Traveling to a natural area does not automatically make you an eco tourist. A correct practice of ecotourism requires some more steps and an authentic sensitivity to environmental issues. So, let’s try to list ten basic green travel tips for anyone interested in ecotourism and sustainable development.
Ecotourism: Walking Through Nature – Photo Courtesy: Jake Melara @ Unsplash
The advent of ecotourism was foreseen in 1901 by John Muir, when he said that “wilderness is a necessity“, imagining legions of “tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people” headed to the mountains as if they were going home.
Nowadays, the phenomenon involves millions of tourists and the challenge is to make this clear necessity compatible with environmental protection and natural resources conservation. But what can each of us do to make a difference?
1- There are no “places you must visit before you die”, especially when it comes to ecotourism. Don’t believe the hype. Costa Rica, Galápagos Islands, Peru, and Belize have become trendy in recent years, which may be a good reason not to further stress their ecosystems. Besides, traveling to the other side of the planet is pointless if you still don’t know most of the natural wonders that lie close to where you live. Did you already checked our top 10 ecotourism destinations?
2- Empathy, respect, and understanding are necessary to be in harmony with nature. Carefully study the features of the places that you are going to visit and collect as much information as possible to avoid doing damage and to stay safe.
3- Always prefer less environmentally damaging vehicles to reach your travel destination. Trains, buses and ferries are generally more “eco friendly” than planes or cars, although cycling holidays are clearly the best possible choice.
4- Large hotel chains are not quite suited to ecotourism. Staying in traditional, small-scale accommodations, organic farms, campsites, or eco lodges allows supporting the local community and tune into its rhythm. WWOOF, Ecobnb, and Glamping Hub offer a wide range of eco friendly options around the world.
5- Use public transportation, when possible, and walk or cycle to move around. This will benefit not only the environment but your health & well-being as well.
6- If you get bored by birdwatching or sightseeing and want to do some sports, hiking, running, swimming, but also cycling, horse riding, rock climbing, and canoeing are among the recommended activities, while golf and skiing imply a great waste of resources. Needless to say that everything that involves the killing of animals or the use of fuel vehicles should not even be taken into account.
7- Wild animals should be left alone in their natural habitat and not be used to entertain tourists. If you wish to join a guided wildlife tour or a safari, make sure that the operators are professional and apply high animal ethics standards.
8- To minimize the environmental impact of your trip, just behave like you were at home: recycle and reuse, don’t waste water and energy, leave no trace, don’t grab or kill anything, don’t light unnecessary fires, be wise and travel light.
9- Support the local economy by paying a fair price for services and products. Eat locally produced organic food and enjoy the typical cuisine of the area.
10- Ecotourism can also mean volunteering with local communities or global NGOs to help protect endangered species and their habitats. There are many conservation projects around the world that you may join, to make your trip useful, not just pleasant. Visit Idealist and Volunteer Forever to get inspired.
Very great tips, some I didn’t think of before. I’ll use #1 to modify my bucket list and travel more consciously.
A great list of how to do more eco-friendly travel. In addition to that list, I would include also to use sustainability certified tour companies and accommodations. Travelife certification is a good place to start, but there are others as well.
And for the volunteering, can be great. But important to choose the right ones as there are also many opportunities that do more harm than good.
And then in general just ask for things you want to see on your tour. A good small example for us was that we found the lunch boxes on a safari in Tanzania and Kenya really bad with too many plastics! So we looked around and found someone providing plastic free lunch boxes. Now we can ask a tour operator to use them next time we go on a safari. Read our article if interested to know more 🙂
Anyway, great article and definitely lots of good ideas!
A well explained post on ecotourism. This is such a broad term that everyone defines ecotourism in their own way. I do believe we all should travel responsibly without harming the larger ecosystem around us.