Responsible tourism: Climb Mount Cotopaxi, Ecuador
We use local professional mountain guides in Ecuador on all of our mountaineering trips. This provides local employment and training. We use local porters and arrerios (mule drivers) and mules for carrying equipment and stock our tours from local markets, buying local foods without packaging where possible.
All our staff, from porters to guides, are paid fairly and we encourage our clients to interact with their hosts, promoting cross-cultural understanding of the area and the people that are being visited. Our group sizes are small, keeping the environmental impact of our teams to a minimum. Waste is all carried out and we follow a leave no trace philosophy in fragile mountain areas. We follow a strict sanitary practice regarding water (not washing dishes in rivers or lakes, bathrooms at least 50m from water bodies).
We are support several charities in South America. We have recently started an additional support of the UK registered charity Amantani. As this charity is very much in keeping with our ethos of small scale, targeted help which is educational & sustainabale. HuchuyYachaq is the other main Peruvian charity we support by paying a for a full time teacher. We also donate to the Galapagos Conservation Trust for all of our visitors to Galapagos and Rainforest Conservation Trust. A % of all our income goes to support those projects.
We also make a positive contribution by being members of a variety of organisations that are work in nature and wildlife conservation – John Muir Trust, Galapagos Conservation Trust, LATA Foundation, Rainforest Concern and Tourism Concern. Our donations have helped to plant more than 100,000 trees helping to reforest Peru’s Andes, with a target of one million trees planted before 2020.
We minimise carbon output from our UK office operations (turn machines off overnight, use low energy light bulbs, recycle all waste, bike or walk to work etc) and use non-toxic, fair trade products where ever possible. We share an office space with two other companies to minimise power consumption. We help to carbon offset our own flights also through Rainforest Concern and use local transport in the UK and for all our tours where possible, rather than hiring private vehicles & adding transport to the roads. If you book a trip with us, we ask if you would like to contribute to Rainforest Concern to offset some of the carbon footprint, the money being used on South American projects to protect natural habitats.
By working with local people on all our trips, we ensure we pay fair wages and inject vital funds into the local economy. We do this by using specialist agents on the ground with insight into the communities they live and work in, and working with locally-owned hotels and restaurants wherever possible. In turn, these partners employ local trek staff: porters, muleteers, cooks and guides who are all educated in cherishing and respecting the landscape and leaving no trace. These workers keep us informed of any items their communities may need for their schools or village, and we endeavour to raise funds to help them.
Fresh local produce from small shops and markets is sourced in and around departure towns and villages – we always prefer to choose local rather than imported goods. We use public transport whenever possible, and aim to offer our guests opportunities to meet and talk to local people, soak up the atmosphere of villages and markets and learn about the vibrant culture of your proud hosts.
Over the years, everyone that has travelled with us has helped good causes across South America. As a small company iwe are proud to say that we support the work of nine charities/NGOs through donations and membership fees. These donations have contributed towards the education of many Peruvian Quechua children, a teacher’s salary, library materials and school maintenance costs at Huchay Yachaq.
We also send six volunteers annually to work in the Huchay Yachaq project and have paid for the set up and cost of hosting their website and donated photocopiers, computers and various school supplies. Amantani is another project we support. We sponsored the Grafham Water Marathon in Sept 2011, which raised more than £21000 to go towards Amantani’s boarding house project in Peru. Our UK staff also took part in the race, swelling the sponsorship funds. And for every booking that we make for Galapagos we donate to Galapagos Conservation Trust.