Sumak Travel – Helping discerning travellers find a local, ethical tour operator they can trust

Sumak Travel – Helping discerning travellers find a local, ethical tour operator they can trust

Sumak Travel – Helping discerning travellers find a local, ethical tour operator they can trust


We’ve always believed international tourism should strive to be reciprocal. Though travellers’ enjoyment and comfort are always our priority, we think that memorable experiences should come from local experiences within a framework of ethical tourism and environmental preservation.



Sumak Travel was founded in London in May 2012 and acted as a tour operator for 5 years until May 2017. During this period, the social enterprise specialised in creating tailor-made tours for discerning travellers wanting to connect with local people and nature in an authentic and eco-friendly way. The tours combine three elements: community-based tourism, conventional tourism operated in a responsible way and exciting off-the-beaten path destinations. The main market was the UK but it organically expanded to the US and Canada. We grew from 4 to 18 countries in Latin America, and our tours have frequently been featured on major media outlets like The Guardian or Nat Geo Traveller. We also have a dynamic “Happy Travellers” category on our blog, where our travellers share their adventures.


In 2016 we opened an office in Costa Rica and in June 2017 we transitioned to become an ecotourism platform connecting discerning travellers with our trusted local partners, all of them responsible tour operators committed to sustainability and community development. To be in our platform they had to engage to follow the principles of fair trade and our responsible tourism policy (available on our website). As a proud member of The International Ecotourism Society, community-based tourism (CBT) still is our speciality. Local communities use tourism as a source of complementary income so they can improve their living standards, preserve their ecosystems and cultures, and defend their land and rights.


CBT is a tool for sustainable development acting in four dimensions: economic (decent jobs, fair trade, community funds, local linkages, infrastructure improvements), social (capacity building, reduction of migration to cities, access to public services such as health and education), environmental (nature and wildlife conservation, reduction of deforestation and extractivist activities, climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy, renewable energies) and cultural (self-esteem, revalorisation of ancestral traditions and rural identity, gender equality). Currently 200+ local CBT initiatives are part of our offer and there are 1,000+ in our network (and growing).


While that commitment to ecotourism and sustainable development remains at the core of our business model, under this new model we have passed on more responsibilities to local tour operators and host communities. We decided to make this transition to follow that original promise of making the travel experience more reciprocal, giving more control back to the locals. On the other hand, responsible travellers using our platform know they are getting fair prices, an authentic product, highly personalised service and access to sound local expertise. Unlike most tourism platforms, we only have one tour operator per destination and our role is to closely monitor their performance, therefore guaranteeing permanent, high levels of quality in all aspects.


With this lasting connection to our local partners, we are able to offer tours to exciting and well-known destinations like Machu Picchu or the Galapagos Islands, combined with exotic and less-known experiences like Chiloé Island in Chile and the Lost City in Colombia. We’ll keep creating new tours and adding destinations, always looking to generate the higher positive impact and lowest environmental footprint.



You can check our blog to read about some adventures that await in Latin America. Your next holiday can take place in one of the continent’s many eco-friendly locations where our expert local partners and host communities are ready to share their world with you.


Guardian articles:

Homestays in Argentina: how ethical holidays are protecting a way of life
Colombia’s Lost City: lore of the jungle
Ecuador’s Yasuni park: where oil vies with tourism for the rainforest
Meet the Mayans: a tour of the real Yucatán, Mexico


Recommended blog posts:


Community-based tourism in the Colca Valley: Building together in Coporaque, Peru
Ethical Tour Operators Group – Promoting ethical tourism worldwide
Ethical Bloggers Promoting Ecotourism in Costa Rica – Campaign Summary


Phone: 020-3642-4246 (UK) | 1-844-677-7010 (US toll free)



About TIES

As the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association, TIES seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, sustainable travel..




> The International Ecotourism Society 



The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference will highlight global challenges and local opportunities, supporting sustainable development of tourism and promoting solutions that balance conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

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