Tourism hasn’t always had a positive impact on areas of natural beauty. It has been known for the wildlife and native population of a tourist destination to have suffered badly as a result of too many visitors with too little awareness of the fragility of the local eco-system and culture.
In recent years, a brand of holidaymaking has arisen that aims to conserve the natural environment as well as having a positive effect on the local population. Eco-tourism, as it is known, is becoming more and more popular with holidaymakers who want to visit places of natural beauty and witness animals in their natural habitat, but don’t want their presence there to have any kind of negative effect.
There is a huge number of eco-tourism destinations out there, with everything from far flung exotic locations to more rustic holidays closer to home being offered by eco-conscious tour operators such as responsibletravel.com. Giving you a general idea of the possible options, we have found some great eco-holidays for each of these categories: UK, Europe, luxury, budget and wildlife conservation.
Shetlands – Organic Croft House
Fitted with a heat pump and a wood burning stove, this authentic stone house offers a chance to experience the traditional lifestyle of a Shetlands crofter, with minimal impact on the environment. The travel company Organic Holidays promises the availability of organic vegetables, salads and lamb all season, and no less than 35 ewes in the surrounding fields to keep you company.
Northern Lights Holiday in Iceland
Mysterious and captivating, the Northern Lights is surely one of the most spectacular sights the natural world has to offer. The chance to see the aurora on Iceland, a beautiful island born of volcanic fire and sculpted by ice, is a must for any eco-conscious traveller. This trip occurs during the quiet season and therefore helps to boost the local economy when visitor numbers are low. As well as seeing the Lights, the itinerary includes hydrothermal pools and horse-riding.
Seychelles Frégate Island Private
A desert island of stunning beauty and seclusion, Frégate is the smallest of the Seychelle islands, at only 3 km squared. At 4 degrees south of the equator it has the see-through sea, sandy beaches and exotic wildlife of any island paradise. The hotel has only forty guests at a time and, according to the tour operator Emirates Tours UK, the building of the resort was subject to strict regulations safeguarding the local environment.
Romany Caravan West Wales
A genuine gypsy caravan at the edge of a lush meadow and a short walk away from a lovely sandy beach provides an eco-holiday at minimum expense. Enjoy the countryside and the experience of living in a traditional Romany caravan – but not at the expense of losing all of your creature comforts: a cabin with a kitchen and a shower room is just next door.
Tiger conservation holiday – India
Organised in support of Global Tiger Patrol and Travel Operators for Tigers, this tour gives a group of just eight people the chance to see tigers in their natural habitat, as well as other animals like leopards, sloth bears, wild dogs and jungle cats. Guests stay in eco-lodges and the tour also includes night safaris and elephant-back safaris.