Essence of Madagascar small group tour
Description of Essence of Madagascar small group tour
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As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.
PlanetThis tour focuses largely on the wonderful national parks of Madagascar, which are home to many species found nowhere else on earth. By visiting these parks we contribute to crucial conservation and research projects designed to ensure the long term well being of the wildlife that lives here. We work with local guides in the parks who know the areas well – these are from the communities that surround the parks and this therefore ensures that these vital areas are seen not just as the preserve of wealthy western tourists but as a valuable source of employment and income for local people, thus further contributing to conservation and acting as a discouragement to unsustainable use of the parks’ resources. We issue guidelines to our travellers about the importance of leaving these parks as they were, and taking all litter out when we leave.
We work with our local suppliers to highlight best practice in terms of environmental issues, an important effort in a country where the environment is often taken for granted and green thinking is largely absent.
PeopleOn this tour we visit Anja Reserve, a community run reserve with good and easily visible populations of ring tailed lemurs. The proceeds from the reserve are channeled back to the local community, thus providing them with a valuable source of local income as well as an incentive to preserve Madagascar’s precious wildlife.
We visit a number of areas that are considered sacred to local people on this tour. We use local guides from these regions, who are able to explain to us the cultures and customs and ensure that we do not unwittingly offend the local people, many of whom have very complex social beliefs. The Malagasy believe in fady – taboos – which can often seem bewildering to outsiders and may differ from village to village, and we believe that it detrimental to both visitors and hosts to transgress these.
Our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned suppliers, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within such suppliers means that your experience will be enhanced. We also try to engage with our suppliers on an equal basis – getting the lowest possible price usually isn’t the best outcome for local communities and is ultimately unsustainable. We aim to always treat our suppliers fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an ongoing relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved.
We believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures – usually between one and three a year - for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism. We want to visit an area as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come.
We only employ local staff and unlike many operators we believe that to send a foreign Tour Leader along to accompany your trip is an unnecessary burden on your wallet and our carbon footprint. We believe that locals know best. Our local operators only use locally owned accommodation. This means your money stays in the area to benefit the local community. When possible we use local transport, (i.e. rail or bus) and we always use local restaurants, markets and shops and encourage our clients to interact both financially and socially with the communities that they are passing through. In doing this your travels are supporting and encouraging the development of local services.
We only work with operators who are as committed as we are to putting something back into the communities we visit. This may include giving a percentage of the profits from each tour to a foundation to help street children or local conservation projects. Furthermore, in order to allow our clients to make an informed decision on where a greater proportion of their money should be spent, we avoid including pre-paid full board meals where possible. Local restaurants and cafes then benefit.
Our groups average only six clients, and many tours operate on a private basis with just two travellers. This has much less impact when travelling through rural areas, reducing our environmental and social affects. Finally to emphasise our commitment to Responsible Tourism all clients will receive a copy of our Travellers Code of Conduct with their travel documents.