At the end of April, we celebrate Earth Day to commemorate our support to protect the environment. And as responsible travelers, we should always be culturally aware of our effect on places we visit and try to make sure we leave every place with a positive effect. So, in honor of Earth Day, reduce your carbon footprint and consider traveling to these amazing green and eco-friendly destinations to not only experience diverse wildlife, but also to see some of the world’s most beautiful unspoiled places in the world.
Explore the last great wilderness on the planet! With an increase in melting sea ice, rising ocean levels, and rising ocean temperatures, now more than ever is an important time to consider a trip to Antarctica. Several companies, including cruise lines that offer special expedition cruises, are concerned about reducing their carbon footprint as much as the people who vigilantly fight to preserve and protect. In fact, travel companies must book pre-approved sites in advance to minimize the impact on the local environment. Experience Elephant Island, where 22 men from Sir Ernest Shackleton’s “Endurance” expedition were stranded for 135 days in 1915. Visitors can also visit Deception Island to see its resident penguins or take a dip in the thermally-heated waters of the dormant volcano. The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators is also instrumental in helping to keep the number of non-native species down.
The Amazon Rainforest
Outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers should consider visiting the Amazon Rainforest for a unique experience. This bucket list destination spans over 2 million square miles and across 9 different countries, making it the largest tropical rainforest in the world. It’s no surprise that eco-tourism is popular here, and most tour companies try to do their part to ensure they don’t leave too much of a footprint on this spectacular region. On your journey through the jungle, you may encounter the rainforest’s more than 2,000 different species of birds and animals, including macaws, tamarins, jaguars, anacondas, sloths and capybara. One of our expert travel advisors can help you plan an amazing cruise along the Amazon River and an extended vacation with accommodations at eco-friendly hotels or resorts. Your Amazon adventure awaits!
It’s no shock to most travelers that this Central American country made our list of eco-friendly destinations. Costa Rica is known for its diverse landscape, including its beautiful beaches, volcanoes, cloud forests and lush rainforests. This is a popular ecotourism spot because it has 51 wildlife refuges, 13 reserves, and 8 biological reserves. And about a quarter of Costa Rica is protected jungle, home to diverse wildlife such as the white-faced capuchin, ocelot, red-eyed tree frog and scarlet macaw. Canopy tours, whitewater rafting, nature hikes, horseback riding along the beach, birdwatching and volcano excursions to see volcanoes, like Arenal, are all reasons why adventurous nature lovers flock to this green-friendly country.
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Ecuador is home to more than 5,000 species of mammals, making it a hot destination for eco-tourists. Your trip itinerary wouldn’t be complete without arranging an excursion to the Galapagos Islands, a group of islands located to the west of the South American country. During his time in the area, world-renowned naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin observed how the animals isolated on the island had evolved into whole new species. Retrace his footsteps to see unique wildlife, including the blue-footed booby, short-finned pilot whale, pink land iguana, giant tortoise, lava lizards, and the Galapagos penguin and sea lion. An expert travel agent can arrange a trip to visit the first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over the years, Iceland has increased in popularity among travelers, especially to Americans who have more flight options to get to the readily accessible country. As one of the most environmentally-conscious countries in the world, Iceland utilizes its natural geothermal resources for heat and electricity, instills sustainable fishing practices, and continues to fight against ocean pollution. While you’re here, explore the awe-inspiring island known for its waterfalls, fjords, natural hot springs, cracked lava fields, geysers, whale watching cruises and amazing views of the Northern Lights. Pack a sturdy pair of boots. A Vacation travel agent can help you add an unforgettable glacier hiking excursion to your dream Iceland trip itinerary.
The jaw-dropping natural landscape of this country has become the star of several notable films, including Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings franchise. And that’s probably because to most visitors, New Zealand’s wilderness looks and feels untouched and unspoiled. Australia’s neighbor is also home to adventure travel, including fun outdoor activities such as bungy jumping off the Nevis, skydiving over the Bay of Plenty, rafting down the Tongariro River, exploring the spectacular Waitomo Caves, or rolling down a hill in a big plastic ball in Rotorua, renowned for its geothermal wonders. And from March to September, don’t miss seeing the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis in New Zealand! Watch the sky transform into surreal bursts of color.
Since 2005, Palau has revolutionized the way they approach development and tourism. Located in the western Pacific Ocean and a 3-hour flight from Manila, this series of more than 200 volcanic and coral islands has increased its standing as a green country by maintaining its coastlines and expanding its conservation areas. These island’s crystal clear water is teeming with marine life, making it perfect for snorkeling in its protected coral reefs – off limits to fishing. Relax on one of several of Palau’s pristine beaches or stay active with a dive into Jellyfish Lake, a major draw for most visitors.
Get ready to be amazed when you see firsthand the glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs, majestic mountain ranges and lush rolling hills that accounts for Patagonia’s natural beauty. Located in the southernmost regions in both Argentina and Chile, this naturally diverse and green destination is where you can experience walking with penguins, go whale watching and get up close and personal with guanacos, all in one trip! This is the perfect travel destination for travelers who enjoy being outdoors to take multi-day hikes, go glamping (luxury camping), or embark on a road trip through Patagonia’s unspoiled landscape. Be sure to have your travel agent add Torres del Paine National Park, Perito Moreno Glacier and Parque Nacional Los Glaciares to your trip itinerary.
In recent decades, Rwanda has become one of the cleanest and greenest countries not only in Africa, but in the world! The government has taken a proactive approach to sustainability, including banning plastic bags and adding a monthly nationwide cleanup day. And the tourism bureau has increased its efforts in attracting tourists who are as interested in protecting and improving the Rwandan environments as the locals are. Travel to Rwanda during the shorter dry season (December to February) to avoid the crowds and to fully enjoy the country’s amazing ecotourism locations, such as Mountain Gorillas of Volcanoes National Park – made famous by late primatologist Dian Fossey. Make the trek to scenic vistas at Lake Kivu to track Chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park or embark on a wildlife safari in Akagera National Park.
Tanzania and Chumbe Island
Another African country that made our list is Tanzania, world-famous for its safari locations, such as Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara National Park. Most people probably think of this country as a green country, but responsible tourism has become more and more popular here. For example, in the Serengeti, there are quite a few eco-friendly safari options in addition to conventional accommodations. An expert travel agent can help customize a trip for you to Tanzania. For an off-the-beaten track excursion, consider a trip to Chumbe Island, a Tanzanian island located off the coast of Zanzibar. It’s privately-owned by a nonprofit that specializes in marine life conservation and ecotourism. Only a small number of tourists are allowed on the island each year, and a tour package is recommended to spend time exploring the island’s historical monuments, hike the entire island, see its diverse wildlife, and snorkel in one of the world’s best preserved coral reefs.
Speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable eco-friendly vacation anywhere around the world. Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert travel agent, who can customize the dream trip itinerary that you deserve.