What is Ecotourism and how can you plan a trip?
Imagine swinging in a natural handmade hammock strung between two sturdy banana trees, enjoying the sounds of the animals in the rainforest. Now imagine that by visiting this place you are helping to preserve nature, helping to build up the local economy and supporting human rights. Now imagine yourself bicycling your way through scenic Finland as you help spread the message that bicycles are a convenient way to travel as well as better for the environment than gas guzzling cars.
By doing both of the above you are participating in what is known as ecotourism or ecotravel. Ecotourism is traveling to a natural habitat area with the mission to conserve the environment and support the local people’s well-being. If you love communing with nature, conserving the environment or improving the lives of people then ecotravel is an excellent way to see new and exciting places.
To participate in ecotourism there are a few guidelines that need to be adhered to. When looking for a destination you want to make sure to find a place that causes minimal impact on the environment while benefiting local populations. Also important to look for is whether the location helps to build or preserve the environment as well as increasing cultural awareness while still respecting the local culture.
Ecotourism encourages vacationing in a place that makes the experience uplifting for both the visitor and the host. Financial benefits should go directly to the conservation effort as well as help empower the local population. Personal knowledge of the countries political, social and environmental issues should increase with the visit. Human rights and labor laws should also be acknowledged and supported whenever possible.
As a traveler, where you chose to visit and how you chose to spend your money can have a large impact on the travel industry. What could be more exciting than to see the world from a different vantage point or explore travel options that challenge you and teach you about different people and places while helping to sustain fragile ecosystems, economies and cultures? Going on an ecotrip can help a traveler rediscover their passion for traveling and for life. Sometimes, after a trip, no matter how exciting, there can be a letdown that nothing lasting was accomplished. No impact was made. Traveling to an ecospot can allow the traveler to feel a sense of satisfaction as well as have a relaxing, exciting vacation.
How to decide where to go is up to you. With so many exciting places to go in the world it can be difficult to pinpoint where to take an ecotrip. First decide what climate or environ you like best. Do you prefer warm weather or cold? Maybe you prefer mountains, the sea shore or forests? Also to be taken into account is cost. How much can you afford to spend? This can be the biggest factor to consider when planning a trip. Also comfort level can be another deciding factor. How primitive are you willing to go? Do you prefer luxury or can you go without the extras? Always travel within your comfort zone or the trip will not turn out to be worthwhile or fulfilling.
After deciding on a destination, price range and comfort level, the next step is to choose an organization. Research is very important at this stage. Make sure to check as thoroughly as possible any organization you may be interested in using. If possible try to stick with well known national or international organizations. Word of mouth is an excellent way to find out about organizations that offer ecotrips. Ask friends and acquaintances about organizations they’ve heard of or used themselves. The following well known organizations are by no means endorsed or recommended, they are simply given as a starting point for planning the trip. Organizations that offer ecology based trips include: the Sierra Club, the Rainforest Alliance, Journeys International and Earthwatch.
Ecotraveling can be an extremely rewarding and exciting way to travel. The learning experiences encountered can last with a traveler for a lifetime. Helping to preserve local cultures and environments can be very fulfilling. Nothing is as awe inspiring or as breathtaking as nature. It is up to humankind to respect it and preserve it.