It takes a pretty special someone who’ll dedicate their working life to ensuring complete strangers get the most out of their holiday – but no-one ever said our leaders weren’t special. In fact, as the past few years have shown, being special seems to be their forte.
Established to recognise excellence in trip leading, the Wanderlust World Guide Awards have regularly voted Intrepid leaders among the world’s best tour guides – Egypt’s Hossam Moussa won silver in 2013 and India’s Dheeraj 'Monty' Bhatt won an outstanding contribution award in 2015.
What can your leader do for you?
Your leader is your go-to point of contact, your guide, teacher and source of all travel wisdom. But it’s hard to really get their value if you haven’t done a tour before. What can your leader do for you? Well…
- Point you toward the hidden highlights most tourists never see.
- Get you from A to B, including handling all transports and train tickets.
- Clue you in on the best restaurants, cafes and bars.
- Share little local anecdotes and stories.
- Handle all hotel check-ins, restaurant bookings and technical details.
- Help you organise extra meals and activities in places you'd never think to go to.
- Suggest the best ways to fill your free time.
- Introduce you to friendly locals you’d never get to meet.
Meet a few of our people who make the magic happen.
Pedro - Intrepid leader in Brazil
I was working in a hotel/hostel chain during a sabbatical year and an Intrepid group arrived. The tour leader was very friendly and we started to chat right away and he asked me if the work sounded intresting, and of course, I said yes.
The best part of my job is to meet new people. It starts as a professional relationship and after couple days we end up as good friends. Also, I like to enjoy my free time between every tour.
Hard question, there are so many!
I love the Estancia Stay in Uruguay, that is the real deal. Once you are there you became a true gaucho (a South American cowboy) helping on every day activities, from leading or vaccinating cows to making fire outside to cook an amazing BBQ.
Ilha Grande is a cosy little village in a national park located in an island in Brazil. There you can go hiking through atlantic rainforest to reach paradise beaches during the day and sit and relax at night on a restaurant table on the beach illuminated by candle light while you eat fresh fish recently caught by the local fisher community.
Buenos Aires in Argentina is a place that never stops. Culture, music, architecture, nightlife, wine and food in the energic South American city makes it a wonderful stop for every traveler. Buenos Aires has a lot of hidden magical places that I am never tired to discover.
I am very lucky. There were no major issues on any tour of mine. But once, a honeymoon couple disappeared just after boarding a bus. They went outside the bus just before the departure. I realized it after 5 minutes and dropped out of the bus, took the first cab back to the bus station, picked them up and successfully chased the bus. The day ended with a beautiful dinner reunion.
There is a lot to do during a tour and even before starts. You have to be synchronized with the ground operations team and with our local operators as well, which demands constant contact with them. I always wake up earlier than the passengers to start my day and make sure our bookings for transport and accomodation for the next day are 100% ok. I fill out the trip report and the financial spreadsheet. Also, I am constantly researching new activities to fit the current group depending on their needs. But I make sure to always have time to deal with lost lugagge and some issues that always come up.
To produce and make someone else’s dream tour come true consumes a lot of work from a tour leader and the background team. To be a tour leader, you have to rely on a lot of services, such as transportation, food, accomodation and so on. You’ve got be very patient, have empathy with your passengers and with our operators as well. So when I am travelling for work it is not a holiday! There is a fine line between this job and a holiday trip. Also, your work schedule is very different from an office schedule. So you have to dedicate yourself fulltime to this job, what makes you sacrifice other activities in your life. It is all about priorities.
I’ve lived in many cities in Brazil and love all of them. But I think Curitiba synthezises a lot of values in the one city. It is a big city with a lot of good services located up a table mountain, so you find beautiful geological landscapes with rivers and forest that allows you to perform outdoors sports. Also, you are located a couple miles from one of the best beaches in South Brazil. The food is amazing, the people are friendly and they have a good airport, which allows you to travel when you want to go to the another beauties in Brazil.
We Brazilians love to smile and we love to see people smiling. So don’t be shy to show your teeth. Portuguese language is very different from English, but we have adapted to mimes and try our best to communicate to visitors. Also, keep in mind we are a huge country, so take as much time as you can to explore the country. If you don’t have much time, you will get back home and be ready to come back soon.
Açaí, a superfood smoothie made of Brazilian berries. Tasteful, healthy and very complete. Am I able to ask for granola topping as well?
Travel? Yes always! I want to cycle (push bike) from Colombia to Mexico. Maybe buy a boat there and sail to the Pacific.
Silvia - Intrepid leader in Japan
A friend of mine worked in a travel industry and invited me to be a part of the company. I tried leading for a couple of months and liked it so much – I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life.
Easy. Showing people the places (and food) that I most like in this fascinating country!
Yakitori Alley in Tokyo because it’s a place people would usually be scared to visit by themselves (it’s not so scary once you know the ropes).
The Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. You can see an infinite variety of fresh seafood and the building has a lovely old atmosphere.
Any restaurant where you have to take your shoes off and sit on a real tatami mat. Particularly a shabu-shabu or sukiyaki meal where you have to cook your own food. I think this is a great experiences for travellers who want to get in touch with real Japanese culture.
Whenever we stay at a traditional monastery there are usually a few stories that come out of the onsen (traditional bath house). These are segregated baths where you must take off all your clothes. It’s common in these bath houses to wash other people’s backs. A girl on our tour didn’t know this and was just having a bath when an old naked Japanese lady came in and started washing her. She didn’t speak any English. I think it was a bit of a shock!
I like to take people to the hidden places in the city and also show them the beautiful modern architecture – the buildings that often aren’t so obvious to other travellers.
Definitely to keep everybody happy at once. With so many personalities and interests on the one tour it can be hard to manage everyone’s expectations.
Miyajima. It’s a peaceful and magical little island filled with local deer.
Japanese people are very kind and helpful to people that arrive from overseas. If you are lost, someone will try and help you. Manners here are different from other countries though, so you have to be a bit conscientious and try not to litter, eat on trains or take photos in the really sacred places.
Definitely Tonkotsu Ramen made from pork bone broth. Yummy!
I’m just guiding day tours and (my favourite) food tours at the moment. That’ll keep me busy and full for quite a while.
Why small group travel?