This is a guest post written in partnership with Balboa Travel, Inc., a Green Business Bureau Member.
Green or eco-tourism is not only about sustainability, but it is often transformative for the travelers who undertake these trips. As this happens, travel is critical in the bigger picture as it provides some key elements which help us assist the global community in education, understanding the need of preservation and protection of the environment, cultures and heritage globally.
According to Edith Wharton, Pulitzer Prize winning American novelist, “One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.” Travel takes us to new places, and expands our horizons and understanding in a variety of ways we might never imagine. Travel compels us to shake away the familiar and discover something new, both in the world and in ourselves.
Here are some wonderful itineraries you may want to consider to help support this vibrant travel sector and foster its growth:
An Iconic Mongolian Expedition
(Nomadic Expeditions – Iconic Mongolia)
One of the last unspoiled travel destinations in Asia, Mongolia remains mostly a land of yurts and nomadic herders who travel on horseback across these large and unfenced grasslands. This journey is one of the most popular introductions to Mongolia and its unexpected biodiversity. The itinerary highlighted below offers a classic glimpse of Mongolian life and its landscapes, and is one of the most popular introductions to the unique biodiversity of this vast country located at the crossroads of Asia’s three major ecosystems. Tip: If you prefer a more family friendly itinerary there are options for this as well in Mongolia!
Begin in the Capital of Mongolia by exploring some of Ulaanbaatar’s top sites, including the Gandan Monastery, the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum, National History Museum, and Zaisan Memorial. Then, it is onto Lake Hovsgolone. Known as Mongolia’s “dark pearl,” the lake is one of the deepest in the world and is surrounded by pristine mountains. Following this, it’s onto Lake Irkh, a small saltwater lake in the midst of the steppe, and the former site of Kharakhorum, the ancient 13th-century capital of the Mongolian Empire. This leg of the trip also concludes with a visit to a nomadic camel-breeding family! Your journey wraps up in the Gobi Desert, where the towering sand dunes can be explored from the back of a Bactrian camel. The fifth largest in the world, the Gobi Desert is the most expansive arid region on the Asian continent and spans two countries. The best part about this trip is that in addition to experiencing all the sites, you will also be able to learn about the customs of the people in the region and experience their hospitality.
Benefits: The trip include experiences which employ locals and three nights at the Three Camel Lodge. The lodge is considered a model of environmental and cultural sustainability, which was created in consultation with the local population and non-governmental organizations that work to conserve the area and culture.
The Iconic African Splendor
(Micato – African Splendor)
The wonder of Africa is a great journey, and great journeys often involve remarkable distinctions. On the full 17-day safari we are highlighting (the first 6 days in Southern Africa are optional), you will experience a wide range of animal life and culture. This trip includes visits to four countries, all engaging and contrasting. Beginning in Cape Town and its metropolitan style at the southernmost tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope is geographically isolated by Table Mountain, its sheer cliffs, and the vineyards and beaches which surround it. Then, you’ll move onto the world famous Victoria Falls, the largest waterfalls in the world, located on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Next, you’ll enjoy the Saxon, which was home to Nelson Mandela after he was released from prison and where he edited his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom.” This is followed by a four-wheel drive vehicles expedition to track animals and experience the breathtaking views of the wildlife of the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem, where rains guide big, mammals and other animals, in spectacular and awe-inspiring movements. Then elect to experience the unique opportunity to see and learn about the AmericaShare project and see everyday life and people’s determination.
Benefits: Micato founded AmericaShare, a nonprofit foundation, to help provide disadvantaged children and women with access to basic services. It also helps those affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Nairobi through a variety of programs which focus on education, community outreach and economic empowerment.
Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
(Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel)
Adventure, ecotourism, and wellness are the hallmarks of the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. It offers a mix of both utmost calmness, opulent comfort, Andean style and architecture, and natural beauty, which spreads over 12 acres of low-rise cottages, streams, gushing waterfalls, plantations and wild forest interspersed by stone pathways. A member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, this intimate Andean village with 83 casitas is tucked away in the Machu Picchu Cloud forest, with stunning views of exquisite natural beauty. In-house, à la carte excursions lead guests to explore the mega biodiversity within hotel grounds, including 214 bird species, the world’s largest native orchid collection (372 species), the bear rescue center and the tea plantation under the shade. The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel has 81 rooms and suites (from 310 to 1,890 sq.ft.) two 2-suite Villas (approx. 3,500 sq. ft.), beautifully furnished with regional timber, nestled in one or two-story whitewash cottages, reached by attractive stone pathways and styled with local handcrafted Andean architecture.
Benefits: The hotel is a pioneer in sustainable tourism, promoting scientific research for natural resources and ecotourism, and offers authentic experiences and education for guests on the culture and nature of Peru.
An Authentic Island Experience
(Zegrahm Expeditions – Tonga & Samoa: Swimming with Humpbacks)
Located below the equator, these islands are mostly untouched areas. Begin in Pago Pago, American Samoa, then explore the extensive and remote National Park, which includes snorkeling to observe an amazing variety of fish species, giant clams, colorful corals, turtles, and other marine life, all while also protecting the Samoan culture. A hike through the forest may reveal fruit bats and a variety of colorful birds which can only be found here. Enjoy boutique properties, including lush gardens with native vegetation and sunset vistas. Then move onto the National Park of American Samoa, America’s 50th national park and the only one south of the equator. Swim with the humpback whales, in the shallow protected waters of Tonga. Meet locals and learn of their traditional songs and dances, create your own tapa cloth, and participate in a kava ceremony. All this and more you is what you can expect to experience during your 14 day expedition!
Benefits: Enjoy a truly authentic island experience and learn of the local cultures from local school children. During this trip you will also meet with marine biologist Brad Climpson to learn about the majestic animals you will see and be swimming with on your excursions.
(Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa)
Environmentally responsible tourism originated in Latin America and Africa, but you can save fossil fuel and money by staying in North America for a green travel experience. Ted Turner, a lifelong conservationist and entrepreneur, recently launched Ted Turner Expeditions, opening his New Mexico ranches to travelers who share his passion for desert and mountain wilds, which is innovatively managed to unite economic viability with ecological sustainability. The Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa provides its guests with a relaxing vacation experience. It provides rustic charm in each guest room, throughout the property, and during the expeditions. The Spa provides holistic treatments and ancient restorative private indoor and outdoor hot springs, which honor the legendary healing traditions established by the region’s Native Americans.
Benefits: Ted Turner and his properties actively contribute to programs for improving air and water quality, while supporting the development of sustainable energy to protect the climate, safeguard the environment and protect habitats to maintain biodiversity.
We recognize, that not all of these journeys will hit all aspects of ecotourism, however, your travel choices matter. As this type of travel grows in popularity, the variety and availability of the eco-tourism itineraries will grow and improve. We’re looking forward to being able to offer more of these types of experiences in the years to come!
Contact one of our Vacations Advisors to learn more about these trip options at:
Andréa da Rosa
Director Marketing Communications
Balboa Travel, Inc.
Content Marketing Manager
Green Business Bureau