Although city breaks have much to offer in the way of culture and nightlife, if you’re in the mood for something different you may want to consider getting out into the great outdoors. The world’s truly wild spots may be dwindling, but there are still expanses of earthy jungles and desolate deserts to explore. Visiting these fragile ecosystems carries with it some ethical responsibility, however. Tourists are drawn to beautiful places due to their remote nature, yet may leave their footprint behind and damage delicate environments. The best destinations for ecotourism will not only offer unforgettable views and close encounters with wild animals, but will also be well managed to reduce any potential damage.
One of the primary destinations for eco-minded tourists around the world is Costa Rica. This small Central American country has it all, from its legendary black sand beaches to its mysterious cloud forests and hot springs. Native residents include sea turtles, sloths, and jaguars, all of whom are well protected by Costa Rica’s system of wildlife refuges. There are numerous eco-friendly resorts and green hotels to choose from, reducing your impact on this magical natural enclave.
A remote island nation located in the outer stretches of Micronesia, Palau is famous for its vibrant coral habitats. In the warm, crystalline areas just off the coast you can spot over 500 species of unique coral, along with over 1,400 varieties of fish. Many of these fish are rare or endangered, having taken up residence here due to Palau’s strict no-fishing zones. The Palau Conservation Society helps manage this ecosystem to ensure that tourism and the local fishing industry doesn’t take its toll.
With low rates of pollution and wide stretches of unspoiled wilderness, Alaska offers truly spectacular scenery for visitors. You can view animals like moose, bears, and wolves in their natural habitat and get up close and personal with looming mountain environments. The sparse population and relatively low tourist numbers promise to help keep Alaska wild.
Although it’s often associated with its broad savannahs and safaris, Kenya is a startlingly diverse nation featuring white sandy beaches, coral reefs, and snow-capped mountains. This makes it a veritable wonderland for eco-tourists, who are also drawn by low cost flights from Europe. The migration of the wildebeests each summer is one of the world’s most fascinating sights, while the virgin rain forests are teeming with rare animal life. Many of these delicate environments are well protected by the local government and the Ecotourism Kenya organization. Start off your trip in a nice hotel or resort in Mombasa before heading out into the countryside.
Thailand’s breath-taking beaches and wild jungles have led to an influx of Western tourists in recent years. The logging industry and high volumes of visitors have wreaked havoc on some natural areas of this formerly pristine country. Fortunately, there are now a number of tour companies specializing in sustainable travel that have taken up residence here. Many of these are located in the North Eastern region of Thailand, where the wilderness is still intact. These sustainable tour companies offer responsible trekking, wildlife safaris, and stays with local villagers to improve the economy.