Central India vacation, trekking and culture

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Central India vacation, trekking and culture

Environment

1 Both our professional accommodation providers, at Bhoramdeo and Kanha have turned plots of land that previously were either unproductive scrubland, or environmentally damaging eucalyptus, into well wooded havens for bird and insect life. The camp owners at Kanha have gradually felled the eucalypt, using it to build the shells for their tented accommodation and all their furniture (it is a marvelous mosquito repellent) whilst continually replanting mixed forest as they go. Both the accommodations provide alternative drinking water to the ubiquitous plastic bottles that now litter India (quite apart from the disposal of plastic bottles, it takes four litres of water to produce a single litre of drinking water). At Kanha in the form of a highly efficient filtration system and Bhoramdeo in the form of a very deep bore hole. Both use solar power to heat their water, and dispose of their rubbish on site using composting where possible and trying to minimize the purchase of anything plastic wrapped.

2 We operate with small group sizes which not only maximises interaction within the group and guides and local community but also minimises the impact on environment.

3 In this tour we have used home stays, lodges and hotels which are safe, comfortable and operated in a sustainable way. We specifically pay attention to their waste disposal and eco-tourism policies.

4 We believe wildlife tourism can be an important conservation tool if used responsibly. Travel to national parks and wildlife areas brings positive economic benefits as entrance fees contribute to the maintenance and conservation of local flora and animal species, while visitors benefit from the educational aspects of the area and take away with them an increased awareness of the need and place for conservation. Equally important tourism helps the local communities living around these reserves by providing jobs and helping them realise the importance of the forest.

Community

We believe there are two fundamental factors in creating a successful and socially beneficial vacation: slow travel and placing value on local knowledge. All our guides on treks in the hills are local herdsmen (yadavs) or farmers; they not only know the best routes and the food and medicinal uses of every plant and tree, but also whether it is worth a diversion to see a leopard footprint, to bypass a village where private ceremony is taking place or drop in on one where a baby welcoming party will enjoy the presence of some extra guests. It enables real relationships to be established between guests and host nationals. We ensure that there are multiple languages speakers on all our tours to avoid cultural faux pas and to enrich the exchanges between everyone. Our guides ensures that same villages are not visited by foreigners more than once in any month and that all supplies are brought along so no strain is put on the local resources. We encourage guests to bring small but useful presents; jumpers or shawls for children (central Indian winter nights can be bitterly cold) and fresh fruit and vegetable for longer stays (50% of Indian people do not even eat one fully balance meal a day).

All our accommodation providers employ the vast majority of their staff from local villages and encourage the learning of English, interaction with guests and opportunities for promotion. The also support the education of the children of their staff and their health needs.

2 Reviews of Central India vacation, trekking and culture

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 28 Dec 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


There were lots of memorable parts of this vacation. My daughter and I have both seen quite a lot of India before and were looking for something different. This trip was definitely 'the real India', just as it says. The tour company, is run by a very efficient and personable young man, Saurabh, who has excellent English and a real understanding of what makes a good vacation. Before the trip he was happy to answer any questions and to be flexible about what we did each day. We ended up doing some walking, some cycling, some visiting local tribal people and some safari which was just the right mix for us. In addition to organising the trip, he took us on a nature walk - he knows a lot about birds- and also took us out to dinner locally on our last night. In fact, I would say he is one of the best and nicest trip organisers/leaders I have ever encountered. He could not have done more for us and we really enjoyed his company.

A highlight was our time at Bhoramdeo staying with Sunny and Sabrina. They were such welcoming hosts and took us to do so many interesting things in the local area. In particular visiting people from the two local tribes in their homes and actually camping in the grounds of one family's compound and eating chapatis made with herbs in the home of another, gave us the opportunity to meet people we would otherwise never have met.

The Kanha Tiger Reserve was also good experience. We stayed with at Sherger, a really welcoming, luxury tented camp with excellent food. Again the owner, Jehan, was very friendly and helpful and good company.
Perhaps that is what stands out the most about this trip - the personal nature of it. It felt more like staying with friends than being tourists.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


I would certainly book with them again. When Saurabh says it can be flexible to suit your needs/wants, he really means it. Ask for what you'd like to do and he will find a way to arrange it. In particular, I wouldn't miss a stay at Bhoramdeo. There are a lot of interesting things to do in that area and you could easily spend 4 or 5 days there. If you want a trip away from the usual tourist sites, or a rest from being in tourist areas on a longer trip, I would definitely choose this.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, we were pleased about that. At Bhoramdeo, it was clear that Sunny had personal relationships with all the people we met, he employs local people and he contributes in various ways to the needs of local families and communities. Jehan at Sherger employs all local people at the tented camp. In both places it was clear that staff enjoyed their work and had good relationships with their employers. Both places used filtered or well water so that there was no need to buy and dispose of plastic bottles of water.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was too short - only 7 days- due to our work commitments. However we both agreed it was one of the best, most authentic trips we have taken, and we have both travelled extensively. So I would rate it as 'excellent'.

Reviewed on 13 Apr 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Walking in the unspoilt countryside of Borromdeo and birdwatching at Satpura lake. Also visit to Sanchi Buddhist site. The elephant ride and seeing wild dogs from the howdah!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


For Borromdeo, perhaps visit one month earlier, ie in early Feb or before it gets hot in the middle of the day in late Feb/early March, so you have to get up very early in the morning!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


All of these.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was excellent in every way. Saurabh was a wonderful naturalist, excellent organiser and splendid companion. If we had booked it through a UK based agent, it would have been twice the price. Thank you Responsible travel for recommending a vacation provider based in Raipur! They did a terrific job and I will be recommending them to friends.

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