Giving Back

Our philosophy is quite simple—tourism should be a win-win situation for both the traveller and the local. We believe in the bottom up approach, supporting local businesses and initiatives to empower and strengthen communities while creating an enriching and memorable experience for the traveller. We call this Ethical Travel.

Projects and Partners

Original Trails works with selected NGOs and community groups who have determined where the needs of the local communities lie and supports initiatives and projects that will improve the well being of the community as a whole. We want to provide meaningful economic contribution to the destinations we travel to. With help from our partners, we have selected projects specific to each region we travel to.

How We’re Different: Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between good projects and those where the money raised does not actually reach those in need. That’s why we have done the research for you! We use local suppliers who pay fair wages, improve the livelihoods of locals and support programs that directly go the communities in need. Where possible, we use hotels and lodges that fund or support local projects or run in a sustainable manner. More »

TANZANIA → ArushaIlkurot Primary school

Ilkurot Primary School is located approximately 30km north of Arusha, Tanzania in a Maasai village called Ilkurot (meaning ‘dusty place’). The school was built approximately thirty years ago by the Tanzanian government, beginning as 3 mud classrooms. Today the current enrollment is over 1000 students. The government continues to fund the school, but irregularly and in the last three decades has only managed to add another six classrooms to the school. More »

ETHIOPIA → Basalt MountainsTourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives

Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives (TESFA) was established as an NGO in 2003. The aim was to promote cultural tourism in such a way that it benefitted its local communities. The idea was to set up a network of community-run lodges to allow tourists to trek through the Basalt Mountains and stay at accommodation provided by each of the communities in the area, thus creating extra income to supplement their farming lifestyle and ensuring the money goes directly to the people. More »

VIETNAM → Northern Hills Cultural Trek Program

With the help of our local operator Original Trails aims to help improve the quality of life for many of the diverse ethnic minorities such as the Tay, the Red Dao, Hmong and Xa Pho found in the hills of Northern Vietnam. While many of these tribes still maintain their traditional ways of living our goal is not to disrupt their lifestyles, but rather contribute to important improvements in health, education & overall environmental conditions. More »

CAMBODIA → Siem ReapThe Green Gecko Project

The Green Gecko Project was started in 2007 to provide a safe environment for young street kids in the popular tourist town of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Poor families often send their children (as young as five) out to the streets to beg, leaving them vulnerable to abuse, abduction and disease. The centre provides the children with education shelter, care, stability, medical attention and food. The centre also has educational and skills programs, and a micro lending scheme to families as an alterative income to begging.More »

CAMBODIA → Phnom PenhTabitha Foundation

The Tabitha Foundation is a benevolent trust, founded in 1994 by Janne Ritskes. Centred on helping the people of Cambodia, whose people were decimated by a regime which promoted enforced starvation, mass executions, slave labour and wholesale dislocation to such a degree that the social, moral and economic fibre of the country was left in tatters. The integrated development initiatives include work in health care, education, sanitation (water, sewage), housing, small business and co-operatives in order to enable the poorest of the poor to improve their everyday life.More »

NEPAL → Panauti Community Homestay Program

Panauti is a town about an hour and a half’s drive from Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. Historically, Panauti was a center for pilgrimage and religious thought for many centuries due its location at the confluence of three sacred rivers, the Rosi, the Punyamati and the Trivini. The town itself is one of the oldest in Nepal and has many ancient temples in the traditional and detailed Nwari style architecture particularly near the confluence. Panauti’s people, the Newars were trying to attract more people to stay longer in their town so the local tourism board developed the home-stay program which allows travelers to experience the hospitality of local families, in true Nepalese style! More »

NEPAL → Chitwan Sapana Lodge and the Cultural Village Program

The Sapana village lodge was created by one local man’s dream to help his community. Dhurba, who came from very humble beginnings as a Tharu villager in the area, had a dream to become a business man and help the poor people of the region in some way. Some years later, he met a Dutch couple who gave him the opportunity of a lifetime; to fulfill his dream and able him to build the Sapana lodge. Staying true to his word, Dhurba uses profits from the lodge to fund community projects like the Sapana women’s skill development project, various local village programs aimed at bringing income to the local people, in fact there is even a school in the plans! The Sapana (“dream” in Nepali) lodge is an amazing place to stay More »

PERU → Cusco RegionAwamaki Org.

Awamaki, a US venture, was formed in early 2009 and is involved in community development in and around Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Peru. Its first and still-largest program is the weaving project, which serves the rural indigenous communities above Ollantaytambo. Awamaki has since expanded to other women’s microenterprise crafts cooperatives, as well as programs in health, education and sustainable tourism. Awamaki believes that women’s economic access is a powerful driver of sustainable community development, but also recognizes the crucial role that access to quality health care and education plays in increasing community well-being. More »

ECUADOR→ Coming Soon!

We are currently researching a worthy grass-roots project to support during our Galapagos trip. Stay tuned!

THAILAND → Khao SokCommunity-Based Tourism Program

Two hours away from Phuket is the village of Khao Sok. Nestled in the lowland jungle, the area boasts some of the best preserved habitat in all of Thailand: limestone cliffs, tropical wildlife and flora make up this paradisiacal backdrop. One feels light years away from the hustle and bustle of busy Thai cities. Khao Sok is a fitting model for a country that sometimes may not know when enough is enough, particularly in regards to tourism. It is a true testament to a way of life where nature and pride intersect to build a harmonious community. More »