Responsible tourism, defined by the Cape Town Declaration 2002 as 'making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit', is all about enhancing the locations you visit, and ensuring your presence is not detrimental to that environment.
This can be with regards to the natural environment and wildlife residing within them and to the social environment, ensuring that your walking trip contributes financially and socially to the local people, rather than large multinational corporations.
We all know that travelling can have a big impact on the global environment, particularly considering how polluting planes can be. But travel also enhances the world, bringing together people from all cultures and broadening minds. We believe that done carefully and responsibly, the benefits of tourism greatly outweigh the negatives. Take a look at some of our suggestions for minimising the negative impacts of your travels, and enhancing the positives...
Be it where you eat or where you choose to lay your head at night, by choosing smaller, locally run businesses, you get a more authentic experience and can relax safe in the knowledge that you are directly contributing to the local economy.
Observe local customs
Whether you are just walking down the street or visiting temples, it is so important to stick to local standards of dress and behaviour while travelling. At temples, ensure that your knees and elbows are covered, in some locations avoid showing the soles of your feet, or avoid public displays of affection. By observing local customs, you will not only be a great role model to other tourists, you will find that interaction with the local people is much easier and friendlier.
Party like the locals
Every country, district and town has its own festivities and celebrations, whether it be mud wrestling in South Korea or celebrating radishes in Mexico, there is something out there for everyone.
Grab your souvenirs at local markets rather than buying mass-produced trinkets that were probably produced in an entirely different country or even continent! Through buying from local people, you also get the chance to practice your local language skills, leading to meaningful cultural experiences. While bartering is part and parcel of many shopping experiences abroad, ensure you keep a good sense of perspective when fighting with a local vendor over a couple of dollars.
Ask before taking somebody's picture. Some people do not want to be photographed, and in some cultures, the taking of a person's photograph is akin to taking their soul, so be sure to ask before snapping.
Respect the wildlife
Wild animals are just that, wild. Therefore, be mindful, whether on land or sea, not to compromise both the animal's and your safety by getting too close in pursuit of that great photograph. It is extremely stressful for the animals and can put you in danger.
Don't feed the habit
As heartbreakingly difficult as it may be to say no and walk away from a beggar, particularly child beggars, giving money in this way invariably leads to more begging and sadly often feeds substance abuse and finances criminal gangs. The best way to assist youths in the areas you are visiting is to speak with the village chief or elder to see how best you may contribute to the children there, or speak to us about contributing to a local charity.
Where possible, try and travel overland rather than flying. This not only reduces your carbon footprint but also will mean you get to see much more of the country, often finding new, little-visited locations. You are already helping by choosing a walking holiday to see a new country.
Minimize your waste
Waste management can be a major issue in many developing countries so say no to a plastic bag when shopping and carry a re-useable water bottle rather than buying more and more 500ml single-use bottles. Say no to packaged warm and cold towels too.
Wildlife, not entertainers
It is easy to get caught up in the moment while on holiday, but before taking part in an activity which involves wildlife, take a minute to think about the welfare implications of interacting with wild animals in an unnatural setting. Activities such as elephant riding and visiting tiger temples or 'sanctuaries'. There are some ethical animal sanctuaries that one can visit, but make sure they are registered NGOs and check the reviews to determine their authenticity. If in doubt, ask one of our team and we will be happy to advise you.