OunTravela Ethical Charter

Last update : 09/03/2020

This charter is intended for partners (rental agencies, local guides and any other services offered on ountravela.com) and readers of OunTravela.
OunTravela partners are committed to respecting our ethical charter. This is written in our books and in our partnership contracts. We also encourage all our future readers to apply these rules on their next trips.

In the event of malicious attitudes that are contrary to our charter, the OunTravela team will take action against the partner and terminate the partnership.

The aim is to promote local guides and agencies who are concerned about their responsibility and that of the tourist towards the environment and the local population.

The themes addressed are :

  • Plastic pollution
  • The use of water
  • The protection of fauna and flora
  • Consumption patterns
  • Politeness and respect for customs
  • Animal abuse
  • Gifts / tips
  • Motorized travel

Plastic pollution

In Central Asia, there are few waste treatment plants and often everything is burned on site. To limit the scourge of plastic pollution, here are our recommendations:

  • Limit the use of plastic bags.
    Minimize your consumption of packaged products.
  • Buy fresh produce at markets or directly from farms.
  • Take your incinerable waste back to the next town.
  • If there is garbage on your way, take a few minutes to pick it up, especially if you are motorized, you have no excuses.
  • Take hazardous waste such as batteries back to your country.

Use of water

Stop or reduce your consumption of bottled water. Bottled mineral water is sometimes transported by trucks crossing dangerous roads.

  • Other solutions exist such as filters or disinfectant tablets… But the simplest solution is still to boil your water!
  • Use the water from your shower at the hotel sparingly. Don’t forget that a large part of the inhabitants don’t have running water; they often fetch water from the river and this water is precious and scarce. Glaciers are melting fast and water tables are scarce and low.
  • Use dry toilets as much as possible. For example, there is no sewage collection in Ladakh and villagers use river water for drinking and cooking.
  • In bivouacs, do not relieve yourself near the rivers.
  • Use biodegradable products to clean your dishes or clothes when you camp.

The protection of fauna and flora

Animal habitat is shifting as tourism advances.

  • Do not approach or feed wildlife.
  • Don’t drive off pre-tracked trails. You risk damaging pastures or fragile ecosystems.
  • Don’t hide your garbage in bushes or groundhog burrows.
  • Respect the regulations in force in reserves or nature parks (no camping, making fires, fishing, etc.).
  • When you pay entrance fees (park, restricted area), demand the receipt (this helps to avoid misappropriation of these funds).

Consumption patterns

In general, prefer family accommodation (guesthouse, bed and breakfast…) rather than hotels and consume locally.

Similarly, pay for services coming from local communities (guides, cooks, muleteers, porters, cleaning…). This is the best way to make them benefit directly from tourism money.

Buy locally made souvenirs. Learn about the practice and limits of price haggling. The same goes for tips left.

Bargaining is culturally part of the commercial tradition in some countries. Refusing to bargain is often misinterpreted and can increase the cost of living. On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that small sums of money can be of great importance to the visitor.

Politeness and respect for customs

It is important to learn about the people and their way of life, heritage, religion, environment and economy. We encourage you to learn a few words in the language of the destination, it makes the exchanges more interesting and your effort will be much appreciated.

Do not take pictures of the inhabitants without first asking their agreement.

Gifts and tips

Gifts and presents are not innocent gestures. They can sometimes take on condescending or inappropriate connotations.

Gifts, donations and tips that are too large, given the general standard of living in the country visited, destabilize local economic balances.
Children who receive money for photos or because they beg no longer attend school, earn more money than their fathers: this can create important distortions in family structures (non-respect for the father and elders).
Some donations can be dangerous when they are distributed at random, especially medicines. Hospitals and dispensaries, where they exist, are often better able to manage them. Similarly, sweets and candies have consequences long after we have passed through (dental caries).

Animal abuse

Horse trekking is a flagship activity in Central Asia. Many cases of animal abuse have been reported, particularly in Kyrgyzstan. We wish to put an end to this abuse of animal exploitation. Before going on a horse trek please check that your horse has hooves and no injuries.

In general, check the condition of the horse before leaving. If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to talk to the guide and ask to change horses.

Motorized travel

If you are motorized, unfortunately nothing will be able to compensate for the CO2 emissions of your vehicle. We give you some ideas on how to optimize the use of your vehicle:

Travelling in a group and optimizing your seats! It’s quite simple but your impact will be divided by the number of people in your vehicle.
Pick up your waste and those encountered on your way. It’s good timing, there are several of you, so picking up the rubbish on a bivouac spot will only take you 5 minutes!
The petrol engine emits fewer fine particles and air pollutants than diesel.

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