Ayni Peru Expedition
How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
Ayni Peru works only with professional local guides and support staff in each area our clients visit. For example, a tour in Cusco is led by a native of the city, the same would be true in Arequipa, La Paz etc. On our treks and homestays local employment is even more geographically specific. On treks, cooks, horsemen and support staff come from along each route, often meeting our groups from tiny, remote villages. With homestays, our clients travel to communities and stay in the homes of partner families. These families set the price for their services, and are paid directly during the visit. The goal of these policies are to provide a source of work and income for people where they live, outside of typical tourism corridors. This helps to prevent migration to larger cities in search of work, and spreads the economic benefits of international tourism a little further.
In addition, Ayni Peru is committed to supporting communities through the organization of medical clinics, school supply drives and other projects. We commit to four quarterly projects per year, which are planned and executed with community input and cooperation.
As trek operators, we are privileged to lead clients through pristine and remote wild areas. Along the way, we follow Leave No Trace guidelines, pack out all waste, and keep noise and light pollution to an absolute minimum. We also offer educational treks to endangered areas such as the rapidly-retreating Quelccaya Ice Cap, the largest glaciated area in the tropics. Trips like these serve as powerful illustrations of the danger posed to our planet by climate change.
On treks, tours and in our office, Ayni Peru strives to minimize waste and recycle whenever possible. Reusable snack bags, bottles, flatware and utensils are used on treks and tours, and we use solar lighting instead of gas for lighting while camping. We are committed members of TAP (Travelers Against Plastic), which means that we have pledged not to use disposable plastic bottles on our treks and tours, encourage clients to bring their own refillable bottles on their trips with us, and explain why this is so important in developing countries. We take our pledge even further than required, by providing safe drinking water refills during tours and treks.
Finally, all recyclable office materials are recycled on a weekly basis, even when this is not the easiest to do in a city such as Cusco. For example, plastic needs to be delivered to a recycling non-profit outside of the city center.
Ayni Peru is strongly committed to supporting and honouring local culture. Cusco and the Andes in general are home to an astonishing variety of cultural traditions and histories, and many of our tours and activities focus on the beauty and importance of Andean culture. Although there are many, here are a few examples of this:
1. Enjoying a traditional lunch in the home of a local family instead of a restaurant on tours.
2. Visiting festivals in respectful and educational manner.
3. Learning about ceramic traditions in Peruís Sacred Valley with a visit to a family-run studio.
4. Traditional weaving classes in remote communities.
Because we work so frequently with remote communities and participate in a variety of cultural activities, Ayni Peru requires that all guides speak Quechua (an indigenous language of South America). This ensures that guides can communicate clearly and respectfully with locals, as many do not speak and understand English or Spanish well (or at all). In addition, it helps to strengthen an endangered language and provides a richer and more informed experience for clients.