When we think of tourism, the first thing that comes to mind is usually heading to one of the major cities of the world and experiencing the culture by eating in local restaurants and getting from one destination to the other via taxi or railroad. However, there are plenty of people who are more interested in exploring the most beautiful natural areas that a country has to offer, and thankfully, almost every country has some amazing sites.
Traveling to take in these natural sites and promoting conservationism is known as ecotourism, and it’s increasing in popularity with each passing year. While all ecotourism can be seen as great, there are a few adventures that really stand out above the rest. Here are five ecotourism adventures that you should know about if you want to get into this wonderful hobby.
The Great Barrier Reef
Off the coast of Australia is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. With around 900 islands in total, the Great Barrier Reef covers more than 133,000 square miles and is home to more than 9,000 different species. Each year, around 2 million people make their way to the Great Barrier Reef to take in its natural beauty, but not all of the tourism is eco-friendly.
Because of the species that rely on the Great Barrier Reef not being disrupted, ecotourism wasn’t always an option, but thankfully that’s changed. Resorts along the reef have started banning the use of plastics while also focusing on sustainable and renewable energy. These resorts are also teaching ecotourists to not grab anything from the reef while teaching mindful swimming tactics so that you can see things with your own eyes without making contact with the natural life.
Well off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are made up of 21 total islands (18 of them major islands) that were discovered during the 16th century. Since then, a small population of around 33,000 has built up on the Galapagos, and the islands are talked about in history classes because it’s where Charles Darwin studied natural selection en route to his theory of evolution.
The islands have seen a big movement toward using locally produced products so that there aren’t massive shipping boats coming to and from Ecuador and surrounding countries. Many of the workers that you’ll run into are from the islands thanks to the Galapagos National Park Directorate passing an act that makes visiting a must-do for ecotourists.
The Canadian Rockies
Upon first glance at a map, the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada aren’t any different, but there are some notable differences once you see them in person. The Canadian Rockies are composed of a different type of rock (sedimentary) than its American counterpart, featuring more shale and limestone. The Canadian Rockies, on average, are also less “peaky” which makes them a great destination for ecotourists.
Thanks to the rise in ecotourism, there are many more options available that are low-impact on the natural life in the area. With plenty of hiking, backpacking, and wildlife viewing, you can see all of the animals you’d come to expect (like Bighorn sheep, moose, and bears) without leaving a heavy ecological footprint.
The Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most well-known places on Earth, and whether you’re from North America, Europe, or any other continent, there’s a good chance that the Amazon was taught to you during your early years of education. Spanning eight different countries, a bulk of the Amazon Rainforest is in Brazil, though it has been under attack due to deforestation which many environmental groups are hoping to reverse.
There are three major hubs for ecotourism in the Amazon Rainforest, all of which are located in Peru. Going through these hubs allows you to see some of the most popular sites in the rainforest without disrupting the environment all while experiencing the local culture. These locals help guide you through the rainforest while staying safe and learning about the efforts to keep the rainforest intact.
To wrap up the list we focus on the only ecotourism spot on the list that’s an entire country. Costa Rica received its independence from Spain in 1821 and over the years has seen a lot of changes. With over 5 million people in Costa Rica, this Central American nation has under 20,000 square miles in area while offering up some of the best ecotourism destinations in the world.
Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity and there are laws in place that prevent the ecosystem from being disrupted. This peaceful nation has a ton of national parks, with a quarter of the country being protected from any development. In the early 2010s, Costa Rica completely banned hunting, taking it from a country that was already in contention for the best ecotourism vacation destination to the best. Places like Arenal Volcano National Park and Ballena Marine National Park are just a couple of spots where ecotourists will thrive.