A different version of this article originally appeared on La Voz de la Industria blog
As as a guide leading tours in the outdoors, I often receive recognition by my clients at the end of every tour. This success in never only mine, is a direct result of teamwork with local guides and this post is intended to pay tribute to all of them, as well as to point out the benefits of hiring one if you are going in to the outdoors.
Well versed travelers and experinced trip leaders might be familiar with the historical, cultural, economic and even natural context of the region they are visiting, but the person who knows the terrain first hand is the local guide, he is the one who grew up there and has worked in this area, it is who knows every shortcut, the best views, every road, every trail and every secret along the route.
A local guide is the one who recognizes the sing of each bird in the biosphere reserve of Rio Lagartos, it is who knows what plants to put inside your hat to avoid or reduce the altitude sickness in the foothills of the Nevado de Toluca volcano, it is who knows with what roots he must make a tea to drink in case of a “gum fly” bite in the jungles of Calakmul, is the one who knows how to steer a boat in the lagoon of San Ignacio in Baja in such a way that it is safe for the gray whale and the passengers.
A local guide, long before being a guide, is or has been a farmer, rancher, shepherd, lumberjack, fisherman, beekeeper, miner or all the above, all this knowledge and experience in the field is what makes them so special.
A local guide reminds us to be humble, we might bring the newest technology in footwear, clothing, protection against the cold, heat, humidity, but the local guide is always at the head of the group often wearing jeans and farmer’s boots, carrying an old backpack with 5 kg of water, food, first aid kit and takes us to our destination without ever turning to see a GPS or a cell phone and despite all that, they usually make us look like newbies.
I am a local guide when it comes to Mexico as a whole, but in order to provide the best and safest experience I rely on a network of local guides all over the country all of them are my friends and I admire their passion, knowledge and commitment.