How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
We actively support the Rota Vicentina Association (www.rotavicentina.com) both financially and through assistance in maintaining trails.
As a husband and wife team we do not have any employees, partly due to the onerous legal and financial obligations and also because there is generally a shortage of local labour in the region. In a municipality of just 26,000 (2011 census), the local farms now have to employ hundreds of migrant workers from Asia and Eastern Europe.
We therefore sub-contract luggage transfers work to local taxi operators across five municipalities.
Our individually selected overnight accommodations must meet various criteria:
Locally owned and managed. (Unless a client specifically requests an accommodation that is not on our standard list.)
Use, wherever possible, local sourced produce for breakfasts and picnic lunches.
Be within easy walking distance of the trail, ideally 2-300 metres but 1km at most, so that walkers usually will not need vehicular transfers at the start or end of their walks. (This falls under environmental responsibility below.)
As required by Portuguese law we have an online complaints procedure, details of which are communicated to all clients.
Our business in Portugal, Ramblin'tejano, Lda. is licensed with Turismo de Portugal (Portugal National Tourist Board) as a touristic activities operator. Under that license we have “Turismo de Natureza” (Nature Tourism) accreditation from the Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas - ICNF Nature Conservation Institute and Forestry, which is a legal requirement to offer any touristic outdoor activity in any Portuguese natural park.
Our accreditation covers the Parque Natural de Sudoeste Alentejo e Costa Vicentina (Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast) through which most of the Rota Vicentina passes.
We are allowed to use the trademark NaturalPT, which through a partnership of Turismo de Portugal and the ICNF recognises our business as meeting the values that are associated with the protected areas.
Prospective clients are provided with detailed information about the public transport connections to and from the region to encourage more eco-friendly travel.
Our walk information packs detail the ICNF code of conduct in full on the first page.
In respect of recycling;
To ensure reliable quality, we only use original print cartridges, which after use are returned to our local vendor for recycling.
The blank reverse side of all old printed documents is reused for internal documents, before being taken to the local paper recycling point.
All walk information packs are sent electronically to clients, so they may choose not to have a printed version.
We have never produced printed brochures. Our website and word of mouth have been our route to market.
Our main vehicle meets the latest emissions standards, CAT 6. Each days route is planned for minimum mileage, such that the first item of luggage collected may be the last delivered.
We suggest: Walk only along the marked trails. Follow and respect them in order to lessen the impact of your presence. Respect private property; close gates behind you. Respect the nature. Do not collect or disturb animals, plants or rocks. Do not leave litter or traces of your presence. Help us out by picking up any litter you may find on the way. Trails with no toilet, carry a bag and keep the trail clean.
Noise and disturbance of wildlife should be avoided, especially in places of shelter and reproduction; 2) The observation of the fauna must be done at a distance and preferably with binoculars or other appropriate optical equipment; 3) Food should not be left in the countryside or supplied to wild animals; 4) Animals, plants, mushrooms or geological samples should not be collected;
Litter and any waste produced shall be collected and deposited in the appropriate places; 8) A fire should only be made in the places authorised for this purpose; 9) Whatever the nature of the activity, all the movements inherent to it must use existing paths and trails; 10)Signage must be respected
Water from the public supplies does meet EU standard and as such it is drinkable, however the nature of the distribution system and the warm climate requires the pumping stations and water towers to be shut down for regular scheduled cleaning. This can give rise to a taste of chlorine, which many people find unpalatable. On each walking day, we provide a 1.5l bottle of spring water, whilst several smaller bottles may be more manageable to carry, in an effort to reduce the use of single-use plastics we can only offer the larger bottles. If you have your own water bottles or backpack pouches and are happy to use the tap water, please do so to further reduce the usage of single-use plastics. Generally, when the water supplies are turned off for cleaning, this happens during the day and should not interfere with your bathroom needs in the morning or evening. This region does suffer from prolonged periods of drought, which is further exacerbated by the high demands of intensive agriculture. You can help to save water in various ways: For stays of 2 nights or more please do not request clean linens. Take a shower rather than a bath, even if the thought of a relaxing hot bath after a tiring walk seems appealing. Do not leave the tap running when brushing your teeth. Do not flush the toilet unnecessarily
The Rota Vicentina Association, with whom we have been partners since 2014, has its own programme of responsible travel, which aims to embrace the local community, protect the environment and support local business. We provide our clients with information about this project, artesanal workshops and excursions with local guides to enable them to do more than just walking on what is primarily a walking holiday.
Besides a detailed walk information pack we also provide details and tips about local life and customs, be it as simple as the absence of a “gratuity culture” to the fake cork products in the shops to how to order the coffee of your choice.
We advise clients to be polite and friendly towards local people, it is not uncommon for strangers to greet each other with “Bom dia” - “Good day” before lunch and “Boa Tarde” - “Good afternoon” until nightfall. Tell them why you’re there and take the opportunity to share experiences.
Souvenirs of your visit may not be locally produced. In common with most tourist destinations much comes from the far east. Look for a “Made in Portugal” or “Fabricado em Portugal” label. Cork is a major crop of the region, which is now used to produce many different items, such as shoes, hats, handbags which generally command a high price. If you see cork products that seem extremely affordable, it could well be “faux cork”, watch out for the “Made in China” label. Seek out local artisan shops to support the local economy. Details of artisans who are active in the Odemira municipality can be found at http://cacoartesanato.pt/artesaos/ . Details of those located close to the trails are shown under the “recommendations” for each accommodation.