Secret Compass promotes awareness through exploration. In taking people to remote and perceived 'risky' areas we hope to show the world that travel is a great way to understand different cultures and ways of life. We also strongly believe that expeditionary travel is a fantastic means of raising money for charitable causes. We ensure that all our expeditions not only respect the ethos of sustainable and ethical travel but also encourage all our participants to raise money for our global partners.
- Join one of our existing expeditions – You are welcome to use our expeditions as a vehicle to raise money for charity. Our charity of preference is OXFAM. If you would like to complete any of our expeditions to raise money for OXFAM you will receive a 10% discount on the cost of the expedition. Please get in touch and we can discuss sponsorship options and assistance. OXFAM GB is a globally renowned aid and development charity with 70 years of experience, working and campaigning with partners in 98 countries worldwide. Oxfam is a registered charity in England and Wales (no 202918) and Scotland (SC039042). If you feel particularly strongly about a Charity that means a lot to you, then we are happy to accommodate that as well.
- Tailor made expeditions – We invite you to organise a group of people to conduct a specific charity challenge. This could be an idea you have, or you could ask us to produce a specific idea and we would be happy to provide some interesting options. If you can organise a group of at least 9 people, the organiser will go free of charge for ground costs.
- AMECA - We have partnered with AMECA in Malawi, creating a bespoke fundraising challenge to raise money and awareness for this fantastic charity, see here for more details.
- At Secret Compass we pride ourselves in providing responsible and sustainable travel to some of the world’s wildest places. We aim to develop a long-term strategy that allows and encourages responsible travel to countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and South Sudan, all of which were recently ravaged by conflict. These countries are in a phase of recovery; we hope that contributing to tourism in these areas can provide a range of social and economic benefits to the local people.
Secret Compass operates on the following three key principles to provide a responsible and sustainable travel model.
- Respect for local cultures – We nurture respect through cultural information on the “our approach” section of our dossiers, our joining instructions, in country briefs and acting in a respectful and diligent manner when conducting expeditions. We hope to learn from other cultures rather than harm them. This includes everyone from the shepherds of the Wakhan Corridor to the Dinka tribe of South Sudan.
- Protecting and empowering local communities – A key aspect of our work is travelling through and employing local people. We always aim to work with any long term stakeholders in the area (NGOs, Government departments, Park Authorities) to ensure that we are working within their long-term strategy for any particular community. We have consulted on local guide training programs with Wildlife Conservation Society in Afghanistan and provided advice to the Ministry of Conservation, Wildlife and Tourism in South Sudan.
- Often there are no stakeholders and so we ensure there is a fair and proper agreement with local power holders, which benefits them and their people. When possible the local communities provide guides and fixers for our expedition teams, all of which are paid a fair wage and provided with the necessary equipment for the expedition.
- A key aspect of empowering local communities is contributing to the local economy, allowing people to see the economic benefit of travellers. By the nature of how we operate, we use local guesthouses, home-stays and hotels, or pay for land to camp on. We also use food sourced locally from markets and bazaars, buy supplies from local people along our routes and eat in local restaurants and cafes on the few occasions we are in urban areas. We will only use dehydrated trekking food if using local food is impractical or impossible. All our transport used in country is locally owned and operated. We also only use local guides, cooks and porters on all our expeditions. Western guides are only used when a specific safety qualification is required.
- Ensuring a sustainable approach to the environment –We always tread with a light footprint in every area we travel to. If the expedition works within conservation areas then we liaise and work with the key stakeholder to ensure our practices are consistent with their aims. Working to preserve natural resources, rather than destroy them, is a key aspect of each expedition –we are careful not to contribute to deforestation, erosion and destruction of the local environment. In Madagascar we contributed to a wider initiative planting trees to combat the epic deforestation in the area.
- Every effort is made to reduce and minimise the environmental footprint of each expedition; the huge majority of travel will be on foot, by water or on horseback and any litter is always removed and disposed of appropriately. Other ways in which we look after the environment include using clean burning fuel to cook on and avoiding the use of plastic water bottles by purifying local water sources.
Our work towards responsible and sustainable travel is complimented by our support and partnership with the following charitable causes and organisations who work in the countries we travel to;