Responsible Travel

We believe in responsible travel and that the unique way in which we own and manage our own camps and projects is the key to a truly sustainable operation based on sound ecological and business principles.

Our system does not sacrifice nature and people for profits. On the contrary, our model ensures that there is an inextricable synergy between the success of our business and the benefits accrued by the people and areas that need it most. By running a for-profit operation, we are able to invest more into our host communities and have the financial resilience to ensure continuous long-term support, regardless of donations or volunteer participation.  Put simply, the more successful we are, the better the planet does.

Living and operating within fragile ecosystems and alongside local indigenous communities brings with it a great deal of responsibility. Our Responsible Travel Policy helps us to ensure that we operate in accordance with these principles and continue to be world leaders in responsible tourism through our unwavering commitment to social, economic and environmental best practice.

Our Responsible Tourism Policy

Download our Responsible Travel policy (PDF)

We are committed to:

Maximising social and economic benefits to the local community

  • Through direct employment
  • By creating business enterprise and Eco-tourism ventures
  • By improving educational facilities and teaching assistance
  • By improving sanitation and health care
  • By increasing food security

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Reducing the negative social and cultural impacts of tourism

  • By empowering local communities
  • Through sensitive product development
  • By providing expert guidance and supervision to volunteers

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Maximising benefits to the environment and minimising negative impacts

  • Reducing pollution
  • Conserving natural resources

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Conserving biodiversity, ecosystems and landscapes

  • By protecting wildlife and their habitats
  • By improving animal welfare
  • By providing a better alternative for local people
  • Through education and raising awareness

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Preserving cultural heritage

  • By providing a culturally pure experience
  • By protecting sites of cultural importance
  • By encouraging sustainable enterprise based on cultural heritage

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Demonstrating effective sustainable management

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We are commited to:

Maximising social and economic benefits to the local community

We have established camps alongside rural villages and wildlife conservation areas where poverty levels are high and there is virtually no form of income beyond small-scale farming, to create critical cash economies in areas that would otherwise never benefit from tourism. Our projects have benefited over 30,000 people, providing communities with employment and better access to education and health care. Additionally, by establishing a charity to work alongside the business, we have provided increased support to numerous projects that are independent of our volunteer programmes.

...through Direct Employment:

  • Our workforce originates from the host country, including management positions. Training is offered as necessary

  • We are one of the largest employers of staff from the local regions in which we operate, employing over 150 permanent members of staff, with an additional 100-150 staff employed during the summer. Almost all our camp workforce originates from within that same community (within 30 km of camp)

  • We employ staff transparently, creating a diverse workforce in terms of gender, ethnicity, age and disability

  • We pay all our employees fairly and treat ethically, respecting International and/or national legal protection of employees

  • By working in areas where tourism is less established, we contribute to the even distribution of income and economic growth

  • Most of our fresh produce and project materials are source from sustainable, local supplies

...by creating Business Enterprise and Eco-Tourism Ventures:

  • Most camps are established on community land where we pay rent and entrance fees

  • We have set up and are supporting many initiatives designed to generate an income within local communities such as elephant dung paper making, marine refuse recycling, biomass fuel production, home stay initiatives and several eco-tourism attractions

  • We encourage all our volunteers to buy locally made sustainable goods and we facilitate craft sales areas near our camps that showcase local products

  • We encourage volunteers to adopt a ‘fair price policy’ when purchasing local goods and souvenirs

...by improving Educational Facilities and Teaching Assistance:

  • Many of our projects address poverty through the development and improvement of educational facilities for young people and adults. Since 2005 we have improved 30 schools across Africa and Asia and provide long-term assistance to the communities that we work with

  • We are providing schools with solar power, electricity as well as fully equipped libraries and ICT centres

  • We are sponsoring children to allow them to attend secondary school and also sponsoring the training and employment of teachers

  • We are building kindergartens to give children a head start in education

  • We continue to develop our Sport for Development programme in Africa as we recognise this as an important tool for social change

...by improving Sanitation and Health care:

  • We reduce the incidences of waterborne diseases by developing several clean water initiatives to provide communities with safe drinking water. This includes the construction and installation of boreholes, wells, gravity-fed water collection, and water storage

  • We reduce the risk disease by installing proper sanitation facilities in schools and communities, such as flushing toilets and washbasins

  • Our healthcare programmes are designed to provide education and practical support for communities, tackling a range of issues including nutrition, childcare, parasitic prevention and treatment, sexual health and women’s health

...by increasing Food Security:

  • Our ongoing veterinarian initiatives improve livestock welfare standards and ensure a good meat yield and better profits for local farmers

  • We support various aqua-culture projects thereby improving sustainable fish production

  • We are introducing permaculture farming into communities as a sustainable long-term solution to food production and self-sufficiency

We support feeding programmes for young children in the poorest areas of Kenya and Tanzania

Reducing the negative social and cultural impacts of tourism

We aim to promote sustainable development through responsible travel by providing camps and projects that help travellers of all ages and destinations protect the environment, preserve cultural heritage and contribute to economic development without having a negative impact on the communities they are working with.

...by empowering local communities:

  • Our camps are co-located with communities and staffed and managed by local people, enabling strong and durable relations built on trust and respect. This allows us to monitor any negative interactions between volunteers and villagers through regular dialogue and react swiftly.

  • Our camps and projects are developed and reviewed in partnership with each community to encourage local ownership and pride

  • The strategic location of our camps allow greater employment opportunities for rural communities, which prevents people who are looking for work migrating away from home communities and families

  • Through our volunteer programmes we provide skills training for the local community using the skills and expertise of our international volunteers e.g. computer workshops, sports coaching and conversational English

  • We are working against gender discrimination through various projects empowering women who suffer from gender based poverty, violence, illiteracy and health issues

  • We are members of the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC) to ensure the proper, fair and ethical employment and treatment of mountain porters. This includes fair wages and tips, maximum carry loads, the provision of proper clothing and equipment, suitable shelter and sleeping equipment, adequate food and water rations and the provision of good medical care and assistance equal to that available to trekking clients

  • We have a policy in place against commercial exploitation of children and young people

...through sensitive product development:

  • We involve local communities and stakeholders in the planning and decision making process for new and existing projects

  • We carefully assess the economic impact of each new initiative before implementing new ideas

  • Implementation and development of projects is dictated by the specific needs of the local communities and wildlife areas

  • None of our activities jeopardise the provision of basic services such as water, energy or sanitation to neighbouring communities

  • The design and construction of our permanent infrastructure respects the natural and cultural heritage surroundings in siting, design, impact assessment and land rights and acquisition. Our camps are built using traditional materials and methods so that they are in keeping with the local environment

...by providing expert guidance and supervision to volunteers:

  • All travellers are given local language lessons and briefed about religion, local customs, traditions and appropriate behaviour by community members to facilitate integration into the community as guests, not tourists

  • Volunteers are supervised and trained by skilled members of the community, creating unique bonds

  • Volunteer group sizes for each project activity are kept small

  • A comprehensive volunteer code of conduct has been developed for all our programme activities in collaboration with the local indigenous communities

Maximising benefits to the environment and minimsing negative impacts

We are constantly developing new and innovative solutions to tackle the challenges posed by climate change through exploration of sustainable ‘green’ options. Our environmental projects protect the environment and help people use the resources they need without compromising them for future generations.

...by reducing pollution:

  • Our UK operation (including transport) is carbon neutral

  • Our clients have the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions created on their expedition

  • Since 2007 we have planted over half a million trees

  • Wastewater, including grey water is treated effectively (e.g. through sand filters) and reused wherever possible

  • We have in place a solid waste management strategy and are continuing to explore greener alternatives for waste management e.g. building prototype composting toilets in our camps

  • We are actively looking at ways of reducing our use of disposable and consumable goods

  • Wherever possible we minimise the use of harmful substances such as pesticides, cleaning products and paints, and substitute with innocuous and environmentally friendly products. The use and disposal of chemicals is properly managed

  • Our camps are designed to minimise pollution from noise, light, run-off, erosion, ozone-damaging compounds and air and soil contaminants

...by conserving natural resources:

  • We build and install fuel-efficient stoves in almost all our areas of operation for the benefit of the local community. These stoves remove the need for charcoal use and reduce firewood consumption by up to 70%

  • We produce biomass fuel briquettes as a favourable and commercially viable alternative to charcoal production

  • We have built two biogas collectors that provide natural gas for lighting and cooking. This eliminates any element of sewage management in our camps and reduces firewood consumption

  • Where possible, we have implemented extensive recycling programmes in our camps (e.g. waste paper) and as part of our volunteer programmes (e.g. marine refuse recycling) and strive to improve on this year on year

  • We choose only environmentally friendly products for building materials, capital goods, food and consumables

  • We encourage the principles of permaculture in many of our projects

  • We have developed community tree nurseries in almost all of our areas of operation to provide fast-growing, sustainable wood

  • We are implementing measures to further reduce our energy and water consumption and all clients are encouraged to conserve water and energy during their stay

  • Our architecture expeditions enable young architects to design and build innovative eco-friendly and carbon neutral community facilities, showcasing their skills and experience in a challenging environment

Conserving biodiversity, ecosystems and lanscapes

Our conservation projects are targeted to include 4 of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots that hold especially high numbers of endemic species in a very small area, yet are facing extreme threats: the coastal forests of Eastern Africa (Kenya and Tanzania), Sundaland (Borneo), Tropical Andes (Ecuador) and Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena (coastal Ecuador). Our projects aim to increase the value of wildlife and habitats by working with communities to develop economic alternatives to over-exploitation of natural resources. This results in a reduction in conflict between people and wildlife, as well as encouraging environmental stewardship from the host communities.

...by protecting wildlife and their habitats:

  • We are currently working to protect over 130,000 acres of wilderness in Eastern Africa and Borneo through habitat restoration, improving water catchment for wildlife and local community participation

  • We are addressing illegal poaching of wildlife by providing vehicles, resources and accommodation for rangers, repairing and maintaining wildlife fences and organising de-snaring activities with volunteers

  • Our extensive reforestation project has been implemented in every one of our camps to replenish indigenous tree species in depleted regions

  • Our ongoing programme of invasive plant removal maintains the delicate ecological balance of natural areas

  • We use native species for landscaping and restoration in our camps and take measures to avoid the introduction of invasive alien species Interactions with wildlife are managed closely to avoid adverse effects on individual animals, or on the viability of populations in the wild

  • Wildlife viewing guidelines are given to all our volunteers to ensure their behaviour does not negatively impact on animals or their surroundings

  • In one of our camps, we share our water supply with wildlife to support them through the dry season and to minimise incidence of human-wildlife conflict

...by improving animal welfare:

  • We improve domestic animal welfare by running regular veterinarian clinics

  • We support charities and local community groups to improve welfare standards for captive wildlife (e.g. Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre) through physical and financial contributions

...by providing a better alternative for local people:

  • Our projects promote co-existence among local communities and wildlife through the utilisation of innovative approaches to conservation using social business initiatives, thereby creating an economic environment favourable to wildlife conservation and economic development. These include professional training for wildlife guides and the production of elephant dung paper

  • Many of our community projects support people living on the edge of wildlife areas to help reduce their reliance on damaging environmental practices by improving their standard of living and provide them with direct financial incentives for conservation

...through education and raising awareness:

  • Our projects enhance worldwide environmental awareness by providing international volunteers with the opportunity to participate in applied wildlife conservation projects

  • We run several environmental education outreach programmes for local communities about the importance of sustainable natural resource management

  • All our volunteers are thoroughly briefed on pertinent environmental issues and warned against the purchase of curios and furniture made of indigenous hardwoods or unsustainable animal products (e.g. skin, feathers, ivory, bone, shells and coral). This is also reiterated in our volunteer code of conduct and promoted through our ‘Goodwoods’ campaign

Preserving Cultural Heritage

It is of paramount importance that our presence does not negatively impact on the cultural identity of our host countries. We strive to build a strong cultural awareness and respect amongst our volunteers.

...by providing a culturally pure experience:

  • We strive to provide our volunteers with the unique opportunity to live and work alongside rural communities, away from the traditional tourist circuit so that they can experience the true essence of the country they are visiting, creating a wholly positive experience for both visitors and hosts

  • We use elements of local art, design and architecture in our operations whilst respecting the intellectual property rights of individual communities

...by protecting sites of cultural importance:

  • We contribute to the protection of local historical, archaeological, culturally and spiritually important property and sites, improving awareness and access to them for local residents

  • Our volunteer code of conduct includes established guidelines for visits to culturally or historically sensitive sites

  • Historical/archaeological artefacts are not sold, traded or displayed except as permitted by law

...by encouraging sustainable enterprise based on cultural heritage:

  • We develop community areas and facilities to strengthen bonds and create opportunities for people

  • We provide physical and financial support for small entrepreneurs to develop and sell sustainable products that are based on the area’s nature, history and culture, such as food, drink, arts and crafts)

  • We help to create cooperatives amongst neighbouring communities so that local arts, crafts and traditions can be preserved and flourish

  • We encourage our volunteers to purchase of locally made arts and crafts

  • We ensure that visits to local culturally/historically significant places are incorporated into our volunteer programmes wherever possible

Demonstrating effective sustainable management

  • CI complies with all relevant international and local legislation and regulations including health, safety, employment and environmental considerations

  • All personnel receive periodic training regarding their role in the management of environmental, socio-cultural, health and safety practices

  • Client satisfaction is measured and corrective action taken where appropriate

  • Promotional materials are accurate and complete and do not promise more than can be delivered by the business

  • We are our biggest supplier through our own ground operations (estimated 80%), enabling us to extend our ethical practices uncompromised through to the detail of delivery

  • Wherever possible, remaining suppliers chosen that conform to responsible best practices

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