I’m constantly being asked What’s the best eco destination? and my answer is always It’s the destination that has placed emphasis on tourism that benefits local communities.
Thankfully, unlike a decade ago, there are more examples of communities stakeholders that are banding together to discuss sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, youth education, as well as cultural and heritage preservation activities. So, for those of you who have placed travel high on your list of 2018 resolutions, here are 8 of our new favorite ecotourism experiences.
Bolivia is not a country necessarily known for its biodiversity, but a very successful sustainable project has been the Chalalan ecolodge. The lodge is managed and staffed entirely by the local Quechua-Tacana community, attracting 1,000 tourists annually and turning over a healthy US $25,000 profit. Of this 50% goes to pay the wages of 74 indigenous community families working with the lodge, and 50% provides health and education services for the local community.
Check out our new Bolivia Family Adventure
Bulgaria has a rich history given that it is at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. An ecotourism model for collaborative management of natural resources has been developed by the government and implemented with ethnic minorities, municipal governments, and private sector through parks focused on the sustainable harvesting of non-timber, wild renewable natural resources.
Check out our Bulgarian Wildlife Adventure
Croatia (Istria) is the place to be if you are looking for an alternative active vacation. For example, the Istria Outdoor project unites cycling/hiking with accommodation, fine wining and dining. Detailed maps of the trails are available easily and you can ride your bicycle (as we did) through lovely small villages, forests, vineyards, over hills and by the sea enjoying the scenery, the sun, and the fresh air.
Check out our Croatia & Slovenia Family Adventure
Nicaragua‘s landscape of lakes and volcanoes, lush rainforests, and deserted beaches are an ecotourist’s paradise. With 76 protected areas covering over 20% of its landmass, it (perhaps surprising to most readers) outstrips its more popular neighbor for ecotourism, Costa Rica.
Check out our Nicaragua Family Adventure
Crete is on our list in no small part due to our recent culinary experience, Crete has fast become the darling of ecotourism in the Mediterranean. Blessed with agritourism, history, and beaches, the industry is helping to revitalize small villages all over the island. Young people from Athens and other major cities across Greece are flocking here for the opportunity to open their own sustainably-focused businesses.
Check out our Crete Culinary Tour
South Africa has since the 1990s, experienced a general shift towards more aggressive measures in environmental conservation, and adopted practices that emphasize low-impact activities that leave attractions in a pristine state. Ecotourism has slowly grown from an abstract concept to a more niche-driven market that attracts both repeat visitors and new ones.
One such program is our new South Africa Eco-Ranger Experience
The Ecuadorian Andes have offered a nice complement to the more popular Galapagos Islands, and for those who dare to add some more vacation days, they will not be disappointed with the Andes. Filled with environmentally conscious, culturally respectful, and adventuresome activities, visitors will quickly realize the applicability of the Andean community-based ecotourism efforts may perhaps work within their own regions.
Check out our new Andes Family Adventure
Chilean Patagonia, thanks to government initiatives, has well understood the potential and long-term benefits of ecotourism on its economy. Birding tours especially have added a new dimension to the already popular destination of Patagonia.
Check out our new Youth Birding Patagonia Program