SA Expeditions is a virtual travel company that specialises in curating bespoke, privately guided travel experiences. Founded in 2010, SA Expeditions differs from other companies as all the travel explorations that they offer comes with an added purpose.
The company strongly believes that when done right, travel has the power to leave a huge impact on a person and even on communities.
JOURNEY FOR PURPOSE
At the start, the focus was more on offering custom travels, altering each one to fit different types of travelers. Each experience however would still allow some level of spontaneity as well as opportunities to interact with the locals.
As the company moves forward, they felt the need to create more impact through the travels that they offer. They begin to look into various social aspects and consider how they can integrate them. Currently, the three pillars that the company decided to focus on are community, conservation, and awareness.
It started with an awareness campaign, where the CEO of SA expeditions himself joined an international expedition team and went on a hiking trip from Cuenca, Ecuador to Cusco, Peru. The journey included hiking through the Qhapac ñan and The Great Inca trail which is listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and also is in danger of disappearing.
Riva further explains that this exploration led the company into curating travels along The Great Inca Trail and other regions of Peru that are less explored. Travelers can choose these trails as an alternative to the traditional Inca Trail which is much more marketed and visited by other Tourists.
These new tracks will allow travelers to experience the area of Machu Picchu that will benefit from tourism and is less explored. Furthermore, it will offset and mitigate the issue of over-tourism that the site of the traditional Inca Trail is at risk. All these factors then become the inspiration for the company’s shift in focus towards, community, conservation, and awareness along with supporting other causes.
“.. and since then we have made other changes such as going carbon neutral, supporting deforestation efforts and charity matching with our workers and among other things”
When a traveler chooses to go on a trip with SA Expeditions, they will be contributing to the communities through the multiple efforts that the company is involved in. The company also ensures that any carbon produced through each travel will be offset.
The offset is done through two different approaches. One is through tree planting which contributes to the efforts of restoring the native habitats in the Andes. According to Riva, the company does try to tree plant in areas that are covered in the tracks that they offer to allow travelers to see these trees for themselves.
However, just that approach is not enough for the company’s carbon offset. To offset the rest of the carbon produced, the company partners with an organisation that is running its own projects. One of the said projects is mitigating the deforestation issue in Brazil.
In addition to having their carbon footprint offset, travelers can also rest assured that any tour that they take part in is operating by ethical means. The company believes that it is important for these tour operators to help promote sustainable economic growth in the destinations that they are operating from. “you have to take into account a lot more than just the carbon offsets. There is so much more to look into and it is definitely an important piece” reiterated Riva on ethical practices by tour groups, especially in developing countries.
A MEMORABLE TRIP
When asked to choose a favorite destination, Riva responded by saying that it is very hard to do so as each travel came with its own special experience. What she did end up sharing however was on a trip that she found was most significant to her. She then talked about her trip to the Amazon and the Sacred Valley which is near Machu Picchu.
She went on this trip with her family including her niece and nephews. They went on a small river cruise to the Amazon and get to experience seeing various wild lives from pink river dolphins to monkeys and even anacondas, some of which they managed to see up close. Moreover, they also got the opportunity to interact with the communities that met along the way. Her niece and nephew even played together with kids that lived in the area and were of similar age to them.
Riva felt that this travel would have left a huge impact, especially on her niece and nephew. The travel has allowed them to experience nature and expand their cultural knowledge, as they grew up and spent their time mostly in San Diego. Being able to view the lifestyle of other communities and see how different it is from one’s own way of living would be a huge learning journey for anyone.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
The thought of going on more meaningful trips to less marketed and tourist-driven areas may have crossed the minds of many. But, it is also easy to brush the idea off as the thought of going to an unfamiliar place can be overwhelming. With organizations like SA Expedition, however, one can easily go on a trip that is affordable, filled with culture and nature, as well as receive guidance from destination experts. A journey for purpose is not as hard to achieve as long as you receive the right help.
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