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A trekking guide leads a group of hikers through trails while sharing his knowledge of the area. Such guides are usually outdoor enthusiasts with extensive knowledge about the flora, fauna, and inhabitants of an area. Many trekking guides work for tourist agencies, and others are self-employed. Training for trekking guides is typically offered by adventure tourism agencies and travel guide schools, although some guides are self-taught. Trekking guides must possess excellent communication skills, social skills, and organizational abilities to effectively guide a group of people.
The main task of a trekking guide is to lead groups through extensive hikes. These hikes may be day trips, overnight trips, or month-long adventures. Individuals who sign up for these hikes are generally interested in being guided by someone who knows his way around and has extensive knowledge of the area. A trekking guide is responsible for safely guiding the group and keeping the hike on schedule. Some hikes require two trekking guides, one of whom leads the group and the other walks behind the group to assist slower hikers.
Trekking guides work in a variety of outdoor environments. A guide working on an island in the Galapagos might lead a group through a daylong walk along the beach and through extensive trails. He would share his knowledge of the iguanas, sea lions and tortoises seen along the way. A trekking guide in a location known for its beauty might lead hikers to scenic views, and share his knowledge of specific plants and flowers along the way.
Training for trekking guides is generally offered by travel guide schools and some tourist agencies. In such programs, guides learn information about the flora and fauna of specific regions by shadowing an experienced guide. They also learn how to keep groups engaged through storytelling and humor. Organizational strategies are also taught in such training programs, including how to keep groups on task and on schedule. To excel in such training programs and on the job, trekking guides must enjoy working with people and possess excellent communication skills.
Trekking guides typically work for tourist agencies. They may be hired on a full-time, part-time, or as-needed basis to lead groups on trails. The agencies generally handle the administrative and financial aspects of the hike. A self-employed trekking guide is usually an individual who develops a reputation in a locality for his knowledge of the area. The self-employed guide typically handles all aspects of the hikes himself, including making arrangements for overnight stays.
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