Each time you make plans for your vacation you have the opportunity to have a positive impact on the places you visit. Everyone can be a responsible traveler, no matter what type of journey you choose to embark on. You can get in touch with nature, go after a luxurious spa, hike through the rainforest, explore the city, visit classic destinations, or go off the beaten path. By using socially and environmentally responsible tour operators, hotels and outfitters, you can ensure that your trip contributes to the conservation of certain areas and the well-being of communities. Your choice makes a difference.Responsible Travel starts with planning. Making informed choices before your trip is the single most important thing you can do to be a responsible traveler. Here are some tips:
- Try to choose from destinations and hotels that are making the best practices in sustainable tourism; you can look for more information about possible places to visit at: www.sustainabletrip.org. Rainforest Alliance has done a great deal of work pushing for sustainable tourism practices in Ecuador and many hotels are verified by this organization. We ourselves work with many of them in our tours.
- Consult guidebooks: Choose guidebooks with information on your destination’s environmental, social and political issues and read up on them before booking.
- Open up communication: Contact operators who have firsthand knowledge of the place you are considering to visit.
- Ask questions: Let tour operators/hotels know that you are a responsible consumer. Before you book, ask about their social and environmental policies. For example: What percentage of their employees are local citizens? Do they support any projects that benefit communities or conservation areas? If so, how?
- Choose wisely: Are the businesses you are considering certified? Have they been recognized for their sustainable efforts by their industry?
While on Tour
- Respect the local environment: Do not litter, pick wild flowers or plants; try to reuse water bottles and recycle when you can.
- Try to visit community tourism operations during your visit: Ecuador has a high number of community run-and-owned lodges in spectacular natural settings. We work with many of them in our tours.
- Preserve local resources when possible: If your hotel has a policy to minimize laundering of towels and sheets, try to support it. Remember to turn off lights and air conditioning when you leave your room. Try not to waste water when you are not using it. Try to use biodegradable soaps and organic bug repellent and sun block.
- Respect local culture and traditions: Be aware and sensitive to cultural differences in language, custom and dress. Ask permission before taking someone’s picture. Learn a few words in the local language, and be open to learning about the local culture throughout the trip.
- Help ensure your money stays in the local community: Try local brands for food and drink. Buy hand crafted goods produced by local artisans.
- Protect national treasures: Never buy authentic archeological artifacts or souvenirs made from endangered plants animals such as turtle shell, coral and non-plantation precious wood.
- If you generate solid waste during your travels (batteries, shampoo & sun block containers plastic bags, toothbrushes, etc.) bring it back with you to the biggest and closest city (Quito, Guayaquil or Cuenca) and dispose of it there. In Ecuador many small towns don’t have proper waste management systems, and most of the trash ends up in rivers or open fields.
- Make donations count: The best way to give back to the country is through donations to organizations, not to individuals. If you want to support our conservation projects in the field, let us know!
In national parks or other protected wilderness areas
- Hire a local naturalist guide: Guides enhance the overall experience, and provide a wider interpretation of the natural areas you visit, as well as help you spot wild animals that are invisible to the untrained eye.
- Avoid feeding, touching or harassing wild animals at all times. Contact with animals puts them at risk and can cause undue stress.
- Stay on the trail at all times: This helps lessen your impact on the forest and keeps you from getting lost.
- Increase your chances of seeing wildlife responsibly:
- Be ready to explore the forest in the early morning or at dusk.
- Wear clothes that blend into the background.
- Avoid wearing perfume or other strong scents.
- Remain very quiet on the trail.
- Tune into the sounds of nature with all your senses
- Watch where you walk: Look down when walking through the forest and don’t move when you are observing animals or plants.
When you get back home
Take some time to reflect on how the culture and wildlife of your trip destination may have benefited in the long and short term from your visit. If you have found a particular cause that interests you, find out how you can contribute by making a donation, volunteering your time, or recommending your Ecuador trip to friends and family.
On this section you can find documents & links about sustainable tourism which we hope will help you learn more about this interesting subject.