Adventure Alternative is an independent travel company which was started in 1991 by adventurer Gavin Bate and developed organically over many years of travelling and 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 training and equipment for our offices, which have been set up in the main countries where we operate. The personal service begins with the first enquiry and extends through the whole trip. The feedback we get always mentions the professionalism and friendliness of our staff. We use International Mountain Leaders and Mountain Guides for the climbs, and our locally based staff all get regular 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 in responsible travel and running a 'good business'. Our model is aimed towards local ownership of suppliers, equitable salaries, and making sure that our brand translates into real benefits for people and the communities where we visit. Ultimately we want our holidays to provide some social, economic or environmental value as well as a financial return.
A lot of our investments operate as social enterprises, for which we think tourism is particularly well suited. We aim to provide value for money to our clients, 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 of the holiday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.