Rainforest Cruises works ostensibly in the ecologically-sensitive but economically-underdeveloped Amazon region and we have many years’ first-hand experience of life in Latin America.
Our mission is that our trips benefit local communities as much as possible while preserving the integrity of the environment.
Sustainable Travel is all about ensuring that experiencing another country and culture is a three-way beneficial process to the visitor, the visited and the area visited:
- Our clients gain an insight into the benefits and challenges of life in the areas they visit.
- Local communities gain economic benefit from the visitors to their region, in the form of employment, and payment for goods and services. They also gain a greater understanding of the basics of sustainability through contact with the demands of eco-tourism.
- The impact upon the environment is minimal, or even positive, as tourism dollars lead to better environmental practices, more protected areas, and more people with a vested interest in maintaining bio-diversity.
We ask all our clients and suppliers to help us in these aims by following the tips below, and welcome any new ideas on how to work and travel responsibly:
‘Leave only footprints ...’:
Minimize use of plastic bottles, by refilling from larger containers. Try to dispose of those you use in larger urban areas, such as Lima or Manaus, which have recycling facilities.
Learn a little of the local language. People are generally very friendly and a few words go a long way in creating a positive interaction with the people you meet along the way.
Do not give children sweets or money: they often do not have access to dental treatment especially in rural areas; plus, if the children can earn money by begging, it is tempting for their parents to remove them from education to pursue this cash-generating option.
By travelling with Rainforest Cruises, you are already contributing to local projects. If you would like to contribute directly to the area where you are travelling, please ask us or your local guide how. Click here for our advice on how to visit an Amazon village in a sustainable and enjoyable way.
Latin America is generally a barter culture, which can make some outsiders feel a little uncomfortable at first. However, if you bargain in markets and shops with a smile on your face, it can be a really fun experience. And remember that if you want it, buy it! Prices are generally not that inflated to begin with, so be happy with any discount.
Consider offsetting the carbon emissions of your flight.
Visit local restaurants, shops and projects and buy souvenirs, or enjoy great food, while ensuring that your spending benefits the grass roots.
When trekking, whatever you take out with you for the day must be kept with you and disposed of properly, including biodegradable waste like banana and orange peel that take a very long time to decay.
Tipping is a recognized part of life in Latin America, in return for good service. It is difficult to know exactly what to give, but a general rule is to try and tip a lot of people a little. Many of Rainforest Cruises’ ships have tipping guidelines, but do not be embarrassed to give a couple of coins to someone who you think deserves it, rather than a larger sum in an envelope to a guide.
Wash with biodegradable soap, especially if you are trekking. Baby wipes are handy but create a lot of waste.
On treks, and in fragile environments like the Amazon or Galapagos, always keep to the paths.
… Take Only Pictures.’:
Do not pick flowers or remove rocks. If you like the look of them, take a photograph!
Do not buy butterflies or insects, or products made from animal skins.
Do not take photographs of people, without first asking their permission.
Use water sparingly, such as taking (short) showers, not baths. Access to potable water is a major issue for many Latin American urban and rural areas, so please don’t exacerbate the problem.
To help our clients to comply with the above suggestions, Rainforest Cruises provides the following assistance:
We only ever travel in small groups
We insist that our suppliers employ local staff wherever possible and pay them a fair and timely wage.
Our cruises include visits to local communities, where appropriate, and vary the destinations so as to spread the wealth furthest and not to overload one specific community.
We use locally-owned and run hotels, restaurants and shops where possible
We know the local customs and traditions of the region and aim to educate our passengers in these, so as to interact with people they meet during their journey in a respectful and rewarding way.
We use vehicles appropriate to the number of people and terrain.
Our awareness of the environment does not stop in Latin America. In our offices in Florida and Lima, Rainforest Cruises:
Avoids office printing where possible and send electronic itineraries to our clients, rather than on paper, unless specifically requested.
Uses vegetable-based ink and recycled paper for promotional material, whenever possible
Offsets the carbon from our flights to and from Latin America; and avoids short, frequent trips.
Travels on foot, bike or public transport, when possible.
Recycles paper and plastic
Is constantly on the look-out for new projects that we can support in our destinations, by visiting them ourselves.