Ecotourism or ‘green’ tourism is quite popular in USA. In fact, an estimated 5 million tourists come from the United States, Australia, Canada, and Western Europe alone.In recent years, a rise in ecotourism has been observed the world over. These days, people look for exotic and green destinations to spend their vacations. In spite of rampant urbanization witnessed in the past few decades, there still are many places where you can spend some quality time in the green settings of nature. Green travel destinations are characterized by diversity in flora and fauna. Some of these places are declared as World Heritage Sites. They are given special status and extra protection because of their natural wealth. It also means that the tourists who travel to these protected ecosystems on earth need to show a sense of ‘eco-consciousness’.
Green Travel Destinations Around the World
Ecotourism is promoted by most nations across the globe. The reason behind this, is that it serves the dual purpose of educating tourists about environmental conservation, and providing the local populations with some financial support through conservation activities.
Daintree Rainforest, Australia
Australia’s Daintree is the oldest continually surviving rainforest in the world. This 135-million year old spectacle is characterized by mountain peaks and forests which have a thick cover of exotic plants. Daintree offers a unique combination of high humidity, high temperature, and rainfall throughout the year. Such kind of climate is suitable for the growth of tropical fruit trees. Situated in the coastal regions of north east Queensland, the Daintree rainforest has a total area of 1,200 sq. km. This rainforest is part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland. The ‘Wet Tropics’ region was declared a World Heritage Site in 1988.
The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
This place featured in the list of World Heritage Sites in 1978. The Galápagos Islands is an ecologically sensitive area, where conservation measures are strictly followed. Visitors to Galápagos National Park are accompanied by park rangers who make sure they don’t leave any sort of trace behind. Some of the species of wild animals which hold importance from the point of conservation are:
- Galápagos Land Iguana
- Blue-footed Booby
- Galápagos Penguin
- Galápagos Tortoise
- Waved Albatross
Tourism in Kenya revolves around wildlife safaris of the savannas. Kenya is gifted with great natural wealth, and is therefore a very popular travel destination. One of the interesting things about this equatorial country is that, here, you get to experience extreme climatic conditions. The snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya and savanna grasslands present a unique combination of extreme climatic conditions. Along with grasslands and mountains, the coastal regions of Kenya offer scenic natural beauty. The coral reefs of Malindi and its clear water beaches are excellent examples of Kenya’s natural wealth.
National Parks in Kenya
- Nairobi National Park
- Lake Nakuru National Park
- Amboseli National Park
- Kora National Park
- Mount Kenya National Park
These are the most popular national parks in Kenya. This country is home to some 50 national parks.
Kerala has been one of the top tourist destinations for those looking to spend some quality time in nature’s lap. Named as one of the ten paradises of the world, Kerala is showered with bounties of natural wealth. The state of Kerala is home to some 900 species of medicinal plants, and 4,000 species of flowering plants. The Lake Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is the focal point of tourism in Kerala. The main attraction of the sanctuary is its wildlife. Here, one can spot bison, elephants, and many such animals in their natural surroundings. Ayurvedic tourism became popular in Kerala in the 1990s. The Western Ghats allow tourists to indulge in mountaineering, bird watching, trekking, and other such outdoor activities. All in all, traveling to Kerala provides a complete experience for tourists.
It is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world. Costa Rica is well-known for its eco-friendly hotels, and ‘Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge’ is a well-known place to stay. The popularity of Costa Rica as a tourist destination has been on the rise since 1988. That year, the number of tourists visiting the country was around 330,000. This number swelled to 2.34 million in 2012. The activities that tourists can indulge in are trekking, visiting rural communities of the country, bird watching, etc. Along with the greenery of the rainforests, Costa Rica also has plenty of beaches.
The Fjords of Norway
Fjords are inlets created in valleys due to glacial activities. They are characterized by cliffs on both sides of the inlets. The important fjord regions of Norway are the Møre og Romsdal, Rogaland, Hordaland, and Sogn og Fjordane. Geirangerfjord is located in the southwestern region of Møre og Romsdal county. In 2005, Geirangerfjord featured in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Here, tourists can go on cruises and catch some spectacular views from Dalsnibba (1,500 m above sea level) and Flydalsjuvet. Nordfjord is located in the northern region of Sogn og Fjordane county. Skåla mountain is one of the best places to go on a trek; this place is situated 1,848 m above sea level. Tourists can spend the night in the Skala Tower.
Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia
This region lies to the south of Alaska and north of Vancouver Islands. The Great Bear Rainforest covers one of the largest tracts of temperate rainforests. Most rainforests in the world have had to face the wrath of human developmental activities. However, The Great Bear Rainforest remains largely untouched. This place is home to grizzly bears, cougars, wolves, and the Kermode bear, also known as ‘spirit bear’. In the 1990s, environmentalists had launched a campaign for the conservation of the rainforests of Clayoquot Sound – a part of Vancouver Islands. The government of British Columbia responded by placing a ban on clear-cutting in the rainforests. Inspired by the success of conservation campaigns, several ENGOs (environmental non-governmental organizations) came together for the protection of the Great Bear Rainforest. The region was named so in 1997. This rainforest incorporates the northern and central areas of coastal British Columbia.
Dense rainforests, mountains, and breathtaking scenic views make New Zealand one of the preferred destinations for tourists from around the world. The environmentally-conscious government of New Zealand has done a good job in preserving the country’s flora and fauna. The Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand is a nice place to go hiking. The white and golden sand beaches of Coromandel Peninsula are amongst the major attractions in New Zealand. Tongariro National Park is known for its active volcanoes, pristine forests, and tranquil lakes. The 144 islands of Bay Islands offer tourists with picturesque views of marine life. Dolphins, penguins, whales, and other marine animals can be found along the shores of the Bay Islands.
The birch is a commonly found tree in Iceland. The Arctic fox, Icelandic sheep, Icelandic horse, and Icelandic sheepdog are some of the commonly found animals here. Volcanoes, hot springs, and fjords are some of the notable features of Iceland’s topography. Iceland is known for its environmentally-conscious use of energy. Wind energy, geothermal energy, and hydroelectric power are Iceland’s main sources of energy. The country topped the Environmental Performance Index table of 2010. Tourists can enjoy activities like whale-watching, horseback riding, and boat tours in Iceland.
This landlocked African country is known for its great diversity in wildlife. The land of Botswana is characterized by its deltas and grasslands. The Chobe National Park is one of the most popular parks in Botswana. The specialty of this park is that it holds the largest concentration of African elephants in the world. The park is home to some 350 species of birds. The Moremi Game Reserve, along with the Chobe National Park are one of the major tourist attractions of Botswana. This national park lies on the eastern side of the Okavango Delta.
Few Other Green Travel Destinations
- Loango National Park, Gabon
- Desert Rhino Camp, Namibia
- Luang Prabang, Laos
- Madre de Dios, Peru
- Madidi National Park, Bolivia
It won’t be fair to rate any one of the destinations presented above as ‘greener’ than the others. However, the places listed in this Buzzle article are worth visiting at least once in a lifetime. The pristine surroundings of these areas make them the last vestiges of hope for greenery to sustain on the Earth.