Armenia is only just starting to implement environmental standards which would be regarded as the norm for many places in the rest of the world so our local agents work with the hotels to encourage the responsible use of materials and to minimise energy wastage, ie not washing towels daily, turning off lights when they leave rooms etc. Clients will receive a copy of our responsible travel notes which offers advice on how they can minimise their impact on the local environment and our local agents also offer advice in-country on the same.
The day tours, where possible, are conducted as walking tours to minimise emissions and all the entry fees paid to museums etc are an important part of the funding required to maintain the sites: Armenia is not a wealthy country so the entrance fees are essential to allow for site maintenance. All meals are sourced from local produce which all helps to support the local communities.
Our local Armenian agents pay fair salaries to all employees and regular training is provided to support future career development. Only local guides who are aware of local customs and cultures are employed which not only keeps the funds paid to staff within the local community but also helps avoid any potential cultural clashes between visitors and locals.
On the trip guests visit a Duduk making studio to learn about the important historical and cultural importance of this reed wind instrument. Duduk musical roots go as far back as the Middle Ages and is played at important social events such as funerals and weddings. Over recent years the popularity of Armenian duduk music has declined, especially in rural areas, so our local agents are keen for visitors to experience this as part of their heritage and this visit contributes to the upkeep of the studio. There are also classes for visitors to visit a village home for lunch to try the local Armenian bread and enjoy a master class in making traditional Armenian Sujukh, threaded walnuts dipped in sweet spiced fruit syrup, coated and dried.
The tour also enjoys lunch in Etchmiadzin at the Cross of Armenian Unity Charity, a local NGO which was one of the first to be established in independent Armenia. The NGO aims to promote the development of vulnerable children through free educational programmes studying traditional Armenian crafts and arts. Many of these children received important career advice from the NGO and have been able to forge successful careers as a result. The NGO has completed many programmes with a variety of aims including the encouragement of environmentally responsible food sourcing, child rights awareness and the socialisation of the elderly through traditional rug weaving.
The trip also includes (if clients opt for it) a 2 night stay in a private home which is not only an excellent way for visitors to experience traditional Armenian life but also helps contribute funds to the host family.