Responsible tourism: Himalaya family adventure vacation in Ladakh
Activity: 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 trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints, although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, and use local businesses in order to leave behind a positive cultural exchange. Also in visiting cultural sites ( Leh Palace, Tsemo Monastery, the Japanese Peace Pagoda and Bagso Fort), we benfit local communities because our entrance fees and/or donations here go towards upkeep of these sites and local development.
Conservation: On the way to Stock, we stop at a Bactrian camel breeding farm. For centuries the double humped Bactrian Camel was used to transport loads over the Himalaya but they are now rarely seen in Ladakh. The small breeding farm was set up by the government to keep the species alive, so in visiting, we are contributing to and promoting conservation work for this threatened breed. We also have the opportunity to visit the Donkey Sanctuary in Leh later on in the week. In recent years we have been providing support for this home for old or injured donkeys. Our visits go towards funding a wholesome diet, medical care and full time workers at the sactuary.
Water: Water is a really important issue with trekking 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. Lack of recycling is already a massive problem in India so we suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. You will be provided with boiled drinking water on trek but it is also advisable to bring purification tablets/liquid such as Biox Aqua to treat water. Burnable rubbish will be burnt on trek and we ask each trekker to keep a rubbish bag for non-burnable rubbish to take back to Delhi.
UK Office: 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.
Accommodation & Meals: We spend 6 nights in hotels, 2 in guesthouses and 1 night in a Ladakhi family homestay. All accommodations used are staffed locally, camping has its environmental merits and the homestay is a great way to directly benefit the local community whilst getting an authentic cultural experience and a home cooked meal. On trek, meals include locally sourced ingredients, like porridge, eggs, bread, pasta, rice and potato with a mixture of Indian and Chinese styles. All groceries and other items used during treks are purchased from local shops and markets in Leh- where clients are encouraged to support local businesses and explore local delicacies on offer.
Community: Our Himalayan Community Support Projects have been helping people in the Markha Valley, Ladakh since the floods in 2006, when we helped people rebuild homes. Since then we have been involved with the local women’s groups and Youth Organisation for the Conservation and Preservation of the Hems National Park in building and running a successful Eco Café. The focus is using only locally made or organic produce and eliminating the plastic bottles littered around the Valley with the use of a UV water filter for trekkers. The Ladakhi women have been trained in needle and flat felting in order to make and sell felt snow leopards, ibex and blue sheep as souvenirs. This has had great economic, social and environmental benefit for the area.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.