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  • Writer's pictureGeorg Messerer


Oh the great outdoors! The the sun on your face, your lungs filled with fresh air and your eyes feasting in all that immense beauty from horizon to horizon... If you’re outdoorsy like we are, then you’ve probably thought about making it your office? But working in the outdoors is more than just going on hikes day after day. So, what does it take to be a successful wilderness guide?


At some point in our lives, we find ourselves at a turning point. A little seed planted in you by somebody else, or a spark lighting up in your heart after a profound experience in your personal life. We all have these moments we consider a significant change in our lives, working in something more meaningful, living a healthier lifestyle and challenging yourself and others to unknown levels. Having these experiences and truly living them are two completely different worlds. If you really choose to embrace the unknown and enhance your personal transformation, becoming a Wilderness Guide could be an excellent option.


As a Wilderness Guide you will need good physical shape. Not only will perform the same activities as your group, you will also carry extra weight for safety equipment such as first aid kit, walkie talkies, satellite phones and emergency food supplies. As a rule of thumb you should never surpass 70% of your energy in case of an emergency – this could include performing first aid procedures or even evacuating the victim. To achieve this physical level, it is not about being able to run a marathon, it´'s about being active daily, having fun doing it, and taking care of your nutritional needs and of your body and soul.


The golden rule is to take care of your clients as kings. To be able to do so you should treat yourself as an emperor. But what does that mean? How do you take care of yourself? Start by being honest with yourself and recognize what is important for you. Of course, being in good shape and eating healthy food is essential, but your mind and soul also need nourishment. Find a moment for yourself in the early morning for forest bathing, a dip in cold water or just a short meditation. Make sure you nourish this little sacred moment just for yourself, find your own state of love and gratitude from which you can create magic with your participants. This daily mental reset is personal and may depend on many factors. Make time for it, find it and be aware of your own responsibility of self-care and well-being.


You might be surprised to learn that your attitude is must more important than anything. This influences how you receive information and feedback from your client, how you process it and put it into perspective to transform it into a learning opportunity. Be positive, think and transmit positivity, find joy in transforming your clients into positive beings contributing to their ability for self-care and environmental awareness. You are not only planting a seed in them but also to their social surroundings and loved ones. Only your attitude to life, the whole of all your experiences and ability to transmit this to any kind of profile is the secret tool to a satisfied client.


Among the minimum practical skills of a Wilderness Guide are knowledge on navigation skills. They are a must in order to plan your route in the preparation phase and successfully lead your group during your expedition using natural navigation, map, compass and digital tools such as GPS systems. But also, knowledge on wilderness first aid responses, knowledge on gear use, outdoor camping and expedition nutrition. Yes, this seems quite a lot – but these are just the basics. According to the Ecozone you are specialized in acquiring other specific skills would be useful. For Arctic regions this could be winter camping, snowshoeing, tour skiing, use of pulkas, ice safety among many others. Whilst in desert regions knowledge of animal tracking, wildlife observation, water filtering and poisonous snakes is needed. In general, it is always wise to possess basic skills on survival such as fire making, knife handling and bivouac building.


Yes, you’re probably starting to notice is that being a Wilderness Guide is not about taking your friends for a walk in the park. It´s a lifestyle and profession to be taken very seriously. Many of the skills you can acquire yourself, from books and the internet, but finding a course that suits your needs is an essential step in the process. Most travel agencies nowadays require certifications for their guides and more and more insurance companies, protected areas, or even countries request the same. As a living example of sustainable practices, this also counts for the legal aspect, how can we teach on safety to our clients if we are not going by the rules ourselves? Inform yourself about the different options in certification, get skilled and connect with fellow guides while enriching yourself from the instructors, maybe one day you’ll become one of them!


Have fun and be smart. Creating new business opportunities for yourself and others. There exists a tremendous need in present society to reconnect with nature, with oneself and loved ones, on all levels from childhood to executive business level. They all need, in one way or another, what a Wilderness Guide has to offer. The question is how to reach out to each specific profile you have in mind and how to offer them the unique experience you created for them. Stay close to your heart, be imaginative and flexible to make it happen.

Are you ready to create love, awareness, and magic for your clients? Wouldn’t it just wonderful for you if you can dedicate your work to your passion and share it with others at the same time? So, what are you waiting for?

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