I have not had a great deal of experience with the modern Ecotourism, but the times that I have sought it out in the past have been extraordinary. While in Cairns, Australia several decades ago, I saw an ad in a magazine about the Jungle Lodge in the Daintree Rainforest of Queensland and had to check it out. I spent 3 days with guides exploring the indigenous wildlife and plants, seeing Cape Tribulation and enjoying nature. As we walked along paths, we passed by what looked like giant fern fiddleheads that were as big as houses, tar trees with sap that acted like acid and were treated to local tucker, such as sugar ants and other eatables. While there, I had the opportunity to meet another family from Denmark who were just as interested in learning as much as they could about the area. One of the college aged girls and myself walked the half-mile to the beach on wooden plank pathways over crocodile infested waters until we reached the sand. There we spent a wonderful hour or so watching the sun come up over Cape Tribulation. Upon our return, we opened the coconuts that we had gathered on the beach had them for our breakfast. This was back in 1988, long before ecotourism had really taken off. But I still remember every bit of those three amazing days.
Diver and jellyfish, Jellyfish Lake. (Republic of Palau) By w:en:Aquaimages (talk | contribs) - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18288582
DirkvdM canopy walk (Costa Rica) CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1030575
Tobi villagers, (Republic of Palau) By Angela K. Kepler - http://www.pbif.org/WebGallery/Default.aspx?action=View&storedaction=SearchFiles&sortorder=
Ascending&dirsortorder=Ascending&file=3344 &search=Tobi, Public Domain, https://commons. wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7046172
"Environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples."
A Maasai Mara scene with scattered bushes, animals, cloud shadows, and umbrella acacia trees (Kenya) By Key45 - Own work, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=680155
Below you will find a list of eco-rated facilities that can be found on the following website: http://www.ecotourismkenya.org/facility.php Each has a comprehensive description of where they fit in the ecotourism system and a link to their website to view the tours they provide, what their facilities are like and their prices.
Eleven years before that, while spending another semester abroad in Munich, Germany, I was asked by some friends to join them on several mountains climbing treks. Granted, these were not extreme adventures, as it wasn’t hand over hand, but we were still given a great workout going down the in Untersberg Mountain in Salzburg, and up and down both the the Hochstein in Lienz and the Pfänder in Bregenz. (All of these mountains can be found in Austria.) Our trek in Lienz was absolutely fabulous and we were able to enjoy a leisurely day’s climb and the beauty of the mountainside surrounding us. As we made our way up, we found ourselves surrounded by wild blueberries that were just beginning to ripen and as we stopped to eat our fill, the cowbells off in the distance serenaded us. At the top, our accommodations awaited us with traditional Austrian music, food, and beer, then a communal bed for the night.
Now there are many countries in this world that specialize in Ecotourism and recruit tourists to visit their shores. What does the term “Ecotourism” mean anyway? The World Conservation Union (IUCN) defines ecotourism as the following:
The three basic tenets that ecotourism is based around:
I have chosen only the top five that consistently have been named in my research, but there are many others that one can explore. I hope that you enjoy this week's article and it helps you in your travels!
Palau is an archipelago specializing in ecotourism and is ideal for people who love marine life, diving and snorkeling. With an interior lake filled with non-stinging jellyfish, oodles of places to dive and snorkel and plenty of underwater wildlife, it is a diver’s dream.
Ecotourism is just getting off the ground in Palau, Micronesia, and unfortunately it has its share of outsiders who benefit from this other than the natives. It is important to treat other lands with respect and to leave all the way that we find them, but this is especially true in Palau. In light of this, it would be a wise idea if you are considering a trip to this area, that you check that part of your trip benefit the people of Palau and that you leave the islands in the pristine condition that you found it. This will continue to keep good relations with the people and help ecotourism to continue to grow for generations to come.
Republic of Palau
Elephants grazing in Amboseli swamps, north of Mount Kilimanjaro, (Kenya) By M. Disdero - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=764570
Below is a listing of some of the sights, activities and wildlife one can see in different parts of the Amazon. It can be a pricy venture, so shopping around to get the best bang for your buck is a must.
Activities: Canoing, fishing, walks, rappelling, mountain climbing, biking, zipline, paddle boating
Wildlife: Cayman and bird watching, dolphins, piranhas, monkeys, sloths, raptors, bats,
Sights: Madidi National Park, Indigenous Villages, Canopy Tours, Manu Biosphere Reserve, Aparados da Serra, Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Bonito, Abismo Anhumas, Amazon River, waterfalls
Educational: Learn about where many of modern day medicines originated, eat local indigenous foods
Rafting on the Pacuare River, (Costa Rica) By Autentico Adventures Costa Rica - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10941268
Two recent projects that have been in the works for tourists and education in the Peruvian Amazon: one of them involves the Santa Rosa de Huacaria community, which is a key area connecting several regional and national parks. 2/3 of this community lies in the Manu National Park. The people of this area have came together in 2014 to provide outsiders with a venue to buy their local art and crafts and thus celebrate their culture. You can find them making dolls, bags, jewelry, and other textiles using dyes and materials from their environment.
The walkway, which is a suspension bridge, towers from 68 to 144 feet above ground. It consists of 479 total feet of walkway between 4 towers providing students, researchers and tourists with a view of the rainforest. So, those of us who are afraid to zip line can still see the marvel of the forest.
An aerial view of limestone islands, (Republic of Palau) By LuxTonnerre from Munich, Germany - Palau_2008030818_4709, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32750824
Costa Rican red-eyed tree frog, By Careyjamesbalboa (Carey James Balboa) - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Natox., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4381169
Cape Tribuation, Queensland, Australia - Photo by Vicki Kralapp
I was indeed fortunate to have found a fabulous travel agent at Jaye’s Travel in Gosford, Australia who booked a safari for me to see the Outback on my trip to the Northern Territory. This was by far the best part of my stay in that area. Although Katherine Gorge was simply beautiful, I had my best adventure sleeping outside in tents and having my “tucker” cooked on the campfire next to a billabong. Our guide, who was part of Outback Tours, took us to see rock paintings by ancient aboriginals, the escarpment and gave us a chance to try eating an aboriginal delicacy, witchetty grubs. I loved the fact that we were seeing sights that few others, even those in Australia, have seen and experienced.
Campiing in the Northern Territory, Australia, with Outback Tours, Photo from Kralapp Archives
Cold-water coral reefs in Skagerak off of the southern coast of Norway, By MAREANO/Institute of Marine Research, Norway - MAREANO/Institute of Marine Research, Norway, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6577831
Dugong (Republic of Palau) By LuxTonnerre from Munich, Germany - Palau_2008030818_4709, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32750824
The gray crowned-crane (Kenya) By Vassil - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2575340
Nærøyfjord (Norway) By Karamell - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1895003
The greatest ecosystem in the world is also the most endangered. Ecotourism has only become popular recently and provides the community with a way to preserve the land and its resources while providing a way to sustain it financially.
The Amazon Rainforest covers nine countries: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana and is called the lungs of the world. Because a vast majority of the 2.1 million square miles of amazon jungle is untouched, it figures that this should be a place in which ecotourism should thrive.
Although Brazil leads the nine countries in size that comprise the Amazon Rainforest and has many opportunities, Peru has something that the Brazil adventure doesn’t offer. That is access to native culture that is unchanged, it is also much more easily accessible and allows visits to alternate areas such as Macchu Picchu and hikes in the Andes.
Below you will find a listing of the sights and attractions of this natural habitat:
“If had a farm in Africa. I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.” Thus began my active pursuit to one day see what Baroness Karen Blizen (Isak Dinesen) was describing in her beloved story, Out of Africa. One of my goals in life has been to see the people of Africa since I was a youngster. But it wasn’t until I saw this movie that the beauty of this great country came to life for me.
When going on safari today, a great many of these can be quite expensive, but they don’t have to be if you do your homework. It can cost anywhere from $500 for a day’s adventure and camping to over a couple of thousands. However, the average cost is about $800 to $1,000. You will have to do your homework again to balance what your budget can afford, what you want to see and your safety. Remember that for most, this is a once in a lifetime experience, so plan accordingly.
When visiting Norway, keep in mind that although it is a northern country, it also is the home to beaches and warm summer weather. The following is a listing of some of the opportunities and sights available in Norway.
Rock-Islands, (Republic of Palau) By Peter R. Binter (=Binter); The original uploader was Binter at German Wikipedia(Original text: Peter Binter) - own photography by Binter; Transferred from de.wikipedia to Commons.(Original text: Privatreise Peter R. Binter Dezember 2007), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3451746
Scarlet macaw, (Amazon Rainforest) By Matthew Romack - Originally posted to Flickr as Parrots., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4320411
Costa Rica has become the “poster child” for ecotourism and was a pioneer in this area of tourism. This immerging nation has a great many protected areas and parks for tourists to visit and is one of the few that can claim true ecotourism status. Tourism has only recently developed in this South American country due to the unrest in its neighbors. Now, with tourism the leading source of income, ecotourism is flourishing. This turn in economic income allows the people of Costa Rica to leave the logging industry behind which had been aiding in the deforestation of the nation and make a decent living in the tourism business, thus helping to save their natural resources.
Beyond the typical forests, rivers, and beaches, the following are some of the unique sights and activities waiting for you on a Costa Rican eco-tour:
Recently I wrote to the government of Costa Rica and they responded by sending me the following list of agencies and tour companies that deal in ecotourism. They are as follows:
The experiences that I have enjoyed the most when traveling abroad have been when I have totally immersed myself in the culture and environment of the country I was visiting. This is exactly what ecotourism does for the traveler. It allows one to see, hear, and feel the environment, along with experiencing the indigenous culture of its people. Ecotourism is all about getting back to the roots of the place that you wish to visit, but leaving it like you found it. If you are a person that enjoys walks through the forest or nature, snorkeling or diving, learning about the local flora and fauna, and experiencing the wildness of nature in activities and sport, then ecotourism is something that you might want to explore.
While you are in Kenya, there are a great many things to see and do. I have listed only a few below:
Cattleya aclandiae, the "Lady Ackland's cattleya" (Amazon Rainforest) By Orchi - Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1044230
Geirangerfjord in Møre og Romsdal, (Norway) By User:BIL - Own work (photo by me), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1005456
OTHER COSTA RICA ECOTOURISM TOURS
Learn more about these lodges at:
Jaguar (Amazon Rainforest) By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14534355
Hochstein Mountain, Austria Photo from Kralapp Archives
Norway’s philosophy has always been one of conservation and that the responsibility for this belongs to everyone. It is a land of outstanding beauty with breathtaking waterfalls, deep fjords, majestic mountains and outstanding glaciers. Their deep tradition of taking care of nature, has translated into ecotourism, providing people today and tomorrow with an insight into the land of ice and snow.
A great deal of Norway can be classified as ecotourist friendly, but the following places have been deemed as certified sustainable destinations; Trysil, Røros, Vega Islands, Lærdal, Geilo, The Svalbard Islands, Setesdal, and The Golden Road. To be classified as such, it takes a great deal of work and continuous upgrading to provide visitors with the most rewarding experiences.