Ecosphere are one of the hosts from our Adventures for Good collection. Here we find out all about their mission and how your adventure helps.

First off, what is Ecosphere and what is your mission?

Ecosphere is a not-for-profit social enterprise working in the cold deserts of Spiti, a valley tucked away in the Trans-Himalayas of India. Ecosphere works on a range of activities that enable the crucial link between local economies, conservation and sustainable development.

Our versatile initiatives range from eco-travel, health and organics, handicrafts and renewable energy – integrating all that we have learned from our grassroots research and operations in the region.

As a team we have a passion for conservation, mountain travel and adventure. We are constantly in awe of the rich natural grandeur of the Himalayas and wish for this great region to thrive so that future generations can equally savour its beauty and bounties.

So how does that mission translate in action?

The money raised from our adventure trips goes directly towards various development and conservation projects in the Spiti Valley. These include….

Carbon reduction and renewable energy – Ecosphere pays for and builds simple architectural enhancements to the local homes, and provides solar technology, reducing dependency on expensive carbon-emitting fossil fuels and fuel wood for cooking, heating houses and water, by up to 60%.

  • Built more than 550 passive solar rooms
  • Solar-powered 10 institutions and two villages
  • Built 25 solar water heaters and baths
Solar-panels-in-Demul-Village, Spiti

Solar panels in Demul Village

Greenhouse and food access – Vegetables do not grow in the harsh climate of Spiti and have to be brought in over large distances, making them expensive. Ecosphere provides technical and financial help towards building mud greenhouses – we’ve build over 120 to date. This enables a year-round supply of vegetables to the household thereby enhancing daily nutritional intakes. Excess vegetables are also sold helping to create an additional source of income.

Climate change and water access – The Trans-Himalayas are facing drastic changes in climate, which is impacting access to water both for irrigation and drinking water. We have built an artificial glacier to recharge ground water and a solar water pump to provide access to drinking water.

Health and education – We provide scholarships for girls towards their schooling and higher education, and also support a girl’s hostel in Kaza. A team of community health volunteers has 
been formed and trained in first aid, the diagnosis and preliminary treatment of disabilities and palliative care.

Local livelihoods conserving nature and culture – We train and enable communities to earn from locally available resources such as seabuckthorn (a wonder berry), traditional arts and crafts, running homestays and cultural immersions.

Greenhouse-Produce-Spiti

Greenhouse Produce, Spiti

Wow. That sounds like an incredible achievement.

Thank you. We are so passionate about our work. But don’t just take our word for it! We have received a number of awards and recognition for our work as a leader in responsible travel, including the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2010 for ‘Best Host in a Mountain Environment’.

The judges said:

“Ecosphere is a self-reliant social enterprise where the economic benefits to mountain communities are both clearly demonstrated and transformative. Ecosphere has moved from being donor funded to self-supporting, and 55 out of the 66 villages in the Spiti Valley have seen their incomes rise by up to 50% through Ecosphere’s diverse initiatives and responsible tourism programme. Their carbon reduction programme is also comprehensive, citing a reduction of 520 tons of C\O2 per year.”

Our founder, Ishita Khanna, has also been awarded the ‘CNN IBN Real Heroes Award’ for her initiatives to enable local communities adapt to the impacts of climate change, and the ‘Femina Women Awards 2013’ which celebrates ‘women of worth’, who have stood up for a cause they felt deeply for and whose efforts changed lives of many.

Spiti-valley

We can’t wait to visit. Tell me about what tours are on offer?

You can join us on a seven-day adventure exploring the Spiti region. Venture through the dramatic Himalayan mountain landscape stopping off at monasteries, alpine lakes and mountain villages. You’ll be staying at homestays along the way and experience life in the Himalayas through a local’s eyes.

Or take a 10-day guided adventure through Spiti. Travel along rivers, past mountain lakes, to monasteries, temples and remote villages. Discover the fascinating culture of the region staying with local people.

Or you can spend eight days exploring and volunteering in Spiti. Along the way, you’ll see some of the best the area has to offer, lend a much-appreciated hand in a mountain village and learn about the work your local host does in the region.

When you travel with us you have a zero carbon footprint – all your carbon emissions are offset by our award winning solar projects. We even ensure you don’t need to buy bottled water while you are in Spiti.

All images courtesy of Ecosphere.

About our ‘Adventures for Good’ collection

Much Better Adventures was born from a belief that travel can, and should, be a force for good. We take responsible, sustainable travel pretty seriously. For all of our trips, we only work with local, independent providers in order to channel money into rural, local economies. This creates a virtuous circle with local communities and governments who are empowered and incentivised to protect and conserve the incredible environments which attracted these visitors in the first place.

However our Adventures For Good take this philosophy one step further.  These trips have been carefully selected to ensure you not only have an amazing adventure, but they also directly support some pioneering organisations delivering positive social impact across the world.

All of the hosts selected for these trips have a proven track record of delivering impressive results in their community and / or through conserving the environment they are working in. Proceeds from every trip are put directly towards achieving that mission so your adventure helps to build a positive legacy.