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SA Expeditions goes carbon neutral

We have an important announcement to make! From now on, all SA Expeditions tours will be carbon neutral. Read on to find out why we’ve made this commitment, and how we’ll be implementing it…

Why it matters

At SA Expeditions, we are firm believers in the power of travel to do the dual work of enlightening the people who sign up for our tailor-made South American adventures, and bringing dignified social and economic empowerment to the communities they visit. Anyone who’s been on one of our Choquechaca or Great Inca Trail treks will have seen this ethos in action.

The Great Inca Trail is a project developed by SA Expeditions which promotes dignified development of the Andean populations that live along it. (Photo: Christian Declercq)

But, as responsible citizens of planet earth, we are also painfully aware of the impact humans are having on the climate. Who could ignore the frequent wildfires in our home state of California, or the widespread fires in the Brazilian Amazon? Being curious and conscious travelers ourselves, we are the first to acknowledge the role travel plays in global warming.

From now on, we’re offsetting carbon emissions on behalf of all our travelers. We see it as yet another important step in our journey towards becoming a truly purpose-driven company. As a company we’ve always seen Mark Twain’s proclamation that “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” as our guiding star. Which is why we have now decided, says our Brand Manager Corey Jay, “to do our part to guarantee travel with us isn’t also fatal to precious environments.”

How it works

In the last quarter of 2019, Corey did a painstaking analysis of the carbon footprint of all of the journeys we regularly take people on. For each tour, she tallied up the impact of all the internal flights, land transfers, hotel stays, daily excursions, and various other factors to arrive at the per-traveler-cost – measured in metric tons of CO2 – of completing the itinerary. We recalculated and retallied in 2022, to ensure our numbers still added up.

We purchase carbon offsets from Regenera, a fellow B Corp, to carry out environmental and community projects which remove carbon from the environment, offsetting the quantity of CO2 produced by your bucket-list trip to Machu Picchu or the Galapagos Islands. These projects focus on reforesting fragile Andean ecosystems throughout Peru.

The Galapagos Islands are recognized for their tropical seabirds, including Blue-footed boobies. 

This arrangement allows us to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with our products. And it allows you to enjoy your adventure of a lifetime with a clear conscience.

What’s not included

When you book with us, you can rest assured that the carbon produced by your sojourn around the world – from the moment you begin your itinerary until the day you depart – will be offset. The only thing that’s not covered is your international flights, as these are not included in any of our offerings. If you are interested in mitigating the impact of your long-haul flights as well as offsetting the other carbon you produce in your daily life, you can do so via a personal plan at Regenera (or do flights-only via Cool Effect - around $30 for a 10-hour return flight).

A stunning aerial view of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

The limitations of carbon offsetting

It goes without saying that offsetting our clients’ carbon emissions is not the only way we plan to tackle the climate crisis. Instead, says Corey, “we see carbon offsetting as an important element of a greater, comprehensive plan to reduce our impact.” Which is why, she continues, “we’re currently establishing goals to eliminate single-use plastics, contribute to reforestation of native South American species, promote conservation of endangered patrimony, and overall shrink our impact.”

Visiting the Choquechaca community is a life-changing experience.

As a reader of this humble journal, it’s likely you share our concerns about sustainable travel. For ideas on steps you can take to travel with more purpose, why not check out our travel journal on the topic? Some of the tips are fairly self-explanatory (bringing along reusable canteens and shopping bags, for example, or making use of biodegradable bar soaps) but others may come as a surprise. Did you know that flying direct isn’t only good for your mood – it’s also far and away the best option for the planet?

What are you waiting for?

Now’s your chance to uncover the secrets of transformational world travel while also contributing to the long-term sustainability of the planet we all call home. Check out our trips to carbon-neutral Copacabana, planet-friendly Peru, or sustainable Southeast Asia. Or speak to a Destination Expert about crafting a bespoke eco-friendly escape of your own making.

Originally published May 2020

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