Cordillera Real climbing holiday in Bolivia

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13 Jul 2021
excluding flights
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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

One of the ways we help protect the environment on our Summits of Bolivia trek, is to make the local people aware of cultural heritage. There are buildings around the base of the mountains that date back to pre-Incan or Incan times and some also to Spanish colonial times. Together with specialised institutions such as the CIAT (Centro de Investigaciones Arqueologicas de Tiwanaku), we motivate and teach the local inhabitants about the value of these old buildings so that they can understand the real meaning of them and can value what is theirs.

To reduce plastic waste during this trek in Bolivia, at the start of our trek each traveller is given a small Andean textile bag. This is used as a personal snack bag and can be filled during the trip when we bring in snacks such as fruits, nuts, chocolate bars and candies in bulk.

Another way to reduce waste on this trek is the fact that we limit the use of processed & dehydrated food to powdered milk & coffee. For basically everything else we use fresh produce that we mostly buy from the local villagers and that is then prepared by our trained cooks. This way, were avoiding bringing in any unnecessary wrappings.

The waste that is left is either taken back to the cities and organic waste is either buried, fed to the local animals, or sometimes burned.
The showers & toilets that we use in our camps are generally created from waste materials. Like this example, we have found more eco-solutions to meet our needs on this trek.

In order to reduce our energy consumption and pollution this normally brings along, we use LED lights in the camps. In the remoter areas we stay, electricity is supplied by means of renewable energy sources such as solar panels. Besides this, of course the nature of this trekking trip automatically reduces the negative impact on the environment as most of our mode of transport is on foot.

Water saving initiatives especially apply to our stays in refuges and eco lodges. Our guides and drivers collect waste water from eg. washing the cars, which then gets mainly used to flush toilets. Our local team is also engaged in educating lodge owners in water saving practices. For example, our refuge in Huayna Potosi now collects water from their roof in a big tank to flush their toilets.

The Impacts of this Trip

In the operation of the Summits of Bolivia trip we work with 75% people from the rural areas we visit and 25% people from the cities. The rural communities need all the assistance they can get in order to generate a sustainable income. Our team speaks their language (Aymara and Quechua) and is familiar with their traditions and fears. Because of the close relationships that we hold with these people, they understand the benefit and income that travellers bring them, which in turn motivates to provide good services.

While we are camping, our cooks supply their ingredients that are produced by local families from the area. We avoid middlemen making sure the proceeds go directly to these families while at the same time securing fresh ingredients for our travellers. Examples of such produce are fresh milk, cheese and eggs, but also potatoes and quinoa from the higher plains and fresh vegetables when we camp in sheltered valleys. Because Bolivia is close to the equator, vegetation goes as high as 5000m.

Another way we make sure that the local population benefits most from our stay, is by working with the local people directly. The lodges and refuges we stay at are locally owned and managed. When using mules, we employ these from the local area as well, offering them a permanent income from tourism. Our cooks, porters and assistant leader guides are often from the local area and trained by our on the ground team.

Our main expedition guide Juan is involved in the AGMTB (Association of Mountain & Trekking Guides in Bolivia) that looks after the training of mountain leaders and young people coming from the traditional tourist/trekking regions. Besides this, our local operation conducts regular staff training themselves. An example of this is the training of expedition cooks by Rosa, chef and wife of the main guide. They are said to have been trained so well, that they can even prepare pizza at high camps on glaciers!

On route, we take time to visit local craft makers at their home. Travellers than have the opportunity to buy the crafts but also learn about the way the artisans live and the skills it takes to create the crafts. Visiting a weaver, can then feel like being at a real living museum. The locals are benefitted by interacting with our trekkers, sustaining their traditional skills, and generating some income.

Through our network on the ground, we support the IRIS (Improvement of Rural Isolated Schools) project in the High Andes of Bolivia. A small percentage of the proceeds of our trip goes to this project, which moves from one area to another to improve a local school and be self-sufficient in the long run. Examples of such improvements are setting up a library that includes electricity, books, a computer and furniture. But also purchasing appropriate and necessary equipment, building classrooms, providing environmental training and health training. The work of this project extends well beyond the children and also reaches their teachers and parents. Normally we spend three years with a school and walk them through various stages to be self-sufficient after that.


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