Guided walking vacation in the Alpujarras, Spain

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Guided walking vacation in the Alpujarras, Spain

Environment

Our guides are adept at spotting species of eagles and other birds as well as the reptiles, butterflies and wild mountain goats that we may encounter. We encourage guests to stop and quietly admire something lovely whilst being respectful towards the wildlife. We stop when the sheep or goat herder passes by and engage our guests in a little chat with him whilst admiring his mountains and flock. We never pick wild flowers. We stay on well marked footpaths and do not pass through private land unless prior arrangement has been made with the owner.

We recycle all water bottles and encourage guests to drink the tap water when possible as well as refilling our bottles from fountains and water sources where the water is marked as drinkable, usually when passing through small villages. We take all our waste with us and this includes any fruit peelings or skins. We feed banana skins to the local mules, donkeys and horses. We carry biodegradable bin bags to transport the waste when necessary. If we come across other walkers waste we pick it up and take it with us. We ask guests not to leave out dirty towels for a daily change and encourage them not to waste water when brushing their teeth or showering. We explain the ' acequia' system of water channels used for irrigation on the land and tell the history of how and why they were built. We ask guests not to leave any aircon units running whilst not in the bedrooms and also not to use the air con and leave windows open.The hotel has a wood fire that warms the reception area and restaurant.

We tell our guests the history of the local (now disused) hydro electric station near the village.The houses in the village are made from slate from the land and wood from the forests. The roofs are flat and over the winding streets are 'tinaos' which are balconies that connect houses thus ensuring that wood collected for the fire stays dry in rain or snow. We walk our guests through the village pointing out the architecture that is special to the Alpujarras.

Whenever possible our walks begin from the village thus reducing use of vehicles. Our airport pickups are timed so that everyone is collected at the same time therefore reducing overuse of a vehicle and causing traffic in the village.when necessary we will return from a walk using the very reliable local bus service before which we will have enjoyed a coffee from the very small bars in the villages. always talking to the bar owner and explaining how we have enjoyed their wonderful area. We eat in restaurants that recycle as much as possible and the hotel also encourages guests not to waste water, has lots of great, local information freely available.

Community

The community is very important to us as they ensure our guests are well fed and rested. The food is extremely colourful and well thought out by the chefs who live in the village and much of it is grown on the land nearby. The restaurants use local markets as their suppliers and we eat fruit and vegetables that are in season. No fruit is bought in if it is not available locally. We liase with the mountain office in the village for the weather forecast.

We use a different village restaurant to eat in each night and always leave a gratuity from each guest. All the waiters and waitresses are local and very friendly. We introduce our guests to the restaurant staff and encourage them to eat locally on the rest day. We buy our picnic lunches from the local shops and choose wine that is made locally where possible.

We advise guests when there are local crafts to be purchased and also where they can buy locally produced honey,wine,chocolate and other items from the Alpujarras. We do not stay out very late after dinner and ask our guests to respect the local people and the neighbours when walking back to the hotel.

We encourage the guests to talk to the village people and at least try to speak a little Spanish, if only good morning, good night and thank you.Before we leave for the return trip to the airport we always refuel at the local petrol station in the village.

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