Adventure Alternative and sustainability: the Borneo Camp and other projects related to sustainable tourism.
The Adventure Alternative travel company and independent tour operator offers a wide range of trips from high altitude mountaineering expeditions, treks around the world, safaris in east Africa, school expeditions, gap years and international development trips.
It was founded and managed by Everest mountaineer Gavin Bate on a strict platform of responsible business practises. Adventure Alternative invests heavily in local enterprises to act as ground handlers and provides many careers in developing countries.
At the same time, Gavin also set up his charity Moving Mountains, which was initially a personal concern after having worked with various aid agencies in East Africa. The money for the charity was raised by his personal expeditions, lecture circuit talks and articles. Moving Mountains is now a large concern with a remit in Kenya, Nepal and Borneo.
With this article, they will introduce us to their project called BorneoCamp.
BorneoCamp is a month-long trip which is part of their school expedition series. It offers a unique chance to visit an indigenous tribe in the jungles of Sarawak and see how their charity, Moving Mountains, is working with the Penan people to plant thousands of trees and provide advocacy against logging. The Penan only recently began receiving visitors into this area and they are the only organisation offering tours to this part of the world.
The project itself is subject to change depending on the needs of the community and the time of year. Rather than modifying the trip based on the needs of the client, they cater to the needs of the locals and continuously discuss these requirements with them. The local community of Penan determines numbers of visitors, what tourists do in the area, and they get an income from logistics, guiding and accommodation/food.
This trip directly supports its carbon offsetting project – the Carbon Enrichment Programme. This allows their clients to live and work alongside the Penan tribe. This is a mixed tour involving volunteering; adventure travel; a jungle survival course; a river safari; snorkelling on the tropical islands; climbing Mt Kinabalu; homestays in the Malay villages; and rafting!
The tree-planting project in Borneo is run by a local Penan Koperasi (co-operative) which was enabled and funded by Moving Mountains as part of the long term sustainability of the project. The project has planted up to 15,000 saplings every year for three years now and aims to increase this to 50,000 trees per year in 5 years time. The annual cost for this is £10,000 and a significant proportion of this comes from Adventure Alternative clients, while the rest is money donated to Moving Mountains.
Adventure Alternative makes a separate donation of £100 per person as part of the ‘trip fee’ for any visitor to the Penan area. However, any Adventure Alternative client can donate to the opt-in scheme voluntarily as part of a carbon offset programme.
This is not a third party scheme, it was set up by Adventure Alternative and their own office in Kuching on the request of the Penan people in Sarawak, as part of their policy to put funds back into relevant long-term sustainable projects, and involve themselves deeply and personally with all their own initiatives, building long term relations with local communities.
This attention to detail is enabled by their business model. They set up regional companies, including Adventure Alternative Borneo which resides in Kuching and oversees all of their tours in this area.
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