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  • Writer's pictureSarah Baxter

Responsible trekking companies

As part of our feature on Walking the world, responsibly, Sarah Baxter picks out trekking companies to consider for your next trip


trekker in mountains above the clouds
It pays to choose a trekking company with ethical credentials. Photo: Hayato Shin/Unsplash

Climbing Kilimanjaro

Trekking specialist Adventure Alternative doesn’t just employ people on the ground to run its trips, it has set up local companies that operate as sustainable, independent entities. Workers get the same rights as they’d get in the UK; money stays in the country; and profits are ploughed back into training. On its Kilimanjaro climbs, trekkers are encouraged to engage with the local crew. “I encourage my guides to have deeper conversations with guests; they have the green light to bring up big subjects such as water equity on the mountain,” says Bate.

 

Hiking into the Himalaya

Village Ways runs village-to-village walks in spectacular, little-visited corners of the Himalayas that ensure communities directly benefit. They’re pictured throughout this feature, and include Binsar, Kathdhara and Gonap in the Indian Himalayas. “It begins with selecting places with the potential for low-impact tourism,” says managing director Manisha Pande. “We then involve host communities from the start, making them partners in the project and ensuring benefits are spread throughout the community.” This increase in local pride has translated into environmental positives: for example, in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, sightings of rare birds and mammals are on the rise.


walkers on path in mountains
On a Village Ways trek in Kathdhara, India. Photo: Village Ways

Walking Wild in Colombia

Adventure travel specialist Much Better Adventures (MBA) admits there’s a problem with tourism – “We will never say ‘this is a sustainable holiday’,” says Megan Devenish, head of product expansion and sustainability, “All we can say is that this trip is taking steps towards being sustainable.” MBA only works with 100% locally-owned ground-handlers, specifically seeking out those that go the extra mile to benefit local communities. For example, its Lost City trek in Colombia is guided by members of one of the last remaining tribes in the region, and its one-of-a-kind jungle trek-and-raft trip is led by locals that have turned an area previously wracked by civil war into a conservation success.


Perambulating in Peru

Intrepid, which runs a huge variety of trips across the globe, including treks, is a certified B Corporation. This means everything the company does has been externally assessed and verified, and is a helpful steer for trekkers when they’re deciding which company to travel with – especially on routes that are not regulated. Such is the case in Peru, when it comes to looking beyond the classic Inca Trail. Intrepid runs an Inca Quarry Trail that offers spectacular scenery and lesser-known archaeological sites without the crowds, while Amazonas Explorer, also a B Corporation, takes trekkers on alternative Inca routes, such as its newly created Waqrapukara Trek above the Apurimac Canyon.

 

Ambling across Andros

The network of trails on the rugged Greek island of Andros is one of the few to have been awarded Leading Quality Trails status by the European Ramblers Association. Hikers visiting Andros don’t only help extend the island’s holiday season beyond the typical July/August window, they help to maintain the island’s heritage: the trails here have been used for millennia but, due to recent depopulation and lifestyle changes, are at risk of being lost forever. “Trekkers coming, transmitting that there is something of value here, generates pride and positivity,” says the founder of Andros Routes, Olga Karayiannis. “By walking you’re keeping the history alive.” 


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This article appeared in the October/November 2023 issue of the Green Traveller magazine.

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