Central and Western India holiday, Rural Life

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Central and Western India holiday, Rural Life

Environment

1 Both our accommodation providers, at Bhoramdeo and Kanha have turned plots of land that previously were either unproductive scrubland, or environmentally damaging eucalyptus, into well wooded havens for bird and insect life. The camp owners at Kanha have gradually felled the eucalypt, using it to build the shells for their tented accommodation and all their furniture (it is a marvelous mosquito repellent) whilst continually replanting mixed forest as they go. All our accommodations provide alternative drinking water to the ubiquitous plastic bottles that now litter India (quite apart from the disposal of plastic bottles, it takes four litres of water to produce a single litre of drinking water). All accomodation providers dispose of their rubbish on site using composting where possible and trying to minimize the purchase of anything plastic wrapped.

2 We operate with small group sizes which not only maximises interaction within the group and guides and local community but also minimises the impact on environment.

3 We work with Frank Water a UK water charity (reg. 1121273) that works with NGO partners across India to improve access to safe water and sanitation. In our area, Kabirdham, FRANK works with Samerth, a local NGO, to provide safe clean water to an area that has suffered much due to climate change. We have more fund raising projects in the pipeline, including a sponsored walk visiting villages that have been helped by Samerth, which we hope will raise both funds and awareness.

4 We believe wildlife tourism can be an important conservation tool if used responsibly. Travel to national parks and wildlife areas brings positive economic benefits as entrance fees contribute to the maintenance and conservation of local flora and animal species, while visitors benefit from the educational aspects of the area and take away with them an increased awareness of the need and place for conservation. Equally important tourism helps the local communities living around these reserves by providing jobs and helping them realise the importance of the forest.

Community

We believe there are two fundamental factors in creating a successful and socially beneficial holiday: slow travel and placing value on local knowledge. All our guides on treks in the hills are local herdsmen (yadavs) or farmers; they not only know the best routes and the food and medicinal uses of every plant and tree, but also whether it is worth a diversion to see a leopard footprint, to bypass a village where private ceremony is taking place or drop in on one where a baby welcoming party will enjoy the presence of some extra guests. It enables real relationships to be established between guests and host nationals.

We ensure that there are multiple languages speakers on all our tours to avoid cultural faux pas and to enrich the exchanges between everyone. Our guides ensures that same villages are not visited by foreigners more than once in any month and that all supplies are brought along so no strain is put on the local resources. We encourage guests to bring small but useful presents; jumpers or shawls for children (central Indian winter nights can be bitterly cold) and fresh fruit and vegetable for longer stays (50% of Indian people do not even eat one fully balance meal a day).

All our accommodation providers employ the vast majority of their staff from local villages and encourage the learning of English, interaction with guests and opportunities for promotion. The also support the education of the children of their staff and their health needs.

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