Ecotourism: Leave No Trace
Travelers to Peru can either help or hurt the country’s long-term survival depending on how they plan their trip and how they behave. A good ecotourism reference in the United States is The International Ecotourism Society or TIES (tel. 202/347-9203, www.ecotourism.org), which defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” A handful of Peru’s jungle operators belong to this association. Find out whether your the lodge or agency you have chosen lives up to these basic principles set forth by TIES:
- • Minimize impact.
- • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
- • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
- Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
- • Raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate.
- • Support international human rights and labor agreements.
A huge concern in Peru’s main trekking areas, such as the Inca Trail and the Cordillera Blanca, is environmental degradation as a result of sloppy camping. A wonderful resource for traveling lightly through wilderness is Leave No Trace (www.lnt.org), which has pioneered a set of principles that are slowly being adopted by protected areas around the world. More information on these principles can be found on the LNT web page:
- • Plan ahead and prepare.
- • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- • Dispose of waste properly.
- • Leave what you find.
- • Minimize campfire impacts.
- • Respect wildlife.
- • Be considerate of others.
Great pains have been made throughout this travel guide to recommend only agencies and lodges that have a solid ethic of ecotourism. But the only way to truly evaluate a company’s environmental and cultural practices is by experiencing them firsthand. Your feedback is tremendously valuable to us as we consider which businesses to recommend in the future.
Please send your experiences—both positive and negative—to us at feedback [at] moon [dot] com (www.moon.com).
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition