Life on the Other Side of the Trip: Guiding A Tour

30 Jun 2023

My name is Lewis – I’m a Canadian who’s been living in Bolivia for the past 4 years. During that time I’ve been working as the manager & primary guide for Novo Adventures.

I’ve guided many tours across Bolivia; at this point, the routes are near second nature. Over time, you get used to expecting the unexpected.

You know when corners will likely reveal an oncoming vehicle, or when you can open up the throttle a little. You learn where the road will change between gravel and tarmac. You remember the small places worth stopping for a photo or a moment of relaxation (hot springs being a prime example).

Five things about guiding tours you may not know

1. It’s not a holiday

As fun as riding motorcycles across Bolivia is – and it’s very fun — it’s still a job. There’s a lot of work that goes into the logistics of putting a tour together, from making sure our expenses are covered, to preparing the motorcycles to make sure they’re all in great condition, to booking all the hotels and adjusting plans as needed. 

Then once the clients show up, it’s a matter of making sure their border crossings are smooth, getting them to the correct hotel, and getting money changed to the local currency on day one. 

From there, making sure the trip goes as flawlessly as possible is the name of the game. Inevitably, challenges arise on every motorcycle trip. Sometimes it’s a hotel that has forgotten our reservation. Sometimes it’s a fuel pump that dies in the middle of the wilderness. Sometimes it’s just as simple and as annoying as a few flat tires on an already long day.

The whole trip is a lot of work to put together to ensure the best possible experience for our clients, and by the time it’s all said and done, the Novō team is in need of a few days of break time themselves!


2. The cities never get easier

Despite knowing the routes very well, it never gets easier to navigate through a city I don’t spend a lot of time in. When we roll up into La Paz, I ready the GPS, knowing full well there will be construction or markets blocking off roads – or it might well direct me to a staircase, thinking it’s a road (REAL adventure riding, that!). 

There’s always unexpected traffic and events happening in Bolivian cities, and even if they stayed the same, it’s hard to memorise the best routes through all the major Bolivian urban areas. Thank goodness for GPS!


3. You can NEVER know the weather

A quintessential question we’re asked when clients are preparing for trips is, “what kind of weather can we expect?”. The answer is always the same: everything. 

Our trips start in the humid lowlands of the jungly amazon basin, and quickly rise to heights of over 4000m, to the arid Altiplano. We can see torrential rains, blistering heat, and snow, all on the same trip. We can give you the best advice possible for the season, but the inevitable answer is: prepare for anything!


4. The sights never get boring

You’d think that after countless tours along similar routes that things like the Salar de Uyuni would get boring – I’m here to tell you, they don’t. The natural wonders of Bolivia are as incredible the tenth time as they were the first time. 

There’s never a trip where we roll into Tarija and I don’t get excited to eat incredible steak and drink delicious wine. There’s not been a tour where pulling onto the Salar de Uyuni hasn’t sent a chill down my spine, marveling at the vast emptiness. 

Every time we do a tour, new sights reveal themselves, and familiar stopping points remind us why Bolivia is such a unique and beautiful destination.


5. It kind of is a holiday

Okay, let’s be real: riding motorcycles, even when challenges arise, is fun. We do it because we love it, and being able to guide a tour and ride motorcycles around Bolivia, as well as showing other people this amazing country, is a pretty incredible job. 

Despite the work and headache that can go into organising a trip, it’s always one of the best feelings in the world to hop on the back on a bike and get started on a trip, ready to explore the wilds of Bolivia.


The people are the best part

And finally, it’s a real joy to be able to meet so many people from across the world, all coming together in this small part of the globe due to our shared love of riding motorcycles.

Different backgrounds, personalities, and riding skills, all make for a unique experience every time we hit the road. The greatest moments on every trip are when the group comes together for pizza in Uyuni, or wine in Tarija, and just enjoys each other’s company. After all, a major joy of riding is doing it with your friends! And we’d love to have you come be a part of a trip – get in touch to find out more.


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