28 nov. 2008

Top 10 Fair Trade holidays

Källa: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-08-31-top-10-fair-trade-holidays
Aug 31 2008

Featured on the labels of Fair Trade products are some of the world's most exotic destinations - Costa Rica for coffee and Sri Lanka for tea. But what if you want to holiday in these countries, and elsewhere in the world, while doing the right thing by the people who live there?

For travellers, there is no standard international label -- Fair Trade or otherwise -- that will guide you to those holidays that give local people a fairer share of tourism's bounty. The only labelling organisation that comes close is Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), a national scheme that has awarded its trademark to 30 travel companies in South Africa. What makes them different is that the FTTSA has vetted these companies to make sure they adhere to fair-trade criteria such as providing decent wages and working conditions for their staff.

In other developing countries, there are lots of holidays that qualify, informally, as fair trade, but to find them you have to do the homework. One option is to stay in locally owned accommodation, such as homestays and community-run lodges, where the money you spend goes into the hands of local people.

Another is to visit some of the Fair Trade coffee farms and tea plantations whose workers are opening up their homes to tourism to supplement their meagre income. Most are small-scale farmers who are passionate about their countryside and culture, and welcome you into their life. Not only do you get to taste the world's freshest brew while being plied with delicious local food, you get to see how fair trade makes a difference to the lives of these people in some stunning settings. Here are 10 examples.

Bulungula, South Africa
The daily dilemma at this back­packer's lodge on the Wild Coast, in the Eastern Cape, is whether to chill out on a hammock or go canoeing up the beautiful Xhora River. Local fishermen will show you how to catch fish with throw nets, and land crayfish and octopus by hand. The solar-powered lodge, certified by FTTSA, is a joint venture with the Nqileni community, who also organise horse-riding, canoeing and guided trips.

Traidcraft tour, Cuba
See fair trade in action on a Traidcraft two-week tour of the island. You'll go hiking in the Topes de Collantes mountains, swim in waterfalls in the Viñales National Park before stopping off in Ciego de Avila to stay at one of the cooperatives that supply Traidcraft's fair-trade juice. Traidcraft runs similar fair trade holidays in India, Thailand and Peru, and next year will be offering trips to Vietnam, Ghana, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Hacienda Bukare, Venezuela
Expect chocolate treats prepared by the local cooks with every meal when you stay at this small cacao farm in the hills above the Paria peninsula on the Caribbean coast. The owner is a local guide who runs a guesthouse at his hacienda where you'll learn how he turns fine organic cacao beans into high-quality chocolate used in bars and truffles. Nearby are hotsprings, sandy beaches at Paria and walks in the cloud forest of Cerro Humo National Park.

Finca Esperance Verde Ecolodge, Nicaragua
On an organic coffee farm more than 1 200m up in the mountains of Nicaragua, this 26-bed eco lodge is situated in a nature reserve. While local people run the coffee operation, the travel side is run by volunteers from North Carolina with the aim of helping the local owners earn an alternative income to coffee. Nearby are jungle treks, waterfalls and a butterfly farm. Ten percent of the lodge's income is invested in rural water projects and local schools.

Napo Wildlife Centre, Ecuador
You'll get a local's view of the Amazon rainforest at this pioneering eco lodge fully owned by the Anangua Quichua community. Local guides take you to explore jungle lakes and creeks by dug-out canoe, to see tropical birds and monkeys including monk saki, spider monkeys, and golden-mantled tamarins. You can also help the indigenous community harvest bananas and prepare chichi, a beer-like drink made from manioc.

Kahawa Shamba, Tanzania
A coffee cooperative in the beautiful foothills of Kilimanjaro that was set up with help from Britain's department for international development, development charity Twin, Cafédirect and Tribes Travel. You stay in basic huts made out of vines from the nearby forest and thatched with dried banana leaves, and there are guided walks and horse-riding trips along the nearby river valley.

Chiloé Island, Chile
Join a small-group community tour to the remote Chiloé Island just offshore from Chile's Lake District. Stay in family-run rural lodges where you'll go fishing with a Chilote, help prepare local Atacameño dishes and try your hand at spinning and weaving. See the salt pans and lakes of the Atacama desert, too, and hike among the lakes and glaciers of the dramatic Torres del Paine.

Aba-Huab campsite, Damaraland, Namibia
One of several community-run campsites in the Twyfelfontein Uibasen Conservancy in the country's north-west, from where you can go on locally guided tours of the spectacular Twyfelfontein ancient rock carvings. Desert elephants are also regular visitors to the region and you can learn about the life and culture of the bushmen.

Albergue Cerro Escondido, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is famous for its eco-­tourism, but this lodge deep in the forest on the Nicoya Peninsula has a strong social as well as environmental agenda. It is one of a network of community-based lodges that give all their profits to local villagers. Unlike the country's many eco-lodges aimed at the well heeled, this is cheap and cheerful -- just four teak cabinas with shared verandas -- but there's good food cooked in wood-fired ovens and there are lots of trips to the jungle.

Himalayan homestays, India
A traditional working farm 5 000m up in the breathtaking scenery of Ladakh. The homestay accommodation is as basic but authentic as they come -- a mattress on the floor and long drop for the loo. You're invited to eat meals in the kitchen with the family, who make curries from local ingredients, and the majestic Himalayas are on your doorstep. Ten per-cent of the income is given to the Snow Leopard Conservancy and the rest is distributed among the community.

© Guardian News and Media Ltd 2008

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