Local Craft & Culture:
We are keen to encourage guests to engage with the culture of Himachal Pradesh and to purchase local crafts and services where possible. Your local guide will be able to recommend the best of the area’s colourful and vibrant markets and small businesses and through our commerce, tourist wealth is more evenly distributed. The local industries are directly benefited as clients generally buy local souvenirs in the small towns en route, such as Mandi, Pragpur and Shimla, where most of the shops have local handicraft items for sale.Your leader will be able to advise you on which crafts to buy and which to avoid; Ivory and Shahtoosh for example. Shahtoosh is the name given to a specific kind of shawl, which is woven with the down hair of the Tibetan antelope (chiru), made by master craftsmen and the women of Kashmir. The shahtoosh trade poses a threat to the existence of the Tibetan antelope and has been banned for more than a decade, in accordance with the central government's policy on wildlife protection.
Accommodation & Meals:
This trip runs through the remote villages settled in the foothills of the Western Himalayas and most of the accommodations used are either owned or run by local people, providing employment and a source of income for people living in these areas. The hotels and rest houses are waste and energy conscious and have their own policies like asking guests to turn off the power when leaving a room in order to save electricity. Hotel Judges Court in Pragpur for example, has been rated on trip advisor as being professionally run with a major focus on hygiene and ecology. Hotels on this trip also make an effort to use local produce.
Where meals are not supplied, our group leaders always encourage people to try local restaurants and street food vendors. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties. There are also ample opportunities for visiting road side dhabas (roadside open restaurants) where food is made in front of you. Clients can witness the whole preparation and cooking process. Leaders make a point to stop at some of the cleanest dhabaen route for a tea and snack break.
For years we have been involved in campaigning for tiger conservation in Bandhavgarh, India (unfortunately not visited on this trip). In late summer 2014 we teamed up with The Corbett Foundation, an Indian charity dedicated to conservation-oriented research. They have proved instrumental in enabling us to get the funds to where they are needed. Through this we have now completed the building of a community hall at Tala Village, solar pumps in the park for wildlife and staff in the dry season, bio gas plants and smart stoves for villagers and provided the salary for 2 full time teachers at the government school. Our work in India continues to be of great significance and most recently we have been able to purchase a 4 wheel drive medical vehicle and pay for outreach medical support.
Few vacations have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints (or tyre tracks!). However, this tour does actively encourage clients to make a positive impact by helping guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants, use markets to purchase traditional gifts and crafts and get a real impression of India.
We use local guides for all sightseeing, local naturalists, local drivers and local staff to provide employment.
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.