Advice on locally run vacations


Keeping on top of a changing climate

Keshav Karki, founded our Nepalese supplier, Manakamana Treks in 1990, and now employs around 25 staff plus local guides. Manakamana Treks have been a member of Responsible Travel since 2007. Keshav explains the advantages of visiting the Himalayas with a local operator: “Each year the weather is changing globally. On our trips, we go trekking in the Himalayan region; sometimes there is snowfall and due to the weather can cannot reach some regions. So our guides apply the safety management and we get to a safe destination. But globally now the environment is changing because of the impacts of the climate. It is not raining at the proper time, then it gets dry, there is snowfall when we are not expecting that kind of weather – that’s one of the most challenging parts – but our local guides can respond to this.”

Creating local employment

Eskinder Hailu, from our leading Ethiopia supplier, Highway Tours. He founded the company in 2007, and joined Responsible Travel the following year. He explains how his company benefits people and development by creating employment for Ethiopians across the country: “In a typical season, I hire 10 to 15 employees. But when I get busy it could be more – 18 people. Throughout the country, drivers, guides and so on. I don’t normally send scout guides, particularly in the north, I use the local guides in each and every place. The other place I send tourists to is the South. Usually I send a guide there from Addis – but I also use a local guide because in some places it’s mandatory by the local tourism bureaus.”

Local connections

Ivana Grzetic, from our Croatian supplier Adria Adventure, a member of Responsible Travel since 2004: “Local operators are familiar with the region; they can offer you more off-the-beaten-path packages. They are in contact with the local providers, the accommodation, the restaurants. They are up to date and know them in person, and we keep this personal relationship with all the providers around here. So our clients advise us that this is something that they feel – they feel like friends, not tourists. We use local guides, and they are familiar with the local history. They tell the clients the stories that they learned from their childhood, about the islands; these are the stories that go from generation to generation.”

The personal touch


Many of our travelers have returned from their vacations with stories of the personalised treatment they have received from our local operators. This is a very unique aspect of traveling with this kind of company, and we wanted to share a few of these stories here.

“We gained many cultural insights into Tibet and the Buddhist faith, and were helped very much by our excellent Tibetan guide and our driver. A particular memory is the traditional evening meal we enjoyed at a colonial style venue in Kathmandu with Newari food, music and dancers. This was arranged as a surprise by our hosts, Manakamana Treks.”

Thomas Miles, on a Tibet cultural tour

“I was most impressed with this company, gave them a call from Northern Croatia confirming arrival a couple of days early, wanted accommodation and they found me a lovely apartment and picked me up, supplied tea coffee bread and a wonderful welcome. Found other people had cancelled tour so they put me on another, plus looked after me on my free days going out of their way to show me around outer areas of the region, lent me a mobile, Nada and Branco are pearls.”

– Gloria Bentley-Reaney, on a Croatia walking vacation with Adria Adventures

“You will never feel like you're in a hotel, you feel you just live there for a week, absolutely nobody disturbs you, it is a place to enjoy peace, nature and you are being treated really well. You may not see the staff but even the smallest detail is cared for. Attention to detail was to the extreme of lighting up candles on the stairs to access your room and inside the room while you were having dinner and having a hot water bottle per person in the bed every night (something most welcomed at that altitude in this time of the year). These sort of treats I have never experienced, not even in 5 star hotels.”

- Carmen Garcia, staying in Morocco's Kasbah du Toubkal

“The most memorable part of our vacation was when Eskinder, head of the tour company, surprised me and my husband with T-shirts and enrolment in the World Food Walk. The tour operator really took the time to specifically organize something that me and my husband spoke of, even though it is out of the ordinary for tour companies to do something like that.”

– Mark and Diane Williams, on vacation in Ethiopia with Highway Tours

“There were many memorable parts of the vacation – arriving on the first afternoon to find a beautifully home-cooked meal (and wine) in the fridge ready for us to heat up, cycling for miles along the coast... having sangria at the local bar, shopping in the market for fresh fruit and vegetables... there were too many memorable things to list! We all had a brilliant time and I can't thank Alan and Vivian enough for the warm welcome we received and the thoughtfulness they demonstrated while we were there. They are super hosts and really did think of everything we might have needed.”

– Jane Edwards, on vacation with Cycle Catalan

Tips from our travelers


At Responsible Travel, we think our travelers provide the best and most honest opinions about the vacations they have been on – and the most reliable reviews of our local operators.

We have selected some of the most useful local tour advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation.

“The guide, Ingimundur, had a wonderful passion for his country and delighted in showing us parts of this astonishing landscape which I doubt would be discovered by most independent travelers.”Kerry Bateman, on an Iceland adventure vacation

“Our best experience from Kathmandu was probably dinner on the last night with Achut in a fantastic Nepalese restaurant...nothing beats dining with locals who knows the right places. We absolutely loved how the trip was planned and can't recommend our tour operator highly enough! We have found new friends for life in Achut and Keshav as well as the lovely guides in Tibet – and we hope to go back and visit them one day!”Christina Berthram Poulsen, on vacation in Tibet

“It was nice to meet, stay and eat with the local people. We got so much more out of the trip than if we had been staying in a big self contained hotel. It seemed that wherever possible the operator had used local people, which made for a far more interesting trip... It was our first trip to Croatia and it was such a perfect way to see the country.” Sarah Hilliar, sea kayaking vacation in Croatia

“Eskinder went more than the extra mile to organise our trip, and looked after every detail… of special note was our young female guide Kidist, an inspiring example of a women in Africa and a privilege have her company. We were privileged to spend much of our time with Ethiopian drivers and guides, and with Eskinder himself, who talked freely with us about everything imaginable, and we returned home having had not just a wonderful and exciting vacation but also some understanding, and huge respect, for all things Ethiopian and especially its people.”Christine Browning

Photo credits: [Manakamana quote: Manakamana] [Croatia kayaking: Adria adventures] [Elaphite islands: colleen_elizabeth] [Kasbah: Kasbah du Toubkal] [Ethiopia trekking : Rick McCharles] [Catalonia markets: Ajuntament de Vilanova i la Geltrú] [Cross-country skiing in Finland: Don Wright] [Bird watching in Kerala: Yogendra Joshi] [Help desk box: Ninara]
Written by Vicki Brown
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