Ecotourism is on the rise as more and more people are looking to experience the natural beauty of the world while making sure it stays protected. So, we’ve put together a list of ecotourism destinations you should visit to get you inspired for your next trip!
Over the past few years, Costa Rica has been making headlines as a leader in sustainable tourism. Often described as a tropical paradise, roughly a quarter of the country is protected as a national park, wildlife refuge or reserve. Costa Rica is famous for its biodiversity, as well as its beautiful volcanoes and beaches, making it the ideal ecotourism destination.
Costa Rica has a dedicated Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) which aims to promote sustainable tourism practices, including accommodation and transportation. They also have a number of green initiatives, including producing almost 93% of their electricity from renewable resources.
Iceland is known for its remote and stunning natural beauty, and many people flock there each year to try out geothermal spas and witness the Northern Lights. We’d recommend Thingvellir National Park, where visitors can enjoy dramatic landscapes and unique geology.
It’s also an incredibly green country – approximately three quarters of its energy is produced from geothermal and hydroelectric plants meaning it’s easy to be environmentally-friendly once you’re there. There are a number of eco-friendly hotels to stay in, such as the Ion Adventure Hotel, or tourists can choose to camp outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty.
Kenya is another country with a great deal of biodiversity – nearly 10% of the country is dedicated to wildlife conservation and there are 54 national parks and wildlife reserves. The landscapes of Kenya are incredibly diverse, ranging from beaches, deserts and savannas to forests and mountains.
Ecotourism practices in Kenya help to conserve natural resources and endangered species, while providing local communities with opportunities to be involved. In Laikipia, one of our favourite spots, you can sleep under the stars or spot white rhinos, zebras, leopards and lions during a safari.
Another peaceful haven for natural beauty, New Zealand is often thought of as one of the best ecotourism destinations. It’s home to diverse ecosystems, rare wildlife and indigenous cultures, and tourists are encouraged to preserve the country’s natural and cultural richness.
One tourist highlight is the Tongariro Crossing which was made famous as Mordor in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is the oldest national park in New Zealand and offers breathtaking views, water-filled craters, lava flow remains and hot springs!
Tanzania is perhaps less well known than some of the other ecotourism destinations, but it is definitely worth a visit. Tourism best practices are encouraged here, including working with local communities, tree-planting schemes and environmental conservation.
There are a number of sustainable tours in Tanzania, which offer the opportunity to visit the stunning National Parks of Serengeti or the Mahale Mountains. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also arrange a trek into the rainforest and explore the wilderness.
This is another country that might not immediately spring to mind when thinking about sustainable tourism destinations, but Norway is home to beautiful and unspoilt fjords which tourists are encouraged to enjoy in a responsible way. We would particularly recommend a visit to the UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord, surrounded by wild waterfalls and snow-capped mountains.
Norway is also a great option if you’re looking for an active holiday, as you can take part in exhilarating ecotourism activities such as hiking, kayaking, rafting and skiing.
Although Costa Rica is leading the way when it comes to ecotourism in South America (and the world), Ecuador is another great option for travellers. The main draw for tourists is the Galapagos Islands, which are home to a fascinating array of unique animals such as the giant tortoise and the land iguana.
As the Islands are a protected natural World Heritage Site, the National Park Authority has introduced a number of regulations to help with conservation and sustainable tourism. This means that tourists visiting the islands can do so in a way that does not harm the environment.
Last but not least, there is Guyana, which was named the number one ‘Best of Ecotourism’ destination in the world in 2019. This award recognised their commitment to pursuing a Green State Development Strategy, which looks to balance economic wellbeing and quality of life with environmental sustainability.
Guyana is another destination rich in biodiversity, with a wide array of wildlife and diverse landscapes including forests, mountains and waterfalls. They promote community-based nature travel and tourism, and they have a selection of eco lodges which are owned and run by indigenous communities – this is the main reason they were recognised for the ecotourism award.
We hope you’ve found this selection of our favourite ecotourism destinations to be a good source of sustainable travel inspiration! For more like this, keep an eye on our travel notes.
If you’re looking for something a little more active than a mid-morning nap under the palapa, maybe some of these activities will inspire you to go off the beaten path.
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