We offer package tours to The Azores which, comprise a group holiday swimming with dolphins, whale watching and staying in luxury accommodation on land. Each group size is maximum 18 people with two guides. We also arrange land based activities learning about the culture and history of the region. Audio- visual presentations offer educational information about the dolphins and whales.
Member since: 07 Dec 2004
How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
- We only employ the services of local accommodations, boat charter, restaurants and guides. We are assured that these suppliers will employ at least 80% local staff.
- The land based lookouts (to track the dolphins and whales) are local men whose family tradition was to search for whales in the old days of whaling. Now these men earn a living from the tourism, tacking the dolphins and whales so their beauty can be appreciated, not destroyed.
- We offer a cultural tour run by an enthusiastic local expert and recommend the services of expert mountain guides to climb the volcano.
- All airport and boat transfers are done by local people.
- We encourage our guests to visit local restaurants and participate in cultural events where they can purchase local crafts. Also, the whale watch company we work with, invites local crafts people to make items to sell to their clients, especially using cow bone instead of whale bone. We recommend clients not to purchase items made from whale bone to deter any profiteering from the slaughter of endangered species to make money.
We always generously tip the staff we work with and give guidelines on tipping practices to our clients.
- Together with our skippers and other professionals, we give talks about the marine environment, wildlife and ecosystems. Clients visit museums documenting historical and scientific information. We also help clients gain an awareness of weather patterns and keep them informed of meteorological reports.
- When on the water, we identify the conditions and behaviours with the animals which are favourable to introduce people to the water and explain when the signs are contra indicative.
- We have reduced our use of paper brochures by 60% in the last 7 years and encourage use of the internet. We only use recycled paper
- We are currently in discussion with the hotel about how to recycle bath water to water the gardens and constantly encourage some of their eco policies. The hotel was constructed from the local volcanic lava (basalt) as are all the walls. They save electricity by washing bath towels weekly, not daily for guests staying a week.
- All our guides hold a life saving qualification ( RLSS Aquatic Rescue Supervisor), they are trained in helping clients develop confidence and competence in the water. Also they offer instruction in how to approach the animals with minimum impact.
- We only work with companies who follow the dolphin swimming guidelines set by the local government regulations and the Azorean Tourism office. The Dolphin Connection has a representative who contributes a voice to the decision making authorities in the Azores regarding creating a sustainable tourism. We regularly speak at conferences there.
- We choose to work with a boat company involved in conservation and education research programes and who invest part of the money we pay towards their research.
- Our local guides introduce our clients to the local community, giving a lot of insight into the history and culture. We also provide pre trip information, which outlines the current social and political realities.
- All our clients complete an extensive medical questionnaire to check their suitability for this active holiday. We give tips form our company and from previous clients of how best to approach the experience and encourage clients to express any concerns before going on the open ocean.
- We are generous with expressing gratitude for the services offered. This encourages a much happier and open relationship between our suppliers and clients