As a global tour operator, we are committed to travelling responsibly and endeavour to practise sustainable tourism wherever we visit. We believe that responsible travel is about the attitude you take with you and the choices you make when travelling - to respect and benefit local people, their cultures, economy and the environment. These values are more than just words on a page; they are ingrained in our culture and the daily operations of every office and every trip.
We take care in ensuring we use local transport throughout our tours, including cyclos, remorks and bicycles and we always travel in small groups – this tour has a maximum of 12 but our average is around 10 passengers – and this enables us to stay in locally owned, small accommodation, encouraging unique connections with local people. On this tour, we stay in a traditional Khmer wooden stilt house and help the family prepare dinner before dinning in the grounds of the 9th century Banteay Chhmar ruins. The experiences our travellers have here provide them with a unique insight into local life, encourage involvement in local activity and expose them to the traditions of Cambodian culture.
In Cambodia dress standards are conservative, particularly outside of the major cities; we recommend that our travellers (both male and female) wear loose, lightweight clothing so as not to offend, particularly when visiting religious sites. We encourage our travellers to purchase souvenirs locally to support local businesses, contributing to the destination and to aid the economies of smaller villages. We visit a local village market to see, taste and purchase local ingredients, like galangal, turmeric, kaffir limes, lemongrass and more, for our Khmer cooking class. We take an evening cyclo tour of Phnom Penh and try some of the local street food, in particular, crickets; a sustainable food source and high in protein. Insects not only drive imperative financial support for locals from the travellers’ interest in such a delicacy, but also a healthy diet option.
In Batambang, we visit local villages & meet local producers of rice paper, prahok [fish paste], rice wine and then stop at the best kralanh [sticky rice bamboo] stall in the district. On our tours, we try and incorporate real life experiences with the principles of responsible travel, by showing our travellers the back story of a destination. In Cambodia we visit a small family run palm sugar producer to learn and try out a new skill; you get to taste one of the treats made from the palm sugar, a sugary caramel a little like caramel fudge.
We aim to educate our travellers as we travel, so we eat for a cause at an inspirational hospitality school which provides vocational training for former street youths in Phnom Penh.
As a company, our responsibilities don’t stop when our tours end. Our own in house foundation has been in operation for over 10 years; a not-for-profit fund that has distributed over AU$3 million to more than 70 non-government organisations since 2002, from health care, education, human rights, child welfare, sustainable development and in environmental and wildlife protection. Donations come from our travellers and are then matched by us dollar for dollar.
We run three charities based in Cambodia, The Starfish Project; a community based humanitarian organisation assisting disadvantaged Cambodians, Ptea Teuk Dong; An organisation working to improve the lives of street families and abused girls by providing education, clothing, health care and training and Green Gecko; a centre based in Siem Reap dedicated to empowering the street children with education, training, health care counselling and creative workshops. We are passionate about helping disadvantaged Cambodians to achieve goals and give them a stable support system.