Top 8 International Destinations for the Eco-Friendly Traveler

Just because you love to travel doesn’t mean you can’t be aware of the environmental issues that come with it. There are many perils in the world around you, especially when it comes to traveling in some of the more remote locations on the globe. However, the good news in ecotourism is that many beloved getaway destinations are starting to accommodate the eco-friendly traveler.

The emphasis on sustainability has become an important aspect in this green-driven society. Traveling sustainably means you commit to reducing your carbon footprint as well as help the environment. (Read more about how you can reduce your carbon footprint.) Today’s green-oriented tourists are increasingly choosing eco-conscious getaways over those that don’t prioritize sustainability.

What Is Ecotourism?

Ecotourism is the official term that describes sustainable travel. In other words, the jet-setter focuses on supporting the local environment of his international destination instead of exploiting its resources and thus adding more pressure on it. Thanks to the people who care about protecting the environment, ecotourism is a complex concept that grows in importance each year. If you are among these people and you want to conserve our natural resources, traveling sustainably could be a good first step.

Ecotourism implies a certain awareness on the tourist’s part. Many travelers are not aware their international trips may have a great impact on the local environment as well as the local community. Therefore, the eco-friendly should try – within reasonable limits – to keep this impact to a minimum. In addition to causing as little damage as possible, the tourist should also seek to support the local community during the journey.

Of course, being an eco-conscious traveler doesn’t mean you have to experience a less pleasant trip. Believe it or not, you can be an ecotourist and still benefit of the full package. Approaching traveling with this kind of appreciation attitude often encourages people to enjoy their journey even more. If you’re looking for your next eco-friendly destination – one that’s easy on the environment as well as your wallet – try any of the eco-getaways below.

1. Campi ya Kanzi – Kenya

One of the greatest illustrations for ecotourism in Kenya, Campi ya Kanzi should definitely be on your list. It’s a remote camp in the middle of nature, built only with local materials sustainably sourced. Instead of felling trees for their construction project, the camp used wood that had fallen from trees naturally. But don’t go writing it off your list just yet – the rustic side is perfectly complemented by state-of-the-art technologies which have the least impact on the environment.

The electricity comes from photovoltaic panels, rain cropping provides the water, and the cooking uses only eco-friendly charcoal. However, probably the most important aspect of the lodge is its long-standing collaboration with the local Maasai community. Campi ya Kanzi promises to offer you the best safari adventure of your life, while you rest assured you’re not harming the spectacular environment around you.

2. Park Hyatt Hadahaa – Maldives

Are you looking for a private-island hideaway? The Park Hyatt Hadahaa in the Indian Ocean offers eco-friendly travelers the best Maldives experience. When you think of the Maldives, you imagine remote paradises and luxurious resorts – and the Park Hyatt Hadahaa doesn’t disappoint. The best part is that the resort’s design blends in perfectly with its surroundings. Therefore, the surrounding coral reef and local vegetation are unchanged, providing guests with sustainable snorkeling dives. The remote resort even has a marine biologist on staff who keeps a vigilant eye on the park’s environmental practices.

3. Costa Rica

When it comes to international ecotourism, Costa Rica is undoubtedly the country most associated with well-protected natural wonders. Over the years, the South American country has made a name for itself as a popular eco-friendly travel destination. More than a quarter of Costa Rica is covered by beautiful rainforest, which represents the main attraction for tourists. With coastlines on both the Caribbean and Pacific, it also offers breathtaking landscapes, including white sand beaches and massive volcanoes. Costa Rica has a reputation of incredible biodiversity and eco-friendly accommodations. San Jose’s Eco Mountain Retreat is worth checking out for your next trip.

4. Palau

Another island destination, Palau is located in Micronesia, in the western Pacific. The stunning oceans surrounding the land are more popular than the country itself. The coast is mesmerizing, offering views across the crystal blue sea. In addition to the colorful coral reefs and the multitude of fish swarming the waters, Palau also offers mysterious forests and remote beaches. Many of the country’s reefs are no-fishing zones, an initiative that’s part of Palau’s commitment to preserving the natural landscapes. The Palau Project is also important for the country’s efforts of supporting ecotourism.

5. Norwegian Fjords

Ecotourism might not conjure up images of the cold Norway, but you might be surprised of the way sustainable traveling has influenced the country’s travel industry. The Norwegian Fjords are an exceptional example of an international destination for the eco-friendly traveler. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s initiative has even named Fjord Norway one of four pilot destinations according to the new criteria. In addition to the things people usually expect from sustainable locations, the local government also ensures the proper regulation of fishing, hunting and drilling for oil in the area.

6. Kerala – India

It’s countries like India that can make the most of the ecotourism trend. In the tiny state of Kerala, located on the southwestern coastal India, sandy beaches and wild forests are at home. Often referred to as “God’s Own Country,” Kerala is one of India’s most untouched areas, providing the natural habitat for hundreds of animal species and plant species. The Rajamala National Park provides protection to endangered animals, such as nilgiri tahr, the mountain goat. In an effort to reverse the excessive forest clearing that has threatened Kerala’s ecosystems in the past, the state’s forests now encourage eco-friendly traveling in the area.

7. The Amazon Rainforest

Climate change and damaging manmade activities have already scarred the Amazon, but some areas surrounding the deep forest want to change that. To that end, native people have become travel guides for the tourists. This environmental initiative is not just sustainable, but it also promotes the local trade and the overall health of the ecosystem.

8. Iceland

Iceland’s remote beauty lures more and more tourists in each year. One of the most recent top tourist destinations, this cold country holds the title of “The Cleanest Energy Consumer” worldwide. Instead of booking a room in a big hotel, you can join a camping site. Instead of driving, try biking, hiking, or horseback riding. Exploring Iceland can be a really fascinating adventure, and if you ever visit southern Iceland, make sure you book a room with the eco-friendly Eyrarbakki.

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David Knoch

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