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A year in partnership: Working with Explore

Twelve months into our partnership with adventure travel experts Explore we caught up with the company’s Sustainability Specialist, Hannah Methven, to dig deeper into how they’re making an impact.

Two puffins standing on a rock in front of the ocean
Travel experiences on our own doorstep can help bring people closer to nature  © Ray Hennessy / Wildscreen

Published 28/10/2022

“Our focus is on exploring, connecting with nature, appreciating the ecosystems and landscapes that make up our incredible planet.”
Hannah methven explore

Hannah Methven

Explore's Sustainability Specialist

Q: Why did you choose to support rewilding in particular?

Hannah: We’re keenly aware that the climate crisis and extinction crisis are interlinked, and that we urgently need to protect the natural world and work to restore areas that have been lost. Our focus is on exploring, connecting with nature, appreciating the ecosystems and landscapes that make up our incredible planet.

We want to protect and support nature, to contribute to projects that will reverse biodiversity loss, expand living spaces for nature, absorb carbon from the atmosphere, and support nature-based economies. We are nothing without nature.

Q: How are you bringing people closer to nature through travel experiences?

Hannah: We’re so lucky to have incredible wildlife and landscapes on our doorstep, and one of our favourite ways to connect with nature is to get people out walking through our tours. Travelling on two feet allows you to take it all in, slowing down to get closer to a place, stopping to soak up the view whenever you want.

Best of all, travelling in a small group with a local tour leader means you have an expert on hand to point out flora and fauna along the way, helping you spot things you might well miss otherwise. Whether it’s clifftop walks and spotting puffins in the Orkney Islands, or exploring the rugged hills and mountains of the northern Lake District, spending the day exploring under your own steam is one of the best ways to appreciate nature.

Volunteer tree planting dundreggan
 © Trees for Life

Helping catalyse rewilding across Britain

Thanks to the simple act of making a donation to Rewilding Britain per individual booking, Explore has already given £15,000 to help support the growth of rewilding here in the UK. We depend entirely on voluntary donations to do our work, so Explore’s donations have been a lifeline. 

Over the last year they’ve enabled initiatives of all shapes and sizes across Britain to access the vital tools they need to to get their rewilding journey off the ground – creating jobs, increasing species-richness, and helping tackle climate change.

Q: How are you ensuring your trips have a positive impact?

Hannah: We’re very aware that tourism has an impact and we do our best to minimise this. We’ve measured the carbon footprint of every one of our trips and are committed to reducing our footprint by 50% by 2030

Low-impact forms of transport often give a better experience too, slowing the pace down and getting you closer to the community and destination you’re visiting. It’s also a more authentic way to travel. Explore tours are all about local; local leaders, hotels, restaurants, transport. This also ensures our tourist spend stays within the local economy.

We’re also making sure that, as a company, we give back to communities and the wild places that they live. For example, our Uganda trip now includes a visit to a community cafe which is set to train local residents in skills such as food hygiene and barista-ing –helping give them opportunities hospitality, a key industry that’s built up around the efforts to conserve the mountain gorillas.

Q: What are you most excited about at Explore at the moment?

Hannah: So much! There are some great new rail connections opening up across Europe which is particularly exciting for me. We’re spending a lot of time looking at maps and working out which destinations can join our range of rail tours. We’d love to introduce more people to rewilding, and we’re looking to incorporate some of the Rewilding Network members in to our UK tours – watch this space!

We’ve also just launched a range of incredible foodie adventures, offering the chance to connect with destinations through food; making dumplings with a local family in Georgia or learning about herbs and medicinal plants in Jordan’s Dana Biosphere Reserve are a couple of highlights. Stretchy waistbands recommended!

Cycling explore worldwide
Low-impact forms of transport like cycling get you closer to the community and destination you’re visiting  © Explore Worldwide

Q: How can we all make our holidays more sustainable?

  • Consider how you travel. If you can slow it down, take the train, walk, cycle. You might see less overall, but you’ll get closer to the bits you do see, and your carbon footprint will be lower too. At Explore we naturally love to travel, and sometimes the most sustainable forms of transport take time, so we support our staff in choosing low carbon options by giving them extra holiday time to travel responsibly.
  • Treat destinations with respect. As tourists we take our holidays in someone else’s home patch, and it’s important that we are always welcomed back.
  • Support local businesses – eat in local restaurants not just your hotel, pick up snacks from street vendors, move away from the tourist bubble. Even just one street away could lead you to a great local restaurant.
  • Don’t waste. Pack light and remove packaging before you travel, take a water bottle /​cup /​bag with you – all things we do at home but sometimes forget when we go on holiday!
Dundreggan in autumn

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