Photos: Anda Travel.
Most travel experiences aren't complete without having a taste of local flavor, bonding with a person from the area and exchanging viewpoints about the country or city you're visiting. Now what if you're a devoted environmentalist? You're sure going to be interested in getting in touch with the place's environmental and social situation. Well, if you're visiting Argentina, tourism agency Anda is what you're looking for.
This firm offers travel tours that combine traditional touristy places with visits to social organizations and environmental subjects. But it's not like a show to give people your pity, not at all. Keep reading to find out what the deal is about.Environmental and socially aware tours in Buenos Aires
Anda is a project by Elvira Museri, who explains: "We are a national responsible tourism office looking to develop a different way of traveling through Argentina. We want to offer travelers a way to get involved in the society they're visiting, to contribute with communitarian projects and to learn about the culture and habits of Argentines while they're in the country."
One of the basic services of the agency is to put together tours that combine a visit to a traditional place with alternative activities related to social or environmental aspects.
For example, one of their tours is in La Boca neighborhood in Buenos Aires. This route takes on the main touristic points of the area and combines it with a panorama of the situation of the highly-polluted Matanza-Riachuelo river that surrounds this block and a visit to three cooperatives of self-organized workers: a recovered factory that produces alfajores and helps children stay in school, the Eloisa Cartonera initiative, and a recovered print factory.
In each of the stops, tourists are asked to contribute in some way: to buy a box of alfajores or a book, in order to help the organization they're visiting.
Eloisa Cartonera's books from recycled cardboard.
It's not about making profit out of pity, but to propose a cultural exchange and contribute to groups of people that are not in the mainstream of the tourism circuits. "We want this to be a deal among equals. For NGOs it's a lot of work to receive people, and we want them to feel it's worth it. Also it's a way of truly contributing with their work and not only looking at it from the outside," explains Museri.
The agency also does its part in the deal: not only they consume these organizations products (for example offering a snack included in the tours that takes place at the alfajores factory), but also by donating 10% of its annual profits to them.
Volunteering programs and environmental work in Argentina
Apart from the tourism trips, Anda also offers assistance for those who want to volunteer in Argentina. Through their bonds with different organizations and know-how of the city, they act as coordinators to find volunteering opportunities that suit every people's interests and also to help out people in the process of moving to Argentina.
Those who are interested just need to contact the agency and request whatever they're looking for and Anda finds a place in an organization for you. They can also create special programs that combine physical work with other ways of helping using your professional skills.
Anda operates mainly in Buenos Aires but is slowly incorporating tours and programs in the interior of the country: Iguazu, Salta, Mendoza, Patagonia and Calafate are some of the destinations they're looking to incorporate in 2009.
During this year the agency itself is trying to get greener by using only responsible providers and doing smaller things like recycling water bottles provided in the trips.
Go to their website for more information and contact options.