Responsible Travel

Mountainbug has a responsible approach to travel. We’re a small company, with our Directors living and working year-round in a high mountain village, where we’re part of a small community and support the local economy.

Our holidays are for outdoor enthusiasts who love the mountains and want to experience their natural beauty without upsetting the delicate natural balance.

We avoid the “coach party” mentality of mass tourism with small groups (12 or less), providing customised holidays with a personal touch. The main tenets of our Responsible Travel policy are:

Supporting the local economy. We live and work in the Pyrenees year round. We are a French company paying local taxes and are dedicated to supporting our village community.

Using local tradesmen and guides. We use local guides and instructors, local craftsmen and tradesmen. We encourage our guests to shop in the village and support the small traders.

Serving local produce. We serve locally-produced meats purchased from our village butcher. This includes the Barèges-Gavarnie AOC lamb which never leaves our valley. We introduce our guests to Pyrenean trout, local honey, mountain sheeps’ cheeses, cured mountain sausages and hams, confit duck and Tarbais beans produced in the South West of France. We promote local wines and spirits on our house bars. Chalet guests are encouraged to try local dishes at a mountain restaurant on the chalet staff’s night off.

Promoting traditional methods. We live in a pastoral area. Our walks pass through meadowland on bergers’ paths and past traditional stone barns. We discuss local farming methods, and visit the cheese farm, traditional bakery and mills.

Promoting local culture and language. The people of the Pays Toys have their own Occitan dialect as well as speaking French. They’ve been very friendly and supportive to us, and we try hard to promote their language and culture.

Operating a “tread lightly” policy and leaving no traces. Our walking and trekking holidays rely on leg-power. Our aim is to reach the wildest and most beautiful parts of the mountains, but to leave no trace of our passing.

Discovering the local environment – geology, flora and fauna. Our holidays are about discovering the mountain environment. We look at flowers, birds, animals and geological processes. We discuss the mountain ecosystem and climate zones, and the effect of global warming on the ecology. In Spring we run walking holidays specifically focusing on wild flowers, birds and butterflies.

Accessing the mountains on foot all year round. As well as Alpine skiing in Winter, we are developing snow-shoeing and ski-touring programmes to enable people to discover the Winter mountain environment without using powered lifts or noisy skidoos.

Minimising the use of vehicular transport. Wherever possible we walk directly from the house or within our valley. We have a company minibus and offer transfers to reduce the need for guests to hire multiple vehicles at the airport. We also encourage the use of public transport for travellers.

Minimising paper consumption and postal air miles. Our publicity is internet based. We do not have a paper brochure and do not send out an information pack to our clients, as all of our information can be found in detail on our website.

Recycling. We recycle glass, paper & cardboard, metal cans and plastic bottles.

Accommodation. Our holidays are based either from our own traditional house in a high mountain village or our recently restored hotel. Both buildings were restored using local craftsmen and maintaining the original features whilst taking steps to improve the energy-efficiency of the buildings. Our work has encouraged a general “facelift” of the village.

Heating and water. Our village accommodation is gas centrally heated, by very efficient, modern, on-demand boilers.
In the Chalet, heating is supplemented with a wood-stove burning wood from managed, sustainable forest (with zero carbon debt).
We encourage our guests to close their shutters at night to conserve heating energy.
Both buildings have fully-insulated roofs and walls. Many of our washrooms are fitted with showers rather than baths, and our toilets have an eco-flush option to reduce water consumption.
We use eco-friendly A-rated appliances, and in the Chalet wash our own bedding and line-dry our linen outside in the mountain air whenever possible.

Mountain refuges. Many of our walking holidays include a night in a mountain refuge. The refuge has a composting toilet, solar panels and is supplied by donkey. All food waste is consumed by the refuge’s own pig! We carry all our rubbish with us back down the mountain.

Travel. We promote travel to the Pyrenees by public transport (Eurostar to Paris, TGV train to Lourdes, local bus service to Barèges). We also suggest to families that they can bring their own car on the ferry to Spain, thus avoiding short haul flights.