Our planet and the wildlife and cultures that exist here are beautiful and incredibly precious, and it is vitally important that we act responsibly in everything we do to protect them for the future. This mind-set is at the heart of our company - Maria, our Founder and Director, is from Peru and incredibly passionate about protecting the incredible biodiversity and rich culture of her home country and continent for countless generations to follow.

If managed incorrectly travel can have a huge negative impact on the environment, the local people, and the wildlife. Here at Go Andes we strongly believe that nothing is more important than protecting our planet for future generations, and responsible travel has become a pre-requisite to our way of working. Our philosophy is to provide magical holidays to South America in a sustainable and responsible way, helping to protect the local communities and environment.

Responsible Travel - What Do We Do?

Responsible travel begins with what we do in our office in the UK:

  • In our office in the UK 100% of our paper waste is sent for recycling and where possible we recycle other materials such as printer cartridges. 
  • Our brochure is intentionally small in size (A5) minimising the use of paper, and is available as a download-only option so we only need to print the absolute minimum quantity. The small size also means it is lighter in weight which helps reduce the impact of postage to the environment.
  • We keep paper usage as minimal as possible using electronic copies of documents such as our Holiday Itineraries, Destinations and Travel Guides, Inca Trail Information Guide, flight E-Tickets and so on rather than printed copies.
  • All our team are aware of our Responsible Travel Policy and are required to work within its framework, and we welcome suggestions and comments from our team, suppliers, partners and customers to ensure we continually improve.

Responsible Travel - Our Holidays

We design our holidays to ensure they offer incredible and unforgettable travel experiences, but with a focus on responsible travel:

  • As we're specialists for South America we plan holidays to ensure the logistics operate as efficiently as possible. This maximises enjoyment during the holiday as it reduces travel days therefore allowing more time for sightseeing or relaxing, but it also saves fuel and keeps emissions as low as possible.
  • Where possible we hand-select locally owned accommodation and hotels who in turn employ local staff ensuring as much as possible that our holidays directly benefit the local people. This also provides more memorable and unique holidays as all hotels are special and memorable rather than bland, corporate and identical.
  • We include lodges in the Amazon that go the extra mile to operate responsibly, both to protect the environment in the region and maintain a positive and productive relationship with local people. For example we work with the Napo Wildlife Center lodge in Ecuador's Amazon region which is 100% community based by the Kichwa Añangu people and employs an eco-tourism model with proceeds being invested back into the local community; and we work with Posada Amazonas lodge in Peru's Tambopata Amazon region which is constructed entirely from traditional materials and is 100% owned by the Community of Infierno (part of the Ese Eja Tribe) and directly benefits the local people with Amazon guides coming from the community.
  • Many of our holidays include meals which may be breakfast in a hotel, lunch during an excursion, or an evening meal when in a rural location where restaurant choices are minimal or non-existent. In such cases we select locally owned restaurants, such as in the Sacred Valley or in Machu Picchu, or include meals in the locally-owned hotels or lodges such as in the Amazon Jungle, Salar de Uyuni and Torres del Paine National Park. We also try to select restaurants show-casing local foods and recipes which not only provides a more immersive experience but utilises more local ingredients further helping the local economy and avoiding the excessive energy costs of importing international ingredients.
  • Our Booking Terms and Conditions have included a "Conservation" clause since the very first day we opened our doors, emphasising our belief that this is a vitally important aspect of travel.

Responsible Travel - What Do Our Suppliers Do?

Our suppliers both here in the UK and in South America are an extension of our business, and in most instances we've been working with them for many years and have built long-standing trusting relationships. We rely on our suppliers to help provide our responsible holidays, and work with them and educate them where appropriate to ensure they are always doing everything they can:

  • We work with carefully selected local partner suppliers across South America who in turn employ local guides, which we encourage them to do. Using local guides rather than international guides ensures that our holidays benefit the local economy (and also means our guests benefit from guides who are passionate and proud of their home and who have local expert knowledge!).
  • We have contracts with our suppliers requiring them (and their suppliers) to operate in accordance within any relevant laws and regulations in their country of operation, and to ensure that employees are suitably qualified and trained for their job. This ensures working practices for employees are acceptable and that employees are not exploited, and employees benefit from any training provided.
  • We ask our suppliers to have the same approach to recycling as we do here in the UK, so where possible we ask them to recycle paper, and we work with them electronically minimising paper usage as much as possible.
  • We also ask our suppliers to source locally whenever possible, such as using local suppliers for their own services from provision of office supplies to drivers or hotels.

Responsible Travellers Code of Conduct - What Can Our Customers Do?

"Take only photographs, leave only footprints" may be a cliche, but we sincerely believe in this sentiment to protect South America and our planet for future generations. Although we and our suppliers do everything we can to provide responsible holidays, you can also contribute to ensuring we all do our best to protect our destinations and planet for the future. Here are some ways you can help contribute to sustainable and responsible travel during our holidays:

  • Reduce water usage - Water is a valuable resource, particularly in some of our destinations such as the Atacama Desert (one of the driest places in the world), and reducing water usage helps by environment by reducing the energy (and therefore pollution) required to deliver it to houses, hotels, buildings and so on. Therefore manage your water usage carefully by avoiding wastage, taking short showers, and re-using water where possible.
  • Avoid single-use plastic wherever possible - Consider using a re-usable water bottle to avoid creating waste due to excessive or avoidable use of single-use plastic bottles. If possible purify water or ask hotels or restaurants to refill your bottle rather than constantly buying new bottles.
  • Do not litter - during our holidays you will visit some of the most beautiful areas of planet, so let's keep them that way! Take your rubbish with you, and ensure you dispose of it in a thoughtful way recycling wherever possible (if needed think about bringing used packaging home with you to recycle properly).
  • Use chemical products with care - if you are taking things like shampoo with you check to make sure they are biodegradable and won't damage the environment, and avoid using perfumes or deodorants (particularly in places like the Amazon or the Galapagos). Sun cream can be harmful to the marine environment, particularly during water-based excursions such as snorkelling in the Galapagos Islands, and particular care should be taken to selecting products that are harmless to these fragile ecosystems.
  • Pack as light as possible - we appreciate it can be difficult but carrying things you do not need increases the weight of your luggage which in turn means more fuel is used to transport you around the various destinations, so travel as light as possible to keep fuel usage low. In some places within our holidays, in particular in the Amazon Jungle, we will give you the opportunity to store any unnecessary luggage in a secure location before travelling into the Amazon.
  • Do not touch any wildlife - the animals and plants you will see on our holidays are wild, so please observe them from a distance without harming or scaring them, and do not touch them. Do not take "selfies" with wild animals.
  • Do not buy historic artefacts - in some places you may be offered "original" archaeological finds to buy. Under no circumstances should you consider buying these, not only is it potentially illegal (you may be caught at the border trying to export items of cultural significance) but your interest encourages this trade and risks further diluting the cultural heritage and artefacts in these locations.
  • Do not buy souvenirs containing natural products - avoid buying things like jewellery or ornaments that have been made using natural products such as shells or dried insects. This encourages this practice which can harm local environments and animals.
  • Listen to our guides - some of the places visited on our holidays are protected reserves or UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it is important you listen to the instructions of the guides - they are there to educate and entertain, but also to help protect the wildlife or history of the places you are visiting.
  • Do not remove anything - removing things like shells from a beach or stones from an archaeological ruin is not only potentially illegal but highly damaging. Please look but do not touch!
  • Protect the landscape - Some of our holidays visit incredibly fragile landscapes and eco-systems, and historically and culturally significant archaeological ruins. Consider your clothing, footwear and luggage carefully to ensure it will not damage these environments, and if you wish to use walking sticks use rubber ends instead of spikes so you do not damage the trails and paths.
  • Treat local cultures with care and respect - Our holidays explore some of the most iconic regions of South America providing fantastic opportunities to meet new people and cultures and discover new parts of the world. It is important we try to leave a positive impact on these cultures where possible and avoid having a negative impact as much as possible. Treat the people you meet, their cultures, beliefs and religions with respect, be polite, avoid taking photographs (unless you have asked for permission), be aware of the local customs and etiquette to avoid offending people accidentally, and try to learn some of the local language so you can politely communicate.
  • Consider tipping the local people you meet - although tipping is entirely optional, tipping is a great way to help the local people directly, so consider tipping the guides, porters, drivers, restaurant waiters and other people you meet during your travels. 
  • Buy local - Our holidays take you to some of the most culturally rich locations in South America, so when you are there support the local economy directly by buying products and souvenirs from the locals, eat in independent restaurants rather than global corporate franchised restaurants (this also helps you discover the true flavours of your destinations) and visit local markets to buy souvenirs. This means your money directly supports the local people rather than the global corporate businesses that operate places like airport departure duty free shops. Remember that a small amount of money might make a big difference to the local people in our destinations. Bargaining does exist in South America when buying local but it does not occur to the extremes of some destinations across the globe, so politely bargain a little but no more.

Our Responsible Travel Policy

The aims of our Responsible Travel Policy and the wider information provided here is to provide magical holidays in a sustainable and responsible way, help to protect the local communities and the environment, directly support local economies and cultures through working the right way ourselves and by partnering with the right local suppliers, and helping and educating our customers on ways to Travel Responsibly both on our holidays in South America and elsewhere across our beautiful planet.

Environmental Policy: We reduce our paper usage in the UK as much as possible and recycle 100% of any paper we use or receive, and we ask our suppliers to follow the same mind-set. We ask our guests to travel responsibly on our holidays, reduce water usage, and take care to avoid damaging the environment; and we provide guidance and advice to our guests on how best to achieve this.

Social Policy: We have long-standing partnership relationships with local suppliers across South America who in turn employ local guides for our holidays and tours, in particular during visits to local communities or social projects for example in the Amazon Jungle or at Lake Titicaca where our visits are conducted with the support of the local communities who benefit directly. South America is blessed with a rich cultural history that we explore in our holidays and we provide guidance and advice to our guests on ways to best interact with these cultures to minimise negative impacts and, where possible, provide a positive and productive impact.

Economic Policy: We have long-standing partnership relationships with local suppliers across South America who in turn employ local workers and guides and where possible we use local independently owned accommodation rather than multi-national corporate hotel chains. This means we provide a better experience for our guests, delivered by local people passionate about their country, while ensuring the local people and economy directly benefit from our holidays. We ask our guests to have a positive influence on the local communities and provide advice to our guests on ways to achieve this, such as shopping in local markets or eating in independent local restaurants.