We are acutely aware of the need to preserve the environment and the culture and customs of the inhabitants of the places we visit. Accordingly, we are supporters of the International Porter Protection Group. There is no doubt that in the past organisers of expeditions have taken advantage of the fact that porters traditionally were very low-paid and had no power to change their conditions. The two organisations mentioned have had some success in improving the conditions for porters and are continuing their efforts. We are committed to working with our agencies in the countries we visit to ensure that our porters are properly cared for.
For instance, in Nepal we work with only one agency who now provide the porters with full insurance, a full set of waterproof, insulated, outer clothing and boots and also ensure that they have proper facilities for cooking and sleeping. We encourage our clients to bring cast-off warm clothing to donate to the porters to supplement their own. Their senior staff are all employed full-time by the agency, and many of the porters themselves return at the start of the trekking season every year.
In South America when trekking, we normally use pack animals and we are happy to say that they always appear to be well cared-for. Where we have to use porters, eg on the Inca Trail in Peru where animals are not allowed, the working conditions for porters are now legislated for by the national authorities. We never use porters in Ecuador.
As for the environment, all our cooking on trek is done using kerosene in all the countries we visit. Where there are "tea houses" as in Nepal we encourage our clients only to take hot showers in those places which heat the water by solar power. We try to discourage our clients from buying bottled water and provide all our expeditions with a large-capacity filter pump which will remove all harmful organisms from drinking water. Where they prefer to buy water we ask them only to buy from the new "safe drinking water stations" which are being established in more and more regions of Nepal. These stations are powered by hydroelectricity and purify the water using ozone.
We are now associated with two organisations which are sponsoring the building of schools and the establishment of a forestry nursery in Nepal. We also help directly with the support of an orphanage in Kathmandu which is sponsored by our agency.