Wilderness Travel was built on the belief that travel can be an extraordinary force of good in the world. As a family-owned and operated company with over 45 years of fostering deep relationships with adventure-minded souls in the places we visit (many of our partnerships are now in their second or even third generation!), our mission to help support local communities and their surrounding environments have remained a cornerstone of every trip.
Whether it’s through visible means such as sponsoring school lunch programs or visits with local artisans or behind-the-scenes work such as advocating for fair wages and working conditions for porters hired by every company that offers Kilimanjaro climbs, or by using lodges that are 100% locally owned, you can rest assured that our trips are a tool to bridge cultures, support local economies, and protect the fragile ecosystems we visit for generations to come.
Keeping Travel Dollars Local
A consistent population of whale sharks frequent local fishermen platforms called “bagan.” These incredible creatures have learned to take advantage of these platforms, sucking small baitfish from the nets, and benefit from the fisherman’s kindness, as they believe the sharks bring good luck. We have the privilege of climbing onto the bagan with the fishermen for a unique perspective of these beautiful sharks, as fishermen throw out handfuls of fish. We also have the rare opportunity to visit the village where these fishermen live, discovering and learning about this local culture that highly regards these gentle giants.
We are proud to promote the ethical and fair treatment of porters for the Kilimanjaro climb and all of our programs worldwide. Many of our standards regarding salaries, training, and overall welfare of porters have been adopted by the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), which monitors standards for porter wages, load weight limits, medical care, and appropriate attire. We provide full medical coverage and workman’s compensation to all our staff; it is essential to take good care of this indispensable team! They are the backbone of all the operations that create an unforgettable journey and you are fortunate to have these incredible porters by your side every step of the way.
Locally Owned Boutique Hotels
Owned by the O’Connor family, this beautiful historic fishing lodge is surrounded by mountains on every side and when you enter the massive wooden doors, you are greeted with the welcoming aromas of peat and whiskey. The food is local and fresh, the traditional peat fire is comforting and familiar, and the rooms are cozy and absolutely charming. Lough Inagh Lodge is a magical place where you can fully relax and enjoy true Irish hospitality.
This community-built and operated lodge is at the center of the snow-capped mountains of Ulley. Surrounded by one of Ladakh’s finest snow leopard habitats, this is a perfect place to come home to after a long day of tracking the elusive snow leopard with expert conservationists. This basic yet cozy lodge offers warmth, community, and a sitting room where you can get to know the people of Ulley.
Our trekking adventures below Mt. Everest would not be possible without the hospitality of the locally owned Sherpa lodges that welcome us. They are a wonderful way to experience the high mountain grandeur and gain an insight into traditional Sherpa culture. These lodges are basic but are set in ideal locations for our hikes. For extra comfort, we provide top quality sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and liners.
Cristina and Jascivan Carvalho open their doors to our groups at their rustic mountain lodge in Ecuador, where views of towering Cotopaxi are spectacular on a clear day. Guest rooms are comfortably furnished and heated by wood-burning stoves, and the chef prepares excellent home-cooked meals using fresh local ingredients from Ecuador’s highlands. At night, it’s a treat to sit out by the lodge’s campfire and stargaze under the high mountain skies.
Preserving Artisanal Crafts
Throughout this immersive experience, you will learn about the history of cocoa in Ecuador as well as taste the different types of cocoa throughout the region. Cacao has been cherished throughout Latin America for over 5,000 years and has been known as the “Food of the Gods.” The founders of Republica del Cacao began their journey over ten years ago, striving to produce the most authentic chocolate while also developing and protecting sustainable cacao production in Ecuador and the rest of Latin America.
Parchment bookmaking is an ancient artistic tradition in Ethiopia and many other parts of the world. On our trips in Ethiopia, you will have a chance to see how these richly beautiful items are created and how much time and effort goes into making each one.
As the only indigenous population of Finland, the Sámi people embrace their traditional way of life, from reindeer husbandry to dogsledding. In the village of Inari, we spend the day with Tuula, a local woman who lives on a remote farm along Mutus Lake. We’ll learn about her way of life and get a real insider’s perspective about the thriving Sámi culture.
In the Andes, the specially designated textiles of the traditional Yampara people are used to communicate cultural values. We’ll learn the meanings behind the hundred-year-old patterns, symbols, and colors of Yampara weavings when we visit the famed Sunday market at the little mountain village of Tarabuco and are hosted for special lunch at the local family-owned restaurant.
Protecting Wild Spaces
The Kichwa Añangu people of the Napo Wildlife Center present a sustainable ecotourism model. All proceeds are reinvested into community projects such as renewable energy, education, and health care. The center has incredible programs that will introduce you to the community, enable you to learn about ancestral customs and traditional practices, and so much more. You will learn about the traditions of this ancestral community of Añangu through song, dance, and conversation. Each member of the Napo Wildlife Center was recruited not only for their local knowledge but also for their great love of the Amazon and willingness to share that love with others.
On our Madagascar wildlife journeys, we take time to learn about the country’s local conservation efforts. You’ll meet our Trip Leader’s son, who has been involved with reforestation for eight years, meet a local man who has been a seed collector for 20 years, and even have an opportunity to plant your own baobab tree with a local conservation group.
WT offsets all carbon emissions for your trip from the time you land to the time you leave. We also support (and encourage our travelers to donate to) Bye Bye Plastic Bags, an Indonesian NGO run by two passionate Balinese teenagers. Our boat has a tiny eco-footprint, and we are committed to preserving the healthy ecosystem of Raja Ampat long into the future!