Expedition Leaders is a brand name of TravelDEO.
We offer inspirational & sustainable tailor-made adventures (flights, accommodation and tours) for independent travellers to India & The Indian Himalayas. Our unique local understanding and relationships allows us to tailor adventures that are richer, safer and more memorable.
We have 15 years’ experience in:
• Trekking - with itineraries appealing to differing interests and abilities, from foothills to 5,000M.
• Visiting/Participation Volunteering Projects – that support our charity, ASRA. These engage travellers in worthwhile projects in mountain communities that generate long-term benefits for people and communities.
• Cultural Experiences – where travellers can immerse themselves in different cultures and enjoy internationally-renowned northern Indian landmarks.
Member since: 01 Oct 2015
How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
We realise that a big part of tourism can be used to give back to the local community and benefit local economies.
We help to do this through our trips by:
• Investing in the local community and employing local people as guides, drivers and agents
• Treating local people fairly. Temporary employment is under fair conditions, with a living wage, reasonable hours and with plenty of support from our team.
• Working closely with community elders, discussing our plans with them and taking into account any concerns they may have
• Employing local suppliers/hotels/partners as a first choice
• Developing the skills of local people by providing training
• Using food from locally-owned stores and encourage Travellers to eat and drink in local bars and restaurants and stay in Farm Stays
• Providing targeted financial contributions through our established charity, ASRA, that support education, community infrastructure and alleviate local poverty
Expedition Leaders will work with you both before and during travel to minimise environmental and social impacts. Before you travel, we will give you a pre-trip Country and Regional Travellers Guide, which help you know what to expect AND contains practical information on: Geography & Climate; Culture, Language & Religion; Passport & Visa Requirements; Expenses, Money, Bargaining & Tipping; Transport; Health, Security & Safety and Food & Drink.
- As we often operate in fragile environments and within poor and culturally-complex communities, it’s important that you also respect the local environment and people when you’re in India. We ask and expect our Travellers:
• To abide by local laws and customs
• To respect the culture and beliefs of local people
• Not to engage in irresponsible drinking, prostitution or taking illegal substances
• To conduct themselves properly and respect local people, particularly when staying in Farm Stays or within communities on Volunteering Projects
• Not to engage in intimate relationships with local people and to respect their privacy
• To take responsibility for their own behaviour and actions whilst travelling
• To be considerate of the local environment, not to waste precious local resources and to leave the places where they have travelled as they found them
• To treat the local environment sensitively, respect local signage and avoid littering
• To reduce water consumption where possible
• Support local people by eating and drinking in local bars and restaurants and staying in local accommodation
- Transport - almost all our Travellers use air transport to get to India and return home, with European Travellers generating about 2 tonnes of CO2 and US travellers closer to 3.5 tonnes of CO2. This is the single biggest environmental impact created. Expedition Leaders is currently formalising a tree-planting programme that we call ‘Green Footprints’ to offset these CO2 emissions. We will continue planting native trees in protected community forest land close to Thali Village or Karsog Block in Mandi in the Himachal Pradesh region. The broadleaf tree species to be planted are Pipal, Botha and Khair (the latter which has medicinal properties) and these will primarily planted during the monsoon in July and August. Additional community benefits come from stabilising the ground, protecting the villages from flooding.
- Water - the mountain regions around Mandi are very rural, with subsistence farming a key way of life. Many villages lack clean water for drinking and for irrigating crops. Through our charity, ASRA, Expedition Leaders has been involved in projects in Ayu village in Ladakh to construct water channels to secure water supply which is often scarce in summertime in these higher parts of the Himalayas. Expedition Leaders has also helped local villages conserve, manage and improve water quality – the most recent project of which was in September 2015 for Neen School near Durgapur, Himachal Pradesh. We have committed to install water filters in 5 further schools in the Satluj Valley by March 2016.
- We travel with respect: an important part of any Expedition Leader’s adventure is interaction with the local communities. Expedition Leaders has done a significant amount of work with younger Travellers in this area that has helped promote learning and cultural exchange. In some of the hilltop villages, particularly around Shimla, we have helped bring together people from very different backgrounds and perspectives through joint cultural activities such as creating arts and crafts and playing sport. Travellers stay with villagers and by sharing in the daily lives of locals and joining in with their customs and traditions develop a unique understanding and respect for them. At the same time, local people are equally as interested to find out more about western cultures.
- Volunteering & Charity
Many poor families are provided with basic food rations from the Indian Government each month. However some families are so poor that they struggle to even cover the approximately £6/month cost of the additional food needed to feed a family of 4 or 5 people. Through a generous donation from one of our travel groups combined with other Expedition Leaders’ own funds, our charity ASRA has established a Food Subsidy Programme in the hilltop village of Thali Panchayat. We will be supporting about 20 families for the next 2 years. Providing food for these families is important first step in helping them to become self-dependant. We will also be helping these families in parallel by providing basic education, skills development and support with farming.