Interview with Felipe: Guiding at the End of the World
"Patagonia is one of the world's most beautiful places that is often labeled as its 8th wonder. This fierce and unruly location is a big drawcard for visitors who clamber traipse through at a staggering rate; 260, 000 tourists pass through Torres del Paine each year. The sad truth that some of the National Park's most well-worn trails, such as the W trek, are now eroding alarmingly fast, prompting appeals for help from non-profits such as the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund and Tu Mejor Huella. I spoke with Felipe Sunkel, a long-time guide and former geologist, about the reality of living and working in Patagonia, as well as what prompted him to set up his own business, Madre Roca Patagonia."
By Helen Cordery
At the End of the World: Interview with Felipe of Madre Roca Patagonia
1. What made you decide to become a tour guide?
I decided to become a tour guide when I was 24 years old. I had a great job in the mining industry which allowed me to pay back my student debts, but I quickly realized that my passion for geology went against participating in mining activities. What I love about guiding is that I can share this passion with people from all over the world and spark their interest in a field that they don´t necessarily know about.
2. What makes a good guide a great guide?
A great guide should be a leader that never loses control of their group. They should be authoritative but also flexible enough to work with the conditions and risks associated with each trip. As well as knowledge, they should be charismatic with people and captivate their attention and interest easily. They should also be able to make decisions quickly and confidently under pressure.
4. What made you decide to set up your own business, Madre Roca?
Since I have come to work in Torres del Paine, I have noticed the number of tourists visiting the National Park every year increasing. With Claire, my partner, we aim to help decongest the park by orientating our guests to choose off-the-beaten-track excursions around the region. Patagonia has so much to offer but we want to specialize in unique, scientific experiences.