The Altai region is one of the most pristine environments on earth with many lakes and mountains. We spend time camping in local yurt accommodation in this amazing landscape and make a point of ensuring that we do not leave any permanent traces of our stay behind, making sure that we take all litter with us.
We work with our local suppliers to highlight the best practice in terms of environmental issues, an important effort in a country where the environment is often taken for granted and green thinking is only just emerging.
Our groups average only six clients, and many of our tours operate on a private basis with just two travellers. This has much less impact when travelling through rural areas, reducing our environmental and social affects. Finally to emphasise our commitment to Responsible Tourism all clients will receive a copy of our Travellers Code of Conduct with their travel documents.
During this trip we visit several settlements of the Altai people, who make up only 31% of the Altai Region. The civil war and industrialisation of Russia brought Russian immigrants, reducing the proportion of Altay people by almost 30%. Although most of the Altai population have managed to retain their age-old culture and traditional lifestyles, there is increasing influence from Russians. By visiting the Altai and learning about their culture we hope to encourage them not to lose touch with the practices of their ancestors, and enable them to gain income from tourism in a region where there are few opportunities for employment.
Our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned suppliers, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within such suppliers means that your experience will be enhanced. We also try to engage with our suppliers on an equal basis getting the lowest possible price usually isnt the best outcome for local communities and is ultimately unsustainable. We aim to always treat our suppliers fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an ongoing relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved.
We believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures usually between one and three a year - for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism. We want to visit an area as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come.
We only employ local staff and unlike many operators we believe that to send a foreign tour leader along to accompany your trip is an unnecessary burden on your wallet and our carbon footprint. We believe that locals know best. Our local operators only use locally owned accommodation. This means your money stays in the area to benefit the local community. When possible we use local transport, (i.e. rail or bus) and we always use local restaurants, markets and shops and encourage our clients to interact both financially and socially with the communities that they are passing through. In doing this your travels are supporting and encouraging the development of local services.
We only work with operators who are as committed as we are to putting something back into the communities we visit. Furthermore, in order to allow our clients to make an informed decision on where a greater proportion of their money should be spent, we avoid including pre-paid full board meals where possible. Local restaurants and cafes then benefit.