When done right, ecotourism opportunities are a fantastic way to become acquainted with a new destination. A good ecotourism operator should help you get up close and personal with awe-inspiring features of the natural environment without leaving a destructive footprint on either the ecosystem or the cultural heritage of the place your visiting.
An ethical ecotourism operator should allow travellers to enjoy natural wonders without marking or exploiting them in the name of adventure. When exploring a new place, responsibility also falls on you, the traveller, to select accommodations that are committed to sustainable and ethical business practices. Ecotourists can contribute to the restoration and regeneration of natural assets in their chosen destination in many ways. Start by selecting responsible hotel and tour companies, like some of the ones listed below.
Balancing adventure with environmental consciousness might require a bit more effort from you, but it will make for spectacularly memorable encounters that leave a lasting positive impact. To help you plan your next green vacation, we’ve rated the BEST ecotourism experiences around the globe - why not add them to your bucket list?
This gorgeous National Geographic lodge on the island of Borneo offers sustainable luxury accommodation in an area of natural beauty and amazing wildlife. Its eco-friendly practices include generating the majority of its own power and harvesting rainwater. The lodge offers employment to the local people and supports various community through environmental projects around the island.
Also known as Whale Island, this tiny plot is packed with unique native flora and fauna, including endangered plants, birds and reptiles. Take a short boat ride to visit one of New Zealand’s most restricted wildlife sanctuaries where you can see the island’s living dinosaur, the Tuatara lizard, along three other species of native lizards. A limited amount of people are allowed on the island at one time due to it’s protection status by the Department of Conservation, making Moutohorā tours is ideal for nature lovers – especially since it’s the only eco-qualified tour operator on the island.
This Pacific Ocean archipelago is a wonderland of amazing creatures once observed by Charles Darwin himself - from blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, seals, sea lions, penguins, bats and more. The Galapagos is full of well-regarded ecotourism operators that will take you to see a wide variety of wildlife via boat, kayak or your own two feet while adhering to the governments strict environmental policy when it comes to the string of islands
The tropical isles of Polynesia is home to a unique ecotourism opportunity in Tonga that will leave you in awe of the sea and all that it harbours: including once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as swimming with humpback whales. Humpback whales are enormous creatures — about the size of a school bus – known for their melodic songs and for breaching above the water with amazing acrobatic ability. Chose an ethical tour operators for this once-in-a-lifetime experience ensure that swimmers do not interfere with or agitate the giant and beautiful mammals, but simply enjoy being in their presence. For tips on how to responsibly watch whales in the wild, read this article.
Through their support of the Land and Life Foundation, Cheli & Peacock Safaris offer hope for the future of communities and wildlife in Kenya and Tanzania as well as alluring luxury safaris. They have a strong focus on conserving the protected areas that their tours showcase.
With a company like Rainforest Expeditions, you can explore remote rainforest landscapes of Peru along the eastern Andes while doing as little as possible to disturb this wild ecosystem that spans across nine nations. Rainforest Expeditions has three lodges along the Tambopata River in southern Peru support a variety of conservation projects with macaws, jaguars, brazil nuts, and tiger moths! This eco-friendly luxury jungle lodge is perfect for wildlife fanatics and outdoor enthusiasts since each day is filled with hiking and exploring the most biodiverse rainforest in the world!
As Europe’s most sparsely populated country, Finland features some spectacular natural settings, with Nuuksio National Park among the best of them. With their GTF Eco-label certification, Nuuksion Taika offers beautiful accommodation, outdoor activities, hiking, cultural storytelling, and songs by local guides. Nuuksio National Park is especially magical in the wintertime for those brave enough to endure the Finnish cold.
Tasmania, the isloated island-state that lies south of mainland Australia, has some strikingly beautiful multi-day costal hikes. Tasmanian Walking Co. is an operator with a sustainable and community focus that can take you to discover the trails of Tasmania. Provided that you stick to the trails and leave nothing behind, hiking is a great sustainable way to familiarize yourself with a new place while keeping your carbon footprint down.
We’ve already mentioned whales, and it’s because encountering these AWESOME creatures makes for an unforgettable ecotourism experience. In Iceland, you can enjoy seeing these gargantuan ocean mammals in a carbon-neutral manner thanks to North Sailing and their electric whale-watching boat. North Sailing recognised as a pioneer of whale watching in Iceland offering authentic and inspirational marine wildlife tours and sailing adventures. North Sailing even partners with Húsavík Research Center (University of Iceland) and Húsavík Whale Museum, conducting research on whales. Scientists can often be observed on board the boats, taking samples and collecting data for conservation research.
Viewing the Grand Canyon from above is one thing, but rafting along those striking red rock walls makes for an adventure you’ll never forget. Western River, a major rafting operator in the canyon, is involved in researching non-fossil fuel propulsion systems and also supports the Grand Canyon conservation fund.
About the Author
Maia is a freelance travel writer and an avid globetrotting adventurer. Her passion for traveling has taken her to several countries around the globe – with Japan being her absolute favourite so far. She is always incredibly excited to learn about interesting cultures and sampling local food. Visit her personal blog at maiafletcher.wordpress.com