ROW is dedicated to sustainable travel and adheres to the highest standards of stewardship for the environment and the local people and cultures in the areas where we operate. With superlative guides and artfully orchestrated itineraries, our goal is to connect people in a meaningful and personally relevant way to the places we visit. We work to inspire guests to become actively involved in, and advocates for, the preservation and conservation of the places they visit.
One of our core values is respecting the Earth. We practice this at all levels at ROW, including our office and field operations where we try to minimize our footprint through wise energy use, recycling, reducing and reusing. We source as many of our supplies and food locally as is possible. A small example of our care is the use of Fair Trade and Shade grown coffee on our trips.
We minimize motorized travel on our adventures, preferring to see a small geographic area well rather than hustling through a large area. On our trips with motorized travel, we choose local operators with the most fuel efficient vehicles (such as our Antarctica Cruise which travels aboard a ship that uses less than half the fuel of most ships in the area.) We are sensitive to wildlife, but equally important, we help people understand what they are seeing by illuminating the life history of the plants and animals we observe. On all our trips with camping, we practice "Leave No Trace" techniques, and we have been since our beginning in 1979.
Another responsible travel core value is giving back. We do this in a number of ways. In our home state of Idaho we positively impact dozens of businesses from whom we purchase supplies and services. Our entire office staff is local. Our River Dance Lodge employs locals, and we are a major contributor to the Idaho County economy. We donate over $15,000 in goods and services to various charities in northern Idaho, eastern Washington and western Montana. Since 2008 we have been operating an annual "Raft for the Cure" which raises $2500 to $5000 each year for our local chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. In 2009 we started an annual "Raft to Remember" as a benefit trip for the Alzheimer's Association that raises over $1000 for our local chapter.
One example of our international efforts is in the Galapagos where we employ a number of local guides and fishermen who are transitioning to the tourism-based economy, a goal that is embraced by the Galapagos National Park Service. Our land-based Galapagos trips leave a large percentage of total trip revenue in the Galapagos. Because all of our international trips are small group trips (12-16 guests) we are able to use local independent hotels, restaurants and transportation. We also directly support several organizations, including: International Galapagos Tour Operator's Association (IGTOA) - ROW Adventures' guests have donated over $35,000 in the past few years. On the island of Isabela in the Galapagos we visit and support the Pescado Azul Women's Association whose principal objective is to increase the quality of life of the fisherman and their families in the community of Puerto Villamil. We have also helped finance the purchase of four-stroke engines for a couple of our local fishing boat operators.
We are very active in a number of river and other conservation groups in the American West. In Idaho we are one of the largest supporters of Idaho Rivers United and in addition to the time and money we donate, our guests are invited to support river conservation through our "pass through" program which raises significant contributions each year.
Local Guides: The majority of our domestic-trip adventure guides are from the West, or Northwest, and many hold college degrees in related fields such as geology, biology and recreation management. Over 75 percent of our USA-based guides are "Certified Interpretive Guides" through the National Association of Interpretation, having received training on sharing natural and cultural history in a meaningful and relevant way. As a company, we provide numerous opportunities for continued guide education, including guest educators on trips and special guide clinics.
All of our international trips are led by born-and-raised locals. This adds to the authenticity of our adventures and gives our guests an inside-view of the country they're visiting. In Latin America, all of our guides are bilingual and most have degrees in natural history related subjects and are certified guides. In Croatia, our local guides come from the islands or coastal areas and open doors to the local culture that would otherwise be inaccessible. The same can be said for all our international guides who generally are born and raised in the areas where they guide for us. Every one of our local guides adds immensely to the richness of the ROW travel experience. Along with local guides, Founder Peter Grubb leads some of our more exotic trips and has a personal knowledge of each destination and itinerary.
Responsible travel requires innovation and dedication, and ROW applauds organizations that are working to help keep our wild places wild. Visit our Save Idaho Salmon page for information about a topic we consider very important and are working to raise awareness about.
ROW is actively involved with and financially supports the following conservation groups. We encourage you to visit these websites to learn more about issues facing responsible travel.