Thursday, 8 August 2019

Plastic and Sustainable Ways to Travel

In this technologically advanced, modern-day world where travelling to far-flung destinations has become more easily accessible, sustainability and our impact on the environment often takes a backseat when it comes to travel. Yet it’s important that we remain mindful about the places we visit, and our impact on the people we meet along the way.

Expedition Leader’s aims to tackle issues of sustainability by offering visitor
s a unique opportunity to visit local villages and help support the rural communities, learning sustainable local skills along the way.Immersing with the locals, and learning their crafts, arts and sports enables visitors to appreciate and respect the traditional ways of rural life.

Embracing these simpler ways of living, that are in harmony with the natural environment, allows travellers to connect with their surroundings and pay attention to their personal impact on the nature and environment. Expedition Leaders also works closely with community elders, respecting any plans or concerns that they may have, to ensure the environment remains unspoilt by sustainable tourism.

To offset the carbon emissions associated with air travel, Expedition Leaders runs “Green Footprints”: a tree-planting programme. The aim is to reduce the visitor’s environmental footprint by replanting trees and aiming for a more sustainable future. It’s this forward-thinking, thoughtful planning which is imperative to prolong the fragile existence of the local communities in Northern India, many of which are deeply connected to their surrounding environments.

The trees not only offset carbon emissions, but also stabilise ground conditions, which as a result can reduce the devastation from flooding during wet monsoon seasons. And tree planting is fun too! Visitors can plant their trees personally: choosing from native broadleaf tree species such as Pipal, Tuni, Ambla, Popular, Willow, Botha, Alpine and Khair. Or, if you prefer, for a small donation, the trees can be planted on your behalf. Green-root initiatives like this could mean more future forests, which will help counter balance the carbon emissions that are continually released into the atmosphere on a daily basis.

Plastic pollution is another growing pandemic. It is estimated that a whopping 12.7 million tonnes of plastic material ends up in our oceans each year. This shocking statistic is only set to increase, and by 2050 it’s predicted that the amount of plastic in the ocean will exceed the amount of fish.

Therefore it’s imperative that we act now, and aim to reduce our plastic use: no matter how big or small, every attempt to recycle and avoid plastic consumption really does count. That’s why Expedition Leaders are keen to promote recycling,by using water filters and metal or glass bottles, rather than plastic ones. More steps are being made to eventually become totally plastic free.

Supporting the local charity, ASRA, Expedition Leaders has donated water filters to six mountain schools in the Satluj Valley, providing children with a reliable source of water.Another of ASRA’s projects includes the implementation of water channels in Ayu Village, Ladakh, providing the hill village with a vital water supply. This clean water not only is for drinking, but also for crop irrigation, enabling communities to maintain their local subsistence farming.

Volunteering within these communities is a hugely rewarding experience. As well as it being a sustainable way to travel, through supporting local, rural communities, it also makes visitors realise the complexities others endure on a daily basis in more remote mountain areas. In many ways these simpler ways of living are a refreshing tonic in this fast-paced, modern-day world, away from the noise and distractions of city living. It also allows visitors to support local communities, and helps the locals to thrive. Explore while keeping sustainability in mind

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The Himalayan villages are calling...

The Himalayan villages are calling...

Sustainable Tourism is a force for good, to bring a positive change amongst rural communities in The Himalayas and to change our holiday lifestyle

Age-old skills and survival ways: This village are struggling to find a balance between old and new and on top earthquakes and poverty is gripping them deeper and deeper into a struggle to survive. Many old skills and occupations are being neglected as big corporate companies, market and force their cheap and modified produce in. Village tailor, shoemaker or snack maker is going out of work, while the new generation rushes for an expensive packet of crisps or a product made by machines in the outside world. Every hard-earned penny is sent by villagers to these companies to gain a prepaid phone or any electric or plastic device. Skills are dying and villages are losing something so precious, which has been kept alive by their ancestors for centuries. So the villagers' struggle in this environment and chemical and other outside bombardment is ruining the land and its proceeding.

Poverty and Struggle: Still 40 million people in India without electricity still and Nepal has more struggles than this. India has 39% of the world's poverty. While the rest of the world talks about the high life and economic growth in these countries, truth is far beyond. The gap between poor and rich is still rising and millions have no food to eat or basic facilities. Mountain schools still lack basic material for education. Some of the school has no roof or playgrounds, and even no mats to sit or blackboards, let alone the smart white blackboards like British schools or computer booted facilities.

Leadership Programs Everyone with Expedition Leaders: Our international expeditions to the Himalayas are building the bridge between the communities and providing special leadership programs for students and travelers to become future Leaders. 2 to 3 weeks tailor-made expeditions will include a community project supported by Asra Charity as well as it provides a real insight into the Himalayan culture and life. A hiking trip through the foothills or a trekking trip in the high Himalayas gives on the physical challenge as well as opportunity to lead and take a role of Leaders each day. Making choices and taking decisions within the team are the skills learned. Interactions with local students and villagers give the eye-opening experiences for life to our students to build their future on. So these trips not only helping these remote communities but provides insight and deeper foundation for the western students as they explore the history, old monuments, Raj connections and other fascinating smells, unknown languages, culture and chaotic scenes on the distant lands. 
This article was first published in Himalaya Magazine, written By Puran Bhardwaj
Author of book “The Himalayan Bond” & Founder of Expedition Leaders.       
By Puran's book for India here:

Meaningful Travel & Green Footprints

Main projects Expedition Leaders team can help you in return to Plant Trees: 
1.      Scholarship to complete your higher education or professional training – in return you have to plant and establish trees to preserve forest and fresh air.
2.      We donate long-lasting water filters in your schools, so you have clean and germ-free water to be healthy - in return you have to plant and establish trees to preserve forest and fresh air.

Trees are a crucial part of villages in the Himalayas 
If people visit well established schools or tourist places or modern IT cities, they may miss a lot about the reality of the country, basic and sustainable life villagers live. Himalayan villages offer age-old sustainable ways of living and their way of living in harmony with nature. The Himalayan people and wild animals have found a way to live side by side from centuries. Planting paddy rice or ploughing in the terrace fields with oxen in the Himalayan slopes give a very memorable experience to those who are looking for a meaningful travel to the Himalayas. Many Schools and organisations visit these reasons through some British Raj connections too, such as a well established British school going to a well established Colonial School to India on the Expedition. I don’t think that will change much for the majority of people. Western students cannot touch the needy people or children living and struggling in poverty. 
Staying inexpensive hotels or seeing the top sites of India does not do justice to the travellers or to these areas, which has much more to offer. We appeal you to step further to a meaningful travel, see how you can help and support these Himalayan communities. Adopt a school, a child or even a village. Make a change through your well thought and meaningful travel. This will be a life-changing visit for villagers and worthwhile experience for you. 

Green Footprints and sustainable Travel: Leave Green Footprints...
Village ladies watering and worshiping a pipal tree in the Himalayas
Climate change summits over the years and in France suggested……control over many aspects, but the most crucial point is that we need to look after trees and plant more trees and protect our forests. Up to date science, researches show that we can’t survive without green trees as they exhale the oxygen we breathe in and life can have a stop without it in every form. Himalayan communities worship trees and even have god brother or father type relationships with trees. Old Pipal trees, Bilwa trees and Himalayan Basil Plants are still worshiped in millions of houses today. Our ancestors ask us to regard trees, whatever is so precious, we must highly regard it Godlike. So rivers, trees are still worshiped, no doubt because if a thirsty living thing in the boiling desert is dying for a drop of water, nothing else in the whole world could please him and that drop of water will be divine. When it comes to breathing that is a matter of seconds for life and death, the source of this oxygen are leaves on trees. So we must hold dear to them.
We appeal to every traveller to contribute towards leaving green footprints behind, anywhere they go, find a place, where they sell plants, find an open safe land or forest, where you can plant it and with very little, a villager can help you to establish those trees and you can follow the progress and they will provide breath for many generations. So you will feel while flying back that I have left some green footprints behind. That should be a great sustainable approach to travel today. Join hands with Green hands or any other planting NGO or Groups you have in your area. Just plant, Establish and protect trees.

Children sit and learn in the shadow of a tree in their playground
Asra Charity projects in the Himalayas: History, Objectives, Successes to date, Future plans. Asra started in 2007 by Puran Bhardwaj a former teacher for the educational support for the mountain students, families and farmers. Providing books, uniforms and building playgrounds (3 built), Cowshed (1built), toilets (3 built) as well as providing computers (3 computer centers built) for village schools. We have started Food funding for poor families (16 families in 2015-2017) and scholarships for education and for further training courses for poor students to support mountain communities in the villages. Now our next step is to provide Water filtering program for schools in the Himalayas, we support villages with irrigation systems and drinking water systems, our focus is now more on water purification and has provided water filers since 2015 to schools and we have put at least 7 water filters in schools until 2017. But they were a bit cheaper and not self-managed very well.
So now we are giving much more serious and long-lasting water filter and coolers to schools cost around Rs 43000 each and schools can manage these ones really well. We provided 1 in Shakra School 2018 and the second one in Kao School in Karsog - 2019. Clean water will change lives for better health and remove any future health issues for these children. We feel this is one of the best projects we have a taken forward and we are now asking schools to plant trees in return to preserve nature and fresh air with green forests.

Join us to make travel a meaningful and green mission to transform lives and to help clear and purify our very life-giving air and environment.

What to bring for Trekking

What to bring for Trekking- Equipment

Expedition Leaders list for moderate trekking in the Himalayan villages. It is good to start making your list a few months in advance, check all your old things and sometimes you may already have it in your stock. 
The second step is you can ask your friends for some of the things to borrow, otherwise, start buying and collecting your equipment one by one. Sometimes easy and best to ask your family and friends to give you these things as present from your travel list for your Birthday, Christmas and Diwali or for any other festivals or occasions. So it will save you some extra money to spend on your trip. 

Here are a few things we need to make our trip a successful one and on top positive attitude and confidence with good walking, practice is best!
Expedition Leaders suggested list:  

Trekking Boots if used better
Socks - walking 2 pairs
Socks - thin 3 pairs
Trainers / Sandals / Thin shoes for the end of day
Walking trousers - 2 pairs (1 pair zip off)
Pants 3 pairs
T-shirts - 4
Long-sleeved shirt
Micro fleeces 2
Softshell top windproof
Waterproof jacket & trousers
Thermal top and leggings for sleeping
Buff or sun hat
Sleeping bag
Sleeping mat
Sleeping bag liner
Ziplock bags for documents
Passports and copies
Tickets and copies
Local currency
Travellers cheques/Notes for emergencies
Backpack big and small. (How light can you travel? If you can have waterproof is best or you can buy waterproof covers for them). 
Rucksack 65 litres
Daysack 35 litres
Cable ties assorted in a plastic bag
Walking poles (2)

Water to go bottle and extra filter
Sigg bottle to refill Water to go bottle if water shortage
Sun Cream and lotion
Toilet roll
Wet wipes/tissues
Travel towel
iPad and charger
Phone and charger
Camera and charger and spare battery
Sd cards  for cameras
Solar charger
Headphones 2 pairs if use them
Plate/ Fork & Spoon
Light snacks, dry nuts, and fruit (buy in India)
Swiss Army knife/multi-tool
Head torch and spare batteries
Spare laces
Body wash
Clothes wash
Cord for washing line
Lighter (burning toilet paper and sealing frayed cordage)
Diary and a pen to maintain your story
A disposal bags and waterproof cover for big bags
Personal first aid kit - plus additions below
Antibacterial wipes
Compeed for blisters
Antiseptic cream
Anti-malarial pills
Spray or cream for mosquitos
Personal travel insurance and copies of documents
Team supportive attitude

To donate old cloths is optional: If you like to give away a few things to help poor families, during or after your trip - please bring old clothes, some games, little gifts like pens, pencils or notebooks, dictionaries or storybooks. Even sweets of candies for little ones. If you know anyone who works for big companies, it may be worth asking them if they have any ex promotional products, such as pens, paper, and rulers to take with you. 
Or contact us if we can help with visa or other helpful tips.