This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Responsible tourism: Ecuador hiking vacation, tailor made
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.
This active vacation allows you to get an intimate knowledge of the rural landscapes and society in Ecuador in a manner which could hardly be more low impact. Walking and hiking is an exhilarating way of exploring and you’ll meet and interact with local people more easily than if you were traveling in a tour bus.
The supplier of our local services in Ecuador, our travel partner, is an award–winning ecotourism company specialising in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. It is a member of the International Ecotourism Society which, as a global source of knowledge and advocacy in ecotourism, offers practical educational tools and promotes capacity building opportunities for professionals.
Our supplier’s programmes combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability.
The accommodation on this vacation is in small, usually family-run farms and countryside inns, with a focus on ecotourism. Hacienda La Alegria, an hour south of Quito, is a family-run organic farm in the heart of Ecuador's "Avenue of the Volcanoes". In 2013 it received Smart Voyager accreditation. Smart Voyager is a voluntary environmental programme developed by the Ecuadorian Corporación y Desarollo and The Rainforest Alliance in New York. In order to comply with Smart Voyagers guidelines, companies and properties have to meet a strict set of conservation and social standards set by scientists, conservation experts and tour operators in order to conserve natural ecosystems, reduce negative impact on the environment, reduce the risk of introduction and extraction of species and their conservation. It also insists on just and fair treatment of workers, community relations and local welfare, control of the supply and storage of supplies, integrated waste management and emissions control, security, quality control, planning and monitoring.
The Ecolodge Black Sheep Inn has won many awards for its sustainability practices and various eco-friendly initiatives. In 2015 it won the Green Hotelier award for the whole of the Americas. The lodge stood out owing to its community focused ethos and commitment to showing guests that sustainable practices can be as comfortable as the ‘mainstream’. Black Sheep’s composting dry toilets are state-of-the-art, featuring in-bathroom gardens fertilised by the toilets’ compost, transparent roofs for natural light, rainwater and wastewater harvesting systems and bleach free toilet paper
As a company whose raison d’étre is the support and survival of indigenous cultures, our Ecuadorian partner’s operation is dedicated to a tourism based on respectful cultural exchange and designed to strengthen local cultures. The company offers private services in order to avoid cultural contamination of any kind, as well as providing you with a more intimate and rewarding experience. The aim is to inspire you through educational experiences to become active conservationists and supporters of local indigenous communities. A fundamental element of this policy is ensuring that any communities we work with, as well as its representatives, receive fair economic benefits from tourism. A major portion of the benefits from the operations you will experience in the Andean highlands consequently remains within the communities, and care is taken that income is distributed equitably to the various families and service providers involved.
Our partner is a member of the Rainforest Alliance, an international not-for-profit organisation which works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods for local populations.
At the Responsible Tourism Awards the company was a highly commended operator for Cultural Engagement; and National Geographic selected it as one of the Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth. The company is also signed up to the Pack for a Purpose initiative, where visitors are encourages to find space in their luggage for books and other educational materials which are donated to three rural schools. If you are able to bring something of this nature with you on your vacation, you can pass it on to our partners who will ensure that it reaches one of the communities in need.
All your accommodation employs people from the nearby communities but the Black Sheep Inn stands out. It is 100% community operated and since 1995 has had a huge impact on improving the livelihoods of the local community. Your host Edmundo Vega Estrada rents the entire facility from the proprietors Andres and Michelle who do property maintenance and community work. Edmundo grew up nearby in Chugchilán and has worked in hospitality for over 30 years. He is managing the Inn with the help of locally-recruited staff.