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Just a belated thank you to World Expeditions for the wonderful trip to the Antarctic my sister and I joined last December. From the first day, it was agreed that 1 day on a plane and 2 1/2 days on a ship was a small price to pay to have the chance to enjoy such an amazing experience. The ship was comfortable and crewed by an excellent staff; the size of the vessel was perfect to allow maximum opportunity for the four dozen or so passengers to enjoy the experience (contrasted to many of the other vessels we saw in port in Ushuaia).
Furthermore, the guides provided were professional, knowledgeable and friendly, adding to the great atmosphere of the journey. Our fellow travellers were an outgoing and welcoming bunch too, which made for a wonderful time. I wholeheartedly commend World Expeditions to anyone as a first rate provider of adventure travel - I can't wait for my next opportunity to try another experience (perhaps Kenya at a quiet moment). My sincere thanks to the team.
Asia, the Silk Route and the Trans Siberian
From China to Japan and Mongolia to Thailand, Asia is blessed with natural and cultural beauty. Despite this beauty, much of Asia is inherently caught up in poverty. Dense populations, emerging economies and the industrialisation of many Asian countries makes this area of the world particularly susceptible to environmental and cultural deterioration. As visitors to this region, we all have a responsibility to protect Asia's unique natural and cultural heritage and to minimise the damage done to this beautiful part of the world.
Mongolia: we discourage our travellers from purchasing water in plastic bottles. Instead we make available to them sanitised boiled water and encourage them to re-fill their one water bottle. To conserve water we provide travellers with a washing bowl for clothes, and we avoid the use of soap and other chemicals in rivers, streams and lakes.
Mongolia: we use professors, ecologists and scientists from the Mongolian National University and other universities and institutes as leaders on our tours. Many of our trips are in National Parks and protected areas and so while guiding we are supporting research on the bio diversity of these areas and on rare animals: Wild Camel-Khavtgai, Wild Sheep –Argali, Wild Goat (Ibex), and Yangir.
Myanmar: is home to a number of threatened species and because of a lack of environmental awareness many of them are exploited for domestic consumption or sold illegally on the national and international market. We discourage our travellers from purchasing animal and plant products that exploit wildlife or aid in the destruction of species and habitats such as elephant ivory, tortoiseshell, wild animal skins and traditional medicines made from animal parts or rare plants.
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos: to reduce the amount of carbon producing transport we use on our adventures we design our itineraries to use environmentally friendly modes of transport whenever possible - such as cyclos, city walks, bicycles and electric cars.
Japan: we use Japan Rail and private railways rather than chartered motor vehicles for over 90% of the transportation on our trips. The bullet train is the most energy efficient mode of transport in Japan, and we use bullet trains rather than flights for all long-distance travel on our tours.
Japan: we encourage our travellers to use reusable chopsticks and clothreusable shopping bags.
Thailand: when designing our cycling itineraries we always try to arrange our routes so that we ride from hotel to hotel so that a transfer vehicle is not required. This means that we reduce the vehicle requirements and produce less carbon.
China: we collect all rubbish accumulated along our Great Wall treks and we are careful to bring the right amount of food for our groups so to avoid waste.
Indonesia: our travel philosophy is to provide our travellers the opportunity to experience directly the local culture, philosophy, and enjoy the beauty of the nature this magic island offers.
South East Asia: we do not endorse the practice of elephant riding as part of a tourism experience and as such we do not include elephant rides in any of our South East Asia itineraries. In the interest of public safety and animal welfare we discourage our clients from partaking in such activities outside of our itineraries as well.
Social and Cultural
Mongolia: we educate our travellers with each of them receiving specific information about Mongolian nomadic culture and we provide many opportunities for them to interact with local people on tour so that knowledge is shared and the culture is understood and appreciated.
Mongolia: we hire horses and camels from local people and we also hire local people as the horse and camel guides. Additionally, we carry all food supplies for our trips from Ulaanbaatar to ensure that we do not deplete the food resources of small communities that we pass through.
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos: we are committed to hiring local crew and guides, paying them competitive wages, providing them with opportunities for self-development and ample training in health, safety and environmental issues.
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos: we encourage our travellers to dress conservatively and appropriately to avoid offending the local people, especially when visiting temples and pagodas.
Myanmar: we encourage our travellers to interact with the local people because we believe that has the strongest positive impact on the Burmese people and our travellers. Examples of such interactions include village walks in Bagan, a visit to a monastery or school, excursions to the local markets, a ride on Yangon’s circle train, half-day visit to a toddy farm concluding with tea and lunch with the locals, cooking course in a family home on Inle Lake, or lunch in a Nunnery.
Myanmar: we discourage our travellers to give money or sweets to the local children and adults because it highlights the income gap between visitors and locals, and it encourages begging instead of attending school. It is better to buy something to help these people or to give through your guide to a school, orphanage or hospital.
Japan: we use small locally owned traditional accommodation on our tours, in order to keep the money we spend within the local economy and to avoid forcing local residents to adapt to Western ways of travelling. We take our travellers to eat local food at small family run traditional restaurants.
Japan: We counter rural depopulation in Japan by visiting isolated rural areas and supporting their emerging tourism industries.
Thailand: our cycling trips operate as small groups averaging 6-7 people per group and never more than 14 people. We do this to minimise the impact we have on the villages we pass through ensuring that we don’t overwhelm communities.
China: our guides perform the important role of imparting knowledge about the Chinese culture to our travellers as well as understanding the cultural differences of our travellers from around the globe. With this in mind we provide our guides with cultural training each year.
Vietnam, Laos, India & Cambodia: over the past decade World Expeditions’ travellers have raised AUD$280,000 for the Free the Bears Fund. The money has entirely funded the best medical vet clinic in South East Asia located in Phnom Tamao. It has entirely funded the Bear Discovery Education Centre in Cambodia that local schools visit to educate students about the bears and the dangers they face. It has directly funded the release of over twenty-five dancing bears in India. It has built three night dens in the India rehabilitation centre which helps the bears in the transition from a caged to freedom in their large open rehabilitation centres. It has bought three vehicles in India to help transfer between the two rehabilitation centres in India. It has contributed to full renovations in the Luang Prabang and Phnom Penh rehabilitation centres.
Laos: In 2009 our community project program worked alongside the people of the Po Nowan Village to improve access to highland farmland in the wet season through the construction of an effective river crossing (suspension bridge) thus securing their food source. In addition this bridge makes it possible for travellers to cross into the village thus creating alternative supplemental livelihoods through eco-tourism activities.
Cambodia: In 2008 our community project travel program worked alongside the villagers in the Balang community to improve the local school including painting, cleaning, constructing and planting which improved the learning environment for the children and created a focal centre for the entire community.
Vietnam: In 2006 our community project travel program completed a school in the village of Xo Village Classroom and in 2007 our community project program worked alongside the people of Xom Van village to build a classroom at their school. And in 2008/09 our community project program worked alongside the Hmong ethnic minority people from Lau Thi Ngai village in northeast Vietnam to construct a water system, which now gives the people of the village access to clean water for their homes.
Japan: we support several community NGOs by raising awareness and funds. For example we make donations to the World Friendship Center, which is made up of organizations in Hiroshima who are interested in educating the wider community and travellers about the history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the peace building process. They encourage travellers to listen to the stories of A-bomb survivors.
Indonesia: we support the Sjaki-Tari-Us Foundation that has the purpose to support, counsel and accompany children with a mental disability in their development and participation in society.
Mongolia: We organize community projects to assist local schools and hospitals, such as:
|•||Providing school bags and text books to 20 children in South Gobi Province|
|•||Donated medical and dental equipment to hospitals in Khovd and Bayankhongor provinces as well as Bogd sum in Uvurkhangai province|
|•||Donated a computer and printer to schools in Khovd and Bayankhongor provinces|
|•||Our volunteer dentist and doctor worked in Gobi for 3 days and gave a treatment to local herdsmen free of charge|
|•||Constructed two water wells in South Gobi province.|