Accommodation and Meals:
We spend 9 nights in hotels and 2 nights in hammocks strung up in thatched shelters at Tayrona National Park. The majority of the hotels we use are small, locally owned hotels and guesthouses. With the staff being local people, we can ensure that income is going directly into the community and boosting economy. This is even more significant for businesses in the areas frequented less by tourists. With some of the hotels, such as in Villa de Leyva and Salento, these particular hotels, profits also go towards the repair and restoration of these colonial properties. By sleeping in hammocks for part of the trip, we reduce energy consumption and support employment of local indigenous tribes in the park. Provided meals are made using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and unscheduled meals can be taken at a range of recommended privately owned restaurants.
A Fair Deal:
On this trip, the tour leaders, various guides and drivers (when used) are local to Colombia and to the region which they work in. This creates valuable employment, generates income and stimulates the local economy and by giving local worked the opportunity to interact with an international clientele within Colombia helps to raise the profile and prestige of jobs that traditionally had been seen as low skill level employment. Local tour leaders are encouraged to discuss with groups Colombia’s contemporary history and period of internal conflict, by this means of education, awareness of Colombia’s history is increased internationally.
Local Craft and Culture:
In addition to purchasing supplies locally, tour guides encourage travelers to purchase handmade souvenirs to help support local communities. We take several tours and take in a number of cultural sites, including a tour of the historical Cadelabria district, the Gold Museum, the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, Villa de Leyva, Cartegena and a coffee plantation. At the plantation we learn about the whole production process, as well as learning about the trials and tribulations of the plantations themselves and the many workers who rely on coffee for their livelihoods. Local guides and tour leaders are vital in creating this link between clients and community and allowing interchange of concepts and cultures.
We support a number of projects in South America and elsewhere in the world. These range from helping schools or orphanages, to rebuilding communities after disasters or helping reduce carbon emissions by installing solar cookers or solar lights in remote communities. Our local partner is involved in assisting local Colombian entrepreneurs develop their product/business as well as working alongside the government to develop guide training initiatives and local infrastructure projects. They also support a number of local charities and, in particular, have been supporting NUTRIR since 2009 which provides nutritional meals to some 4000 underprivileged children.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.