If you are booking a tour or trek in Ladakh, here are some issues you should consider when you are choosing a tour operator. Check to see if the tour operator:
- Uses local food as much as possible (where available) and gives preference to natural foods with minimal packaging;
- Partners with local trekking firms;
- Uses local guides and pays a fair wage;
- Works to minimize the ecological impact of their tour groups. For instance, ask how they deal with the following issues: Litter, toilet paper and sanitary products, bottled water, used batteries, water (including hot water), human waste, trail care, plant awareness, use of fires, etc;
- Refrains from using generators on treks;
- Employs no-trace camping measures and makes efforts to ‘clean-up’ routes and areas that have been polluted by visitors;
- Uses local campsites and guesthouses and pays the going rate;
- Provides clients with information about Ladakhi cultural norms;
- Provides clients with some language guidance and information about Ladakh’s cultural history and current issues;
- Supports Ladakhi businesses in Leh (guest-houses, restaurants, trekking agencies, etc.);
- Has small group size (5 or 6);
- Spreads their tours throughout the season. It would be good to see groups coming in April/May/June/Sept/Oct to ease the pressure during the summer when Ladakhis are already busy farming;
- Gives a proportion of their profits back to organizations working in Ladakh, or projects directly benefiting Ladakhis.
Choosing who to give your business to can be a very complicated decision. Simply asking about these issues will help provide incentive for tour operators to adopt more culturally and ecologically sensitive practices.
Resources for visitors to Ladakh
Download our Mindful Travel in Ladakh brochure:
Download our Mindful Travel one-page guide:
Download our Eco Friendly Guidebook for Leh City
Published in 2009. Please note that details about specific establishments are likely to have changed. However, the overview and broad concepts remain as relevant as ever.
Eco-map of Leh City (PDF)