As travelers become more and more environmentally conscious, more vacationers are turning to eco tourism. But what exactly is eco tourism?
Traditionally, tourism is an unsustainable industry. Plenty of deforestation and loss of wildlife has been squandered for garish attractions and unsustainable hotels around the world.
But these days, more and more travelers aren’t looking for an all-inclusive package anymore. They want something unique, a chance to get up close and personal with nature – not to hurt the environment, but pay tribute to it.
Eco-friendly tourism is catching on, and we couldn’t be more stoked at all the new projects that are popping up. That’s why we put together this list of the best eco-tourism destinations in the world:
Kerala was one of the first destinations in South Asia to embrace sustainability, and now it’s also the backbone of local tourism too. In villages like Thenmala and Kumbalangi, visitors can learn about the traditional Indian way of life from fishing to cooking and educational treks through the ecosystem. Kerala’s famous Banasura Resort is one of the biggest eco-friendly “earth” hotels in the world, made entirely from cool and cozy packed mud.
Costa Rica is probably the world’s frontrunner in ecotourism. It’s got the largest percentage of protected areas out of any other country, and it’s aiming to become the first carbon neutral destination by 2021. Costa Rica’s a jackpot of bio-diversity, with secluded beaches, exotic flora and fauna, thermal hot springs and even four active volcanoes in its borders. No wonder Christopher Columbus called it the “Rich Coast”.
If you’re looking for an eco tourism adventure that’s rugged yet safe, Borneo is the perfect choice. Here it’s possible to escape into unspoiled jungle for weeks on end, with only a tent and a tour guide at disposal. Mount Kinabalu is one of the most accessible hikes in the world, and it doesn’t require any special climbing skills besides some mad physical exertion. Along the two-day ascent you’ll see a depth of flora and fauna, including over 1,200 species of orchids and exotic birds.
Botswana’s home to a few of the most exclusive ecotourism sites on the planet, like the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park. Less travelled than neighbouring countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe, it’s a haven for nature and wildlife. One of the most unique experiences is the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, with rhino-trekking alongside experienced rangers.
Amazon Rain Forest
The world’s largest tropical rain forest has already suffered from climate change, but the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) says that ecotourism can help. Instead of relying on unsustainable slash and burn agriculture, some communities are instead learning about guiding visitors. Take for example the Rio Blanco Project in Ecuador: locals take eco-tourists through the rain forest, introducing the indigenous way of life and showing first-hand why conservation is so drastically important.
From surfing to whale watching, all kinds of outdoor fun can be had in Tofino, on the Pacfici coast of Vancouver Island. Once a logging and fishing village, it’s now a major ecotourism attraction for its sandy beaches, hot springs and backcountry hiking. Tofin’s best activities include multi-day kayaking and camping trips, and chartering a seaplane to see the surrounding mountain glaciers and coast from a breathtaking perspective.
This remote archipelago was the inspiration for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, making it a legend amongst historians and scientists. Tourists can go on island-hopping wildlife expeditions, discovering a wealth of nature and wildlife along the way. Snorkeling amongst sea lions, giant tortoises and exotic fish is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Eco tourism is a fast-growing sector in Sri Lanka, and with such beautiful, pristine landscapes, it’s easy to understand why. From treetop hotels to organic farms and an elephant sanctuary, Sri Lanka of the only countries in South Asia that is whole-heartedly committed to sustainable tourism. Fifteen percent of the land is government-protected, with 22 national parks overall. Sri Lanka’s first wildlife reserve even dates back to the third century BC.
Iceland is a joy to trek across, and the country’s commitment to conservation only makes it that much better. It’s the cleanest energy consumer in the world, with a whopping 75 percent of total energy coming from natural sources. From the Blue Lagoon to Gulfoss and the Aurora Borealis, fantastic natural wonders await here with plenty of camping sites and rustic mountain huts for out-of-the-way stays.
Antarctica may be only for the most rugged, cold-hardy eco tourists! As far as adventure goes, it doesn’t get much better than the snowy, barren expanse of the South Pole. It’s one of the least-traveled destinations in the world, and as such it’s been barely touched by human life. Antarctica is the only continent without significant plant life, but sprawling glaciers, ice-capped mountains and other jaw-dropping scenery makes this one of Earth’s last remote spectacles.