Given that many of the destinations and cultures we travel to are largely untouched by western tourism, we believe that travel is a privilege and with it comes the responsibility of ensuring our presence does not erode the very things that make our destinations special.
As such, we ensure our group sizes are small, that we travel with sensitivity and respect and that our encounters with local cultures are on equal terms.
For us, responsible travel isn’t about a tick list of projects that we sponsor but a fundamental belief that travelling needs to be carried out in a way that is sensitive and beneficial both to the communities that we travel through, and to the wider society of the country. The places that we visit are special, and through our efforts we try to ensure that they will stay this way, both for future visitors and the people that live there.
Whilst almost everyone likes taking photographs, it’s important to understand that many people in less developed regions are not comfortable with this, and we ask our travellers to respect their wishes. Sometimes, putting the camera away and just interacting with local people on more equal terms can lead to a far more memorable experience – even if you don’t have the pictures to show for it.
On many of our trips we spend time travelling through pristine areas where human presence is minimal, and to ensure that they remain unspoilt we are careful to take all of our rubbish away with us, and do our best to leave no trace that we have been there. Where there are tracks, we stick to them so as not to degrade the landscape.
We are great believers in empowering local communities to look after themselves, and we feel that the best way to do this is economically. We don’t work with large operators who expatriate their profits, but rather smaller, more locally based teams who pay taxes in the countries they operate in and ensure that the money we pay them funnels back to local communities. Where possible we also try to steer clear of internationally owned hotel chains.
We treat our suppliers fairly, and whilst we strive to ensure that we offer value for money, this doesn’t mean ‘beating them down’ to unsustainable prices. Our local partners are key to what we do and relationships built up over many years mean that many of them have become great friends. This also means that you can assured of great service while you’re travelling.We also work with our local teams to encourage best practice, both in the environmental and social aspects of our trips.
We work with local guides where possible – their deep involvement in the country means that they are able to offer greater insights than a western leader, and means that we both keep our carbon footprint small and ensure that money stays within local communities.
Unlike other companies, we don’t visit local schools or orphanages. We feel that this simply serves as a distraction from much needed education and doesn’t benefit the children in any significant way. Instead, we try to include community based tourism projects within our itineraries so that small communities that are often living well outside mainstream society are able to benefit from our presence.