I wanted to leave a review for veloguide and the tour guide they hooked me up with. (I got permission from the tour guide to post his name here.) Tl;dr I had a great experience and can recommend both.
After signing up, I messaged several potential guides, but only one replied. Without me doing anything, at one point veloguide’s concierge sent me an email, telling me they will take care of this. I was a bit surprised, even doubting this person is really from veloguide. But she was and eventually told me she found a suitable guide for me. True enough, I got in touch with the guide before booking and then booked the tour. The tour wasn’t cheap, I paid $315 for an all-inclusive, but let me already say here that this was a fair value given what I got.
Originally, my guide Claus (@clausplaut on veloguide) was supposed to pick me up from a metro stop, but due to the violent protests service of the public transportation system had been suspended. Claus picked me up from my Airbnb and we set off. He is actively racing both, road bikes and mountain bikes. The bike he got for me (after checking my measurements and weight) was a top-end trail bike, complete with Pivot carbon frame, SRAM XX1 groupset, dropper post and Hope 4-pot brakes. When locked out, it was more efficient uphill than my XC fully. And lighter as well. I also got a pack of Goo gels and a pack of tabs for my water bottles. Claus clearly knows the area extremely well, I wanted a XC tour, and that is what I got. We climbed almost non-stop for over 3 hours (2,500 m of elevation in total). However, I could feel I am living at sea level, because after about 2.5 hours or so I needed another gear, 28:42 wasn’t easy enough for me to spin without going into the red. The path got very, very steep in pieces and was quite technical. I had to crouch over the bike to balance traction in the front and rear. Claus kept on trucking: he seemed quite slow initially, but he kept his pace steady the whole time. At the top he had organized lunch, although I had brought my own just to be safe. He gave me two choices of going down, a pro line or the way we came. Since my handling skills have atrophied quite a bit (I haven’t regularly ridden offroad in over five, six years), I chose the easy route. Even that proved a bit tricky initially. The Chileans call it “anti-grip”, and I slid out several times until I got used to it. Basically the area is so arid that the ground compactifies to a rock hard, slippery surface, which then gets dusted with sand. Claus had a lot of gas left in the tank and his handling skills are on another level (wheeling downhill on several occasions). I’m sure people who are better off road than I am would be happy, too.
Overall, I am a happy camper, I had a great trip and would definitely do this again. I know this was a spendy early Christmas present, but I have learnt that experiences >> gear or money. The trip also made me want to work on my handling skills and spend more time on my beloved mountain bike.