Few vacations have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a trekking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our tour leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We believe in leaving no more than footprints. Our local partner contracts local tour leaders, guides, porters, cooks and drivers. This tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and to purchase traditional crafts. Our entry fees also go towards maintenance of these significant cultural sites, therefore leaving a positive impact.
Accommodation and meals:
The four nights during the trek are spent in mountain eco-lodges. In exchange for allowing the lodges to be built on their land, the local Andean communities are shareholders, owning 20% of the project. The Chillca and Osefina communities also receive a fee for every trekker who travels there. The staff employed at the lodges are local villagers who have received skills courses and training in order to work as kitchen staff, house-keeping, maintenance and security personnel. The lodges practice sustainable development with the aim of preserving the local culture, rituals and customs of the native Chillca and Osefina communities. Meals on trek are freshly prepared by indigenous chefs using locally sourced produce.
For the remaining six nights of the tour we stay in small, locally owned hotels. All of our hotel managers have signed a sustainability contract which ensures they employ locals and endeavour to reduce waste. Where meals are not included, clients are encouraged to eat at authentic restaurants or to try snacks at local markets e.g. San Pedro market in Cuzco.
Local Craft & Culture:
A cultural interchange has developed between the eco-lodges and the Osefina and Chillca Andean communities, who participate in the visitor experience - sharing their knowledge, beliefs, ways of life and selling their traditional handicrafts. The villagers also greet trekkers on arrival to the first eco-lodge and give a warm welcome with a musical performance. There is also opportunity in the Sacred Valley and Cuzco to buy handicrafts. Our local guides are able to advise clients on which products to buy and which to avoid- for example, walking sticks made of wood are one to avoid as they are potentially a product of deforestation, and any pre-Inca or Inca relics are prohibited for sale.
Water is a really important issue with walking trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Treated drinking water is available in the moumtain eco-lodges so that clients can refill a single bottle.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.