With Earth Day right around the corner on April 22, environmentally conscious travelers abide by the guiding principle to “Take only photographs and leave only footprints.”
Today, it’s easier than ever to combine “going green” with just about any journey, whether it is for business or pleasure. As interest increases in sustainable tourism, more travel agents are imparting their considerable knowledge on to their clients, helping them plan trips to some truly magnificent destinations at home and around the world, without sacrificing their desire to safeguard our planet for generations to come. Of course, reusing towels at your hotel and taking public transportation whenever possible are two great ways to conserve precious resources. But planning for a green vacation starts even before you leave, by looking for ecologically sustainable products for personal use, such as makeup, insect repellent and even luggage made from recycled materials.
Eco-conscious travelers can ask our staff to book their flights on aircraft that have less of an environmental impact. For example, the Boeing 787 uses less fuel than other similarly sized planes, offers quieter takeoffs and landings that help reduce noise pollution and is made primarily of carbon-fiber composite material, which generates less waste in the manufacturing process. Wherever you go, your travel agent will help you find environmentally friendly accommodations, including luxury properties.
Two countries that have been at the forefront of ecotourism are the Central American nation of Costa Rica and the East African country of Tanzania.
Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world with numerous ways to experience its natural beauty, from horseback riding to bird watching to hiking in the rain forest, to spotting nesting sea turtles at Tortuguero National Park.
Tanzania’s protected areas are home to abundant wildlife including lions, giraffes and elephants that can be spotted in places like Serengeti National Park. It’s important to mention that hotels and resorts on every continent are striving to be more ecologically sound and energy efficient. In the Chyulu Hills of Kenya, luxury treetop lodges use environmentally friendly solar energy, water-conservation methods and work in cooperation with the local Maasai people to protect wildlife and offer an unforgettable safari experience.
Torres del Paine National Park, in the Patagonia region of Chile, is a place of soaring mountains, icebergs and grasslands that shelter rare wildlife. For adventurous travelers, an EcoCamp in the heart of the park provides the region’s first fully sustainable accommodation, in a cozy geodesic dome. In Japan, eco lodges, like certain ryokans, or inns, work hard to maintain a special atmosphere. Rooms are constructed using traditional materials, meals feature seasonal and regional specialties, and the inns employ staff from the local community. At some inns, guests are encouraged to lend a hand by helping to plant trees and tend to the animals. Closer to home, it’s easy to be environmentally friendly on a trip to California’s Napa Valley, where you can enjoy fine wine, relax in a spa and find luxurious hotels that meet the highest standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Mother Nature needs to be treated gently if we are to have a healthy planet. For those of you who love nature, we recommend Costa Rica, East Africa and places that protect wildlife and fauna and UNESCO Heritage Sights.
Eco Travel for Earth Day – NRToday.com