In our Sustainable ecotourism research, we have delved into the tourism industry niche. Here we will highlight some of the best ecotourism activities and hotspots worldwide.
When we think ecotourism, we think blue waters, fun in the sun, and trekking through deep underbrush in the Peruvian jungles. But first, where did it all start, and what even is ecotourism?
What is Ecotourism?
The concept of ecotourism first popped up in the early 1980s. Originally the idea was relatively simple and straightforward – while on travels to new and exciting destinations, seek to learn about that destination while enjoying it without causing the excessive harm and damage that was apparent from other forms of travel (think scuba diving back in the days when people broke off pieces of coral to display in their homes.)
These days the definition of ecotourism is a bit broader and now unites conservation, communities and sustainable travel. As a responsible ecotourist, what you should you look out for in a travel company offering an ecotourism experience?
When heading out on your adventure, you should look for companies that offer travel that minimizes physical, social, behavioural and psychological impacts and that build not only environmental and cultural awareness and respect. They should also provide direct financial benefits for conservation, local people and private industry. And to top it all off, they should provide you, their guest, with a positive and memorable experience!
Now, that may sound like a tall order to fill, but we have done our research and below are the top ecotourism activities that we suggest.
Top Ecotourism Activities to Enjoy
· Hit the trails and go hiking!
Hiking is one of the most popular and common ecotourism activities. It is accessible in every country, and can often be done with only a map, no guide needed! Always remember to plot out your route, take plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks, and let someone know when to expect you to return. One of the most popular walking trails in the world is the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and you can also hike some of the largest canyons in the world, such as the Fish River Canyon in Namibia.
· Photographic safaris
While traditional safaris definitely have their lure, there is something truly special about a photographic safari. You will be guided by ace photographers who will teach you how to capture the beauty around, which could be the majesty of the great African plains, or the vibrant jubilation of the Carnival in Rio de Janerio!
· Paragliding / handgliding
These are two unpowered forms of flight – if you have ever wished to see the world from above, while silently gliding through the air as if on the wings of an eagle, these are two activities for you! There is nothing quite like paragliding above the Alps in Austria, silently enjoying the European countryside from above.
· Cycling holidays
What better way to get fit, experience local culture and cuisine and support local communities than renting a bicycle and setting out on a journey? Cycling holidays help you cover more ground than hiking or walking tours, and offer a unique way to view the countryside. Many are on offer worldwide, and a great place to start is in the Netherlands, there are many beautiful files of tulips, windmills and cafes to stop at, and of course it is the flattest country – no hills!
If you are a water baby, kayaking could be the ecotourism activity for you. There are options to kayak on open water such as dams, lakes and the ocean, or even white water such as the rapids of the Yukon river. This is a great activity that not allows for some wonderful sightseeing of mostly otherwise inaccessible spots, it also allows for tests of endurance should that be what you are looking for.
· Stand-Up Paddle boarding
Stand-Up paddle boarding is fairly new in ecotourism world, no engine is needed but yourself! It takes a bit of balance and getting used to, but once you are up and away you can explore various bodies of water – how about paddle boarding to the island in the middle of Lake Bled in Slovenia?
Whatever way you decide to participate in ecotourism, always remember the golden rule: “Take only photos, and leave only footprints.”