Welcome to the Greenloons Blog, your go-to ecotourism / sustainable / responsible (or whatever term you feel comfortable with) travel resource. Here, you will find eco travel destination profiles, environmentally friendly travel tips, ecotourism certification information, eco trip reviews and much more! Read, share and let us know your thoughts about ecotourism!
Philanthropy, Sustainability and Ecotourism in Montenegro
Situated in the hills of Montenegro lays a little village named Pod Ostrog. While the village has only 200 residents, there are one million tourists annually visiting due to the Serbian Orthodox Monastery Ostrog. The monastery is visited (by people of all faiths) so that they can pray for their wellbeing and health.
Over the years, a lot of miracles have happened in Monastery Ostrog, however, typically tourists only stay for a few hours and go on to other areas of Montenegro because there is a lack of activities that would enable a longer vacation stay.
Best Eco Experiences for 2018
I’m constantly being asked What’s your favorite ecotourism destination? and my answer is always It’s the destination that has placed emphasis on tourism that benefits local communities.
Thankfully, unlike a decade ago, there are more examples of communities stakeholders that are banding together to discuss sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, youth education, as well as cultural and heritage preservation activities. So, for those of you who have placed travel high on your list of 2018 resolutions, here are 8 of our new favorite ecotourism experiences.
The People, Mountains, Food & Wine of Argentina
Where are you going again? Salta, I said. It’s a province of Argentina that’s in the northwest of the country bordering Chile, Bolivia, and Paraguay, continuing my explanation. Oh, that’s nice! Why? Because given its position at the foot of the Andes Mountains, the area is filled with natural wonders, many of which are still undisturbed. And, I wanted an opportunity to travel with a company that believes in the power of sustainability as much as I do.
With that, our small group embarked on five days of leisurely hiking through varied and beautiful terrain (think jungles, mountains, and dry valleys all within a short radius, and the added reward of lots of food and wine tasting each day).
Conservation Efforts in Tourism: Story Behind Uakari Lodge in the Brazilian Amazon
The link between conservation efforts and tourism in the Amazon became stronger after Rio Earth Summit in 1992. By then, the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development was expanding its impact around a special floodplain forest area of the Amazon – more specifically the 1,124,000 hectares between the Amazon and Japurá Rivers that houses endemic species such as the White Uakari Monkey.
That area, later, with the work of the Institute, became the first Sustainable Development protected area in Brazil.
The researchers at Mamirauá always believed that the local communities (approximately 10,000 people), who occupied the area for generations, should be the main guardians of the land.
Chile is one of the World’s Most Sustainable Travel Destinations – But There’s Much Work Still To Do
Chile was recently awarded the distinction of being one of the most sustainable travel destinations. The reality is that we Chileans still have a long path ahead until we can take on the responsibility that this recognition provides.
Our country is one of the richest in the world when it comes to natural and dramatic landscapes. It’s this diversity of the land that gives us the perfect scenario for adventure and nature travel.
A Different Route to Machu Picchu – Hiking Adventure with a Cultural Flair!
One thing that strikes you when hiking through Lares Valley in Peru (besides the effect of the altitude on your body) is the rugged beauty of the terrain. With its varying shades of browns, tans, and greens punctuated with bright blue skies and an eerie stillness to the air, you can’t help but feel to be a mere witness in a land that keeps time by the harvest and whose secret treasures have not all been revealed to outsiders.
I’ll always remember the quiet strength, the ready smiles and, of course, the colorful clothes of the women and men who accompanied us hikers (with oxygen tanks and other supplies at the ready) through this terrain.
Infographic – The Local Community Impact & Economics Behind Ecotourism
One of the three values of ecotourism, in addition to its inherent social and environmental benefits, is the economic sustainability provided to local communities through the following tenants:
- Local ownership,
- Observing and maintaining traditional practices of developing goods and food,
- Offering employment opportunities
This infographic was designed to convey the economic benefits of ecotourism, define the terminology used in the travel industry, and describe the differences in how local communities specifically benefit from ecotourism versus traditional (mass) tourism.
Fulfill Your Bucket List: Travel with Me on Our Exclusive Farm-to-Table Heritage Tour to Crete
What are the first thoughts or images that come to mind when you think of Greece? Is it its beautiful clear waters and beaches? Strikingly blue skies? Its whitewashed buildings? Music and dance? Its history? Contributions to philosophy and our political process? Its delicious and healthy food?
Perhaps, is it all of these combined images that make Greece one of the most iconic “bucket list” travel destinations in the world.
As Greenloons’ Founder, I’ve been fortunate to travel to many countries (and even live in a few) around the world and, in my humble opinion, there is no comparison within the six continents I’ve visited, to Greece.
Tips for Seeing Glacier National Park (Before the Glaciers Disappear)
This past July, my husband and I biked through one of our nation’s most iconic parks, Glacier National Park. Just one year earlier, the park was ravaged by fire caused by persistent drought in the region.
Yet, this summer, signs of recovery – in the form of lots of sightings of bears, cougars, bald eagles and wildflowers – were already showing Mother Nature’s determination.
Glacier National Park, which was formed prior to the establishment of our National Park Service in 1916, is filled with many plant and mammal species as well as prairie, forest, alpine and, of course, glacial features.
Like a Rare Damascus Rose, Travel in Bulgaria Offers Sweetness at Every Turn
My first impression upon crossing the border from Macedonia to Bulgaria was of the sweetness of both the air (its smell of hyacinths) and people of Bulgaria.
Over the days, almost like a slowly blooming flower, I then began to discover its stunning vistas, burgeoning wine industry (not to mention their fantastic walnut liquor), variety of delicious food, fascinating history, adventure options, and an inherent joie-de-vivre of people who will sing and dance without much persuasion.
To me, Bulgaria is the next “hot” destination for family travelers because it’s safe, family-friendly, offers a very good standard of service, and has many options for hikers and foodies to history buffs and beach bums.
5 Tips That May Save Your Family Whitewater Rafting Trip
Last month, I, along with my 11 year old son and some other family members, embarked on a multi-day whitewater rafting and camping adventure along the Green River that connects Colorado and Utah.
We considered ourselves to be relatively experienced for this trip given that I had participated in two days of whitewater rafting on the Pacure River in Costa Rica (Class III-IV) and rafted in the state of Veracruz in Mexico (Class III), my son had enrolled in a couple of day rafting trips around the Washington, DC area (Class II), and another family member obtained her whitewater rafting certification, as a young adult.
(Photo Essay) Adventure Travel in the Balkans – Spotlight on Macedonia
When I was four years old, my family moved from Athens, Greece to Lausanne, Switzerland so that my father could pursue a career opportunity.
Thinking that it would be a fun adventure, my parents decided to drive to Switzerland through Yugoslavia.
All I remember from that mid 1970s road trip was seeing lots of mountains. However, last month, I had another opportunity to explore more closely Macedonia (also known as the Republic of Macedonia or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – FYROM) and what was most surprising to me was how many options there are for adventure travelers.
G Adventures Advances UN Sustainable Development Goals Through 50-in-5 Tourism Campaign
Last fall, G Adventures announced the 50-in-5 campaign as part of the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. I had an opportunity to ask Kim McCabe of G Adventures, a few questions about the goals of this campaign and how it related to sustainable tourism as well as benefiting local communities socially, economically and environmentally.
What is your ultimate goal with the 50-in-5 campaign, as it relates to traveler awareness of sustainable community experiences?
G Adventures’ 50-in-5 Campaign will raise CAD $5 million (USD $3.9 million) to integrate 50 new social enterprise projects into the G Adventures portfolio within 5 years.
Empowering Your Child to be an Ambassador for the Environment – Putting Concepts into Action!
A few months ago, for our Spring Break, our family traveled to the Hawaiian island of Maui. We chose Maui for a few reasons including the chance to experience Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, which is affiliated with three of Ritz-Carlton’s Resorts (Maui, Grand Cayman, and Puerto Rico), and to better understand how the programs were affecting local communities, ocean conservation efforts, and of course children’s understanding (and interest) in environmental issues.
Although we signed up for the Whale Watch excursion as a family, it was cancelled due to rough seas. However, our son did have the chance to participate in the Survivor program.
Importance of Sustainable Microenterprises for Small Farmers
There are 500 million small farmers across the world producing around 70% of the global food supply. They do this despite the numerous threats and challenges that they face on a daily basis. This is no small feat. So, in order to support production, we are working with these small farmers to develop their own innovative low-cost solutions.
We are Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF) and we are a charity with difference. We are led by small farmers and owned by 38 producer organisations and their 280,000 members across Latin America and Africa.
Interview with Hopineo Founders – Now Spreading Sustainable Solutions in West Africa
Last year, I had the opportunity to meet game changer Florie Thielin of the Hopineo initiative, which endeavors to use the principles of the sharing economy to promote sustainable tourism. In exchange for sharing best practices and providing specific recommendations for how responsible hotels and tourism boards can enhance their efforts, Hopineo provides access to experienced sustainability and marketing experts who only ask that their room and board accommodations be waived.
The founders of Hopineo, Justine and Mahery, have just embarked on a tour of West Africa. While they were in Sine Saloum, Senegal, I had a chance to ask them some questions about their new project, which is also running a crowdfunding campaign through the end of February.
Jordan’s Creative Eco Experiences Foster Community Development in Petra
My journey to Jordan began in 2005. Having never travelled to the Middle East, the first time I looked at a map of where Jordan was, I was a little unsure what to expect. However, within moments of arriving at Queen Alia Airport, I felt welcome and happy to be there. Ten years later and this feeling of happiness, security and hope has not faded.
Despite the challenges we, as a country, are facing with our neighbours, Jordan has, is, and I hope always, will be a land of safety, legendary hospitality, and breathtaking beauty. With the unrest in the region, tourism has unsurprisingly dropped significantly and in towns like Petra that rely on tourism for their livelihood, times are tough.
(Photo Essay) Off the Beaten Path: Back Roads of Lazio Reveal Diverse History and Traditions – Sustainably!
As we walked along the short trail back from the olive grove, I began to smell fresh mint and other aromatic herbs underfoot, wildly growing on the side of the farmhouse, and instantly felt transported to a simpler time when families had to grow their own food and raise their own livestock to survive.
Although paling in comparison to those more likely difficult times, I still was satisfied with having taken part in the harvesting of an olive tree’s lovely green and purple colored olives ready for the first press. We collected nearly 90 lbs. of olives that morning and, once again, found ourselves at a large family-style Italian table ready for a feast.
For anyone who has traveled throughout the Mediterranean, the scene may be a familiar one. But, once you account for the details, you realize it is anything but common.
Lessons Learned from Our Eco-Conscious AirBnB Inspired Grand Family Road Trip (Part 2)
While I know my son was having a wonderful time at his summer camp in New Hampshire, I was still so glad to be able to have this extended road trip with my daughter.
During part one of this two-part series, I talked about our adventures from Georgia up to New Hampshire. Now, at the half way point of the trip, appropriately spent riding a zip line over the Pemigewassett River and then taking a gondola up the White Mountains to explore some granite caves, we now had to continue back home.
After my son’s visitation day, my daughter and I explored D Acres a bit more. We took a dip in the swimming hole, rode our bikes to some surrounding farms to visit some goats and a friendly horse, and hung out in the open-air “Summer Kitchen”.
AirBnB Family Road Trip Combines Green Lifestyle Choices, Geography Lessons and Fun (Part 1)
As my son was packing up for another season at his summer camp in New Hampshire, I realized I had to do something to make these weeks special for my daughter too. So what better than a grand road trip!
My daughter and I love animals and have been especially interested in raising chickens after our town passed legislation allowing them to be kept locally. My daughter even began lobbying school administrators to create a kind of 4-H club for some students to raise a few hatched chicks.
So, creating a trip to visit chickens along our route seemed like a natural theme for our adventure!
New Eco Trips Reveal the Secrets of Greek Cooking!
I may be biased given my Greek heritage, but I think authentic Greek cuisine (I am not including the ubiquitous gyro) still represents the values of slow, farm to table cooking made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. Whether you are a vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore, it’s easy to find a wide variety of healthy dishes when traveling to Greece. For many though, the act of making Greek food seems arduous. However, it does not need to be difficult.
Meet Chef Maria Krina. Maria is a co-owner of Droseriko restaurant in Patras, which is the capital city of Western Greece, in the northern Peloponnese. She has made a splash in Greece for being outspoken about what is happening with food production around the world and for using purely organic, raw materials from local producers in Greece and Cyprus. Her specialty is highlighting the forgotten Greek dishes of yesteryear.
(Photo Essay) Responsible Travel in Madagascar: Making a Difference in Local Communities
Across Africa, the transformational abilities of tourism have proven invaluable in helping to repair the relationship between people and planet. Sustainable certification standards, like those instituted by South Africa’s Fair Trade Tourism, have ushered in new awareness for tourism that benefits communities socially, economically and environmentally.
This awareness has translated into action on the island of Madagascar. A country of startling contrasts, its incredible natural beauty and unique ecosystems are offset by a rapidly expanding and largely impoverished population, threatening species found nowhere else on earth.
(Infographic) Sustainable Travel: Make Sure Your Next Trip is a Green One!
I was born with the travel bug. As often as I could, I was off visiting and re-visiting places near and far, soaking in sea air, language, and culture. But as my eco-conscience grew, I realized that my growing collection of seashells and jet-fuelled flights might be satisfying my wanderlust at the expense of the environment. Because my wanderlust was simply impossible to ignore, I turned my attention to sustainable tourism.
No matter the name, the intent is the same: travel with the lightest environmental and socio-cultural footprint possible to maintain or improve conditions in all communities around the world and ensure their health for years to come. A lofty goal, but with a change in perspective and a little bit of effort, travel can be not only guilt-free, but rewarding in unexpected ways.
Green Weekend Getaway to the Edge of the World, Fogo Island
As our plane landed at St. John’s Airport in Newfoundland, we could hear the sound of joyful clapping and exhilarated Yahoo’s throughout the plane. That was a surprise to me because other than taking overseas flights to Athens, Greece (where it’s common to clap and make the sign of the cross for just about every blessing and gratitude you feel you have) I hadn’t heard anyone clap the crew for a safe landing in decades.
What we quickly found out was that for some passengers during our middle of July flight, it had taken three days to get back home to St. John’s from Toronto. “Welcome to St. John’s” said our flight attendant, “and for those who are coming home, you knew what you were getting into when you moved here!”
Get Involved! World Charter for Sustainable Tourism +20 Event
I have been a proud member of Sustainable Tourism Charter’s ST+20 Scientific Committee for more than two years during which I have tried to advance the organization’s goals for preserving common heritage, supporting tourism biodiversity, decreasing tourism’s effect on climate change, wealth redistribution, and enhancing partnerships and innovation – the last of which specifically related to the development of a Return on Investment (ROI) Model for Sustainable Tourism.
If you are interested in becoming more involved in this growing and important field of tourism, later this year, from November 26-27, a seminal event will take place in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) to mark the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism.