Check out these eco-friendly hotspots—places where your presence won’t ruin the environment or local culture—as picked out by travel experts
IF YOU really want to relax on a holiday, you might consider picking a destination that is eco-friendly—places where you can explore and indulge guilt-free, knowing that your presence isn’t helping to ruin the environment or local culture, reports Daily Mail. To help direct tourists towards these greener countries, eco-waste specialists Litterbins enlisted the help of travel experts from companies such as Boundless Journeys and Adventure Life, who picked out the places making the most effort to look after planet earth. Here are some of them…
Costa Rica is blessed with spectacular natural beauty and an incredible array of wildlife and plants, but it’s also known for its design and eco-conscious boutique hotels. It is, in large part, helped by the country’s sustainability policy, which relies on the abundance of electricity from hydro-electric dams—a clean energy source that currently generates around 75% of the nation’s power needs.
The Galapagos Islands, located over 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, are completely cut off from the rest of the world. Around 90% of the islands are designated as national parks, which means their fragile ecosystems are always protected from damage. Part of this has been to restrict the number of visitors allowed on to the islands and to encourage the tour operators to reduce the impact of tourism activities by recycling and conserving water and energy.
Borneo, Malaysia, is still evolving as a destination and, frankly, they need more visitors interested in nature to preserve their forests. Part of the attraction is its wild and untamed nature, which attracts low-impact tourism. This, for example, could take the shape of small, eco-conscious tour groups that stay with the locals—a way to inject money into the local economy.
Machu Picchu is perhaps the biggest attraction for tourists heading to Peru—aside from its culinary offering. But part of what makes Peru unique is its floral and fauna. Of the 25,000 or so plant species in the country, around 30% cannot be found anywhere else. It’s a fact that the country’s celebrity chefs—like Virgilio Martinez at Central—take advantage of working with locals to cultivate the lesser-known ingredients, as well as researching and protecting their heritage.
Split between Chile and Argentina, Patagonia offers some breathtaking scenery of glaciers, lakes and snow-capped mountains. Its Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most unspoilt places on earth and has been designated a Unesco biosphere reserve. There’s perhaps no better way to explore the region than by trekking or on horseback.
Bhutan is a tiny kingdom that’s also one of the least visited countries in the world. As per Matt Holmes of Boundless Journeys, the country has developed their tourism slowly and deliberately, with serious attention to preserving their natural resources and protecting their culture. Part of this is to impose a set tourism tax that goes back to the communities through the employment of local guides or staying with local families, for example. Aside from immersing yourself in the culture of the land, it’s also worth seeking out some of the wildlife in its many conservation areas.
Slovenia is often overlooked as a tourism destination, but it has plenty of green credentials. In fact, its capital, Ljubljana, was voted the European Green Capital for 2016. It claims to be the first European city to move towards zero waste and part of that is to install special bins that charge users as per how much waste is disposed. It also has city buses that run on natural gas, an urban electric train and 46% of the land within the city boundary is indigenous woodland, as per the ‘Green Capital’ website.
Botswana & Zambia
Botswana and Zambia offer some of the best wildlife watching opportunities in Africa and many of the lodges offering safari experiences are very conscious about conservation in the region. As well as protecting the animals in the region, the reserves also create jobs for the locals. Tsodilo Hills in Botswana is also where you will find ancient rock paintings and meet its Bushmen.
In New Zealand, you’ll find everything from glaciers and fjords to volcanic plateaus and subtropical forests. And, as 20% of the country is made up of national parks, its natural landscapes are protected from the damages of mass tourism. The waters around New Zealand also offer visitors opportunities for whale- and dolphin-watching. But if you’re looking for a deeper connection, don’t leave without exploring the country’s Maori culture.
Vietnam has a rich and colourful history that has deeply influenced its culture and food. While the Mekong River cruise might be one of the most popular ways to explore the country, there is also great potential for eco-tourism elsewhere. Right now, the country has protected national parks, incredible coral reefs and one of the largest lagoons in the world. However, there is still room for eco-tourism to develop as the country evolves.