It’s no secret that our beloved Earth is suffering more than ever before. Global temperatures are up 1.5 degrees. 1 million species are at risk of extinction. And the whole of Australia was practically on fire earlier this year.
But it’s not all bad news! More people are increasingly aware of the impact of their choices, and travel is no different. Sustainable and eco-tourism are a growing trend in the travel industry.
No, this doesn’t mean you have to Greta Thunberg it and travel by boat to your next holiday destination. There are plenty of incredible travel experiences that preserve the environment and empower local communities while giving you a much-needed break.
Here are 10 sustainable experiences around the world you can feel good about doing.
Support local farmers on a Caribbean Cocoa Estate
Nestled in the sun-dappled cocoa groves of Saint Lucia’s oldest plantation, you can sleep, eat and breathe cocoa at Hotel Chocolat. Owned and operated by the renowned chocolatiers, the farm has developed a blueprint for sustainable cocoa growing. They teach locals best farming practices like planting, pruning, harvesting, fertilising and disease management, all to improve productivity.
A visit to this working cocoa estate gives you the opportunity to discover the full lifecycle of chocolate from the cocoa-growing process with a ‘tree to bean tour’ followed by a ‘bean to bar’ tour. You’ll learn to make your own chocolate bar, guided by the local farmers, using their homegrown cocoa.
Go on an eco-safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya
If you want to escape the ordinary and feel that rare magic of an authentic encounter with a place and a culture, The Maasai Mara is unbeatable. An African Safari is a bucket list experience, but who knows how long the wild will stay wild?
While it’s no secret that poaching is one of African wildlife’s greatest threats, The Maasai Mara is leading the charge when it comes to sustainable tourism. They have managed to find the balance between tourists, locals and conservation. The region has been pioneering in providing alternative employment to poaching to ensure that local wildlife is protected. In choosing an eco-safari, you’ll have peace of mind that local communities, the environment and wildlife are all living in harmony.
Walk in Darwin’s footsteps at the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are best known as the archipelago of inspiration for Darwin’s masterpiece, ‘The Origin of Species’. Dense with wildlife, the island features stark volcanic formations, cactus-deserts, lush green highlands and pristine beaches.
For the first time ever you can venture behind the scenes at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Lauded for its aid in conservation, restoration and sustainable development, you’ll be able to view The Natural History Collections in private. Get up close and personal with specimens that have been preserved for the study of biodiversity and speciation.
Eat sustainably at Silo, London
Silo is Britain’s first zero-waste restaurant. The food is local and sustainable, fixtures and fittings are up-cycled, everything is composted, and bills are emailed rather than printed.
Conceived with the desire to produce creative, innovative dishes while demonstrating respect for the environment and community, most produce is either grown on-site or in co-operation with local growers. Enjoy a delicious five-course tasting menu, choosing either “Omni” or “Plant” offerings. This will be both a meal to savour and an experience you can feel good about.
Go Gorilla Tracking in Uganda
Gorilla tracking is one of the planet’s ultimate wildlife experiences. The opportunity to
sit among the apes and experience the intensity of their searching, intelligent eyes, is unfathomable.
The privilege of observing these extraordinary primates up close has facilitated the conservation and protection of the biome. The economic benefits derived from gorilla tourism are ploughed back into the local communities. It helps safeguard the land against alternative uses such as agriculture, deforestation, and urbanization.
Unwind at a minimalist eco-lodge in Norway
Juvet is a hotel where the concept of sustainability stretches beyond the classic criteria of using renewable materials and reducing energy consumption. Located near the West Norwejian Fjords, the architects decided to design a space to complement nature, rather than impose on it.
The minimalist buildings made of pine and glass are built into the surroundings and
make no change to the terrain. The simple and striking architecture creates a sense that you are outside while protected within.
All meals are ethically created from seasonal ingredients and are served in a lovingly restored old barn, while the dark concrete spa featuring an outdoor hot tub is carved into the land. Offering tranquillity like no other, this perfect place to get away and appreciate nature’s beauty from within.
Preserve the beauty of Costa Rica’s rainforests
The rainforests of Costa Rica are amongst the most precious natural wonders of the world. Costa Ricans are raised with the understanding that forests are vital for the health of the planet. A stay at the Cayuga Collection’s eco-lodges will help instil this ethos.
The group is committed to environmental sustainability and the protection of the rainforest. They work to inspire authentic and rewarding adventures with minimal intrusion to tropical ecosystems. Now you can confidently add discovering Central America’s rainforests to your bucket list – without feeling bad.
Kick back in a treehouse in the Amazon Rainforest
Delve deep into the Peruvian Amazon and get back-to-nature with an eco-friendly treehouse stay. Set high up in the jungle canopy, the treehouses are all built from local materials. They’re completely open to the elements, so that you’re within touching distance of the Amazon.
These lodges are committed to making a real difference by providing the local communities with clothing, medicine and clean drinking water. With a plethora of eco-friendly activities to enjoy, a visit to the basin also contributes to the preservation of the region’s rich biodiversity.
Save the bees by drinking honey beer
Hiver honey beer is sustainability and creativity combined. The idea was inspired by the vast array of honey produced in London. The number of beehives in London has soared in recent years, following news that global bee numbers were in rapid decline.
Hiver continues to pay homage to London’s urban beekeepers, with 10% of its profits going to pollination charities. Bees and beer – we can agree that’ll give you a buzz.
Track jaguars with conservationists in Brazil
Led by local conservationists, track the elusive wild jaguar in The Brazillian Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland region. Tracking the jaguar is an important part of the big cat’s survival. This is not just a thrilling experience, tracking is the most natural way of protecting the jaguar’s way of life. By helping the local conservationists ‘keep track’ of their movements, migrations and habits, you can ensure the jaguar continues to thrive.
This experience gives you an authentic insight into the Pantanal way of life. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to discover the region’s biodiversity and protect it.
It’s often hard to find an experience that puts sustainability first, but these 10 ideas are proof that it can be done. Keep in mind that making thoughtful choices about how, when, and what you do can make a significant difference to protecting our planet.
Written by Kimberleigh Tessendorf
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- Support local farmers on a Caribbean Cocoa Estate
- Go on an eco-safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya
- Walk in Darwin’s footsteps at the Galapagos Islands
- Eat sustainably at Silo, London
- Go Gorilla Tracking in Uganda
- Unwind at a minimalist eco-lodge in Norway
- Preserve the beauty of Costa Rica’s rainforests
- Kick back in a treehouse in the Amazon Rainforest
- Save the bees by drinking honey beer
- Track jaguars with conservationists in Brazil