Go “Green” on Your Next Vacation – Try an Eco-Tour!

1 July, 2015

Never been on an eco-tour? Last year in 2014 several million people went eco-touring, according to The International Ecotourism Society. If you like hiking, bicycling, kayaking, and nature, this type of holiday might be perfect for you. It’s a wonderful escape into the woods, the mountains, or a secluded beach far away from your high-rise work place.

The best eco-tour companies follow eco-friendly protocols that minimize the environmental impact of travel. The tours are kept to small groups of perhaps 10 – 12 travelers. The guides are often trained scientists or environmentalists. You might spend overnights in an eco-lodge or a campground. You might volunteer for a day on a local project to plant trees or protect wildlife.

Here are 5 popular country destinations and eco-tours:

Thailand

Here’s one unique option: learn how to create the best travel video and go snorkeling too! On this eco-tour, you will travel to Thailand and meet up with 2 highly experienced videographers who will lead your group. You will spend time in the forests of a national park seeking birds and animals to photograph and record on video. You will be taken to hidden lakes and caverns, and later you will stay at a beachside village. You will meet the local villagers and watch as the men spearfish for food and income. You get plenty of time also for snorkeling in the beautiful clear lagoon waters. Each day you receive tips on improving your videos, and the guides give you some fun challenges along the way. There’s even a Muay Thai fight demonstration to see before you leave. By the time you return home, you’ll have great travel videos and stories to share with your friends and co-workers. Tour provider: Original Trails. www.originaltrails.com

Thailand eco tour

India

The chance to see tigers and other animals in the wild is the highlight of this eco-tour. Here you will travel to India where your guide will escort you to national parks and tiger reserves deep inside the forests. You will stay in a “jungle lodge” and spend the days on safari as you learn about the natural habitat and enjoy sightings of birds and animals such as deer, antelope, bison, leopards, and tigers. Later in the week you will have the opportunity to canoe along rivers or see the jungle from atop an elephant! You will also be taken to see ancient cave paintings at a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tour provider: Chinkara Journeys. www.chinkarajourneys.com

India eco tour

Mongolia

If you want to feel like you’ve really been transported to a different place and time, go to Mongolia. This is a huge and sparsely populated country where some people still maintain the nomadic life known to their ancestors. Here you will be a guest in a Ger village, help families take care of their goats and camels, try your skills at horseback riding, or watch displays of falconry or archery. You will have the chance to explore the vast Gobi desert and see an exhibit of dinosaur bones and eggs found in the region. While trekking inside the deep gorges of a national park, your group might spot wild sheep or ibex standing atop a cliff above. Other local wild animals to see include muskrat, deer, foxes, eagles, and vultures. Your week will begin and end in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, where you can also visit a Buddhist monastery or shop for souvenirs to bring home. Tour provider: Amicus Mongolia. www.amicusmongolia.com

Mongolia eco tour

Tanzania

For those of you interested a more challenging and athletic adventure, consider traveling to Tanzania in East Africa where you can spend the week trekking inside Kilimanjaro National Park. Kilimanjaro is the tallest of any free standing mountain in the world (about 5.8 km in elevation). Your first day will include a meet up with your guide and porters and other travelers in the group, then an easy walk through a forested area with trees, streams, flowers and dense vegetation. The porters carry tents and food and other supplies, you will wear a day pack. Overnights are spent in pitched tents in the outdoors. Eventually the trail leads up the mountain and by Day 6 you will reach the icy peak, Uhuru, the highest point in the entire African continent. The descent back down Kilimanjaro is not as difficult, and you will arrive back at your basecamp by Day 7. This is one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences for those who are in good physical health and enjoy mountain hiking. Tour provider: Escape Trekking Adventures. www.escapetrekkingadventures.com

Tanzania eco tour

Greece

It seems everyone enjoys a trip to Greece, whether their fancy is to sail around the many islands or to simply chill out on a beach. On this eco-tour, you will participate in multiple activities, from hiking to bicycling, kayaking and snorkeling – oh yes, and horseback riding too! In the capital city of Athens, you will explore the ancient Acropolis temple and see other important historical landmarks. Later on your group will leave the peninsula for Naxos Island where you can ride your horse along pristine beaches or ride a mountain bike from one small village to the next. Finally you will hop over to the island of Santorini for kayaking, snorkeling, more cycling, and viewing of impressive sunsets. Wherever you venture, there are friendly people, delicious foods, and beautiful vistas. You’ll want to stay longer! Tour provider: Bike Hike Adventures. www.bikehike.com

Greece eco tour

These eco-tour companies offer tours in English and sometimes in other languages as well. Sometimes the tour packages include airline fees, but often they do not. Each and every company is a little bit different. It is a good idea to research their offerings thoroughly and to ask a lot of questions before booking a vacation.

The best way to learn more about the companies mentioned above and many others too is by online directory: try EcoTourLinQ. On this site you can search by country using the Search menu or by typing in the Search box. The resulting page will offer button links to specific eco-tour companies – click on any button and the eco-tour website will open in a new tab. www.EcoTourLinQ.com

Eco vacations go hand-in-hand with beautiful scenery and authentic local cultures. These provide ample photo-taking opportunities to capture potentially once-in-a-lifetime moments. If you are a trigger-happy photographer, perhaps you can consider signing up for data insurance. After all, it would be a huge blow to lose all those precious memories from your travels including photos and videos due to a computer crash, natural disaster, or a simple accident, so back it up to the cloud! We’ve teamed up with IDrive to offer all you readers a special 75% off the first year of their award winning cloud storage service. That’s 1TB of backup space for $14.88 for unlimited devices. Remember to sign up now!

Zhiqiang & Tingyi

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