Responsible tourism: Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan vacation, The Pamir Highway
This tour travels through some very remote regions, many of which have barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining their pristine nature. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of in nearby towns. When exploring the landscape on foot we make sure that we stick to whatever tracks there may be, and when driving we stick to the dirt roads so as not to degrade the landscape.
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as nations have only existed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and up until recently have seen very little in the way of tourism. We believe it is incredibly important that at this early stage of tourism development we work with local service providers to set and implement best practice, so that this becomes the norm as tourist numbers increase. In conjunction with our local team we work with the guesthouses and hotels to help them to implement best practice in terms of environmental issues, from energy conservation to waste disposal. We also help to educate local guides and drivers about how not to negatively impact upon the areas visited. Western norms with regards to this are quite different from local concepts and also those instilled during Soviet times, so this can be a challenge but we are confident that we can help to develop environmentally responsible tourism practices within Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
As with many of the trips that we offer, this tour has a strong focus on local culture and different ethnic groups. Where possible we try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence. This trip includes many nights staying in locally run guesthouses, which provide employment for people from the remote communities we travel through, often in areas where little alternative for employment exists.
In Kyrgyzstan we spend the night with a local family, which helps the financial benefits filter down to people who would otherwise have little opportunity to gain from tourism in their area.
We meet many different ethnic groups on this trip, all with their particular sets of customs. We are careful to ensure that we do not break any local taboos, and travelers are briefed on appropriate behaviour when visiting such groups.
We also visit a number of historic sites on this trip. Where entrance fees exist, the inclusion of these within our tour price helps to maintain them, not just for other western travelers but for local people for whom they hold far greater significance. This can be important in regions that have not always enjoyed much government funding for cultural monument. We also use local guides in such places – again where available – which helps to ensure that remote communities can gain from tourism, however small this may be in the grand scheme of things.