World Wide Explorations, Inc.
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Southern Explorations is dedicated to providing high quality travel experiences that preserve the fragile lands we visit. By working closely with our customers, we are able to design unique vacations that match their interests and schedule. In addition to customized private tours, our specialty, we also offer pre-set departures to a wide range of South and Central American destinations.
For the most part, our customers are active independent vacationers, unaccustomed to the "guided tour." They seek not just adventure from their travels but a new world view. We therefore strive to provide as authentic an experience as possible with an in-country coordinated and guided trip rather than sending a Western tour guide to oversee their stay. We keep our groups small and assemble itineraries from an eclectic mix of places and activities, some on, but many off, the beaten tourist path. Because we are a small company, we can offer the utmost in personal attention to ensure that each trip precisely suits the needs and interests of our customers in an area of the world we know well. We have built our reputation for quality and customer satisfaction by adhering to the following practices:
We employ a staff of knowledgeable travel professionals at our Seattle headquarters and have long-standing contractual relationships with our logistical specialists in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Panama and Peru who help develop and coordinate our tours. All have traveled extensively or lived and worked in our destination countries and share a common business philosophy and environmental ethic.
We limit the size of our tour groups to eight travelers, except on Galapagos Island cruises and tours where yacht capacity determines occupancy and on the Inca Trail where twelve travelers is the maximum. This policy offers several benefits. It minimizes our environmental impact, allows us to travel to areas less visited and makes the sightseeing experience more personal. It allows our guides sufficient time to attend to the individual needs of each visitor. Traveling in small groups also increases the likelihood of encountering wildlife in areas such as the Amazon.
We thoroughly research each destination before including it in a trip. Through our knowledgeable staff, we have established strong business relationships in all of the areas we visit which make for unique itineraries of ecological and cultural significance for our travelers and to while providing for their utmost safety and security. We augment our planned trips with an extensive list of optional tour extensions, ranging from a few hours to a few days, to enable our passengers to pursue their interests in greater depth.
We personally inspect the rooms and amenities of all potential hotels and lodges in each tour location and select only those that meet our rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort, convenient location, safety, customer service and ambiance. We give the same scrutiny to the safety and quality of the yacht services we contract with to conduct our cruises. We support lodges and hotels that employ sustainability practices and are owned and operated locally.
We contract with guides who are native to the destination and are licensed and/or certified in accordance with the government regulations of their country. All are fluent in Spanish and English and some also speak the indigenous language of the region. Many are medically trained and some have received additional wilderness medical training in the United States or other locations. To ensure the safety of our travelers, our guides are linked with outside services 24 hours a day in most locations to provide assistance when necessary. Ours is a team of knowledgeable and congenial guides whose priceless insights into the true nature of their homelands add immeasurably to the enjoyment of the trip.
Local Travel Services & Regional Guides
To provide passengers the most authentic experience possible, we contract with local travel services in the countries we visit. Central to this goal is our policy of hiring regional guides instead of assigning the same guide or a western tour leader to accompany passengers for the duration of the trip. This ensures that our passengers are always in the hands of knowledgeable guides who know their destinations intimately.
Sustainable Tourism Practices
Our company and all those who represent us abroad practice environmental stewardship based on the Leave No Trace philosophy. We travel in established National Parks and conservation areas, leaving only footprints and taking only photographs. We select camping locations with the most benign sanitary systems, pack in gear and foods with the least waste feasible and properly dispose of all rubbish. We design all of our trips to minimize travel times and take full advantage of local hikes and walking routes. In this way, we decrease reliance on motor transportation, and enable our clients to become more intimate with places they travel. We donate to organizations dedicated to the conservation of the ecosystems in which we operate to carbon-offset the use of natural resources that our trips cause. Because we believe sustainability applies to economic and social well-being in addition to environmental health, we make sure our tours directly benefit the locations to which our clients travel. We support local organizations, non-profits, and schools to improve the quality of life in the areas through which we travel. We employ native guides, porters, and logistical members of our staff, as well as supporting locally owned and operated hotels, lodges and restaurants. We also ensure fair wages for all with whom we work and contract. This commitment has created enduring relationships with members of our international team and greatly added to our clients' experiences abroad.
Home Office Practices
At our Seattle headquarters, we employ best environmental practices in our daily work. Our energy-efficient office is purposely located within walking distance to all of our major needs to minimize trips by car during our workday. We encourage our employees to use alternative forms of transportation, and some bike or walk to work daily. We have made efforts beyond simply using recycled paper products by making our company nearly all web and computer-based. We mail only the essentials to our clients, communicating predominately by waste-free email and phone. Additionally, we email newsletters and rely on our website to notify travelers of updates instead of mailing brochures that are paper intensive.
Memberships and Financial Contributions
Through memberships and donations, we support the efforts of local, national and international organizations working in South America to preserve ecological stability and to better the lives of the people. A portion of all Galapagos travel fees is donated to the islands' conservation projects and environmental scholarships. We are current members of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association, the International Ecotourism Society, the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute, the American Whitewater Association, Headwaters Institute, Cascadia Wildlands Project, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, International Rivers,La Pagina en la Puerta, KEXP FM, the Washington Wilderness Coalition and the Adventure Travel Trade Association. We continually seek new ways to actively support sustainable tourism.