As the southern hemisphere starts to warm up to a covid-19 impacted season, we take a look at winter guide work in a covid climate. With international quarantines and travel restrictions in play, the usual suspects will be off limits for most people. Strict border control means the usual hop skip and a jump across the “ditch” means many Aussie and Kiwi raft guides will find themselves looking closer to home than usual. It also means prospects for guides from north America and Europe in Australia and New Zealand are off the cards – regardless of whether they’ve guided there before.
So what does this mean for raft guides looking for winter guide work? Below is our list of suggestions to look into for guide or other industry work that can harness your guide skills.
Winter guide work destinations:
- Iceland and Norway often have limited winter rafting seasons – check with local rafting operators to confirm if their winter season will be going ahead
- Winter rafting in Europe – dependent on the ambient temperatures, some rafting operators are extending their normal seasons to get the most out of Autumn. Consider locations in southern and eastern Europe – particularly those with wetter and warmer climates
- Middle East and Central Asia provide a great source of rafting destinations. Unfortunately, Wadi Adventure (where we held the 2016 World Rafting Champs) is closed due to the pandemic but there are other places to consider including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India
- South East Asia – normally a prime destination for rafting in the late part of the year, Malaysia and Indonesia currently have full bans on international travel. Keep an eye out on travel restrictions as these destinations begin to open up for foreign visitors
- Central and South America – at the time of writing, quite a number of countries have full bans still in place (Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica). Although these are fantastic locations to notch up some rivers on your guide belt, the current pandemic is unfortunately restricting a lot of normal movements. At the moment most of these are looking unlikely to open borders for foreign guides anytime soon
- Africa – some southern African nations are progressing well with their pandemic recovery, however many of these nations now prefer local guides rather than the expense of foreign guides requiring visas etc. Don’t let it stop you, but do bear in mind that as a foreign guide, you are likely to cost the operator more than their locally trained and resident guides
With all of these winter guide work destinations, be sure to check travel restrictions/quarantines in place. A couple of useful and regularly updated travel advisory sites are:
- Smart Traveller – Australian based but provides very regularly updated global travel advice
- US Department of State – USA government travel advisory service updated regularly
- (EU) European Commission travel advice – links to individual EU countries travel advisory sites
- UK Foreign Travel advice – UK government based travel advice updated fairly regularly
Putting guide skills to work in other industries
The short term prospects of travelling for raft guide work are not looking great for most people and places due to travel restrictions and quarantines. So what other options are there for us in these challenging times? Here’s a list of some possible options to explore in your local area:
- Rope work / high access rope work – many countries will require certain qualifications but you will already have an advantage with your knowledge of knots, prussiks and mechanical advantage
- Local area guides – with international tourism decimated in many countries, tourists are turning to local operators and activities. Are there any local tourism operators looking for walking, climbing, tourist guides? Your customer focussed guide skills working with groups means you can keep using those “people skills”
- Environmental activism – the coronavirus pandemic has seen how nations and communities can come together for positive outcomes. Why not use this downtime to focus on environmental projects close to home? River clean ups are fantastic projects and can get good publicity when engaging local government and local communities. Perhaps your local river can benefit from having you around a bit longer this year!
- Rescue / recovery / first aid – all events regardless of size require emergency or first aid plans. Are there any events near you that you can put your first aid / rescue skills to work with?
We’re all finding ourselves in a weird time this year. A lot of us have restrictions on travel / social distancing in place. Now is the perfect time to brush up on some of those guide skills so you can come back to rafting stronger and with more confidence in your skills. Examples are knot practice, map reading, logistics planning and first aid. We’ve recently updated our GTE first aid requirements, are your qualifications ready? If not, now could be the time to practice or get the certification.
As with all employment and travel prospects at this time, it is an ever changing field so thoroughly research travel restrictions before committing to a new job in a far flung destination.
Good luck. Stay safe. See you on the water soon.
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