Responsible tourism: Kokoda track trekking vacation, Papua New Guinea
Our philosophy since 1975 has been to leave only footprints and take only photographs. To reiterate this, every customer who travels with us receives a copy of our award-winning Responsible Travel guidebook. This detailed book outlines our environmentally sustainable principles, and outlines how each customer can minimize their impact while traveling.
The root cause of Global Warming is society's dependence on emission creating fossil fuel. Planting trees is not going to reverse this trend or cancel our carbon emissions very quickly or effectively. We believe the way to reduce these dependencies is to create clean energy production. Therefore, we support renewable energy projects like wind and solar power, and we are aligned with Climate Friendly, the gold standard setter in effective, meaningful action addressing climate change. So, while we believe that tree planting can play a small role in greenhouse gas abatement, we have gone the extra mile in promoting a longer term solution. Is this cheap? No. Is it responsible? Absolutely.
The Kokoda Trail is an extremely remote experience taking in many villages which still survive on subsistence farming across the rugged highlands of Papua New Guinea and have a local village orientation.
Prior to departure you are fully briefed on the ways of the locals by our experienced bi-lingual guide. Thanks to our depth of experience in operating this trip sensitively and imparting of local ways to walkers the villagers we come across are hospitable and friendly - seemingly more so to Kokoda Track walkers, who are regarded locally as above the business people or the rare tourist who visits, in their ability and desire to 'fit in' with the country and villagers ways.
The tour cost includes track fees, which are utilised for upkeep of the track as well as a 100 Kina per person payment which is contributed to a Development Fund, which assists with local community projects. The local operator has been involved in privately funded developmental projects along the track for the benefit of local communities since first operating this trek.
Local fruit and vegetables are usually purchased in certain villages, where food is in abundance, to supplement the local incomes. Food drops are organised in other areas to ensure we do not exhaust limited supplies from villages that do not have as much.
When not camping we utilise village rest houses which is an important source of income for the locals as the remoteness of their location limits income earning opportunities. A fair price is paid which ensures we are welcomed time and time again.
There are numerous opportunities for real cultural exchange as village people will often be eager to talk to visitors and are keen to hear about their lives and families and in exchange much can be learnt from the villagers about their lifestyles and interests, as many have a working knowledge of English. One of the guides is always there to assist should communicating be a problem.
Local cash payments are becoming increasingly popular with many operators in the adventure travel industry. This policy seems to benefit the tour operators more than the local economies or the travelers, as it avoids local taxes and transfers the costs and risks of cash handling onto the travelers. In accordance with our Responsible Travel practices, we have chosen a policy of not asking for such payments.