Andean Trails’ Environmental and Responsible Travel Policy
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.
Introduction to our ethos
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.
Girl at Huchay Yachaq
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 GBP 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. These include:
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.
Iguanas in Galapagos
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:
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The highlight of our holiday was the amazing trek and being in such a remote location surrounded by the most majestic, beautiful mountains. It was absolutely awesome.
Accommodation: It was great in Lima and comfortable in Huaraz with a fantastic rooftop breakfast!
Food: The food on the trek was excellent - we are vegetarian and the cook (Estaban) provided us with delicious, creative and beautiful food throughout and plenty of it. He was like a magician, conjuring up the loveliest food whilst camping in a remote setting.
Guide: Our trek guide (Yunmer) was great. He was extremely informative, had a great sense of humour and was really enthusiastic. He helped carry Jane's water and bag at times - not that we asked him to. He insisted! I have recently had my collarbone plated and he was keen to relieve me of the burden of carrying anything to heavy.
Trek staff: Our donkey / horse driver (Gusman) was brilliant, hard working and quietly helped around camp, setting up, taking down and moving us from one home to the next. The trekking team as a whole were exceptional, really supportive and kind and worked really well together.
Overall organisation was excellent. We felt we were in good hands and looked after well both before and after the trek.
Acclimatising: Acclimatisation walk around Huaraz with Rodolfo was a perfect start to the holiday. Rodolfo is extremely reliable, efficient, well informed and a lovely person. It was great to gain a little insight into the people and culture of the region.
The acclimatisation walk to Laguna Churup with David was another fantastic day. David has been living in the mountains for many years and shared some of his experience and knowledge with us as we surveyed the landscape of peaks, glaciers and lakes.
Benefitting local communities: The local people benefit from the presence of tourists as we provide them an income. Visiting tourists encourages everyone to look after and help maintain this pristine environment- those in the remote communities and also our own trekking team. Visiting tourists also need to respect this. The local people were very grateful that we visited them and also very grateful to Andean trails for their support. They encouraged us to return or send other friends and family. We had some great interactions with our little team and a lot of fun. Sharing our time with these lovely, charming people was very special and we felt that they benefitted as well as us.
Overall: We would strongly recommend anyone who loves nature, being outside and has a sense of adventure to do it.
It is a very special, magical place. Having seen people undertaking the trek unsupported, we felt that having a supported trek was perfect for us as we could really enjoy just being there.
Jane & Greg Windsor, Aus, Sep 2019
» Cordillera Huayhuash Trek, Circuit Walk
We had an absolutely amazing trip and everything was perfect.
Highlights – there were loads of highlights. We loved Quito – especially the morning we went up the Teleferico. We could see for miles over the city to snow capped Volcanos beyond. Our Equador guide and driver were brilliant – Miguel and Memo. They went out or their way to make sure we saw as much as possible – we wouldn’t have seen or learned as much without them. We saw humming bird, toucans, tangers and a fantastic bird of prey sanctuary that wasn’t on the original schedule.
The Galapagos Islands were amazing. Again we saw so much and the guides were brilliant. They were so enthusiastic about their islands, the animals and conservation.
Accommodation etc – the hotels were all excellent. We loved the quirkyness of the hotel in Quito. The staff were very helpful and friendly. The Septimo Paraiso eco lodge in the cloud forest and the Hacienda Las Palmeras near Otavalo were great – the food at Las Palmeras was really excellent. The airport hotel was spotless and friendly but the set meal of Spaghetti bolognese wasn’t great to be honest. We ate in some lovely restaurants and the guides picked some lovely places to stop for food.
Sol y Mar on Santa Cruz was lovely too.
We loved Hotel Albemarle on Isabela. It was a perfect place to spend 5 nights. The rooms were comfy, clean with lovely balconies and views. There were some really good local restaurants, especially Coco surf, recommended by Tania, our Isabela guide.
The company that did our trip to Los Tuneles were fantastic. The guide was so enthusiastic and determined that we would see loads of wildlife. He took loads of photos with his gopro then downloaded them all for us for free when we got back. The lunch on the boat that day was chicken and rice which all three of my kids said was the best lunch they’d had all holiday. It might have been because they were all cold and knackered – they even took the hot sweet tea on offer.
I hope we benefitted the local communities. We enjoyed our trips to the coffee plantation and the chocolate factory and certainly brought plenty of chocolate and coffee back with us. I would like to think that the money we spent goes in someway to help conservation efforts and to keep the cloud forests and the Galapagos Islands as special and unique as they clearly are.
We picked Andean trails because you are based in Scotland and seemed to understand out requirements and came up with a perfect sounding itinary. Flying from Galsgow via Amsterdam worked well and for us was definitely the quickest and easiest way to get there.
Everything worked out perfectly. We had a totally brilliant time. I think it is all still sinking in...
L. Keany, UK, Aug 2019
» 4-day Ecuador Family Holiday
South America Travel Special - mailchi.mp/cad4bbf7fc36/south-…
1st November, 2019 3:14 pm
If you are wondering what to eat in Buenos Aires you might wish to consider a tasting menu. Alan was recently in Buenos Aires and this is the account of his personal experience of a a tasting menu evening. He writes: Tasting menu – a lot of small “funny” dishes designed to confuse and challenge your palate. Well, that’s what I have always thought and as such they have never appealed to me. On a recent visit to Buenos Aires I was invited to go to a seven course tasting menu, paired with wine, at Casa Coupage. …
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