A Peruvian woman looks into the camera. The Explorations Company supports women across the country

The Explorations Company:
Empowering women


It’s fair to say, few things compare to visiting a country on one’s bucket list for the first time. But something that can make an adventure even more fulfilling, is knowing your presence has a positive effect on the local people and environment of your chosen destination. Step forward The Explorations Company: specialising in tailor-made safaris (and other types of vacations), a core plank of the brand’s philosophy is giving back. And in Peru, the most notable difference they’re making is that for women.

The South American nation is famed for its llamas, uber-delicious pisco (which we’d be lying if we said we’d never had a few too many of) and, of course, the 15th-century-built, dry-stone-walled wonder that amounts to the Inca citadel, Machu Picchu. Yet, despite such highlights, regrettably, various degrees of social exclusion still exist in Peru. This means that certain individuals and groups within the populace face more chance of unfavourable outcomes when it comes to things like poverty, lack of adequate housing and poor health care, inter alia. Therefore, perhaps it’s no surprise that even though they account for just over 50% of Peru’s 34 million citizens, women continue to be somewhat marginalised. As stated in the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap index 2023 rankings, Peru scores 0.76 – where the value fluctuates between 0 (complete inequality) and 1 (total equality).

The Explorations Company, set up by Nicola Shepherd over three decades ago, is attempting to address such imbalances through their hyper-personalised trips and experiences. Indeed, the business has established its own, altruistic foundation: Philanthropy Plus, whereby via a donation or as a minimum percentage of their holiday cost, clients support a chosen community, conservation or combined charitable project. In this way, sand dams have been funded in parts of Africa, and the support of schools has been made possible in various countries across Asia, etc.

In our view, it’s as clichéd as the jaded cop being on his last case before retirement at the start of a Hollywood movie, for an individual or enterprise to say they’re giving back. And of late, we’ve all seen how a lot less of certain charities’ ‘assumed’ donations actually go to the relevant concern and considered how whatever does end up as aid is utilised. Thus, it’s refreshing to see a travel firm with an approach that means it doesn’t get entangled in such ambiguity. Firstly, this is because their customers are able to choose who they contribute to; and secondly, it’s a more personalised sort of benefaction since on their overseas jaunt, clients are afforded an opportunity to see what’s happening on the ground (either by meeting local populations they are assisting, dropping by their workplace or going out in the field). It’s a way of doing that that means a traveller can observe precisely how the charitable funds are spent and who’s benefiting.

Impressively, the Explorations Company have extended the same style of philanthropy to Peru with their recently launched initiative called ‘Las Poderosas’. It’s an effort to try and redress some of the disparity women encounter in the nation, by highlighting the stories of several of its most inspiring females. Guests will be introduced to said individuals including Mariana Costa, the creator of Laboratoria, an outfit advising and training low-income females to get them into the technology sector; and former ballerina and choreographer, Vania Masias, whose D1 Cultural Association is heartening and improving the lives of thousands of barrio children using the marvellous medium of street dance. Not to disregard, the award-winning conservationist Tatiana Espinosa and her valiant endeavour to protect the Amazonia within her country’s borders (over 13% of the overall total, many thousands of hectares of which are destroyed each annum). Through the non-profit ARBIO, which the forest engineer leads as Executive Director, a new kind of crowd-funding has been devised, enabling anybody to safeguard a hectare of land for one or several years. Other projects the Explorations Company are involved in in Peru give travellers the chance to visit traditional weaving communities in the highlands, or matriarchal societies in the Amazon basin, and more.

According to Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing for others?”‘ If you ask us, by backing women-led initiatives or ones that particularly support women, the Explorations Company’s excursions are an important and innovative way to aid the empowerment of a section of Peruvian society that’s all too often disadvantaged vis-à-vis their male counterparts… And that should be applauded.


Photography courtesy of The Explorations Company

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