YellowWood Adventures

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 YellowWood Adventures specialises in trekking and adventure holidays in the exceptional destinations of Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Mongolia & Kashmir. We believe the best way to experience a country is on foot, so our trips are tailored for all abilities, regardless of hiking experience or age. Our small group adventures are generally 9-days in duration and our travellers tend to be aged between 30-60 years. We offer a mixture of cultural sightseeing, trekking in picturesque mountains, local festivals, horse riding and skiing.
Member since: 07 Dec 2018

How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...

Economic responsibility

We employ local tour leaders in all destinations and local guides and we use local accommodation providers that share our environmental concerns. We stay with local families on many of our trips and we visit local villages and schools and encourage as much local interaction as possible during our trips.

In the UK most work from home, we operate for the main part as a paper-free company, we all use public transport on work-related journeys and many times we cycle to meet up for internal meetings

YellowWood Adventures Ltd. (YWA) operates only in ‘off the beaten track’ destinations and uses local individuals and companies to provide services into our adventure packages. These services vary greatly including but not limited to; locally-owned hotels, local mountain guides, porters, cooks, horsemen, drivers, restaurants, cultural guides, home-owners/families who show us traditional customs/cooking/ceremonies, dancers, musicians, guards, messengers, farmers who can provide meat/produce for meals and camp helpers.

Many of the above mentioned people live in the areas we directly travel through and support their families whom live there also, so there is often a trickle-down effect financially from our adventures into the communities we travel through. Both our clients and YWA-representative guides are encouraged to tip generously when they receive a good service from these people, which is also beneficial in generating income for local service-providers.

Charity is an area that YWA is moving into in a big way. Already we have begun on a small scale by sending private trips to charity projects such as a couple we sent to the fistula centre in Addis Ababa: to whom the couple later made a substantial donation. We have realised that the best way to encourage this support in a meaningful and sustainable way however is not through the ad-hoc visits by only those tourists who demonstrate a particular interest – but through larger projects in partnership with corporations:

To this effect we have launched a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) B2B product: which we are currently selling into UK-based corporations in partnership with whom are very experienced in this space and can provide the logistical rollout of projects in collaboration with the charities of corporations’ choice in the countries we operate in.

YWA believes that awareness is key to addressing local issues and by bringing tourists to ‘off the beaten track’ destinations we believe are doing a lot to build this awareness in our clients. We do not actively campaign as a company, but are looking to sustainably address these issues through the related charities we partner with for our CSR projects.

Environmental responsibility

Our aim is always to try and choose the path less travelled so we avoid the honeypots and take our travellers to truly remote areas of a destination. We use the expertise of the locals, use local transport, ride horses, hiking through villages and supporting local economies that are not used to seeing foreigners. We eat locally, stay locally and mix with the locals!

In destination our local guides lead by example in helping our customers to respect the natural wildlife and the people and places they are visiting.

In terms of the wildlife practises are on more of a common-sense basis but are still strongly emphasised as not all of our clients are familiar with travelling in natural environments: Clients are briefed on not leaving any litter or foreign food items which may be eaten by the wildlife and could be damaging to their health; gates in pastorally farmed areas must always be shut after passing through to prevent the escape, loss and/or injury of livestock; we do not approach wild animals who may then be forced to fight/flee which can cause injury; clients must never walk close behind a horse who may kick if spooked; local dogs must be treated with caution as often they are trained as guards etc.

Our clients are camping for most of our adventures and so the only water they will use will be for drinking or if they wash it will be in streams and rivers so we are never wasting water in this regard. In particular regions of Iran, Mongolia and Ethiopia especially, the environment can be very dry and water is a precious commodity – our clients are briefed in these regions to keep showers short if we are staying in hotels; to not needlessly drain the community water levels.

All of our clients are fully briefed in the best environmental practises on all of our trips. Many of our adventures involve hiking/riding through very natural environments and we work with the policy of ‘Take nothing but memories, Leave nothing but footprints’. This means that we do not leave any foreign materials or waste in these environments from our camps, nor do we take any objects from the environment nor disturb its equilibrium by our presence or actions.

The greatest damage to the environment caused by our clients is via the output of carbon dioxide from their international flights to the adventure destination country. YWA is currently implementing a carbon-offset programme for our clients on our website in collaboration with the tree-planting charity WeForest: YWA will provide our clients with the ability to measure the carbon footprint of their flights online via a carbon calculator such as the following:
- with then the corresponding option to donate an equal or greater amount to WeForest who can then plant enough trees to offset this footprint.

This process is new for us and is taking some specialist bespoke web design in order to implement, and so is not up and running at the time of writing; we are working with the following Co-Founder at WeForest whom you can contact to confirm this collaboration however:

When trekking on our adventures in remote locations our clients go to the toilet in the natural environment using biodegradable toilet paper so there are no problems there. Wherever possible we will opt to stay in eco-lodges who have responsible waste management and recycling policies, including:

Martin Abad Eco Lodge in Iran:

Bale Mountains Eco Lodge in Ethiopia:

Bayern Gobi Eco Camp (gers) in Mongolia: (no website available)

Eco Poplar Resort in Kashmir:

Altyn Arashan Eco Camp (yurts) in Kyrgyzstan:

Social responsibility

All our travellers are provided with detailed pre-departure information upon booking one of our trips. This includes information on respecting local customs, traditions and beliefs-particularly in terms of taking photos, what to wear, any sensitivities surrounding the destination they are about to visit etc. Our western tour leaders are encouraged to learn local languages and to share as much information with the passengers as possible.

Absolutely and without exception local guides stay with our adventure groups alongside a YWA-representative guide at all times in remote areas, including at night. When not in remote areas the YWA-representative guide will be with the group.

YWA completely agrees with, and agrees to adhere to the regulations stated at the above Responsible Travel link concerning the guidelines for partner operators volunteering directly with vulnerable children. We wish to add to this that despite people's good intentions and a genuine willingness to help, often voluntourism projects can be costly or even damaging for hosting organisations, and must be planned both carefully and thoroughly in order to be effective and sustainable. A big exception to this rule is disaster relief, where the more hands on site, the better.

YWA discourages any projects related to orphanages for example, unless we have conducted a good amount of due diligence and planned a long-term project. Resident children have been shown to develop attachment disorders as a result of interacting with infrequent volunteer groups who shower them with affection and then leave suddenly. Some orphanages have even been caught using children who are not actually orphaned to attract foreign donors. They then split the money with the parents. This has led to thousands of children being denied an education. YWA will only be involved in projects where we know we are making a positive, lasting and meaningful difference.

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