Company

Company Overview

Adventure Alternative is an independent travel company which was started in 1991 by adventurer Gavin Bate and developed organically over many years of travelling in climbing around the world. It is now a well established company with an emphasis on responsible travel and a high level of knowledge and experience.

Our staff have been with the company for many years and we invest heavily in staff training and in equipment for our satellite offices, which have been set up in the main countries where we operate. The personal service begins with the first inquiry and extends throughout the whole trip, and from the feedback we get it is always the professionalism and friendliness of our staff that is noticed above all. We use International Mountain Leaders and Mountain Guides for the climbs, and our locally based staff all get regular international training for first aid and mountain safety.

Our safety record is exemplary and we are independently assessed every year to conform to the British Standard 8848 for safety on overseas expeditions. We are fully bonded to provide top level financial protection for our clients and we have all the correct insurances in place to run a proper travel company.

We believe very strongly in responsible travel and running a 'good business'. The business model is aimed towards a sustainable profile, local ownership of suppliers, equitable salaries, and making sure that our brand translates into real benefits for people and the communities where we visit. Nearly every trip we run provides quite specific benefits and we rely on our local staff to help ensure that we are doing the right thing.

Ultimately we want our holidays to provide some social, economic or environmental value as well as a financial return. A lot of our investments and our long term strategy is more like a social enterprise, for which we think tourism is particularly well suited. We aim to provide value for money of course, but we think that people will judge our holidays for more than that. We want to take people to places, but we also need to be responsible stewards.

We place very high standards on our staff and we believe this is reflected in the consistently positive feedback we have had over the past several decades from clients who have used Adventure Alternative to achieve their dreams of climbing to the tops of mountains and travelling widely to see some wonderful places and meet some wonderful people. It is very much our privilege to share those dreams and see them come true. We hope you will travel with us and experience the Adventure Alternative.

Safety

Health and Safety

Our staff are medically trained and experienced in first aid, and the guides receive specific training in altitude-related illnesses and how to cope with an emergency. The staff all carry mobile phones and satellite phones where necessary. On the mountain trips we carry pulse oximeters as standard, oxygen bottles where necessary on the higher mountains and first aid kits which are regularly checked and replenished.

We work hard to ensure that all of our staff adopt high levels of sanitation and hygiene, especially with regard to food and water. Clearly a trip can be easily spoilt by sickness caused by either of these, so we always boil or treat water and prepare food with clean water. Food is stored and transported carefully, and bought fresh from local trusted suppliers. We always check the restaurants and lodges that we use for their standards in food hygiene. Drinking water is provided from the kitchens boiled and strained.

We use toilets on the trail and in the lodges and in the villages, and sometimes we provide private toilets. We always advise people to use anti-bacterial hand gel which we provide on most of the treks, although most guests do bring their own.

For school and youth groups and volunteers we always provide training in health and safety prior to the trip, and general advice on how to manage yourself personally while on a visit abroad. This is then emphasized again on arrival in country and our staff are always careful to ensure that people are looking after themselves. They have a long experience of looking after foreign groups and understand the pitfalls of travelling abroad for the first time.

We have a contractual arrangement with specialist overseas health company Interhealth, which provides a remote Doctors service to any of staff anywhere in the world, plus a vaccination and travel advice service. They also provide pre-trip screening programmes, psychological first aid training and group training on self-management and looking after yourself in-country. Their services are all delivered by medical professionals with long experience in the voluntary aid sector.

Staff

KELLY KIOKO - DIRECTOR, ADVENTURE ALTERNATIVE KENYA

Kelly Kioko

Kelly is the Director of Adventure Alternative Kenya and an Executive Committee member of Moving Mountains Kenya. He manages all the programmes and staff in Kenya. He was once a street kid living rough in the slums of Nairobi and was trying to pickpocket from Gavin when they first met. It was to Kelly's eternal good luck that he got caught! He pretty soon found himself in school and being given the education which he deserved. Despite being the smallest boy in the class, he was always liked and respected. As a young apprentice to the tourist industry it was clear that he was just as popular with clients! He has worked his way up to become Director.

Kelly is also a Trustee of Moving Mountains Kenya and again he showed honesty and integrity beyond some of his peers who had the same great chance in life; but it was Kelly who proved to be the more perceptive, modest and motivated. He helps others and understands the importance of self-esteem, for there was a time when he had none.

Kelly has a daughter named Jasmine and a son named Gavin, and he is married to Mwanaidi. He enjoys football in his spare time and being a family man in his home of Kenya. He visits the AA UK office regularly and is also involved in the changing face of tourism. For one so young to be a company director is unusual, but with the support of Adventure Alternative he has the backing needed to make his voice heard.

ROSIE GATHIRIMU - PARTNER OF ADVENTURE ALTERNATIVE KENYA & BOARD MEMBER OF MOVING MOUNTAINS KENYA

Rosie Gathirimu

Rosie manages Moving Mountains Kenya and is also heavily involved with Adventure Alternative Kenya. She is pictured here with her daughter Najum ('morning star').

Always popular and chatty and fun, Rosie is a big positive influence on all the staff and clients, but she is also disciplined and strict when needs be! She was also one of the first beneficiaries of the charity, having met Gavin when he was living in Kibera. He recognized in her the potential to be more than an employee, but to represent women in the field of NGO management and tourism in Kenya.

She has climbed Mt Kilimanjaro (when she was pregnant… without knowing it) and visits the UK and Ireland regularly, where she has a role in organisations representing sustainable tourism. She has done college courses in counselling, NGO management and social work. She represents the new generation of Kenyans who want to see their country move forward in a spirit of positive change and integrity. Many would be unaware of the long, hard journey she has undertaken to become who she is now, but as a successful business lady and manager, she is helping to re-define the relationship between donor and beneficiary in the world of developmental aid. She is also a wife and a mother, bringing her daughter up to believe in herself and her place in the new Kenya.

EVA MURONJI - OPERATIONAL MANAGER

Eva Muronji

Eva is Operational Manager for all trips, a qualified tour guide and works in the office organising trips and managing client relations. Since working for AA she has had considerable experience in dealing with some of our larger groups and successfully managed large-scale logistics in remote areas. She is understanding of western needs and very polite and diplomatic. In the office she also acts as Human Resources Manager. As a female safari guide, she represents a change towards tourism in Kenya, where men would traditionally have taken this role. She is married with two children.

FRANCIS KIONI - PROJECT MANAGER

Francis Kioni

Francis is a Leader and Project Manager and has been involved with Adventure Alternative since day one. Originally a builder living in the slums of Kibera, he showed considerable potential for project management in a transparent and understandable way. Every project we do is carried out under the watchful eye and instruction of Bwana Kioni.

He lives on the slopes of Mt Kenya with his wife and three children. Seen as a mentor by many of the younger employees who came from the streets, his kind wisdom has made him a respected man in the community. Often leading trips for visitors, he works to present a certain vision of developmental aid in Kenya which is the cornerstone of Moving Mountains.

JACKTON OTIENO ('OT') - FLEET MANAGER AND MECHANIC

Jackton Otieno

Jackton is our chief driver and mechanic, as well as guiding safaris and private trips. "OT", as he is affectionately known to all, has an infectious laugh and loves to have fun. He is married with five children and originates from Western Kenya. He brings life and laughter to all elements of any trip or expedition due to his antics and personality, although beneath the irrepressible giggle is a man who has maintained his position in the company through consistent honesty and transparency. Through hard work, humour and honesty Otieno has remained happily with the company for over fifteen years.

KEVIN ONYANGO - ACCOUNTANT

Kevin Onyango

Kevin has been involved with Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains since he was a young boy. He is now an educated hard-working individual managing all of the company and charity finances. He is usually based in the office or travelling around the various sites we have in Kenya but also has the opportunity to be involved in some of the trips.

MAURICE ODINDO - WESTERN KENYA REPRESENTATIVE

Maurice Odindo

Maurice is an Africamp and Gap Year Co-ordinator in Western Kenya. He is also a Moving Mountains Kenya committee member. He lives in the town of Wagai with his wife and three children. He shows great attention to detail and is a great strength to the team in Kenya. He also likes to laugh at Westerners dancing and loves a night out; considering his size at 6'4 and 18 stone it's quite remarkable to see him dance so gracefully across the floor.

GILBERT NJERU - EASTERN KENYA REPRESENTATIVE

Gilbert Njeru

Gilbert looks after our medical and gap clients in eastern Kenya. He has worked with us for six years. He is a very popular member of the team and lives in the town of Embu with his wife and daughter. He manages all our Moving Mountains projects and works closely with many street kids. Gilbert also looks after the Adventure Alternative guesthouse in Embu and all the guests who stay there.

CYRUS MAINA - HEAD MOUNTAIN GUIDE MT KENYA

Cyrus Maina

Cyrus is our mountain guide and leads all of our climbs of Mount Kenya. He's a real character who loves to ensure everyone is happy and comfortable, which can be quite a job at 16,000 ft and a wind chill blowing to minus 10! he has lived and worked on the mountains since he was a teenager, and he still lives there with his wife and three children. Cyrus is also a fantastic cook and often works with us on our safaris and Africamp programs.

JOESPH MUNGAI - MEDICAL ELECTIVE COORDINATOR

Joseph Mungai

Mungai is from the world's biggest slum village called Kibera (pictured) and is a dedicated young man who has been supported by Moving Mountains to become a qualified social worker. He now works for the company managing our medical students and is also involved with Moving Mountains and our medical programs. He is a caring man who works hard and has a dedicated and fun approach to his role. He also helps out with some of our bespoke and large school groups.

KENNETH AMANI - QUARTERMASTER AND DRIVER

Kenneth Amani

Kenneth Amani looks after all our equipment and vehicles is another former beneficiary of Moving Mountains. He first came on the scene as a young boy whose life was based living rough in the slums of Nairobi. Through the infrastructure of MM and the financial support of the trust he is climbing life's ladder. He is now married with two children and some years ago gained his driving licence, passed his English literature exams with 95% and is hoping to embark on a mechanics course in the future.

WYCLIFFE ODONGO - CLIENT LIAISON IN WESTERN KENYA

Wycliff Odongo

Odongo is loved by everyone who he works with. He is a true gent with an innocent character and aims only to ensure that people are safe and happy when they stay in Western Kenya. Odongo started working for Adventure Alternative as a house boy nearly ten years ago and has since climbed the ladder. He is soon to become a qualified cook.

Care

Client Care

When we start corresponding with people about their trip we aim to make sure the group works well together and our staff are well experienced in managing all types of people and keeping everyone happy and satisfied. Nobody feels anonymous and our staff in the main office and in the regional offices communicate all the time about upcoming groups and personal preferences.

For mountain trips we have clear guidelines on client:guide ratio and we follow the established guidelines of professional organisations such as the UIAA and Mountain Leader Training. For school and youth trips we provide a higher number of logistical staff and also male and female pastoral staff with specific experience and qualifications in looking after young people. These might be teachers or youth workers, social workers and of course medical professionals.

Volunteers and charity groups and school groups are all provided with personal care and training in preparation for their trip. Climbing teams will have the opportunity to meet in the UK for some specific training prior to their trip if they wish to have it, and we often manage individuals and small groups through a training programme to achieve a particular aim. For example someone wishing to climb Mount Everest may wish to have a five year plan in preparation for that trip.

Our groups and clients mainly come from the United Kingdom and Ireland, with some from the rest of Europe, Canada and Australia. Average age is very diverse since we deal with school groups, university groups, and individuals of all ages who want to go on a trekking trip. All of our staff speak English and obviously their home language.

Many of our trips are scheduled for groups who want to join up on a particular date to do a particular trip, but we provide just as many trips for private groups who have preferences for dates or itineraries. A large part of our time is spent creating these bespoke trips, for which is there is no additional cost. We find this is especially useful for charities, since we do not impose contractual conditions for this service.

 

Policies

Policies for Adventure Alternative

Behind the scenes we have a considerable library of policies and documents which form the administrative backbone of our company. Apart from the standard policies, we also keep updated documents for all of our trips in order to comply with the British Standard 8848 for overseas expeditions. We keep everything on cloud so that we can share the relevant documents with people, such as school governors or compliance control officers.

You can access some of our standard operational policies via the links below:

 

 

Moving Mountains

Supporting Moving Mountains

Moving Mountains was started by Adventure Alternative founder Gavin Bate in 1991 during his years of travelling and developmental aid work in the slums of Nairobi, the mountains of Nepal and the rainforests of Borneo. It has its administrative overheads paid for by Adventure Alternative and all the Trustees work voluntarily. 

Moving Mountains UK provides the strategy for the future of all the charitable aims and pays for the bulk of the projects and programmes, and it determines the content of all the trips that Adventure Alternative provides for the charity. This is to ensure that the emphasis is on the developmental impact of the trip.

The primary aims of Moving Mountains are to provide aid for the relief of hardship, poverty, suffering and inequality through education and vocational training, medical treatment, sport and employment. It also provides capital to build, renovate and maintain schools, orphanages, community centres and environmental projects, all of which must show a positive socio-economic impact on the population. The money for all of this is fundraised by volunteers and groups who come out on a trip which is organised by Adventure Alternative.

The UK Trustees work closely with all the other Moving Mountains organisations to ensure efficient spending on relevant aims, and we have also have an employee to manage day to day correspondence and management and training of volunteers.

Standards

Accreditations for Adventure Alternative

Adventure Alternative complies with the UK Package Travel laws and the European Directive for tour companies. We are also members of a number of industry organisations.

 Association of Independent Tour Operators
This association represents independent tour operators in the UK and membership criteria include a minimum share capital of £15,000 and providing financial protection for consumers with a bond. We are members of the AITO Sustainable Committee and have twice won the AITO Roger Diski Community Award.

Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT) provides financial protection under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 for Adventure Alternative, and in the event of their insolvency, protection is provided for the following:
1. non-flight packages commencing in and returning to the UK;
2. non-flight packages commencing and returning to a country other than the UK; and
3. flight inclusive packages that commence outside of the UK, which are sold to customers outside of the UK.

1, 2 and 3 provides for a refund in the event you have not yet travelled. 1 and 3 provides for repatriation. Please note that bookings made outside the UK are only protected by ABTOT when purchased directly with Adventure Alternative.

Fair Trade Volunteering
We are founding members of this movement which endeavours to create equitable partnerships between sending organisations and host partners in foreign countries when trips are offered to volunteers and schools. We believe very strongly that these types of trips should be carefully arranged so that expectations from the visitor and host community are properly met, and also that the benefits for the host community are properly agreed and are fair.

FCO Know Before You Go Campaign
We are members of the Government campaign to help provide our clients with relevant and correct information about the country they are travelling to.

Information Commissioners Office
We are signed up to the The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

British Standard 8848 for overseas expeditions
We are independently assessed by the Young Explorers Trust to comply with the British Standard for organising and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside the UK.

The standard aims to reduce risk from injury or illness and provides those that comply with the standard with a way of being able to demonstrate that they are following good practice to manage the venture safely. BS 8848 specifies operational requirements for organisers of adventurous and educational activities abroad including university and academic fieldwork, gap year experiences, adventure holidays, charity challenges and research expeditions.