How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
All the agents, accommodation and transport suppliers we work with in country are small businesses and locally owned and run ensuring that the communities we travel to benefit from our visit. We currently support the African Wildlife Foundation and encourage our customers to buy Water-to-go products. Eventually we intend to support small local charities or projects on every tour we operate.
All of our tours involve working with small DMC or agencies that are local to the country we are visiting - we donít use international or multi-country agencies. We also eat at local restaurants, and avoid ones that are geared up for tourists, trying to find authentic ones that are run by local families. A couple of good examples of this would be on the Sardinia trip where we stay and eat at an agritourismo that grows itís own food and all the items that are not produced on their farm are sourced locally, and Norway where one of our accommodations makes a special point of only sourcing local produce for their restaurant. We try to include at least one or two places like this on every trip.
All rubbish generated on tour is recycled or disposed of responsibly and we encourage our customers to use refillable water bottles with filters. We only visit national parks with solid environmental practices and ensure that our behaviour is in no way disruptive to animals or their habitats. All communication with customers is done electronically so that we do not generate unnecessary paper waste.
The environmental impact of our staff flying is countered by carbon offsetting.
Most of our accommodations have a policy of only changing towels when requested rather than every day.
Travelling requires that we consume enough water to keep hydrated and healthy, especially in warmer regions, but in many cases this means having to buy bottled water. Our Photography Leaders use bottles with filters that enable them to drink tap water, and even fill up from natural sources such as streams. The bottles we use are available from Water-to-Go and weíd encourage you purchase one Ė not only do they reduce the amount of plastic used, they pay for themselves after just a few days of travelling in the savings made by not purchasing bottled water. On our tours we endeavour to recycle or responsibly dispose of any plastic bottles we do use.
Photographing wildlife is highly rewarding, but sometimes the most spectacular creatures attract the most attention. We try to avoid wildlife parks where the animals are crowded by Jeeps and aim for more authentic encounters. We support several projects for protecting endangered species including Africaís most endangered carnivore, the Ethiopian wolf.
We aim to deal with our own litter responsibly while on tour, recycling whatever we can. In addition, youíll often see our Photography Leaders and Local Guides picking up any litter they see, and we encourage those travelling with us to do the same.
All our photography holidays include an opportunity to photograph local people in a way that celebrates their culture and traditions. Whether this is the Sami people in Norway, the Chin tribe in Burma or Kazakh eagle hunters of Central Asia, the shoots are always pre-arranged and the local people are well paid. Rather than just photographing them we also learn about their culture and interact with them through an interpreter. This gives a source of income, encourages the maintaining of traditions and helps build relationships, enabling positive and meaningful interactions between people of different cultures. We intend to support one local project on every tour that we run, although this is currently a work in progress.
Aside from our UK photography leader, all tours have a local leader who briefs customers on cultural sensitivities and ensures that our visits are well received by local communities.
People of different cultures often make great subjects for photos, but itís very important that we are respectful and receive permission before photographing them. We always travel with a local guide who will bridge the culture gap and ensure that local sensitivities are considered. A study conducted by Surrey University concluded that photography has a positive effect on destinations by encouraging people to maintain their traditions, and as a source of income for people in poorer parts of the world in the form of tips.
In many countries begging is an unfortunate fact of life. Itís important that it is not encouraged, especially where children are involved as this can lead to them missing school. On all our trips that visit disadvantaged areas we make a small donation to a local charity that helps people at a grass roots level.