Guyanese complete tour guide training
December 21, 2003
THIRTEEN Guyanese recently graduated after completing a one-month intensive and comprehensive tour guide course at Iwokrama Reserve, Kurupukari, Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni). The course was conducted by the Iwokrama Centre for Conservation and Development and Trekforce Expeditions.
A statement from Trekforce said the programme, which was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), was directly aimed at training tour guides to work within the Iwokrama Reserve, and as such, applicants for the course were selected in conjunction with the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB).
Those who have completed the course will use their newly acquired skills and knowledge to guide visitors in a more informative and safer manner within Iwokrama Reserve, the statement said.
It explained that the course, which was coordinated by Heather Steere of Trekforce, using the skills of Guyanese and international experts, involved 28 days of lectures.
The lectures included, for example, First Aid, Survival Skills, Botany, Mammology, Herpetology, Amerindian Heritage, as well as team building and interpersonal skill exercises, presentations, assessments and tour-guiding experiences.
For all the students, the highlight of the course was the undertaking of a three-day trek into the Iwokrama Mountains to finally practice the skills they had learnt in the previous three weeks.
It included river crossings, navigation and communicating their extensive knowledge of the forest to potential visitors.
This was all completed before a three-day assessment began on October 30, 2003. The assessment was based on how the potential guides interacted with volunteers and tourists and the overall fun and informative experience that they gave to these visitors.
Thirteen out of the 16 students graduated on November 2, 2003 and are now legitimately allowed to guide within the Iwokrama Reserve.
With Iwokrama’s aim to expand eco-tourism, this course has been important as a means of developing the facilities and services needed for the high-end eco-tourism market. Only trained guides and rangers can guide visitors within the Iwokrama Reserve.
The guide course syllabus itself has been drawn up by both Trekforce Expeditions and Iwokrama using comparisons and standards from other international guiding courses in countries as diverse as Belize, Australia and Kenya.
It is hoped that following on from the success of the first Guide Course, future training programmes for other operators in both Guyana and the overseas community can be delivered.
Core units are currently being developed that would be generically relevant to similar institutions, Trekforce said.