7 eco-travel destinations

Date Posted: 07/08/2014

Pictured: New Zealand (Photo credit: Chris McLennan).

Seven eco-friendly destinations where your travels can make a positive difference to local people and conservation efforts.

1.    New Zealand

An adrenalin-fuelled outdoor playground, New Zealand makes nationwide efforts to use tourism to make it a better place to live and visit.

Mountains, trimmed by glaciers roll into staggering coastlines and lush forests offer plentiful walking and hiking trails.

On the ‘New Zealand adventure holiday’ you can experience activities including hiking, glacier walking and jet boating, travelling from the waterfront city of Auckland to the southern Alps.

As part of the commitment to responsible tourism, responsibletravel.com works closely with local operators to run this trip in a way that aims to reduce detrimental impacts and to give as much back as possible to the local communities.

Carbon footprint and environmental impact are minimised by restricting group size, using fuel efficient vehicles and minimising the use of vehicles and aircraft.

A ‘leave no trace’ policy is also adhered to whereby nothing is left behind except footsteps.

2.     Bonito, Brazil

This so-called wonderland of caves with lakes and impressive stalactite formations, crystal clear water, mountains and forests is little known outside Brazil, but has an enterprising and innovative approach to sustainable tourism.

Located in the south-western area of Mato Grosso do Sul, you can snorkel through its kaleidoscopic caverns and marvel at its wildlife whilst also helping to protect them for generations to come.

3.    Cape Town, South Africa

Vibrant and diverse, South Africa’s culture is often an afterthought to its animals.

Cape Town offers a complex combination of history and modernity, culture and scenery as well as innovative, informative township tourism projects.

On the ‘South Africa wildlife and culture holiday’, groups will travel from Cape Town to the small town of Swellendam and the world’s ostrich capital, Oudtshoorn.

Pictured: Cape Town (Photo credit: Cape Town Tourism).

Whilst in Cape Town, you will go on a township tour to Khayelitsha with an experienced local guide where you will meet with locals, try traditional beer, visit the meat market and you can even try a local delicacy, ‘smiley’ (sheep head).

Most of the accommodation properties on the trip are involved in the empowerment of their communities and have received a Fair Trade Tourism certification.

4.    The New Forest National Park, UK

Tucked away on the south coast of the UK, this family-friendly area of 900-year old woodland is brimming with walking trails, quaint villages and ubiquitous New Forest ponies. Excellent bus connections and gentle cycling routes makes it easy to go car-free.

The New Forest bus tour operates during late June through to early September which is a great way of seeing the forest without needing a car and reduces traffic associated with tourism.

There are plenty of small B&Bs, hotels and self-catering options. You could choose to camp at Aldridge Hill Campsite near Brockenhurst which is a member of the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

The site has also been presented with a Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award for actively protecting plant and animal habitats and its efficient use of energy and recycling.

5.    St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Isolated St Kilda, in the remotest part of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides may not be the top of everyone’s travel bucket list, but these tiny islands are the UK’s only dual UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognised for both its natural and unique cultural significance.

A seven day wildlife cruise will get you up close and personal with the islands’ sea-birds and marine life.

St.Kilda is a haven for 210 different species of birds and while at sea and onshore you will see many different types of wildlife with excellent chances of spotting whales, dolphins, sea eagles and golden eagles.

Pictured: St Kilda (Photo credit: National Trust for Scotland).

Exploring the Hebrides in a group by boat is much better for the environment than travelling by car, and in fact it’s a much quicker and easier way to get to the remote islands.

6.    The Lake District National Park, UK

Renowned for its jaw-dropping scenery, beautiful lakes and enough outdoor activities to keep adventurers of all ages happy, the Lake District National Park offers a real retreat into nature.

And with so many of its tourism businesses partnering with conservation organisations, a stay here really does contribute to its preservation.

The ‘Cumbria Way walking holiday’ for example, begins at Ulverston and is an 82-mile walking trail through the scenery of the Lake District, ending in Carlisle.

Whilst walking on the Cumbria Way you will be able to fully appreciate the beauty of the national park as well as reduce road congestion.

The local authority encourages people to visit the area on foot or by public transport in line with its desire to encourage sustainable tourism.

7.    Tobago, Caribbean

A world away from the all-inclusive resorts, feel the rhythm of the real Caribbean in Tobago. It’s claimed nowhere else in the Caribbean offers such a diversity of wildlife and habitats in such a compact area.

You can try 16-day ‘Trinidad & Tobago nature tour’ for forest forays and snorkelling where you can watch thousands of the Scarlet Ibis bird flock home to roost and on the remote beaches, see giant Leatherback turtles return to lay their eggs.

During this trip you will be based at three different properties, all of which are located in rural areas close to the local communities. These hotels are the main source of employment for the nearby villages. Here, the turtles come first and this is now an important conservation area, which tourism is helping to preserve.

This list of group holiday ideas and inspiration was compiled by ethical travel agent responsibletravel.com.

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