Eco18’s Eco-Tourism Bucket List

by Alana Cowan
Now that the summer travel season is officially underway, we’re taking a look at some of the best ecotourism destinations around the globe.  We’re praising the responsible travelers and enlightened practices the are transforming the travel and tourism industry into an opportunity to empower people and protect the planet!
Named for the blue hue cast by the eucalyptus oil produced by the region’s native trees, Australia’s Greater Blue Mountains region is a popular ecotourism destination for those who seek the calm of the great outdoors. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, the Australia’s Greater Blue Mountains is a mere 90-minute car ride from Sydney, and covers 550 square miles of valleys, swamps, and canyons. The region has become the ideal destination for outdoor adventure seekers with activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, canoeing and horseback riding as well as hosting some tranquil cabins and eco-frienly lodging.
Did you know that the Amazon Rainforest produces 20 percent of the earth’s oxygen? The Amazon surrounds the world’s largest river system and supports thousands of plant, bird, mammal, and aquatic species in the 1.2 billion acres it occupies. In Brazil, which represents 60 percent of the Amazon’s depth, eco-lovers can explore the Bahia’s Atlantic forest, along a 66-foot-high suspension bridge surrounded by scores of wildlife, sights, and sounds. Back down below, you can rent a canoe and paddle down the eponymous river, fish for piranha (if your dare!) or opt for a bird-watching excursion.
The Himalayas of Nepal is a surreal ecotourism destination that offers some of the best access to both sublime mountain peaks and subtropical valleys. The Himalayas have become a popular hiking region with rustic trail lodges that give trekkers the option to hike and rest at their own pace. Some people also opt for group tours for a truly enriched experience where you can share your mountain time with an group of guides, cooks, and porters. If you’re up for the challenge, the hike to Mt. Everest’s base camp, in Sagarmatha National Parkis something not to be missed!
The Galapagos, which is comprised of 13 main islands, is an incredible ecotourism destination that remains home to some of the planet’s most unique creatures and marine life on the planet. Declared the world’s first Natural World Heritage Site in 1978 (and later a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1984), environmentalists and eco-conscious travelers alike have dedicated themselves to preserving the delicate and precious ecosystems. As a result, some 97 percent of the Galapagos is protected by the Galapagos National Park Service.
With the wide-open savanna plains stretching to the horizon, sprawling deserts, riverine forests, transient lakes, salt pans, and captivating display of wildlife, Botswana is considered the jewel of Africa. With safaris that take you into the northern region, where unspoiled wilderness protects the ecotourism destination’s spectacular range of wildlife (think Elephants, leopards, lions, zebras, and hippos). Botswana is also famous for their environmentally friendly resorts on the savanna, making it easy for travelers to enjoy luxury amidst adventure.
Considered one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world, Costa Rica is divided in 20 natural parks, 8 biological reserves, and a series of protected areas that captivate ecotourists around the globe. Adventure seekers will be pleased to find a plethora of activities including whitewater rafting, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, zip lining, scuba diving, rock climbing, skydiving, and lots more. The Amazon-like Tortuguero National Park is complete with jungle lodges and abundant wildlife, ranging from monkeys to sea tortoise that famously nest there every year.

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