There are various times throughout the year when I make a conscious decision to unplug from the world and, instead, reconnect with myself and my natural surroundings. Ultimately, while I do feel balanced, once I endeavor to rejoin the greater world again, I also realize that I missed some interesting news stories along the way. One such story occurred last summer while I was in Greece. The story was about a traveler's touching moment with a polar bear who was trying to push away a cruise ship from its Arctic homeland.
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ecotourism Blog!
Welcome to the Greenloons Blog, your go-to ecotourism / sustainable / responsible (or whatever term you feel comfortable with) travel resource. Here, you will find eco travel destination profiles, environmentally friendly travel tips, ecotourism certification information, eco trip reviews and much more! Read, share and let us know your thoughts about ecotourism!
Irene is the founder & president of Greenloons. She is a dual EU citizen who has lived in 5 countries and visited 32 more in Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Europe. Drawing upon her professional and personal experiences to address authentic ecotourism from community, ecological and financial points of view, Irene is a frequent conference speaker, Huffington Post blogger and radio talk show guest.
Last year, our family traveled to Namibia with 600 other intrepid travelers for the annual Adventure Travel World Summit. Given Namibia's recent nod by the New York Times, as number 6 of the 52 Places to Go in 2014, we were not disappointed at all when witnessing amazing wildlife in the Kalahari Desert, staying in phenomenal lodges in Namib Desert, and learning about communal conservancies. By the same token though, we could not understand why, at every turn, tiny 8 ounce water bottles were distributed (and wasted), rather than the option to refill our reusable water containers with fresh water.
Earlier this year, our young son proclaimed to my husband and me that he knew we were Santa Claus. Gone for good were the days of writing letters to Santa, phone calls to Santa if he was behaving badly, discretely hiding presents in various closets, and laying out cookies and milk on the 'Big Night'.
While a part of me was crushed that he had lost a bit of innocence, I felt compelled to introduce more simple Christmas traditions – ones that would negate the need for far too many presents and instead evoke relaxed family memories. The idea was visit the Christmas Markets of Munich, Salzburg and Vienna and even though it had been more than 35 years since I had been to these markets, for me, they were the same as I had remembered.
The term "Noah's Ark" can conjure up many images. For some, it's a biblical reference set in modern day Turkey. For others, it's traveling through the lush landscapes of southern Africa while on safari. For Australians though, the term invokes a call to action to protect the endangered species that call Tasmania home.
Tasmania's strikingly picturesque land - with its nature reserves, beaches, clear waters, glacial remnants and World Heritage Sites – provides the perfect ecosystem for migrating blue and humpback whales, kangaroos, southern elephant seals, wedge-tailed eagles, albatrosses, petrels, skinks, wombats, the threatened subarctic fur seal, and, of course, the famed Tasmanian devil.
We live in a fast-paced world where compromises are a reality. Specifically in the world of sustainable travel, some guiding companies or green hotels compromise for the sake of profit while others compromise for the sake of making others (such as customers, employees, or even the community members) happy. So, three years ago, when I began hearing about the mission and vision for the Fogo Island Inn, I was rooting for its visionary, Zita Cobb, to construct an Inn that would triangulate sustainability with community cultural sensitivity and original, artistic design. Well, they did it!
Last month, our family had the pleasure of attending an authentic Braai (barbeque) in the beautiful Parliament Gardens of Namibia's capital, Windhoek. There were tribal groups who were performing traditional dances and displaying their artistic crafts in addition to a vast buffet of food and drink. To top it off, we were graced with the presence of President Pohamba.
It was our family's first trip to Africa last month, but after just a few days of traveling through Southern Namibia, we quickly realized that it would not be our last to this amazing continent. We simply fell in love with the spectacle of color (all shades of our son's favorite color red), wildlife, culture and song. While this one minute video does not do the country true justice, it features our experience through the southern regions of the Kalahari Desert, Fish River Canyon, Aus and Namib Desert.
The countdown has begun! One month from today, our family will be setting off to Namibia for an authentic African safari!! Given all the questions we've received about Namibia, I thought it would be interesting to post this infographic from 'My Destination' that takes a look at then of the most interesting facts about country, including that it is home to the biggest single piece of meteor on Earth and that its total land mass is equal to the combined total land mass of Spain and Germany.
This month, there's a flurry of green living festivals in Washington DC that highlight options for energy efficiency, renewable energy, zero-waste and gardening as well as local bike tours and sustainable travel. With lots of exhibitors, panel discussions and fun for the kids, these festivals make green living downright stylish!
Recently, a friend asked about the inherent value in knowing one's carbon emissions rate. She was not being callous in asking the question as much as frustrated by a lack of understanding about carbon emissions and how to evaluate carbon offsetting schemes.
Short of growing or raising her own food sources, using bicycles as her only mode of transport, employing solar power for all her electrical needs, buying only gently used clothing, and vacationing in her backyard, all she felt was constant guilt for living her life and doing what she loved to do – travel! So, let's put things into perspective.
The origins of EarthCheck date back to 1997 when the Australian government created the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC) in order to produce science based research about sustainability in the travel industry. In the ensuing decade, the STCRC focused on helping tourism businesses and organizations benchmark and enhance their triple bottom line first for the Green Globe certification and then under its own brand, EarthCheck.
Of all the eco-certifications available to guiding companies and accommodations worldwide, Biosphere is the only one to have been Approved (versus Recognized) by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council as having an independently verified process that is reliable, transparent and aligned with the universally accepted criteria for sustainable tourism.
Formulated by social responsibility experts in the tourism industry, universities, political realm, environmental policy and development organizations, TourCert awards certifications to organizations that specify how their business activities impact social and ecological programs.
Quite often, I am asked to describe the typical Greenloons travel experience with respect to how our trips promote sustainability for communities, the environment and for travelers. It's always a pleasure for me to give examples, and the latest is no exception.
Even though embarking on a multiday trek is the preferred way to arrive at Machu Picchu, I had just a couple of days in Cusco before heading to the Peruvian Amazon, so I opted instead to take the train/bus there. I am so glad I did because the Vistadome train ride was quite fun and entertaining – complete with views, educational information and, on the way back from Machu Picchu, a dance and fashion show that can only be described as unique.
As part of our continuing series of Ecotourism Industry Profiles where we discuss the issues surrounding the triple bottom line and, more recently, the actual return on investment (ROI) that businesses realize as a result of implementing sustainable operations, we profile Steve Macfarlane, owner of the Glenuig Inn.
It’s that time of year where thoughts turn to summer camps, festivals and vacations.
Summertime has always been a great occasion for families to relax, reconnect and (re)discover historical sites, cultural traditions and natural wonders. Fortunately, the United States has a wide variety of nature and wildlife focused activities that spotlight the country’s diversity of flora and fauna.
Have you ever visited a foreign country that immediately felt like 'home' to you? Of course, the scenery, cultural customs, accents and food are all different than what you know. But, instead you experience a strange stirring of familiarity and comfort. I felt that way when traveling through Scotland last month – with the added benefit of sensing that time had slowed down for just a few days.
So many of us are on the hunt for bargains - whether they be food, furnishings or travel bargains. For the extra money saved, some of us will drive an extra 30 minutes to get to the store, overlook the lack of quality, and in the case of sustainable travel even miss what makes a region unique. However, did you know that if every family in the United States spent an extra $10 a month at a locally-owned, independent store (or B&B accommodation) rather than a national chain, it would put back over $9.3 Billion to the economy?
After about 10 years of saying to each other 'I want to go there', my husband and I finally had a chance to visit Istanbul, Turkey a few weeks ago. While it's not a city that even claims to be sustainable or green-minded, the historical treasures of Istanbul are worth a visit perhaps in combination with a sailing or cycling trip along the coast.
I'm not sure any guidebook can fully prepare a person for the colors, sounds, tastes, smells and sheer diversity of collectibles offered while walking through the labyrinth (and archeological marvel) that is the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar of Istanbul, Turkey. For me, it was as I had imagined it to be and more.
One of our eco-certified partners, EcoCamp Patagonia, has just produced its first infographic about the famed W Trek through Torres del Paine and we wanted to share it with our readers to give you a better sense of 7 day trekking experience.
It is downright tough to plan an extraordinary family vacation these days. Assuming you find a convenient time on the busy family calendar, you have to be conscious about activity and meal preferences -- as well as your budget.
Tying in the aspiration that the vacation be educational or experiential may overwhelm the planning process altogether. However, that need not be the case with these four vacation planning tips.
When I first read this infographic on water usage from Loch Ness Water Gardens, I was amazed at how many gallons of water it took to produce one glass of orange juice (45 gallons) or just one egg (53 gallons). It got me thinking that from a sustainable travel point of view, as healthy and fresh water becomes more scarce in many parts of the world, it would be relatively easy for me to forgo certain foods while traveling. What do you think? What would you try giving up during your travels?
Tourism is the largest industry in the world and, as such, has the power to (positively or negatively) change lives and impact communities. Along with that, Greenloons has consistently advocated the values of authentic ecotourism, namely, sustainable or responsible tourism activities that uphold community: