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When it comes to traveling the world, ecotourism is a way of being responsible. It’s clear that we’ll run out of opportunities to save the planet sooner or later. So what can be done by those keen to see the world and save it too?
Well, ecotourism certainly doesn’t mean giving up on your global dreams and staying in your local park for the rest of your days. With a few adjustments, eco-friendly travel can be achieved simply by changing your mindset.
What is ecotourism?
Ecotourism is a growing concept, given its innate logic. It means traveling in ways that preserve the environment and protects places for future generations. Traveling in less-green ways will only come back to haunt us as consumers — we’ll be the ones picking up higher airfares, and visiting places knee-deep in plastic waste.
Ecotourism also includes a more recent boom in the promotion of natural areas and remote locations as vacation destinations. These might include the outdoor wilderness, ancient ruins and structures, or remote and eco-friendly beach resorts that haven’t been dominated by skyscraping hotel blocks.
Tips for greener travel
Traveling in a greener way is simple. All it takes is a little consideration before you make a purchase or plan your trip.
Plastic is cheap, convenient, found everywhere, and a beast on the environment. With bags alone taking half a millennia to break down, do the green thing and take a reusable water flask and cloth bag with you.
Eat and drink local produce
Sticking to local produce is great for the local economy. You’ll also be helping small businesses and families survive. Big conglomerates may be familiar and convenient when searching for a favorite snack, but they’ll likely have a whopping carbon footprint from importing all their produce.
Use public transport
Public transport spreads the fuel costs across multiple passengers, so it’s far greener to take a bus than a cab. For shorter distances, consider the beauty of walking. You’ll likely see much more than traveling overland and experience things you would otherwise miss.
Use apps over paper
Avoid printing out travel documents unless it’s an essential requirement. Many airlines have their own official apps these days to help you keep track of your bookings. You’ll be able to board planes and other forms of transport by checking in via your phone. Keep paper for lovely things like poetry, your journal, or love letters!
Taking things at a more leisurely pace has a multitude of benefits. You’ll actually experience more by sitting back and taking in your surroundings. Your anxiety levels will go down. And you’ll be indulging in a greener method of travel. Now, you might like the sound of squeezing in 15 destinations on a fortnight’s vacation, but traveling for the sake of box-ticking isn’t cool. Trust us.
5 ecotourism destinations we absolutely love
Whilst ecotourism destinations can be found across the world — your nearest wilderness will likely count as one — there are a few destinations that stick out from the pack. Check out our favorites below.
Costa Rica is ahead of the curve when it comes to ecotourism, having launched its own program in the 1990s. The country’s high number of national parks and protected land became the foundation of its tourist appeal. As a result, tourism has gone into funding the preservation of the country’s natural areas. It also supports the local economy from the ground up.
The huge amount of biodiversity ranks Costa Rica as one of our favorite destinations. The Arenal Volcano National Park area is a magical world of rainforest trails, exotic wildlife and geothermal secrets. Here, you can soak in natural hot springs, zipline through the rainforests, and be able to indulge in a variety of carefully-managed watersports and adrenaline activities without harming the environment.
Ecotourism can include experiences you won’t see elsewhere, and Puerto Rico is the perfect place to see something completely different.
Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays contain rare organisms that light up the water when stirred. Simply swimming or splashing is enough to change the water into a florescent bluey-green. Such organisms have to occur in extremely high numbers for the effect to occur. At present they’re only found in five ecosystems worldwide — three of which are in Puerto Rico!
The Mexican destination of Tulum is a must-see ecotourist destination. You’ll find it on the Caribbean coast, and it’s famed for its ancient ruins and cenotes. These are sinkholes that have filled with water and make for unique natural swimming pools. Cenotes are generally found in wild jungle settings, so they make incredibly lush places to visit for photography enthusiasts. Protecting these areas means wearing no sunscreen or anything chemical-based.
Beyond the cenotes, Tulum’s Mayan ruins support a host of local communities. When visiting the area, you’ll find local tour guides, food stalls and souvenirs as opposed to the region being monopolized by huge businesses.
The best way to experience any area is to utilize local knowledge wherever possible, and Morocco’s tourism industry very much takes this approach. From navigating its hectic markets to taking you through the mountain ranges and deserts, you’ll find lots of Berber people working as tour guides, running campsites or arranging overnight stays with local families.
Having lived in wild areas for centuries, these local people are best-placed to offer the most authentic experiences, considering the environment is already second-nature to them!
Iceland takes 75 percent of its energy from sustainable sources, making it one of the cleanest and most efficient economies in the world. This is in direct contrast to its ancient Viking ancestors, who had once robbed the land of trees and ruined the soil quality to make way for farmland. The country has truly come full-circle by seeking to repair itself.
The nation’s tourist industry is understandably centered upon natural resources, with Iceland’s big appeal being its landscapes, glaciers, volcanoes, and geothermal water. It’s no surprise Iceland has become one of the biggest ecotourism destinations around!
We hope you have lots of fun on your next adventure! To see some more fabulous ecotourism destinations, check out our guide to the 11 best eco-friendly accommodations in Central America.
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