Our commitment is more than just talk.
One of our main goals as sustainability practitioners is to help create a strong incentive to positively impact on our ecosystems, to preserve the remaining cultural heritage in our region and to help rural economies flourish.
Here’s some of the specific things we’re doing right now to make the right impact, but stay tuned as we update you on our journey to create positive impact on our travelers and across Latin-America.
1. Making connections
Our journeys are designed to facilitate connections with the local people and cultures of the places you visit. This is posible in a natural way because we focus on developing mutually meaningful and longstanding connections and friendships with these inspiring individuals, the local communities, local artists and the organizations that you are able to meet on your journey. Every Vamos journey supports inspiring organizations working to preserve habitats, improve the livelihoods of local people and empowering vulnerable communities.
2. Supporting Local Economies
We are a local authorized Tour Operator and Fair Travel organization that pays honest wages to all our employees and contribute taxes to the Peruvian govermnent. By traveling with us you can be sure that our local guides, drivers, porters and support staff and the communities you travel too all benefit from your visit. While staying in charming locally owned accommodations, eating fresh and authentic regional food, and appreciating locally made handicrafts, we assure even more that your visit supports the local economy while you travel with Vamos Expeditions.
3. Leaving only memories behind
Low Impact Travel, Waste management and eco-friendly operations:
We practice low-impact camping on our trekkings and continuously improve our waste management. Developing countries have limited litter disposal options. Up until recently, many discarded goods were biodegradable (baskets, pottery). In conjunction with the onset of tourism, modern packaging and non-biodegradable litter became more prevalent. We avoid deposable plastic in any way we can. During our treks and camping trips we make purified water available to our clients in large containers and actively promote the use of reusable water bottles and filters. We have been able to reduce our plastic consumption significantly and we are striving to become 100% single-use plastic free.
Staff training and recycling:
We reduce the impact on the environment and avoid harming the physical environment by educating our tour leaders, local guides, expedition staff, drivers and passengers about low-impact travel and environmental awareness.
We try to be as paper-less as we possible and use recycled materials for business cards and office products.
We recently started with a project with local children to help them learn in a fun way to appreciate and take better care of their environment and the local birds that live around them.
Nudging partners and hotels towards more sustainable practices:
Where possible we use eco-friendly hotels build with natural materials and that use solar systems to warm the water and illuminate. We nudge hotels to reduce and avoid plastic in their daily operations, to use amenities (shampoo, soap,..) based on natural products and to recycle their garbage
4. Protecting children and vulnerable populations
While you are having an amazing trip and even while you comfortably sleep without doing anything, you can at the same time create a better future for vulnerable children and populations of the area you travel through. This is posible because in our tour programs we often include services and activities that are organized by non-profit organizations and providers that have a specific mission.
For example in the area of Cusco and the Sacred Valley we work together with 5 inspiring hotels from different categories of which the profit (particially or entirely) goes to support education, health services and psychological help for vulnerable children. Why not staying at one of those, right? And while you sleep do something good for the world.
All profit from the of the ‘Children’s hotels’ (Los Niños hotels in Cusco (Peru) goes entirely to give 500 extremely neglected children a hot meal on daily basis, a warm shower, medical and dental assistance, homework support and sports lessons. The same counts for the inspiring Kuychi Charity project, where with your stay at comfortable bungalows on the school’s property in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, you help to providing a total educative, psychological and health program to children from extremely poor, alcoholic and broken families. The organic restaurant and charming Hotel El Albergue supports an intercultural school project for poor children, and with a stay at the luxury hotel Sol y Luna (Relais Chateaux) in the Sacred Valley you directly support heathcare, education and personal tracking of their development for children of unstable home environments who come from remote communities.
Apart from this we also have groups that want to do more than this and are not afraid of getting their hands dirty and get involved in significant community projects. Most these projects directly benefit children. For example we have built an dining hall for a school where now daily 100 children are able to eat with dignity, and we have also helped to build a small children school for a high Andean agricultural community that works to preserve Peru’s variety of native poptatoes, a greenhouse to offer more fresh vegetables, vitamines and iron to the children’s diet and school meals which is important to combat anemia (which is very common in Peru).
Vamos also supports children and youth through different NGO iniciatives. Such as for example Alto Peru that keeps children and youth from the streets in Lima by offering them high quality sports trainings in surfing and Mai Thai.
5. Community-based tourism and empowerment of women
We support local communities in their quest to preserve their natural environments and cultures.
To help rural and forest-based communities conserve their indigenous knowledge and to leverage this knowledge for the benefit of these communities in an increasingly competitive world which tends to undervalue this knowledge, we are helping to fight injustice and healing the wounds of the past.
We use our knowledge of environmental, socio-cultural, and economic systems to co-design tourism activities and implement solutions to problems to help nudge society onto a more sustainable development path.
For the past 15 years, Vamos Expeditions has been dedicated to developing local host communities profoundly through community-based tourism.
Taking part in an activity or even stay a night (or more) in a community with an indigenous host family is a great way for a traveler to gain insight in the local customs and traditions. Vamos Expeditions offers a tourism that is honest and right for our local communities, working with them and for them. Through long-standing partnerships, we offer communities a sustainable economic alternative and support them in their quest to preserve their natural environments and cultural heritage. Community-based tourism is a great way to empower communities and especially women who play a significant role in this. The involvement of women in rural tourism and the economic benefit it brings for them, while being able to stay in their home environment, has shown to significantly reduce violence against them and be very beneficial for the wellbeing of their families.
Since the start of our Company, Vamos Expeditions, has been the motor behind several projects that nowadays are considered to be exemplary community-based tourism projects in Peru for example read more about Ticonata, Paru Paru and Luquina Chica where we build enduring partnerships to provide sustainable resources to the local communities and their environment.
Community-based tourism on Ticonata island in the lake Titicaca;
Working together with the locals of Ticonata Island we have expanded their economy by bringing volunteers and tourism to this remote island which has maintained its ancient, pre Inca culture. On the island people live in “Putucos” (stone Igloo-like houses), and have built additions to receive welcome guests. However, the region remains remote and seldom visited as this route is not known by the common tourism businesses in Puno. Mainly farmers and fishermen, the people of the Ticonata Island have preserved many traditions, their music, dances, costumes and typical food. Seeing their way of life in general is a great experience.
Together with the local community and our friends from Edgar, Vamos Expeditions started a project on the small island Ticonata in the lake Titicaca. The community that lived on this island was very poor, but they are very friendly and good people that mainly live off fishing. In the beginning (first phase of the project) we used to come and camp on the island. The local people invited us to have dinner with them, to watch the sunset from the ceremonial place at the top of the island (an amazing sunset over the Lake Titicaca) and to dance with them around the campfire. The next day they would take us in their little local sail boats to another island. Each visit to Ticonata was always an amazing authentic experience for us and our passengers.
Over time we got to know the community better and started to exchange ideas of how we could help this beautiful community more. We had the idea of building little round houses on the island which could be used as a place to sleep for travelers. We put our plan into action and together we built ‘putucos’, houses based on a pre-inca design of ruins that are found in this area. The houses were built in sun dried adobe bocks and have a thatched roof. At first there were six, now there are ten, a beautiful place to eat and a small museum where the community exhibits mummies they found close to their ceremonial center on the top of the island.
On this island ancient traditions have kept alive, women and men wear beautiful costumes, typical hairdressings, and their little society is well organized. For many years we were the only people visiting this island. Now we are very happy to have been able to contribute to this community to keep their traditions and to improve the wellbeing of these people through community-based tourism. With several student groups we engaged with the community working together on community projects building infrastructure such as toilets, putucos for visitors and a harbor.
The community of Paru Paru is located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. They are a agrcultural high andean community where the ancient knowledge of the native pototoes of Peru are still passed on from generation to generation. Aswell other crops such as quinoa. We have been working with this community for over 10 years. Helping them with the improvement of community-based tourism services, hostfamilies, activities, cuisine, and several projects such as the building of dining hall for 120 children, a school for their smallest, a greenhouse for vegetables, and more.
Another community that we have been working with for over 10 years is the beautiful community of Luquina Chica. Also here we have worked with the community members in several improvements for their community around renewable energy and the safety of their electricity instalations
6. Support of scientific research and protecting wild and marine animals
On almost all of our Vamos tours, we explore stunning natural and fragile landscapes where conservation is of the utmost importance. As visitors, we not only tread lightly, but we also actively contribute to the conservation and natural protected areas and endangered animals. We work together with rangers, research stations and scientists that are passionate to share their research and conservation work with you. We partner with inspiring organizations who do amazing work in promoting private and community-based environmental initiatives, reforestation and conservation programs.
Support of scientific research and protection of Whales and dolphins:
Vamos actively supports the work of Marine Biologists in Peru and the investigation and protection of migrating whales and dolphins that live along our coastline. Whales and dolphins play an important role in maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem.
Research and conservation in the Amazon Rainforest:
Since 2010 Vamos Expeditions has partnered with Fauna Forever for research and conservation experiences in the Amazon, a Peruvian conservation organization led by British PhD in Biology Chris Kirby. Chris has been a member of the Oversight Committee of the Tambopata National Reserve, and has been an environmental consultant to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Conservation International (CI), Amazon Conservation Association (ACA), among others. We trust in their excellent understanding of Neotropical ecosystems and implementation of nature conservation strategies, wildlife research and nature conservation activities in the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes Mountains eco-systems of Peru.
7. Litter Collection Initiative
10 Pieces per day
Since 2018 we started to participate in the ‘10 pieces of litter collection initiative’ https://www.10pieces.com.au/ and encourage our travelers to actively take part in making positive impact on the environment. Our focus of the initiative is on mountain trails, beaches and protected areas. Our participating travelers are given a branded collection bag and asked to pick up a minimum of 10 pieces of litter every day. This way a group of 12 can easily remove 120 pieces of litter per day.
By collecting litter, travelers lead through example and educate mountain communities of the negative consequences of litter for tourism and the health of their animals and people. This is intended to foster a pride in their environment that only has positive outcomes for the community and visitors alike.
When you join one of our treks in Peru you will have the opportunity to sign up for the 10 Pieces initiative and take the global issue of litter into your own hands.
Cleaning campaigns on the beach and in the wetlands:
Since 2019 we have started with monthly to weekly cleaning campaigns on the beach and wetlands of Puerto Viejo.
8. Conservation, Reforestation and Rewilding
Conservation in the Cloudforest in Ecuador:
Since 2004 through the initiative of the Rolex-award-winning Maria Eliza Manteca and the Golondrinas project, is Vamos Expeditions been dedicated to the conservation of natural resources, conservation of cloud forest, recuperation of eroded soils, and environmental education in the mountainous region of Northern Ecuador. Inadequate agricultural management such as burning, row planting, overgrazing, among others, and high levels of water erosion have resulted in soil degradation and thus, a loss in soil productivity. In Ecuador, this is one of the most successful deep-rooted ecological initiatives in the community. The principal objective of the Foundation is to conserve this unique forest ecosystem all while improving the quality of life for the people in the region. The latter objective is being carried out via classes in environmental education and the introduction of appropriate agricultural techniques.
Reforestation in the Cloudforest in Peru.
Between 2007 and 2009 Vamos was a member of Fair Travel. With reforestation projects we contributed to the improvement of people’s living conditions and their environments in regions which are popular tourist destinations but also face socio-ecological problems. For every passenger that came on a trip with Vamos Expeditions we contribute to finance the plantation of one native tree (species of Quenua, chachacomo and quishwar trees) in the area of Apu Pachatusan on the land of the communities Oropesa, San Geronimo and San Salvador. The project was executed in cooperation with the Institute of Machu Picchu and APTAE and over 20 000 trees were planted in these 2 years.
Reforestation in the Peruvian Andes:
Since 2021 Vamos supports the “You Buy, We plant” initiative of Pachamama Raymi. https://pachamamaraymi.org/en-you-buy-we-plant
and commits to plant 1 native tree for every person that travels with us.
We are taking part in the Andean cedar recovery program. The Andean cedar is a native species belonging to the mahogany family that grows in the Andes. Its wood can be harvested from 20 t0 25 years and has an excellent commercial value unfortunately it is currently threatened with extinction. The trees are planted on the land of rural communities and families who then own and take care of them. This project of integral rural development aims to break through the vicious circle of environmental degradation and rural poverty, achieving that rural communities and families improve their living conditions and manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner.
Conservation and rewilding of the Puerto Viejo wetlands:
Vamos flights for the protection of the Puerto Viejo Wetlands. It is a coastal marine ecosystem of importance for resident and migratory birds conformed by several seasonal, natural and artificial waterbodies with high salinities. It’s one of the few naturally green spots in the coastal desert with the rare presence of totora reeds close to the ocean.
The area used to be protected by the Peruvian government from 2008 but lost their category of Reserve in 2017 and was left legally unprotected and very vulnerable. The wetlands are at walking distance from Vamos’ office in Puerto Viejo, Cañete (South of Lima). The idea of the conservation project is to protect the 500 acres of wetlands and prevent it from being further destroyed, invaded, urbanized or used as a place to dump garbage. Instead it would be protected for nature education, for migratory birds to rest and nest, for families and birdwatchers to enjoy, for the local community to extract totora reeds in a sustainable way and to be left alone for nature to rewild. This would prevent the carbon stored in the soil from being released, keeping tonnes of CO from entering the atmosphere over the next 50 years
9. Carbon-offsetting to reduce climate impact
Through 20 years of working in Peru, we’ve seen it with our own eyes: glaciers are visibly shrinking, and natural disasters happen increasingly.
We see that climate change will/is disproportionately impacting people who least have the resources to adapt to it, and who are least responsible for causing it. The indigenous communities we work with see the glaciers as gods. If nothing is done soon, they will have to deal with the immense burden of their entire environment, even their cultural world, collapsing from climate change. So, it is only logical we started to take action.
A step forward to give our Mother Earth the respect she deserves, Vamos has partnered with Green Initiative (one of the 24 acredited businesses by the United Nations to certify carbon neutrality). https://www.greeninitiative.eco/ to offset the harmful greenhouse gases our business produces. Vamos began offsetting 100% of our administrative footprint in 2020-2021. We know offsets are not a cure-all, yet they offer a crucial strategy for harm reduction.
The UN body for assessing the science related to Climate Change (IPCC) currently advices on the need to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030 in order to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming offsets can help to reduce the harm of difficult to reduce emissions. Offsetting will play a role in achieving this goal, but we know that if we want to address climate change, we need to focus on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions using all available strategies, from small lifestyle changes, reforestation, protecting natural areas and more. Offsets therefore constitute only part of Vamos effort to reduce our climate impact.
10. Certification in social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
We want to take every measure to ensure the trips we plan are in keeping with our social and environmental values. Therefore we have worked hard to obtain the B Corporation Certification and since 2020 we are proud to meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance and accountability.