Our Ethos

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 – working with the best local companies, employing local staff, supporting small local businesses, and supporting 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, (unfortunately Tourism Concern no longer operate) which worked to promote better working conditions and fair wages for porters on the Inca Trail in Peru.

We support Accion Andina that help local communities restore and protect native forests throughout the Andes.


lares-local man-peru

Local employment


Introduction to our ethos

By working with excellent local businesses and local guides on all our trips, we ensure we have the best expertise in each place and we 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, where possible.

Andean Trails uses public transport when possible, and we 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,  Andean Trails has helped various projects across South America.

We are a small company but we have supported and continue to 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 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 have supported. 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.

We are pleased to announce that this year, 2024, we will be donating to Danielle Children’s Fund in Ecuador. The goal of this NGO is to facilitate the creation of safe and healthy family and community spaces, where children and adolescents can grow up with love, respect, happiness and opportunities.

Our very own Kathy Jarvis and Kat Dougal took part in the race, swelling the sponsorship funds.

Andean Trails is also a corporate member of the Galapagos Conservation Trust and Rainforest Concern.






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.

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 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 if 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,  the money being used on South American projects to protect natural habitats.



Responsible Travel


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.


Ecocamp Standard domes Torres del Paine Patagonia Chile



Positive impacts we have made

We can see that our local partner companies and local staff are making an effort to recycle materials, using less plastic and we are all becoming 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 10 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 and Ecuador we have been proactive in reforestation of mountain areas, with native species, together with local organisations.


Marine Iguanas Galapagos

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:

  • Take a water bottle to refill, rather than use a new bottle each time;
  • Recycling your rubbish where possible, not leaving any behind;
  • Taking batteries back home with you – they cannot be recycled properly in Ecuador;
  • Saving water where possible; and
  • Saving energy by switching your lights off when you leave the room. Electricity on the islands comes from a generator, fuelled by petrol. For the same reason, please think about whether you really need to use your air conditioning.
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