Andean Trails is a small owner run specialist adventure tour operator, which started in 1998 with the aim of providing fantastic adventure holidays which respect both the environment and the people of the areas we work.
Since the start, we have been committed to responsible tourism - employing local staff, supporting small local businesses and donating to vital community projects.
We use only local staff and hand pick our local operators in each of our destination countries - all are small, specialist, professional responsible companies.
A prime example of this is our support for the Tourism Concern Porters Policy, which promotes better working conditions and fair wages for porters on the Inca Trail in Peru.
By working with local people on all our trips, we ensure we pay fair wages and inject vital funds into the local economy.
We do this by using specialist agents on the ground with insight into the communities they live and work in, and working with locally-owned hotels and restaurants wherever possible.
In turn, these partners employ local trek staff: porters, muleteers, cooks and guides who are all educated in cherishing and respecting the landscape and leaving no trace. These workers keep us informed of any items their communities may need for their schools or village, and we endeavour to raise funds to help them.
Fresh local produce from small shops and markets is sourced in and around departure towns and villages – we always prefer to choose local rather than imported goods.
Andean Trails uses public transport whenever possible, and aim to offer our guests opportunities to meet and talk to local people, soak up the atmosphere of villages and markets and learn about the vibrant culture of your proud hosts.
Causes and money donated
Over the years, everyone that has travelled with Andean Trails has helped good causes across South America.
As a small company it is amazing to think we support the work of nine charities/NGOs through donations and membership fees.
These donations have contributed towards the education of more than 40 Peruvian Quechua children, a teacher’s salary, library materials and school maintenance costs at Huchay Yachaq.
We also send six volunteers annually to work in the Huchay Yachaq project and have paid for the set up and cost of hosting their website and donated photocopiers, computers and various school supplies.
Amantani is another project we support. Andean Trails sponsored the Grafham Water Marathon in Sept 2011, which raised more than £21 000 to go towards Amantani’s boarding house project in Peru. Our very own Kathy Jarvis and Kat Dougal took part in the race, swelling the sponsorship funds.
And for every booking that we make for Galapagos we donate to Galapagos Conservation Trust.
We follow a strict sanitary practice regarding water (not washing dishes in rivers or lakes, bathrooms at least 50m from water bodies).
We also make a positive contribution by being members of a variety of organisations that are work in nature and wildlife conservation – John Muir Trust, Galapagos Conservation Trust, LATA Foundation, Rainforest Concern and Tourism Concern.
Our donations have helped to plant more than 100,000 trees helping to reforest Peru’s Andes, with a target of one million trees planted before 2020.
We minimise carbon output from our UK office operations (turn machines off overnight, use low energy light bulbs, recycle all waste, bike or walk to work etc) and use non-toxic, fair trade products where ever possible. We share an office space with two other companies to minimise power consumption.
We help to carbon offset our own flights also through Rainforest Concern and use local transport in the UK and for all our tours where possible, rather than hiring private vehicles & adding transport to the roads.
If you book a trip with us, we ask if you would like to contribute to Rainforest Concern to offset some of the carbon footprint, the money being used on South American projects to protect natural habitats.
Responsible Travel with Andean Trails
By visiting our partners and communities frequently, we can check with our own eyes the impact we and our clients are making.
We follow a “leave no trace” policy: taking our rubbish out - including excrement on Aconcagua and Apurimac; toilets are responsibly built and covered; we use the vehicle size necessary according to group numbers; shop with re-usable bags and avoid plastic.
We and our partners recycle waste where facilities exist. We offer boiled water to refill water bottles instead of buying bottled water, help organize and participate in clean-ups of trek routes and rivers, provide reusable cloth bags for snacks instead of small plastic bags, use biodegradable soap and dishwashing liquid & purchase locally produced food.
All of our partner companies and in our own UK office we provide education and training for staff on our environmental policy and practice. Through our partners we are also currently involved in the construction and maintenance of toilets in the highland communities on our trek routes.
Positive impacts we have made
We can see that our local staff are using less plastic and becoming much more aware of positive environmental practices.
In Patagonia in The Los Glaciares National Park we changed our treks to help minimise their impact, working closely with the park authorities. We continue to try to improve the toilet situation there by writing to the park and by applying pressure through our local partners.
In Torres del Paine national park the camping areas have been massively cleaned up in the last 5 years due to pressure from tour operators including ourselves.
Previously, we have sponsored two of our female Bolivian guides and one of our Peruvian guides to visit the UK for nine months each to study English and do some UK office work experience – visa restrictions make that virtually impossible now unfortunately. We continue a close working relationship with those guides, and will keep trying to get visitors visas for other guides so they can have the same experience.
In Peru we have been proactive in reforestation of mountain areas, with native species, together with local organisations.
Protecting the Galapagos
If you are booking a Galapagos cruise we offer a complimentary one-year membership to the Galapagos Conservation Trust or make a donation of £25 to help them continue their work on these incredible islands.
The Galapagos Islands are a very fragile environment and the arrival of more and more inhabitants to the islands, as well as tourist have an impact. Please try to minimise your impact: