We have always designed our holidays in a responsible way that gives back to local people and gives you a more rewarding experience. We believe that sustainable adventure travel is a great form of wealth redistribution and it is making a huge difference in the lives of many people in the countries where we operate. We feel that we have a responsibility to our local partners (most of which are small family-run companies) and the small communities that tourism benefits.
We aim to have a positive impact on the environment by being a leading voice, an educator and influencer of the industry on relevant sustainability issues. That is why we were among the first companies to join www.tourismdeclares.com which – launched in January 2020 – is a network of organisations, companies and individuals working in tourism who have come together to join other industries and regions in declaring a climate emergency.
By declaring an emergency, travel companies are publicly committing to the following five actions:
- Developing a ‘Climate Emergency Plan’ detailing their planned response.
- Transparently sharing progress publicly every year.
- Ensuring their plan focusses on cutting carbon emissions, in line with current advice from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stating that, by 2030, we need to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below their 2017 levels to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming.
- Working together with competitors, suppliers and partners to share best practice and grow the community.
- Advocating for system change across the industry and calling for urgent regulatory action to accelerate the transition towards zero-carbon air travel.
Our Responsible Travel Policies
As lovers of the natural world ourselves, our aim is to operate in the most ecologically responsible manner possible. And we think this should be the essence of the ‘self-guided’ concept. We are not a “mass market” operator. We choose to offer and present our holidays in a way that offers walkers the opportunity to enjoy everything that a beautiful region has to offer while leaving the smallest discernable footprint on the environment. Our hiking and cycling holidays are designed to contribute to the local and rural communities and economies that we visit. As most of our holidays are walking and cycling based, we aim to keep our operations as environmentally friendly as possible.
- Our hiking and cycling holidays are designed to contribute to the local and rural communities and economies that we visit. We encourage our clients to soak in and respect the local cultures, taste local food and wines, participate in local community projects. We work closely with our local partners and accommodation providers so we can provide unforgettable experiences to our clients whilst contributing to sustaining and promoting local culture and traditions.
- In April 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, we launched the Support Local Communities Initiative. We have enabled an option when booking a tour with us, customers to make a donation to support our local partners. 100% of the donations go directly to our local suppliers. This way clients will give back to the places they visit on their travels by creating opportunities for local people to earn some much-needed income.
- All our accommodation in each destination is hand-picked and regularly tested by members of the Natural Adventure team so you can rest assured you will return to comfortable accommodation at the end of your days walking.
- In remote locations where we believe the hiking includes spectacular views and nature, we stay in locally owned hotels or local guest-houses. These are always clean and comfortable and serve local fresh locally sourced food. In specific locations where we believe there is a genuine opportunity to experience a unique local flavour, we also stay in local guesthouses where our clients are greeted with traditional hospitality, clean and comfortable rooms and locally sourced fresh food.
- We typically use local public transport, buses and trains to transfer our clients at the beginning and the end of the itinerary. We encourage our clients to use public transport where possible and offer private car transfers which are neither economical nor environmentally friendly only where there are no alternatives, or as additionally charged options. Baggage transfers between hotels are typically made by local drivers and not by taxi companies. By using local transport services we support the local economy in the regions where we operate.
- We are still the only company which offers self-guided walking holidays in Kosovo, the youngest country in Europe. We believe in its potential as a tourism destination and have been partnering with the Swiss charity Swisscontact on a project for encouraging and promoting sustainable tourism in Kosovo. As part of this project our founder, Peter Duncan visited Kosovo in 2015.
- In Bulgaria, we are supporting the local NGO Rekichka, which has been implementing a number of projects related to the development of sustainable tourism and biodiversity protection in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union.
- Our aim is to operate in the most ecologically responsible manner possible. And we think this should be the essence of the ‘self-guided’ concept. We choose to offer and present our holidays in a way that offers walkers the opportunity to enjoy everything that this beautiful region has to offer while leaving the smallest discernable footprint on the environment. Our detailed tour information packs include a section on environmental responsibility and detailed instructions related to the ‘leave no trace’ policy, protected animals and plants in the area, etc. We encourage our clients to use the info packs and maps in electronic format. We commute to our office only when it is really needed and most of our employees work from their homes, thus significantly reducing the number of commutes.
- In 2011 another of our founders, Alexander Pazderski, made a widely publicised record-breaking kayaking trip on the Danube, paddling in winter conditions from Vidin to Silistra (almost the entire Bulgarian section of Danube, more than 400 km) in only 4 days. This trip typically takes 12 days if you are an experienced kayaker. The challenge was aimed to raise awareness of four endangered bird species in Bulgaria living along the Danube: the Phalacrocorax pygmaeus, Aythya nyroca, Haliaeetus albicilla and the Pelecanus crispus.