Family vacation to Peru, Machu Picchu & the Amazon

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Family vacation to Peru, Machu Picchu & the Amazon

Environment

Travel and tourism can both benefit and damage the environment, the economy, the social structure, culture and communities in any country. We know how mass tourism, unrestricted hotel building, poorly devised tours and environmentally destructive activities can bring money flooding in and governments have, in a spirit of short termism, been tempted to accept them. But experience teaches us that in the long term this sort of uncontrolled activity can be detrimental to the country's development.

As a company we love Latin America and strive to protect the rural and urban landscapes which we take you to visit. We work with local operators which have a proven record in training guides to set a good example in their respect for their surroundings and pass on advice and encouragement to visitors on how to preserve the fragile environment in simple ways, such as by refilling a water bottle, disposing of rubbish responsibly, not disturbing local communities or wildlife and not purchasing items made from endangered animals or plants. When selecting accommodation, we give preference to hotels, lodges and cruise vessels which have a verifiable commitment to eco-friendly practices.

We pride ourselves on delivering our clients truly authentic and unforgettable experiences in Latin America. We think it is vital that we living in consumer-focussed, high-consumption industrialised countries can appreciate and learn from the way of life long established in third world countries. Parents and children alike can benefit from this understanding. This family vacation takes you to the grass roots of Peruvian rural society where you can interact with communities who have maintained age-old traditional ways of life in harmony with their surrounding landscapes and which have a low impact on the environment. In the Amazon, you will see how tourism has been developed in a way which both conserves and enhances the fragile natural rainforest environment.

The Refugio Amazonas, your eco-lodge in the Amazon basin, participates in various environmental and community initiatives aimed at the better understanding and conservation of the Tambopata rainforest region. It is operated by Rainforest Expeditions, which was born out of a conservation ethic and established an eco-lodge, Posada Amazonas, a project directed towards generating sustainable development and conservation. Refugio Amazonas was a later addition. Key alliances with research projects focusing on some of the most vulnerable species has helped establish studies to determine the impact of tourists on them. There are also voluntary management and monitoring programmes. Macaw, otter and harpy eagle research and monitoring have been conducted on and off since the beginning of the project.

Within the lodge, care is taken to have a minimal impact on the environment. The accommodation is constructed in harmony with its isolated jungle setting, combining simplicity with relative comfort. The buildings are constructed from traditional materials such as wood, palm fronds and clay. One side of each room is facing the forest and open air, taking advantage of the low incidence of mosquitoes to allow intimate contact with the sights and sounds of nature. Eco-friendly practices have been adopted: all waste is separated and where possible recycled: biodegradable material is composted onsite. All non-biodegradable material is taken by boat to the town dump and glass material is taken to the recycler in town. Only biodegradable soaps, shampoos, and laundry materials are employed. Electricity is used sparingly: the generator is turned on once a day to recharge batteries for guests or lodge facilities. At night light is provided by numerous lamps and candles.

The guides are biologists or come from the nearby indigenous settlements: associated with the project, there are training programmes for guides in place, as well as training for local people to fulfil other employment opportunities in the tourist sector. You will learn about the natural environment and how the local communities benefit from it; visiting the canopy tower, Brazil nut trail and camp, mammal licks, a local farm and a nearby ox-bow lake, supplemented with presentations and nocturnal walks.

The lodge offers award-winning programmes for children and young people, with special activities and adventures to inspire their imagination and teach them a bit about jungle life and conservation.

Community

We start your vacation with a community-focused tour in Lima, a vast, complex metropolis, with a history dating from the era of its wealth and importance to Imperial Spain to its current status as a dynamic, growing city of trade, industry and tourism. This excursion offers you and your family a unique opportunity to experience the day-to-day life of the Limeños. Instead of being insulated in a tour operator's vehicle you get around by taxi and local bus: Lima's crowded, chaotic transport system is an experience in itself! You'll head to the Pacific-side, arty quarter of Barranco, famed for its village-like atmosphere, continue to the dock in Chorrillos, on the water's edge, and visit a market laden with freshly-landed fish. You’ll also explore two other markets in this commercial city, selling a vast array of produce including exotic tropical fruits and over 50 varieties of potatoes.

You visit the Colca canyon in the Andes, nowadays made accessible by improved road transport. The inhabitants of the small villages here are very traditional, wearing their locally embroidered costumes and living from sustainable small scale farming. The region is gradually and cautiously being opened up to tourism. Visitors are required to purchase a Tourist Ticket administered by the regional tourism authority. This provides access to the tourist circuit of the Colca, which includes the entire region, both below Chivay (Cruz del Condor, Colca canyon) and above it. The money collected goes towards local infrastructure projects, the development of community-based tourism, and a small amount is used to supply carrion for the condors at Cruz del Condor. In Chivay and the villages you will visit, the sale of high-quality, locally-produced crafts to tourists, in particular goods hand-knitted from 100% alpaca fibre, and elaborately embroidered goods produced by hand on sewing machines (hats, coin purses, belts, etc.) is bringing the inhabitants extra income in a sustainable way.

Your family will visit the Uros reed islands on Lake Titicaca where you are also invited to support the islanders by buying their artisan crafts. Here you will also be able to ride in a reed boat and appreciate the fishermen’s way of life. We also take you on a boat trip to the remote island of Taquile where around 1,500 Quechua-speaking indians continue to wear their traditional hand-woven dress. The island is devoid of roads and vehicles. Visits to the island are closely monitored by the islanders who welcome tourists and the financial benefits they bring, but are careful to preserve their traditional way of life and are resistant to unplanned change. You continue by boat to the indigenous village of Luquina Chico on the Chucuito Peninsula. Here, a community-based tourism initiative has strict controls over visitor access. Your time here allows you to get to know some of the inhabitants and learn more about their way of life.

Once in Cusco and the Sacred valley of the Incas you will have more opportunities to learn about the country’s illustrious past and living culture. You will travel to the Andean community of Huilloc and visit homes where you will observe the different traditional processes and techniques used in textile weaving. The culture and way of life here have changed little since Inca times. Again, you can support the community with your purchases. We give you the opportunity to visit other markets elsewhere. Filled with intricate hand-made tapestries, clothing and handicrafts, they demonstrate some of the great traditions of craftsmanship that has been handed down through generations. Here, Pisaq market in the Sacred Valley, and the stalls in Machu Picchu village are laden with locally manufactured items which make interesting gifts to take back home. Your money goes directly to members of the local community.

In the area around Posada Amazonas and its sister Refugio Amazonas, the local communities have been involved, via various committees and programmes in all the actions of the project, its aims and implementation. For example, there is now a change of attitude related to hunting, where previous hunting for pleasure is now restricted to hunting for necessity and the trade in wild animals has been abolished. Conservation zones have been established. Community work is paid, with individual contracts. Community projects which have benefitted from the gradual impact of tourism include an Ethnobotanical Centre and a Handicraft Decoration Project. Overall, there is greater integration between the local Achuar people and other communities.

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