Providing a unique experience
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? At Inverted Atlas we are committed to providing our travellers with experiences that aren’t just run of the mill but experiences they would not get if they travelled with another tour provider or if they travelled alone. These experiences might be in the form of a place we stay or eat, it could be in the form of meeting a village elder, exploring the inside of a deserted pyramid or even spotting rare wildlife in a remote national park. But we don’t just stop at eating, sleeping and sightseeing, we also pride ourselves in offering the unique opportunity where possible to attend local performances, sample to traditional ‘spa culture’ and learn how to make items for which the destination is famous.
Travelling in a unique way also means the way we travel. Where possible we try to use some local transport, but also travel to parts of the destination that may not see many travellers, which helps to ensure an authentic experience.
At Inverted Atlas we strive to include experiences you may not have heard of in our trips or simply had no idea you could participate in. So, jump on board, stay in an Indian Castle, be beaten by birch branches in a Russian Banya, help out on a working cattle station in outback Australia or dive the lost city of Cleopatra in Egypt! Whatever your interested in, we’re sure you’ll find something both amazing and unique in every Inverted Atlas trip.
Understanding through education
At Inverted Atlas we are passionate about helping our travellers to understand the people and cultures of the lands through which we travel. Through exploration on our trips we are sure you will find that some of the friendliest and most hospitable people on the planet live in countries which society generally tells us are less than ideal for travellers to visit, like Sudan and Iran, that some of the most colourful countries are in places that are usually projected as grey and austere like Russia and Uzbekistan and some of the most fun places are those in which religion seems to negate the ability to have a good time, like Egypt and Turkey. At Inverted Atlas we feel that understanding and education are all part of Ethical Travel.
We not only want you to really get to know the culture of the destination, but to also get to know the people. This is something we achieve with local guides who accompany us at some sites, in addition to a trip leader. The local guide is an expert on the area in which they come from, but not only that they live the culture you are experiencing on the trip. So, ask them just about anything about their lives in the destination you are traveling through.
In addition to local guide we gain an understanding of local people by including a little additional time in our itineraries. This time serves us well should the group be invited to attend a local religious service or to have dinner with a local family. These experiences are usually not organised in advance and are not guaranteed but often happen in the areas of the world in which we travel where local people are hospitable and curious about us.
Stop and smell the roses!
Slow travel is something we are really passionate about. Slow travel could mean something as simple as sitting in a coffee shop and people watching for the afternoon, it could mean time to explore a local marketplace or it could mean some time to rest and update your travel journal or Instagram.
Slow travel means taking our time and fully appreciating our experiences. An example could be that for dinner one evening instead of just eating at a local restaurant, we may travel to a local family’s home and assist in the preparation of the food before we eat and then have dinner with the family.
It’s important to us that our travellers don’t feel rushed, feel like they have time to experience the destination their way and to have their own adventure. We acknowledge that our travellers may come on our trips with a specific sight to see in mind, some food they want to try or may even want to meet up with a friend who could be passing through at the same time. Slow travel ensures our travellers maximise their experience in the destinations in which we travel, and hopefully means they won’t look back on missed opportunities and think “well, there’s always next time”.
Giving back to local communities
Giving back is a wonderful thing. We achieve this by not only giving employment to our local guides, but by using local places of accommodation instead of international chains, eating at small and locally owned restaurants and using local transport where we feel appropriate. Our trip leaders are encouraged to make local friends in the destinations in which they travel and to have their own local experiences during their downtime – there’s nothing better than going to the trip leaders best friends place for tea, when the trip leader’s best friend owns her own little tea house in the hutongs of Beijing!
In addition to the above, Inverted Atlas may occasionally provide the opportunity to volunteer for the day at one of our local partner institutions. Some of these opportunities may include working in the kitchen of the Golden Temple in Amritsar or helping out as a farm hand for the day on a working cattle station in Australia. Such experiences are included in the trip price, are completely voluntary and travellers may elect to spend this time at their leisure.
We include visits to charitable institutions, such as feeding the cows at a Hindu Temple, visits to local Indigenous programs in Australia and handicrafts programs which provide employment for vulnerable members of society in developing countries. In these instances, Inverted Atlas makes a donation to these institutions to enable them to continue and to support the great work they do (these donations are already included in the price of the trip and no money is expected on arrival).
Giving back is a two way street and is entrenched in the idea of ethical travel, so come with an open mind and the knowledge that in some of the destinations in which we travel, local people may not be used to meeting foreigners and may be curious about you. You’ll find if you want to talk to a local about their life, the more you give – the more you’re likely to get in return.
Ethical Travel and transparently
There’s no cloak and dagger at Inverted Atlas.
Unlike other company’s which may dance around the questions of, “is the tour guaranteed?” “What is the minimum number for the tour to depart? Or even “How many people are on the tour?” at Inverted Atlas we have no problem disclosing this information so that you can book with confidence. We are happy to provide any additional information to you that you feel will assist in deciding if our trips are right for you with in the limits of privacy law. Our general rule of thumb is that if the law allows us to answer the question, then we answer it. Simple.
Although our staff work remotely, there is always someone on hand during business hours to provide information and if unsure we encourage you to call us for a chat. If we feel we can’t accommodate your dietary needs we will tell you, if we believe you’re not fit enough for the trip you wish to undertake we will tell you and if we feel that the trp just isn’t right for you we will let you know and suggest an alternative if possible. At Inverted Atlas we believe in complete transparency, taking payment for a trip and trying to sort out issues like these on arrival has the potential to ruin the trip for you and everyone else, and no one wants that!
In addition to transparency, we believe in acting ethically in everything that we do. One thing we pride ourselves on is that international employees of Inverted Atlas are paid the same as the staff here in Australia. We encourage our local partners to pay local guides well and we tip generously. We appreciate the skills our local partners bring to our trips and remunerate accordingly – we don’t use local labor because it can be cheap!
Giving our staff room to grow
Perhaps our number one mantra! Take care of your people and they will take care of your customers. Our aim at Inverted Atlas is to provide a place of employment and a working environment that makes friends jealous!
Inverted Atlas has no physical bricks and mortar office. All staff from our on the road trip leaders to our product development team work remotely. This enables them to work from wherever they want in the world. This has obvious benefits for a trip operator. The more our team travels, the more they experience and the more unique experiences they find for our travellers. To us, it’s a no brainer. Some of our team do work full time in Australia, and they are happy to have a chat to you over the phone or to meet in person for a coffee if you feel the need and they are close by. This is something we would not be able to achieve if we had a single bricks and mortar operation. Remote work also enables us to take advantage of the best in the business, wherever those people may be located throughout the world.
Inverted Atlas is a highly collaborative environment. Our General Manager freely admits, she doesn’t know everything and surrounds herself with people who are well travelled, with years of experience in the industry and who are encouraged to point out better ways of doing things. Our people are encouraged to speak up and make their ideas heard. We all have our job descriptions, however if someone in our accounts team has an idea for a trip inclusion, we want them to feel confident enough to speak up because it could be a great idea! By working together, we can create an experience for our travellers we can all be proud of.