Things To Know When Travelling In Peru
With climate change protests springing up around the world and top scientists warning that the world is at an “environmental tipping point”, it has never been more essential to protect the environment when traveling. This article looks at 11 important steps you can take to help safeguard the environment when traveling around Peru, a very diverse country with lots of unique landscapes and experiences including the gorgeous Machu Picchu citadel set high in the Andes Mountains:
11 Tips To Protect The Environment In Peru
1. Travel in (and around) Peru in the most eco-friendly way possible
Aviation contributes 2-3% to global greenhouse gas emissions each year, with long haul flights being the worst offenders (because they reach a higher altitude than short haul flights). So do consider if it’s possible to travel to Peru without hopping on a plane. Once in Peru, it is always better to travel around via public (shared) transport or by walking/cycling, compared to taking a private taxi.
2. Support local food and drink
Instead of taking your own hoard of food and drink, or popping to a supermarket and buying imported items, try to buy locally sourced produce (especially from local stores, instead of national chains). This means that the items you buy are not being flown or trucked in from far away destinations, a process which generates various CO2 emissions along the transport routes. Plus supporting local businesses will put money into the local’s pockets, instead of the pockets of bosses of big global companies – a win win!
3. Stay in a lower-footprint accommodation, such as a tiny house or an environmentally friendly hotel
Tiny houses are great because their small footprint means less materials went into constructing it, whilst they also consume less energy. Eco hotels are also worth considering because they are designed from the ground-up to use as few of the earth’s valuable resources as possible. Plus you will have a more unique and memorable experience than staying in an ordinary hotel.
4. Pack light
Packing lots of heavy items (with sunscreen being the worst offender) will contribute to carbon dioxide emissions because your heavier baggage will use up more plane fuel. As a result, it is recommended to cut out any heavy items which you can buy abroad – thus making your baggage easier to transport, whilst also helping the environment and supporting local stores. In other words, just pack what you need to take and do not end up with the following!
5. Avoid bottled water
It is often recommended to avoid drinking tap water from other countries as your body won’t be used to it. Instead, travellers are advised to buy lots of water bottles – however this is bad for the environment because they are single-use plastic which usually end up in landfill or the sea. Instead, we recommend that you take reusable water bottles and fill them up via water fountains wherever possible.
6. Be careful where you walk
Try to stick to beaten paths where possible, but if you do go off-route, try to avoid stepping on plants because they could be rare or endangered. Equally keep a safe distance from any animals you encounter: whilst they might look cute and you’ll want to pet them or snap loads of pictures, this can sometimes disrupt the animals and their local habitats. If you are in any doubt about where you can walk and which animals you can take photos of, try asking the locals for their advice.
7. Reduce (or eliminate) ‘holiday gifts’ for friends and family
Some people expect gifts from their friends or family members who have been away travelling, but sometimes less is more. Do you really need to buy a dozen of random gifts, transport them back with you (contributing to higher CO2 emissions if you fly back), only for most of the gifts to barely be used? It is better to instead buy only a few really useful/sentimental gifts, or to have conversations in advance and say that you won’t be buying holiday gifts.
8. Visit local environmental services
Like many countries, Peru has a few environmental issues, mainly water (and other) pollution, soil erosion and deforestation. However the Environmental Ministry has set up various schemes to try and tackle these. You could always volunteer to help out with these environmental protection schemes, or visit them and see what they do – it is always good to get a different perspective on the environmental issues each country faces.
9. Avoid ‘fun’ animal tourist attractions that put profit before animal welfare
Some animal-based tourist attractions are more interested in profit than protecting animals, which can naturally lead to harm of the animals involved – so avoid such attractions where possible. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all animal-based attractions are bad – just be sure to do some research and speak to the locals to ensure that where you intend to visit does treat animals (and their habitats) well. There are plenty of animal-friendly trips you can undertake in Peru, including seeing Peruvian alpacas – whose wool (created from alpaca fiber) is more sustainable than other sources of wool.
10. Live like you would at home
It is easy to go on a vacation and be wasteful: going to a buffet and only eating half the food you put on your plate, leaving lights (and TVs) on and taking long showers/baths which use lots of water. Relaxing and switching off when vacationing can mean that people get lazy and worry about the environment less, but do your best to resist this temptation, and instead treat your new temporary home like you would your actual home.
Okay, this might seem like a weird point, but ‘Geotagging‘ (taking pictures and posting it on Instagram with its GPS/location) has actually led to local wildlife and wonders being harmed by bringing an influx of tourists to particular places around the world. Whilst you will surely treat the local area well, you can’t guarantee that opportunistic tourists (who are only visiting a particular place as part of a social media binge) will also treat it well. There is nothing wrong with posting your experiences on social media, but if it is a really idyllic and tourist-free location, consider leaving off the location of the picture.