Responsible tourism: Nicaragua highlights, small group tour
The local homes we stay in predominantly use local produce in the preparation of meals, avoiding as much as possible bringing food from far away and thus reducing carbon footprints. Leon is a great example of this, offering comfortable hospitality and home comforts all locally sourced. We make every effort to alert the owners of the accommodation in question to ways of improving their service with the environment in mind.
We use public transport and walking as much as possible to minimise our carbon footprint. Clients explore the town of Leon by bike, and visit a coffee plantation in Selva Negra Cloud Forest on foot to help preserve the environment and reducing our carbon footprint. We work closely with our local suppliers to highlight best practice in terms of environmental issues.
We visit Leon Viejo (old town) and the largest cathedral in Central America, which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Our visits to these sites help to support local projects to conserve the area's cultural and geographical heritage.
Our groups average only six clients, and many 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 emphasis our commitment to Responsible Tourism all clients will receive a copy of our Travellers Code of Conduct with their travel documents.
On this tour clients spend several nights staying as guests of a local family in their home, where clients have the opportunity to sample traditional, local dishes and meet the friendly Nicaraguan people. We believe that staying in family homes not only gives travellers an authentic and very special insight into the lives of local people, but brings tangible benefits to small communities that may otherwise be overlooked by the tourism industry. Spending time with local hosts enables for more cultural interaction than travellers would experience when staying in large hotels.
Staying in cities such as Leon, Managua and Granada keeps money within the community, benefiting the local economy and projects for restoration work on colonial buildings.
We visit Selva Negra Cloud Forest where clients partake in a coffee walking tour, where they will learn about the complete process of coffee, as well as visiting a local farm and witness sustainable farming methods used by the locals. Visiting the coffee plantations and the local farm helps to support the workers and their livelihood.
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.
As well as a local team of drivers and guides, we also use local guides in many of the places where we stop. We make sure that they are paid a wage which is generally higher than the local average. The guides are well trained and there are no additional costs associated with the training program. We try and use small, family run operations to ensure that we help sustain the community economy, and actively seek them out rather than using international chains.