Responsible Travel Policy
- We, at Wildthentic, pledge to only partner with local companies who share and are committed to the same responsible travel values as us towards the environment, local community, local economy and wildlife!
Wildthentic believes that the nature and heritage should be respected and preserved. Our responsible travel efforts as well as those of our collaborators are consistently reviewed. Wildthentic Certified Experiences must meet standards for ethical travel practices. This particular screening process is divided into four main categories including Environment, Local Community, Local Economy, Wildlife & Animal Welfare.
We also take recognitions into account and favour local partners with internationally recognised Nature-Based Tourism and Ecotourism Accreditation. Examples of these programs include Eco Certified Tourism as well as Respecting Our Culture ROC Certified, among others.
When sourcing new experiences and their affiliations, we consider the following:
Here at Wildthentic we go to many lengths to ensure that the environment is cared for. We do not however, work with offsetting flight emissions because we do not offer flight packages within our catalogue. If you are interested in offsetting your flight’s carbon footprint we suggest you calculate your carbon emission and pay the corresponding offset amount by using the ClimateCare Carbon Calculator.
Environment & Operator
Before choosing our operators, we review their environmental practices. Our affiliates must prove that they are just as committed to sustainability as we are. Our assessment measures the operator’s impact on the environment by checking whether they use renewable energy sources, recycle, and or use locally sourced products/materials. We look for operators who have won sustainable tourism awards and or are eco certified. We also value partners who are involved in local and/or international conservation efforts as well as NGOs.
Environment & Activity
Our experiences focus on engine-free transportation. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, but you will find that most of our activities require minimal to no combustion. If engines are used during an activity and or outdoor experience we make sure that it is of low impact. Our Wildthentic Certified Experiences do not feature the use of quads, jet skis, and or speed boats for example.
You will however find that some of our adventures include helicopter and snowmobiling tours. Our heli-tours are done in combination with an activity located in a remote area that would otherwise be inaccessible. Our helicopter activities do not endanger wildlife and or the environment, in most cases their usage helps combat overtourism. Although, our snowmobiling experiences differ in that they are not carried out in tandem with other activities they too are done with wildlife welfare in mind. Numerous scientific studies have concluded that when practiced safely and respectfully, snowmobiling has no significant effect on wildlife populations. In fact, wildlife species and crops are more likely to be disturbed by cross-country skiers and people on foot than by snowmobiles. Our responsible travel efforts include briefing on safety and eco-friendly driving.
If transfers are required to access an activity, we always favour land transportation over air and public transportation over all else. If private transport is required, we ensure all vehicles used are fuel efficient and in good condition.
Activity meals are also considered. Our rating system favours local product (organic even better), and businesses, over non-local. We encourage experiences using small family run restaurants and or visiting local market.
- Guides & Group Size
Guides play an essential role during our outdoor experiences. They must show commitment and expertise regarding the area, its culture, and or its wildlife. Many Wildthentic Certified Experiences feature tours that are done alongside marine biologists and/or naturalist guides. These professionals are imperative to the experience and ensure that all travellers are behaving appropriately and within responsible travel guidelines. Our guides educate and brief the travellers accordingly.
Group sizes are kept small, 4 to 12 guests on average, in order to minimize the impact on wildlife and maximize the overall experience.
Experiences that include accommodation, such as those found within our ‘Unique Lodge Experience’ portfolio, are also rated by their carbon footprint. We check that the property; use natural locally sourced materials in its construction and decoration, harvest renewable energy, recycle, feature organic locally-sourced food, and invest in other green initiatives.
Environment & Destination
Our Wildthentic Certified Experiences occur in green locations. Many of our destinations feature areas that are protected by the government. Some of our key locations show a strong commitment and dedication to preserve the environment, such as New Zealand, Canada, Iceland, Costa Rica and Chile, where a large part of the land is listed as national park or nature reserve. Apart from choosing countries that focus on sustainable development we also select tours in remote regions of said countries. Many experiences occur in national parks and/or UNESCO sites. This not only spreads awareness among the travellers, it also entices the country’s government to invest in conservation. Responsible travel highlights the importance of keeping natural habitats pristine.
Our Wildthentic team works closely with national park authorities and marine reserves and ensure that our local partners as well as the guest clients are briefed on ethical practices.
Environment & Our Staff/Office
Our staff located at Wildthentic Headquarters, in Barcelona, Spain, also partakes in environmentally friendly practices. Wildthentic staff members recycle and encourage others to ‘think before you print’. Luckily, we are an online platform therefore our paper waste is usually kept to a minimum.
Our staff also, travels by public transportation, or commute cycling and on foot, uses reusable mugs, uses cotton towels instead of paper towels, and is planning to join an outdoor sporting event in order to raise money for an environmental NGO. Stay tuned for more information on this epic event.
Responsible and most iconic Wilderness trips we recommend:
2. LOCAL COMMUNITY / INDIGENOUS CULTURE
Our operator screening process checks that most tour staff is local, and that employee welfare is a priority. Some of our partners provide in-house staff training and career support. We also favour companies run by the local indigenous community.
Most Wildthentic activities include some sort of cultural aspect. Our goal is to merge sport and adventure to create a wild and authentic experience for the traveller. The best way to achieve this combination while also benefiting the local community and indigenous culture is to focus on the use of local guides as well as create experiences that allow for the traveller to fully immerse into the culture and its space. Travellers get to enjoy the possibility of staying in local homes, interacting with local communities, and learning about indigenous traditions.
Education and creating spaces for conversation is a major part of sustainable travel. There’s a human side to responsible travel that the World Tourism Organization defines as “Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.” This is a major part of our sustainable practice and philosophy. We educate and create spaces for conversation. Part of our educational process includes familiarizing travellers with the country’s Do’s and Don’ts, briefing them on expected practices as well as behavioural and cultural differences. Our DESTINATION section also encourages travellers to learn some of the local language, showing respect and genuine interest. If you’re interested in visiting a country listed in our catalogue, please make sure to visit that country’s web page located in our DESTINATIONS drop down menu for more details.
Responsible and cultural experiences we recommend
3. LOCAL ECONOMY
Tourism is a great way to support the local economy. We, here at Wildthentic, do our part by ensuring our partner is contracting and training local staff, using locally supplied products, providing locally-sourced fresh food and/or using the services of a local restaurant. Our accommodations also feature local guesthouses and/or ecolodges. We ensure that local staff is treated fairly and paid a fair wage. We do not feature hotels and or lodges run by international chains and we, as well as our guides, always encourage travellers to ‘shop local’.
4. WILDLIFE & ANIMAL WELFARE
Some of our activities involve animal riding or wildlife encounters such as dog-sledding, horse or camel riding, or swimming with whale sharks to name a few. We feel very strongly about animal welfare and strictly follow the World Animal Protection recommendations. These involve the Five Freedoms to protect any animal living under human control:
- Freedom from hunger or thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease
- Freedom to express normal behaviour
- Freedom from fear or distress
Banning elephant riding
Wildthentic Certified Experiences do not feature any activities having to do with elephant riding. Research conducted by World Animal Protection International highlights the correlation between tourism promoting elephant riding and abuse. Thus, an international ban on elephant riding was recommended due to this disturbing finding. We at Wildthentic do not offer any activity involving direct contact with the elephants or any other wildlife for that matter, we only believe in watching them in the wild from afar.
Riding horses, donkeys & camels
These animals are often perceived as a means of transportation rather than a living creature.
We ensure that the animals used during our tours are not abused, this includes; staying in exhausting heat, not feeding them properly, carrying more than their own weight, or not having access to roaming fields. We do not condone donkey riding; this activity is not and will not be featured within our list of WILDTHENTIC CERTIFIED EXPERIENCES.
Some of our experiences include horse-back riding, camel riding and horse-back safari. These activities are all enjoyed under ethical practices. Practices we consider include:
- Animal should appear well-fed and healthy, no sores and/or scarring.
- Owners should not use physical force when trying to control animal not hit them to control them,
- One person per horse and/or camel.
- Tour should include English speaking guide who conducts safety briefing.
- The selection of the animal should be done accordingly with the rider’s experience and size
- Saddle and harness should not cause physical harm to the animal.
Dog-sledding practices may vary according to the destination and/or animal species due to characteristic differences. It is important to keep in mind that sled dogs are not pets. They are somewhat wild and are genetically similar to the now-extinct Taimyr wolf. Sled dogs are working dogs that live outside all year around (except if injured and or giving birth, in which case they are sent to stay in a shelter) and are usually attached to a three-metre long rope or chain. These dogs are mostly friendly, but it is best not to touch them without their owner’s permission.
As part of our Dog Welfare Code of Practice we ensure the dogs being used in our activities are well treated, healthy, and strong. We also provide a local English-speaking musher who can engage further and answer any questions you might have about the mushing lifestyle and overall animal care. Our mushers are careful not to exhaust the dogs and make sure to give them plenty of rest before their next ride.
The sledge can carry one or two guests depending on the size, and the number of dogs will vary with the number of guests on board, adapting to the weight load. On average we have 9-10 dogs for one guest and musher and 15 dogs for 2 guests and musher. A sledge dog can pull almost its own weight (on average an adult male will be 30kg) and can ride for several hours (10-15hrs/day) depending on terrain, weather and load.
Swimming with whales & dolphins
These are activities with the purpose of enabling tourists to swim, observe, snorkel and/or scuba dive with cetaceans. In order to locate the animals in a less intrusive way, we often use spotting planes. We do not believe in feeding or baiting wild animals.
These activities require intensive research, we carefully sort through operators to ensure their practices are both eco-friendly and ethical. Such practices include:
- Respecting caution zones and distance limits placed on both the animals and their habitat.
- 1 Generally, guest should be around 100 metres away from whales and 50 metres away from dolphins. Please keep in mind that regulations vary depending on the country and or species of animal involved and its behaviour. Distance guidelines featured on our tours are based on scientific research.
- Limitation on the amount and types of boats being used in and around the animal’s natural habitat.
- All WILDTHENTIC CERTIFIED EXPERIENCES that involve animals should include a safety briefing and best practices briefing as well as have certified guides and/ or marine biologists on board.
- The animals should never be baited or fed, as this will impact their natural behaviour and disrupt the food chain.
- A special regulation should be in place with regards to the minimum age and/or size of the calves for any encounter.
Responsible wildlife experiences we recommend:
There are also actions you can take to reduce your impact on environment, support local economies and respect local cultures. If you’re interested in becoming a responsible traveller, please read our Traveller Code of conduct. Also, check our blog post on the Top 5 Ways To Be A Better Tourist.
TRAVELLER CODE OF CONDUCT
“A traveller without observation is a bird without wings.” Moslih Eddin Saadi
We, as a curator, ensure all the tours we select and promote to you are ethical and operated in a responsible way, now it is up to you to make an impact and become a Responsible Traveller.
The Traveller Code of Conduct mentions easy to follow guidelines that set standards for travellers to follow during their WILDTHENTIC CERTIFIED EXPERIENCES. Apart from following law of all destinations it is important travellers respect cultural social norms.
We recommend you follow this policy for the safety, security, and enjoyment of all those involved in the experience. We aim to empower all traveller’s while protecting wildlife, nature as well as the local community.
Below are some suggestions on how to get the most out of your trip.
Respect the local culture, brush up on the laws of the country and keep notes on specific social norms that differ from your own. Observing local cultural sensitivities will help you engage with your surroundings and avoid embarrassment or possibly even offence.
Learn a few key phrases and or words in the local language. Most locals will appreciate the effort and in turn be more willing to open-up and help you have a more authentic travel experience. You can practice by visiting our Country page on our website for some key words.
Dress respectfully with an awareness of local standards. Dress modestly at religious sites and check what swim wear is suitable for pools and the beach.
Eat, drink, and shop local.
Always ask for permission before taking someone’s picture. Also, keep in mind that flash photography might be offensive to locals (aboriginals believe flash is stealing their soul), and or damaging to artwork. Try to send some pictures back to the people via your local guide.
Recycle, reduce, reuse anytime you can. Focus on reusing water bottles, eliminating plastic waste, carrying around package-free shampoo bars, etc, etc.
Unplug your electronics when they are not in use and switch off all the lights. Make sure to always close water sources, don’t take long showers.
Do not steer off designated paths when visiting national parks and/or nature reserves this helps preserve natural habitats and leave animals undisturbed. Also, keeping the noise to a minimum will reward you with great wildlife encounters. Respecting wildlife and other traveller experiences is important.
Do not purchase relics and/or products made from endangered animals and/or plants. These products were probably acquired illegally and refusing to buy them disincentivizes the sellers from going in search of said products. (ex: ivory items, coral and turtle shell jewellery, any tiger or rhino products, to name a few. You can refer to WWF Buyer Beware for more specific advices.
Do bargain in local markets. Bargaining for products is a part of many cultures especially those located in Latin America and South East Asia, but we ask that before you haggle over the difference of a dollar or two you stop and think about just how far that extra bit of cash can go for the seller.
Avoid giving gifts and/or money to beggars and/or children. Instead focus on supporting a cause whether it be a local school, clinic or development project.