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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!

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Fogo Island Edge of the WorldAs our plane landed at St. John’s Airport in Newfoundland, we could hear the sound of joyful clapping and exhilarated Yahoo’s throughout the plane. That was a surprise to me because other than taking overseas flights to Athens, Greece (where it’s common to clap and make the sign of the cross for just about every blessing and gratitude you feel you have) I hadn’t heard anyone clap the crew for a safe landing in decades.

What we quickly found out was that for some passengers during our middle of July flight, it had taken three days to get back home to St. John’s from Toronto. "Welcome to St. John’s" said our flight attendant, "and for those who are coming home, you knew what you were getting into when you moved here!

ParenzanaViewTake the imagery of Tuscany (without the crowds) and combine it with a family-friendly biking and hiking trail that meanders through various villages offering comfortable accommodations and fantastic culinary delicacies, and you have Croatia's Parenzana Trail in a nutshell.

The 123 kilometer (approximately 77 mile) biking and hiking trail's history is quite comical. Originally built as a train rail line that transported goods and passengers throughout the region of Istria to and from the Italian port of Trieste, the slow train operated from 1902 to 1935.

Scotland BikingThis past summer, our European family vacation was dedicated to experiencing all things local. Whether it was touring a family-owned organic vineyard or seeing a cultural dance performance just outside of Dubrovnik in Croatia, spending a sun-drenched few days on the island of Hydra in Greece, or enjoying the spectacular Highland colors and absolutely delicious family-style meals at the Fraoch Lodge in Scotland, we wanted local and sustainable, and we wanted it to be the best.

So, when my nine-year-old son declared that of the many great experiences he had "Scotland was my favorite because (Fraoch) lodge felt like home", that was saying a lot!

Rock Farm Slane Communal AreaI had just landed in Dublin, after an overnight flight from Washington DC, on a sunny morning a few weeks ago and found myself once again caught in those beautiful in-between hours when the adrenaline for starting another sustainable journey kicks in and the complete exhaustion that I knew was going to set in during the late afternoon.

Well, I certainly made the best of those beautiful hours thanks to the help of Carina Mount Charles at Rock Farm Slane!

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  • Mary Mulvey
    Mary Mulvey says #
    Glad you got to experience one our our Gold members , a really great natural experience and all aspects of sustainabilty covered f

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.

Posted by on in Ecotourism Trip Reviews

It's always wonderful to visit family in Florida, but there is only so many theme parks one can explore before it becomes tiresome - for the adults and kids. That was why this Holiday Season, I decided to change things up and treat the entire family (ranging in ages from seven to 67 years young) to a kayaking trip through Everglades National Park. Throughout the entire four-hour experience, my seven-year-old son kept mouthing the word "sweet!", indicating that he was having a blast.

Posted by on in Ecotourism Trip Reviews

It’s actually a really cool concept! A bike that is equipped with a re-chargeable battery connected to a small and silent bike motor that helps you to traverse the rolling hills and, sometimes, steep terrain of Switzerland.

Posted by on in Ecotourism Trip Reviews

Dear Veracruz,

It’s been almost one month since I came home from your amazing State that stretches along the Gulf Coast like “the graceful tentacle of a sea creature” – and I’m still smiling.

I loved how the strong Mexican sun cascaded all over your lovely beaches, mountainous peaks and formidable rivers, and the even friendlier hospitality that permeated through all your people. I loved learning about your indigenous cultures as well as the infusion of Afro-Cuban and Spanish artistry, music, foods, bright colors, and traditions. More huachinango a la veracruzana, (red snapper in a spicy tomato sauce) por favor!

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  • Gaby Vega
    Gaby Vega says #
    Very nice, Irene. I was wondering how to make a posting distinctive since all blogs seem to be constrained to a certain graphic st
  • Irene Lane
    Irene Lane says #
    I very much appreciate your comments Gaby! To readers, if you want inside knowledge about surf and adventure tours in El Salvador

Our family visit to Poland earlier this month came about because we had the opportunity to attend the opening game of Euro 2012 (Poland versus Greece) in Warsaw. While it was a thrilling match (not just because I’m Greek and my husband is Polish) in a pretty city, I found Warsaw to be too austere for my taste and was happy to get on train south to Krakow for a different view of Polish life.

From the moment we stepped off the train in Krakow and within minutes, found ourselves walking down pedestrian-only Floriańska to the main market square (Rynek Główny), our family felt that we had just arrived in a very special place that not only had a long history - one look at the architecture alone tells this - but proud and deep cultural roots that were not going to succumb to commercialism anytime soon. That notion made my little ecotourism heart so happy!

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  • Matt
    Matt says #
    Matt
    I fully agree! Well, I had my stay in Krakow taken care of by an excellent and professional tour operator (DiscoverCracow: https:/
  • Anna
    Anna says #
    I found much cheaper company organizing all kind of tours, they have tickets point at Grodzka street and you can book also tours o

Posted by on in Ecotourism Trip Reviews

Last March, I had the pleasure of staying in three distinct green lodgings in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, which emphasized the city’s culture, history, diversity, and ecological sensitivity. Quito Turismo, the tourism office for the capital, sponsored my stay at a lovely trio of accommodations that was affordable, centrally located and comfortable.

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  • Meropi Kolokotroni
    Meropi Kolokotroni says #
    We stayed at Patio Andaluz during our trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. It is a lovely place with great people and very

The following guest post was written by Nick DiMatteo, who is the President & Founder of Nomadico Travel. By coincidence, we were both staying at the lovely Anahi Boutique Hotel in Quito for a couple of nights before heading into the Amazon Jungle and had a lovely time sharing our experiences in the city.

While I've already discussed my visit to Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, I wanted Nick to share the life-changing experience he and his family had while visiting the Huaorani community (in Central Ecuador).

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  • Wan Harris
    Wan Harris says #
    Community Ecotourism
    Dear Greenloons, My name is Harris and I am a second year University student from Malaysia. It has been an absolute treat reading
  • Irene Lane
    Irene Lane says #
    RE:Community Ecotourism
    Dear Mr. Harris, You may be interested to read this recent article about the closure of an eco-lodge due to oil drilling. We are

It was a surreal experience to visit the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve in Ecuador last March. Surreal because there was an emotional tug-of-war going on inside me to enjoy the ecological wonders of the area, while at the same time uphold the principles of ecotourism.

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  • Benjamin Taghavi-Awal
    Benjamin Taghavi-Awal says #
    One day Fair Travel | Ecuador will try to make the change you propose. Btw. The model is open source if interested to share or imp
  • Dr. D. Vreugdenhil
    Dr. D. Vreugdenhil says #
    It is sad to see how sometimes one's intentions are so thoroughly misunderstood. As a young scientists, I was part of the United N

This short video depicts the natural beauty of Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. Located in the northeastern part of Ecuador, near the border with Columbia, the relatively new national park contains rivers, swimming lagoons, and a floating forest. It is also abundant with life.

Last month, I spent five days in the Quito area of Ecuador and was enthralled by the region’s austerity, beauty, history and green mindset. Upon first glance, Quito’s topography is breathtaking - simply astounding! Over the course of my short stay, I visited many conservation-minded sites all within a 2 hour radius of Quito and was amazed at the diversity of culture and colors.

Like many of us during this time of year, I love taking the time to reflect on how well my plans compared to reality, and, more importantly, how grateful I am for the little surprises that came along the way in 2011. One such surprise was during our family trip to the small Aegean island of Alonissos, Greece.

When I first heard that this year’s Adventure Travel World Summit was to be held in Chiapas, Mexico in the small, colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas, frankly I was a bit nervous. I, along with everyone else, had been inundated with graphic and violent images of tourists, seemingly innocent civilians and other not-so-innocent people being killed and wondered whether it was worth traveling to Mexico right now.

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  • jenny kets
    jenny kets says #
    Cruising in Mexico is also a great way to see some of the wonderful sights. We can cruise along the Mexican Riviera, on the west c

Green is big. And, so is greenwashing! Last week, I participated in the Ecotourism & Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) that was held on Hilton Head Island. The conference was held at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa and it brought together hundreds of ecotourism business professionals, government officials and students to discuss ecotourism trends, business opportunities, and case studies.

I was rather excited to visit Hilton Head Island and this Westin in particular with its emphasis on wellness from the rooms to its surroundings to its restaurant menus. Although not a golfer, I thought it would be fun to explore the area, learn more about its history including the Gullah culture, and sample some great seafood and barbeque. What I didn’t expect was the blatant use of green marketing methods to confuse visitors into thinking they were being environmentally conscious.

Our last stop on our introductory tour through Costa Rica that included Finca Rosa Blanca and Pacuare Lodge, was San Jose, where the CST Level 4 certified Grano de Oro was grandly perched and waiting for our arrival. The Grano de Oro, which literally means “grain of gold” referring to the coffee bean and the effect it has had on the Costa Rican economy, is a small boutique eco hotel consisting of 21 rooms and a café restaurant.

If this is ecotourism, count me in! That was what my husband said after stepping off the inflatable raft we had been on for the last hour and a half. We had arrived at Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica and had been greeted by the manager with a big smile and an even bigger cup of hot chocolate – just in case the tepid water temperatures were too much for us northerners.

We were in the middle of the rainforest approximately 70 miles due east from San Jose and it was gorgeous scene. The Pacuare River is one of the Top 5 Rivers for whitewater rafting mostly due to its length, natural scenery and variety of class rapids. Almost every day, unless the water is too high, day trippers line up to tackle the six hour journey through Class II, III and IV rapids toward the Caribbean. But alongside those day trippers were a few of us couples and families who wanted the extra excitement of staying at the Pacuare Lodge.

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  • Henry A Villegas
    Henry A Villegas says #
    Dear Irene Lane, I love your web site and newsletter that I get every month from GreenLoons. Please consider my invitation for yo

Our first impressions of San Jose reminded us of the surrounding hills and valleys of the San Francisco Bay Area in California. My husband and I had just landed (via San Salvador) and the warm, moist air was a lovely change from a winter up north that just cannot seem to lose its grip on the Washington DC metro area. The next impression we had was that while we were most definitely in a developing country in Central America, the people are some of the friendliest, sincerest and well educated in the entire region.

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