While planning my next trekking adventure in Peru, I wanted to stay considerate of preserving the land the ancient Inca’s inhabited for not only us to enjoy but also future generations. After seeing first hand the vast environmental damage left by trekkers/hikers in the Himalayas, I wanted to make sure the agency I trekked with in Peru was sustainable. To hike the Inca Trail it is mandatory to go with a travel agency so there is fierce competition between the agencies in Cusco. This also leads to lack of environmental consideration and porter mistreatment in order to make a buck.
After doing my research online I was confident I found a sustainable travel agency and fortunate for me they proved to be just that during the trek. I was happy to know that my Inca trail experience sustained the environment and treated staff in a respectful way. This ended up a win/win for everyone, my friend and I for having an amazing experience getting fit and learning about the Inca culture, the staff for being well treated and the environment for not being damaged.
How can both you and a travel agency be more sustainable while trekking/hiking?
Leave the land in the same condition of how you found it after you leave or preferably better.
- Bring refillable water bottles and water purifying options to avoid plastic bottle
- Take all rubbish/garbage with you after you leave
- Use compost toilets or go in nature without leaving toilet paper around
- Bring natural and decomposable toiletries to wash with
- Put caps on your walking poles so they don’t damage the ground while walking
- Say no to plastic bags
- Don’t climb or swing on ancient monuments, to avoid damage and further deterioration
Fair treatment to porters and staff
- Porters & staff are adequately dressed for weather conditions and terrain – warm jackets, hiking shoes, warm pants
- Porters stick to a weight limit so they are not overloaded or carrying bags with inadequate straps
- Porters and all staff eat frequent and adequate meals
- Support local artisans by visiting coops and buying gifts locally from them
- Take it a step further by buying from locals and selling at home at fair trade (% of profits going back to them)
- Share skills and knowledge you have with locals if you feel you can better equip their lives, whilst respecting their culture
- Choose a travel agency that gives a percentage of profits back to the local community
- Choose a travel agency that employs and supports local staff
The company I went with was Incaland Adventures and not only were they sustainable, but the owner Flavio was also a man with great integrity that I became good friends with. His wife even hosted my 30th birthday party at their family home.
While planning your next trekking/hiking trip I encourage you to consider your impact on the environment and other people by finding a sustainable agency and acting sustainably yourself. After all we want future generations to have the same amazing experience we have been privileged to have.