Social Tourism in Peru with Local Guide Diego

Social Tourism in Peru with Local Guide Diego

April 7, 2016
By Stephanie Cohn

Many would call Diego a pathfinder. Yet, Diego would say he’s merely an ambassador. In everything that this Local Guide does, he does it for his homeland, whether it’s racing in a world sailing competition or guiding travelers to the Sacred Valley. Today as he looks to the future of Peru, Diego hopes to not only discover new tour destinations, but also a way to improve the future of Peru’s growing tourism industry.

According to a World Economic Forum report, from 2002 to 2011, international visitors to Peru has increased at a rate of 9 percent every year. With more visitors coming to experience the land’s beauty and cultural diversity, the question becomes how Peru can build its tourism infrastructure in a sustainable and responsible manner. Local Guide Diego is hoping to be part of the solution. We caught up with him to find out more about his homeland pride and his predictions for its future.

Q&A with Diego

Local guide Diego rafting

What do you love most about Peru?

Peru is such a diverse country in its many ecosystems, its rich history, and various cultural influences. In fact, Peru is home to 84 of the existing 103 ecosystems in the world. It really is a fascinating place to explore and I’m constantly finding new things to love about it.

You have a lot of Peruvian pride, what was it like representing your home in world sailing competitions?

My whole family sails, so I’ve been sailing in Peru since I was 8 years-old, but I never imagined it would take me all over the world. I’ve participated in competitions all over South America, North America, and Europe. We’ve even won three world sailing championships! That moment when you’re standing on the podium, your national anthem is playing and your flag is behind you, it’s humbling.

How do you translate that Peruvian pride into guiding tours?

I want my guests to really understand Peru as a whole, rather than just visit the tourist destinations. When I’m not leading tours, I spend my free time traveling around the country so I can find more authentic places to take my guests. I am always exploring new routes, treks, and adventure spots so I can innovate my tours.
Sacred Valley in the Cuzco Region

So even when you’re not working, you’re working?

Technically it’s work, but it’s a lot of fun too. I get to discover parts of my country that I never knew existed, and I have a lot of funny stories from these trips. The other day, we got lost in the middle of the desert, and we had two flat tires! We were able to change one and ended up driving 14 kilometers, with one flat tire, to the next town.

Sand Dunes of the desert in Peru

What’s your favorite place you’ve discovered?

I love taking my guests to a natural reserve in the highlands of Lima. My tour group is one of the few that takes travelers to this area. When we take groups, they get to see the beautiful landscape and experience the authentic Andean lifestyle by spending time with locals learning the culture.

What sort of new trends are you seeing in Peru’s tourism industry?

We’re definitely seeing a trend in more socially-conscious travelers. They are asking for the companies that work in a sustainable way. It’s great because the travelers want to get involved in projects that help the Andean communities, like the one I mentioned before. This provides really incredible opportunities to preserve local traditions and economically empower small communities.

Traditional Peruvian women and children

How can we use this trend to improve the industry in Peru?

My hope for the future is to start a program that trains local communities and helps them learn how to host tourists without compromising their traditions. My goal is provide travelers with more meaningful experiences while also helping small communities thrive economically.

What sort of challenges come with the expansion of Peru’s tourism industry?

Tourism companies follow trends, and so they all offer the same experiences in the same exact destinations, like Machu Picchu. I think this will be a challenge for Peru, and the rest of South America, to start branching out beyond the same landmarks. It’s time we as an industry take travelers off-the-beaten path. There’s so much more to Peru that people don’t know about, and from my experience taking travelers to these “hidden” locations, they really do love and appreciate it.

Ecotourism and social tourism is becoming more important for Peru’s future. Want to discover their culture? Check out the tours in Peru that we offer.

Categories: Meet our Guides