When we go on vacation to destinations like national parks, rainforests, or jungles, it’s expected that we will see an abundance of exotic flora and fauna. Biodiversity is precious, yet all too often we take it for granted when we are on vacation.
A new form of tourism is emerging to promote sustainability and help the habitats of endangered wildlife species. It’s known as eco tourism, and it involves tourists travelling responsibly and giving back while they are on vacation. The exact definition of ecotourism, according to the International Ecotourism Society is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” Below, we’ve compiled some examples of how eco tourism works and how it can make a huge impact on the lives of animals.
10 Tips on Traveling Sustainably
No matter where you are headed, you can move towards sustainable travel by following these guidelines.
- Pack less
- Stay in sustainable hotels and lodges
- Respect the cultural customs of the area you are in
- Avoid any animal tourism with “hands-on” experiences
- Find alternate means of travel to flying
- Walk, bike or use public transportation once you have arrived at your destination
- Take showers instead of baths to conserve water
- Pick up garbage when you see it
- Cook rather than eating out
- Stay on hiking trails rather than forging your own path
Top Green Places to Travel
As 25% of the land in Costa Rica is a rainforest, it is home to an incredibly rich array of wildlife, including many endangered species like the Hawksbill sea turtle. When you travel to this beautiful country, it’s important to book sustainable activities, accommodations, and restaurants that support the wildlife rather than harm it. For example, an eco-lodge like the Finca Luna Nueva is not only a beautiful place to stay, but it is also a center of learning. While you are staying there, it will feel like a vacation, but you can also learn about their practices of regenerative agriculture and research into the preservation of the land.
New Zealand is a stunning place to travel to, with volcanoes, natural black sand beaches, oceans, forests, and mountains. While there are endless ecotourism opportunities, one that we would like to highlight is the protection of their rare bird species. From the kiwi to the kākāpō, there are many endangered bird species that are incredible to view and even better to support while you are in New Zealand. Instead of a traditional vacation, consider going birdwatching to learn more about these rare species in their natural habitat.
Head to Cambodia and you can participate in the Chi Phat community based ecotourism project. The project will lead you on hikes in the Cardamom Mountains, where you can view the elephant corridor from afar. You can also take a tour through the jungle, explore a cave, and view gorgeous waterfalls all while staying in sustainable accommodation.
Many people enjoy safaris in Africa each year, but there is a way of having fun and experiencing the animals while also giving back. Kenya is a great country to visit in terms of ecotourism as there are many programs set up that are designed to help you enjoy the beaches, wildlife, and national parks in a safe and sustainable way. Enjoy stunning views from Mara Bushtops in the Bushtops Conservancy, then take a sustainable safari to view wildlife like big cats and elephants. There are small ways to support Kenya’s initiatives for conservation, from donating directly to a cause to purchasing goods like wildlife conservation jewelry from locals.
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