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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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We had a brilliant time , we loved it and managed all the mountain climbing! Our group was fantastic and also the guides .
We celebrated our wedding anniversary and both our birthdays - they managed to arrange cakes for our birthdays and we had such great laughs with everybody.
Shirley & Colin Whittaker (UK), Mar 2020
» Salkantay Lodge Trek To Machu Picchu
Highlights - everything really but probably Isabela.
The island was so beautiful, lots of areas to explore on your own - the walk to Muro de las Lagrimas, lagoons, beach, watching the pelicans diving for fish around sunset. Los Tuneles was probably our favourite snorkelling trip. Kicker Rock would be a close second, we have some fantastic footage of hammerheads.
All the breakfasts were fresh and enjoyable as were the lunches provided on the trips - especially the ceviche on Los Tuneles tour. Andrea, our main contact was great always on time, very friendly, lots of useful information. Overall organisation was excellent - no problems.
Thanks again Tom - it was worth the wait!!
Neil and Julie Buckley (U.K.), Jan 2020
» Galapagos Island Hopping
Peru is an awe inspiring destination to visit both culturally and scenically. Learn how to be a conscientious trave… twitter.com/i/web/status/12663…
29th May, 2020 11:13 am
Eco-tourism in Peru is key to ensuring that this popular Andean holiday destination will benefit from the large number of travellers it attracts each year, especially at its iconic sites of Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail, Lake Titicaca and beyond. Here’s our advice on how to support sustainable tourism in Peru. An Eco-Tourism Guide to Travelling in Peru At Andean Trails we believe there is a lot you can do to play your part in travelling responsibly during your Peru holiday. Prepare for travel before you set off, reading up about Peru, appreciating its culture and customs, …
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