main guide to stitch everything together, you need to have a plan what is going to be said and lectured, so at the end, they feel that they, as in the instance of the last guide job in Peru and Ecuador, that they really have a full picture of the history of the Incas, Conquistadors, Simon Bolivar and the modern era of South America. Plus that they understood the evolution of the Galapagos Islands and their inhabitants.
Secondly, even if I, and many other guides, have the best of families back home, you won´t get the same status as a “God” amongst your own! It is straight to the issue of changing diapers, getting up dead early, doing porridge for breakfast, doing errands, shopping and so on, family life! So, I have realized after talking to other guides, that we all feel some kind of emptiness…but this applies to the travellers as well. I have received an email from all of them, all very happy with the arrangment, but they feel at loss, empty and wanna go back! When I hear this, I know, that I have done a satisfying job!
But, a successful tour isn´t only up to the tour leader, even if he or she, is by ease the most important player of a trip. You also need good backing from the home office, in my case Oktogo, who did a great job again. And you need a well planned and produced trip, which I did by myself. Which is a job based on a long discussion with a local agency, in my case on this trip, Metropolitan Touring. Which was professionally handled by Faride Altamirano in Lima, a superb job and a great friend. She is exactly the opposite part you need on the other end to deal with. A great human, putting the wish of the clients first! (She should really be in charge for the Scandinavian part for Metropolitan, not that “money first, clients second”-guy in Quito)
One of the high lights for me on a trip like this, is of course first of all, the joy of the clients, but second, is the local guides. Not only do they teach you a lot, but they´re great people, with no exception. People who love their job! One of the things I bring up, whilst talking to them, and many other guides globally, local and foreign, is which countries are the easiest and the most difficult to deal with according to them. And I have summarized below:
Top three which are easy:
Top three which they consider difficult (they complain a lot):
I have personally only dealt with Swedes, Americans and British and I think they´re all good! But, I only get the groups where people really are interested and know where they´re going! One group I saw on the cruise ship in the Galapagos, was an American group, who had bought a cheap cruise ship tour out of Miami and they had no idea there were such a unique animal and plant life on the Galapagos! However, they were pleasantly surprised and all set in on the lectures on board!
I have started to produce another itinerary for this great group I have had, for the next year. Keep your eyes open!