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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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It's amazing how travel can inspire that moment of clarity for a young child where s/he understands a bit more about their world! That's what happened to our son during a recent trip to Rome, Italy when he suddenly realized the technical contributions made by the Romans (and Greeks).

One of the bona fide signs of spring in the Washington DC area is the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  Commemorating this lovely gift from Japan, there are art shows, concerts, tea and sake tastings, bike tours, cruises, food tours and photo safaris – and along with that, there's traffic!  Lots and lots of traffic! For proactive green travelers heading to the festival, here's how you can lower your impact.

Blizzard Wikipedia CommonsIt's been quite a winter! Last week alone saw a huge ice storm in the southeastern US, impressive snowstorms elsewhere in the country, a rare heavy snowfall in Tokyo, and in London, after the wettest January on record since 1766, the Thames River burst its banks causing massive flooding throughout the region. Here's what you can do if you're faced with weather disruptions during your vacation.

No doubt, you've seen interesting and wonderful photos of the Himba women of Namibia.  Their skin and hair that are completely covered in a reddish hue, the lack of clothing apart from a loin cloth, and their beautifully braided hair covered in ash and jewelry intended to convey social status. 

It's enough to make my head spin with anticipation! Today, more than half the world's population lives in cities and they are projected to add 274,000 people every day for the next 30 years.

According to organizations like the Earth Day Network (which is making Green Cities its Earth Day theme for 2014) and World Resources Institute (labeling Green Cities as one of the stories to watch for 2014), the real opportunity may be for cities to improve energy efficiency, invest in renewable energy, and implement green building practices.  In effect, large urban populations could serve as the perfect proving ground for technologies that dramatically increase air and water quality as well as expand green schools, public transport options, farmer's markets, and green spaces – perhaps even increasing the development of green vacation packages.

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.

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.

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  • Greenloons
    Greenloons says #
    Noah's ark really conjures now a new image. Nice description. I felt a strong desire to visit this area in Tasmania.

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!

As our bus driver expertly weaved around the bends and curves of the Tuscan countryside in Italy, I found myself totally transfixed by the rolling hills that surrounded us. Looking out, I felt that the scenery was almost too beautiful, that if I blinked I would suddenly wake up back in my bed in New Jersey. But there I was, in the heart of Tuscany, backpack at the ready and best friend at my side. Our decade dream of backpacking through Europe during our college years was coming true, and we were finally at the Italian portion of our journey.

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  • Greenloons
    Greenloons says #
    This sounds fantastic, thank you so much for sharing your experience...I am currently researching vineyards that would offer volun
  • Leela Krishna
    Leela Krishna says #
    Hey!, I am Leela Krishna, a student from India. Presently pursuing baccalauréat international (12th grade).I have been doing organ

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.

Posted by on in South America Ecotourism

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.

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.

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