Travelling Responsibly

Responsible Tourism is about providing and having a more rewarding and fulfilling holiday. It’s about being culturally sensitive and minimising negative impacts on the environment.

It’s about getting involved with the local people – ensuring that your tourist dollar benefits the community and that the local people are involved in decisions that affect their lives. It’s about helping to conserve the world’s wild places. It’s about sustainability and ‘giving something back’.

Helping you travel responsibly

Peregrine has been operating environmentally and culturally sensitive holidays around the world for a quarter of a century. We’ll help you to ‘get beneath the skin’ of the countries you visit – to meet the local people on their terms, to learn about the history and culture, and to enjoy wilderness experiences that don’t damage the environment. By travelling ‘responsibly’, you’ll be making a positive contribution to the host communities and environments you visit, and ensuring that future travellers will enjoy the same privilege.

Tips on travelling responsibly

  • Reduce your waste – leave excess packaging at home and dispose of rubbish sensibly
  • Respect local customs – particularly regarding local dress and behaviour
  • Learn the lingo – even a few stumbling words in the local language will be appreciated, and will help open doors to conversations and friendships.
  • Observe minimum approach distances for wildlife
  • Consider your transport options – choose to walk, ride or take public transport
  • Buy souvenirs direct from local people and choose things made locally – this ensures your money goes directly back into the local community
  • Choose local restaurants and services – so your money goes back into the local economy
  • Look for ways you could make a positive contribution to the community you’re visiting – bring along goods for a local orphanage you will be visiting
  • Consider taking water purification tablets with you to avoid wasting so much plastic
  • People, Customs and Etiquette

    Local People & Customs Meeting and interacting meaningfully with the local people and experiencing foreign cultures are often the most memorable highlights of a holiday. Your Peregrine holiday will provide many opportunities for both, however just as at home, respect, consideration and an open mind are needed for these interactions to be mutually enjoyable. Don’t be surprised if the local people – especially in remote areas – treat you with an equal measure of curiosity, and even suspicion! Put yourself in their shoes. It’s easy to judge another culture by our own standards and assumptions, but it’s worth keeping in mind: • You are a guest in the community – please respect your hosts and behave as you’d expect a guest to behave in your home. • Other cultures have different concepts of ‘time’, among other things - you’ll find it a lot less stressful if you go with the flow and you may even re-assess your own ideas! • Keep an open mind and don’t be too quick to judge: we do things differently back home – not better, just differently. • Don’t be too quick to generalise. For example, one bad experience with a taxi driver doesn’t mean all cabbies are thieves. Please be respectful of local customs. Read up before you go and ask your tour leader, or a local, if you’re unsure. Observe, listen and take your cue from the local people. • Nudity, scanty or inappropriate dress often causes offence, particularly in Moslem countries. Modest dress will help minimise the risk of sexual harassment (locals won’t readily assume you’re ‘available’) and you’ll be treated with a lot more respect. • Formalities such as greetings can be quite different to what you’re used to. It’s often best to wait for the local person to make the first move – be it a handshake or a nose rub! Public displays of affection are taboo in many communities. • Please respect private property and sites where access may be limited, by asking permission. Please also abide by the laws of the country and community you’re visiting.

  • Local Leaders, Porters and Staff

    A fundamental principle of our approach to Responsible Tourism is our commitment to employ local people as leaders and staff wherever possible, at all levels of the organisation. We operate comprehensive training courses for all our local leaders and each year we try to help them improve their skills. Not only does this policy mean the best possible holiday experience for our clients, it provides a career path for our leaders and staff and ensures the benefits remain in the local community. Our leaders are a great source of information about the country and its people and can be invaluable in helping you understand and interact with them. They can help you avoid cultural blunders, and their knowledge gives you a great insight into all aspects of the country, including local customs and traditions. Not only can they speak the language, they’re passionate about their homeland. On tour, they’ll introduce you to friends and family, and help you to get to know the local people on their own terms. Porter Protection There are often reports in the media about mistreatment of porters in places such as Nepal and South America. We believe we offer our porters the best working conditions in the business. We provide them with the highest quality clothing, good wages, the safest working conditions, insurance and medical benefits – in fact our porter gear has set the industry standards. Peregrine is a member of the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG), a body formed to protect porters from poor treatment by unprofessional trekking operators and private trekkers, and to raise awareness among trekkers for the need to ensure porters are treated as equal members of a trekking group. While we go to lengths to ensure the best treatment for our own porters, you may witness examples of poor treatment by other companies or individual trekkers on the trail. You can report such incidents to the IPPG or to our Melbourne office.

  • Food

    Many of the countries we visit have a distinctive and exciting cuisine – sampled local delicacies and shared meals with the local people are invariably the stuff of rich memories. We encourage you to support local restaurants, often family-run, by trying out their food. If you’re eating on the street or in markets, stick to hot food cooked in front of you, and eat from establishments where there is a high turnover, where freshness is more likely to be assured. Avoid raw foods or any that may have been washed in un-purified water or drinks containing un-purified ice. If in doubt, ask your leader – he or she can also provide restaurant recommendations. Try to choose locally produced goods, rather than imports – this helps to ensure your money goes to the locals rather than the multinationals. On treks and safaris, Peregrine cooks will prepare many of your meals. You can be assured of the freshness of the ingredients, the purity of the water and hygienic preparation. Food supplies in remote areas are often limited, and tourists can put pressure on local resources. This can force up prices for local people and, in extreme cases, result in localised malnutrition. Wherever possible, Peregrine sources its food and supplies locally, thereby ensuring as much economic benefit to the community as possible. Where food supplies are limited, we will carry in our own supplies. In the Himalaya, Andes and other remote areas, we suggest that you stick to the food prepared by our own chefs to ensure what you consume is prepared in a sustainable and hygienic manner.

  • Begging

    It’s often painfully hard to resist the pleadings of beggars, be they children calling for ‘bonbons’ or adults with terrible disabilities. In most cases, we strongly recommend you do not give money or other ‘gifts’ (such as pens or lollies) to beggars. In many countries, such actions have actually helped create a begging fraternity that undermines traditional culture and social structures, and almost inevitably eliminates any chance for equitable interaction between locals and foreigners. In some cases children skip school or are forced out by their parents, and are even deliberately maimed or drugged to increase their earning capacity as beggars. An alternative is to give of your ‘self’, rather than your ‘wealth’ – share a joke or a meal, start a conversation, take a photo or play a game. If you would like to make a contribution, ask your leader about local community projects where your money will be used to the best advantage. Peregrine supports and has initiated such schemes in some of the areas in which it operates. If you bring stationery or other things from home for the local children, give them to the schoolteacher or village chief for distribution, rather than directly to the kids. There are circumstances where it is perfectly acceptable to give to beggars. In India, for example, ‘sadhus’ (religious men) are supported by the donations of devout locals. If you would like to give, ask your leader or a local what is an appropriate amount.

  • Photography

    Please always ask before taking someone’s photo, and respect his or her wishes. Usually just lifting your camera with a questioning look will suffice as a request, although asking in the person’s own language is even better. A smile goes a long way! We suggest that you don’t pay for taking photos of people – it becomes another form of begging, with similar consequences. Usually, if you take a little time to talk to your subject, they will agree to be photographed – you end up with a far more relaxed subject, and you each have a more enjoyable and memorable experience. If you promise to send someone a photo, please try to follow through. Our leaders can sometimes help out, delivering the prints the next time they’re passing through. A small Polaroid camera that can produce ‘instant’ prints is always a huge hit! These days, a digital camera can also be a great asset, enabling you to immediately show your subjects their photos.

  • Bargaining

    Bargaining is a fundamental part of the shopping experience in many countries, but what many westerners don’t realise is that it’s not about securing the lowest possible price. It’s about fair trade and reaching a tactical agreement that suits both parties. The social interaction is as much a part of the process as the financial outcome. Keep this in mind, and perhaps consider that low prices often mean low wages. Have fun with it and keep things in perspective, but don’t be mean-spirited. Does haggling over that last dollar really make a difference to you, compared to the vendor?

  • Religious & Historic Sites

    Please respect the physical and cultural integrity of religious and historic sites. • Ensure you are appropriately dressed and aware of particular actions that may cause offence. For example, in many countries, it is considered disrespectful to point the soles of your feet at a religious shrine; others have rituals of ablution, or clothing regulations, that must be observed before entering. • If you’re exploring archaeological ruins, be mindful of where you’re putting your feet – those 1000-year-old stones may be under threat from being explored to death! • Don’t succumb to the temptation to souvenir a piece of stone or pottery or other artefact. We do not camp within historical sites.

  • Myanmar - to go or not to go?

    One of the world’s most controversial travel destinations is Burma, or Myanmar. Nobel Peace Laureate, Daw Aung San Sun Kyi, and many activist groups urge travellers to boycott the country in protest at the human rights abuses committed by the ruling SLORC regime. Peregrine absolutely supports the people of Burma in their struggle to eradicate human rights abuses and to install a democracy. We do not believe we should only facilitate travel to countries with perfect human rights records or palatable political systems. What we do promise is that we will enable you to meet the local people and let you discover Burma for yourself. We hope you will go home as an advocate for positive change. Meanwhile, we will continue to support small local operators and family-run businesses, rather than those channelling funds directly into the regime.

  • Animal- Friendly Travel

    It is impossible to make no impact at all when visiting a wilderness environment. In weighing the philosophical pros and cons, we occasionally decide it is better not to visit a place at all. In the regions we do visit, we strive to minimise our impact and ensure it is as harmless as possible. To do this, we follow strict environmental guidelines. But only with your help can we ensure the sustainability of a wilderness travel experience for the future. It’s not always easy to stick to these guidelines, but we ask your assistance and value your feedback and suggestions for any improvements.

  • Trail Etiquette

    • When walking or cycling, please stay on the trail wherever possible, even when it’s muddy or there’s room to walk or ride alongside. Don’t be tempted to create, build, or follow, a new route or shortcut. This keeps erosion to the minimum. • If you are walking in places where there are no tracks, spread out so that the impact of the group’s footprints is ‘averaged’ over the area. • Watch where you put your feet! Particularly in high latitudes and altitudes, the flora can be very slow growing and may take many years to regenerate after being impacted by a careless boot. Try to avoid sensitive areas, such as wildflower meadows and important watercourses. If you must pass near fragile areas, try to keep to the outskirts. Avoid stepping on plants by stepping on rocks or compacted soil. • If you carry it in, carry it out – please don’t dispose of litter along the way. This includes cigarette butts and used matches, as well as paper, plastic, clothing and food scraps. Apple peels and other fruit rinds may be biodegradable but they are unsightly and can take a while to decompose. Carry a plastic bag to collect your litter during the day and take it away with you. • We will provide you with adequate quantities of clean drinking water when trekking. Please be sure to bring two sturdy, 1-1.5 litre water bottles so you don’t have to rely on buying bottled water. If you wish to drink tea or cold drinks at local shops or tea-houses, be aware that the containers may not be properly clean – it’s often a good idea to pack your own plastic cup. Lodge-based trekking (Nepal) The trekking trails of the Everest and Annapurna region are ancient trading routes from Tibet into Nepal. Traditionally, families living in the villages en route built additional rooms to accommodate travellers. When lodge-based trekking began in Nepal, the rate of development was extremely rapid and put enormous pressures on the environment and local culture. One of the most visible impacts was deforestation – timber was, and still is, harvested to provide hot meals and showers for trekkers staying in lodges. Peregrine has been working with Nepalese lodge owners in the Everest and Annapurna regions for the past decade. We have committed ourselves to a relationship with the owners and have been instrumental in helping them upgrade their lodges, thereby setting an example to others with renewable energy sources such as hydropower. For example, our lodge in Phakding now has a hydropower system, which supplies power to the village. By providing reliable income, we have assisted several villages with the installation of hydropower systems and solar panels. Hopefully other lodges will follow suit. Peregrine lodges bear little resemblance to the old smoky teahouses of the past. They are still family-owned and operated, but these days they are clean, comfortable and environmentally friendly. Our use of lodges is in accordance with the recommendations of the National Parks and Conservation Project guidelines for low impact trekking. Peregrine has provided each of its lodges with kerosene stoves and continues to carry in kerosene as fuel for cooking. The heating of the lodges is achieved mainly with yak dung. This unique fuel source is renewable, plentiful and burns efficiently with little residue. Showers are most often solar. We do not use firewood in the Himalaya. If you are camping we ask that you don’t take advantage of the ‘hot’ showers on offer at lodges – even though they may be very tempting. Forests are being cut down to facilitate your enjoyment. You’ll be woken each morning with a bowl of warm water for washing – heated on the kerosene stove. Don’t worry that you may not look (or smell) your best: everyone in the group will be in the same situation! Camping We try to keep our impact on a campsite to an absolute minimum – leaving the site in the same, or preferably better, condition than we found it. We aim to locate tents at least 30 metres away from streams and lakes and, to prevent erosion, we ask that you do not dig drainage ditches around your tent. While that patch of lush green grass looks like the ideal spot to pitch your tent, mountain meadows and tundra contain important – and very fragile – plants, which can easily be damaged, so we try to select a sandy or hard surface for our campsites (that’s where roll mats and thermarests come in!). When we break camp, please help us by doing a quick check of the site, removing any scraps left by your group, or by others.

  • Rubbish

    Disposing of rubbish properly in the developing world is a little more complex than back home. Most of the countries we visit don’t have ‘organised’ waste disposal systems. In many places, almost all the waste generated was biodegradable or recyclable until the very recent introduction of plastics and other consumables. The local infrastructure cannot cope with the changed situation, and often the local people don’t have a clear understanding of the impact of unfettered littering. Local wildlife may also be affected when they wander into campsites, accidentally consuming harmful substances and altering their natural diet. We encourage you to go the extra step and remove any rubbish left by others. Carry a plastic bag for collecting your rubbish during the day. If you can take your non-biodegradable waste, such as batteries and plastic film canisters, back home with you, you’ll be making a positive impact on an enormous problem.

  • Washing and water pollution

    Protecting water resources is vital. Where practical, we camp well away from water sources. • We urge you to use only biodegradable soaps and shampoos that don’t contain phosphates, and please don’t use them directly in fresh waterways, as even biodegradable soaps can be harmful. • If you’re washing pots and pans or clothes, carry a basin of water at least 50 metres away from the edge of the stream or lake – do not wash directly in the waterway. Go easy on the amount of soap – elbow grease and sand is a good alternative. Scatter the dirty water over a wide area rather than just tipping it out. • If bathing or swimming, consider the sensibilities of local people – both regarding what you wear and using ‘their’ water. Bathe downstream from water collection points or villages and, if you’re using shampoos and soaps, lather up and rinse well away from the water’s edge – your leader can give you a basin. • Be aware that water attracts native wildlife and our presence should not be disruptive to their habits.

  • Campfires

    Campfires are, for many people, an important part of the camping experience. In many areas that we operate, such as Nepal, it is neither practical nor environmentally responsible to have fires. In areas where fires don’t make a significant impact, such as Egypt or Africa, we keep our fires small. After checking if the lighting of fires is permitted and whether we must bring in our own firewood, we determine a suitable place for the fire, and build it in an environmentally sensitive manner. This means avoiding dry or windy areas and, if possible, using an existing site. We check for overhanging foliage and clear an area around the fire. We use only dead fallen trees for firewood as standing trees, even dead ones, provide shelter for wildlife and are part of the scenery. Please don’t throw materials such as plastics, which emit toxic fumes and do not completely decompose, into the campfire. Wherever possible, we use, and encourage local operators to use, portable kerosene stoves rather than open fires. All our cooking on trekking holidays is done on kerosene stoves, for both camping and lodge-based treks. We never leave a fire unattended and keep water handy in case it spreads. And of course, we ensure all embers are extinguished. Please help rehabilitate the area before you leave by picking up any scraps of rubbish you can see.

  • Wildlife and Flora

    Encounters with wildlife are often a highlight of your trip. Many of the wildlife species we encounter are already endangered. The following tips will help to ensure we don’t put them further at risk by disturbing their daily routine or causing them to behave abnormally. • Your guide will discuss minimum approach distances with you – i.e. the minimum distance you can approach an animal without risk to either the animal or yourself. Please observe them. Particularly with breeding or nesting animals, your actions can have a severe impact - for example, causing a parent to abandon its young, leaving them susceptible to attack by predators. If an animal alters its behaviour because of your presence, you know you’re too close. While it’s tempting to force an animal to ‘do something’, your wildlife experience will be far more rewarding if you have a little patience and observe the details of the animal’s ‘natural’ behaviour. • Some animals are susceptible to human viruses and diseases, so keep your distance! • On safari, please don’t encourage your driver to take the vehicle off the trail in order to get closer to the animals – your driver knows and should observe the relevant regulations. (Please advise us if he/she doesn’t). • Be careful not to surround an animal, or to get between an adult and its offspring – at best, you’ll cause distress for the animals, at worst, you may end up as lunch! • Please keep noise to a minimum when observing animals at close quarters and, where appropriate (eg Africa), wear clothing that will help you blend into the background rather than stand out like a beacon. • Consider taking a zoom lens and binoculars • We ask that you never feed an animal, however inquisitive it appears to be. Food scraps should not be considered ‘biodegradable’. Processed foods can be harmful to animals and birds, and even vegetable scraps can cause fauna to alter their behaviour and even become reliant on handouts – and therefore vulnerable. • Be aware that rabies and other diseases are prevalent in many countries. Wild animals should never be touched, but we also strongly suggest you refrain from touching domestic animals such as cats and dogs. • When you’re trekking, please don’t cut back vegetation from the trail or pick the wildflowers – particularly in popular areas. This can impact on the ability of the plants to reproduce. • Customs and Quarantine laws in Australia are very strict and offences carry harsh penalties. Be aware that it is illegal to import many wildlife products, including most skins, ivory and bone into Australia. Their purchase can also encourage poaching. If you must bring home an animal-related souvenir, check the regulations with Customs before you go, and always ensure you make a full and proper customs declaration, as our own wildlife protection relies on preventing the introduction of foreign animal diseases. • In many countries, the purchase of large wooden carvings can place strain on dwindling forest resources. If you buy wooden items, please buy small ones or check that they are carved from plantation timber. All wooden items must be declared at Australian Customs.

  • Safety

    We have 25 years of experience operating adventure holidays. Our staff members are highly trained to act effectively in an emergency and we have operations offices in most of the countries we visit. This means we have staff on the ground that can keep abreast of political or other situations that may present safety threats. We will never knowingly risk the safety of our clients, however you must also take responsibility for your personal safety. • Please follow the directions of your tour leader, particularly regarding approach distances to wildlife and at altitude in difficult terrain. • Choose a trip within your physical capabilities and make sure you undertake the requisite training before departure. Relying on someone else to ‘rescue’ you may put other people at personal risk. • Ensure you have adequate travel insurance before you leave home, including provision for emergency evacuation. • Be careful with food and drinking water – if you’re unsure about the hygiene, ask your leader.

  • What Else Can I Do?

    Many of our clients return with a new perspective on life and a desire to be pro-active in ‘giving something back’. • Ask us about the grass roots social and environmental initiatives we support. We support a variety of causes in each of the countries in which we operate. It’s possible to make financial donations through our website. Often, we are also able to carry goods such as clothing or equipment to overseas communities. • Adopt these guidelines for your future travels • Book your future holidays with Peregrine. A portion of the revenues from many of our trips goes directly to worthy causes in the countries we visit. • If you have suggestions for existing causes you think worthy of our support, or if you have ideas for new initiatives or ways in which you could be involved, please write to our Responsible Tourism Manager. Happy travelling!

  • Peregrine Animal Welfare Policy

    Peregrine has launched an animal welfare policy that is being implemented. Whilst we do have travel programmes that include working animals, it is important for us that these animals are well looked after. We encourage our travellers to help us support good animal husbandry practices and let us know if there are any issues of concern. You can also opt for options that do not involve animal rides or entertainment. Some guidelines include: - All trekking animals such as elephants, camels and donkeys to have clean drinking water. Feeding of animals before/after trek, allowing a leisurely trek where animals can forage for food where applicable, not overloading the animals (maximum 2 passengers for elephants, 1 for camels and donkeys), and the loads must be even and well balanced, tools of negative enforcement such as the ankush or whip to be used only as a last resort in the event of emergencies. Positive reinforcement should be used to mould animal behaviour instead. - For trekking elephants, thick padding beneath seat, seats to be held down by rubber hoses or padded ropes to prevent abrasion, shaded rest area for elephants before and after the trek (wherever possible), using long chains if elephant is chained, bathing the elephants after the trek with travellers welcome to join in! - In the interest of both animal welfare and safety, these animals are not to be used for trekking: sick, injured, pregnant, animals with young/new born, poorly fed animals or animals showing signs of starvation (e.g. protruding rib cage and backbones), animals with wounds and sores, young animals that are yet physically developed and carrying heavy loads will impede natural development (e.g. elephants below 8 years old, donkeys below 3 years old), animals showing signs of stress (e.g. repeated head bobbing or swaying) and fear.