When deciding where to go on holiday, the weather, the nightlife and the scenery are top of the list for many. But if conservation, learning and empowering local communities are amongst your priorities, then ecotourism is for you.
But what does ecotourism mean? And to experience and contribute to the movement, where should you go? Here we’ll look at why it’s so important for the future, and suggest where to go for a trip that will have a lasting positive effect on you, and the environment, with our pick of the best ecotourism destinations in the world.
What is ecotourism and why is it important?
When we go on holiday, we often only consider the benefits for us. The relaxation, the memories, the experiences. But what impact do our travels have on the world? It’s comforting to tell ourselves that wherever we go, we’re helping our country of choice economically at least, with tourism such a big industry worldwide. But what about the methods of travel, the places we stay and the activities we get up to – how disruptive is our carbon footprint and what impact does our visit really have on the destinations we choose, positive or negative? For the future of the planet, many believe that there needs to be a greater focus on responsible tourism – which has driven a growth in ecotourism around the world.
Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education” (The International Ecotourism Society, 2015). It’s about giving back to the communities and the land of the areas we visit, preserving, developing and understanding the planet – uniting conservation with sustainable methods of travel.
Such eco-friendly holidays may sound a little more prohibited than your usual expedition, but ecotourism is definitely a two-way deal. Whilst developing your cultural and environmental awareness, you’ll witness breathtaking natural beauty and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Now that you’re sold on the idea, here are a selection of ecotourism holidays you could experience this year.
The Top Ecotourism Destinations You Should Visit
1. Costa Rica’s RainforestsThe South American country of Costa Rica is first up. An ecotourism hotspot due to its well protected natural beauty, Costa Rican land is 25% rainforest. As well as the rainforests, and a number of eco friendly buildings and places to stay, visitors are treated to breathtaking volcanoes and pristine beaches, which represent the stunning biodiversity in the country.
Also home to the Corcovado national park, you can find 13 different ecosystems within the 164 square miles of the park’s boundaries – a haven for hikers, bird-watchers and wildlife photographers.
2. Support Endangered Wildlife in Kenya
For any animal lover, an African safari is right at the top of the bucket list. With its grasslands full of animals such as lions, rhinos and giraffes, local organisations are doing all they can to ensure visitors respect the thriving ecosystem and protect such species from poachers. A trip to Kenya isn’t only for wildlife enthusiasts – take in the varied landscapes, visit the beaches, experience the coral reefs and the wider biodiversity in the area.
3. Explore the Oceans of Palau
Not many people will know where you mean if you announce this as your holiday destination, but it’s regarded as one of the best ecotourism destinations. Palau is an island nation in the western Pacific, part of Micronesia, that is better known for its oceans than land. Surrounding seas are crystal clear waters which are home to coral reefs and various species of fish. On land, you’ll find untouched beaches and divers forests, with the conservation effort supported by the country’s many no-fishing zones. It’s also home to the Palau Project which brings university students to the island to learn about the country.
4. Trek in the Mountains of CambodiaCambodia is home of the Chi Phat community based ecotourism project. This provides visitors with the chance to trek in the lush Cardamom Mountains – one of the last remaining wild elephant corridors in Asia. In 2007 the Wildlife Alliance turned the Cardamom Mountains into a community-based tourism project, enabling locals to support themselves through tourism rather than animal trafficking. Be led through the Cardamom jungle by local visitors turned wildlife experts, stay in local sustainable accommodation and experience jungle treks, waterfalls and cave exploring.
5. Enjoy Clean Living in Iceland
Experience quintessential ecotourism with a visit to Iceland. The cleanest energy consumer in the world, visitors can experienced clean air and maintain it by camping and exploring the country on horseback, bicycle or on foot rather than driving. Actions taken by authorities in Iceland to maintain its natural beauty include making off-road driving illegal due to the irreparable damage to land and more significantly for outdoor enthusiasts, it is also illegal to tread off designated hiking trails and paths. To avoid getting in hot water, be sure to do your research before you visit, like any good ecotourist.
Get Set for your Eco Friendly Holidays with Craghoppers
There you have it, our pick of the ecotourism holiday destinations the world has to offer. Now you know where and how to be an ecotourist, get kitted out for your trip with our selection of outdoor wear for men and women. Wherever you choose to go on your eco-friendly travels, stay comfortable and protected whatever the climate with a selection of fleeces, footwear and accessories. And don’t forget to further your environmental efforts by exploring our selection of recycled clothing.