With the world facing its most potent adversary yet in climate change, it’s time for us to be mindful of our travel choices and their impact on Earth. This is the second of a five-part installation of our 25 Green Trips series that you can take inspiration from and do your bit. By Shikha Pushpan & Rashima Nagpal
1. Paddle away in Seattle or Ljubljana
One way to reduce your carbon footprint while on a holiday is to use eco-friendly transport to explore the destination. And cities like Seattle in the US and Ljubljana in Slovenia lend themselves to biking. Few bike lanes in the world are built with the attention to detail that engineers in Seattle are using to build theirs. Protected lanes sport concrete buffers—the gold standard for bike lanes—and at intersections, riders can lean on lean rails as they wait for the signal to turn green. The Second Avenue protected bike lane takes you all the way from the Space Needle to Pioneer Square, a three-kilometre-long fun ride through the city. A few kilometres away, the West Lake Cycle Track is another favourite among residents and
visitors. Ljubljana, the wonderfully flat, compact, and artistically rich capital of Slovenia, is one of the best cities to discover on a bike, with over 240 kilometres of bike lanes. Its vibrant city centre does not allow cars—it’s open to only pedestrians, cyclists, and electric
taxis. Additionally, there are over 20 bike rental stations, with the first 30 minutes of a ride offered free of cost. A city like Ljubljana or Seattle might just be the motivation and means you need to achieve that fitness goal.
Related: 5 Green Trips for the Conscious Traveller
2. Zipline between treehouses in Laos
If you’re thinking of ways to contribute to the environment on your next trip into the wild, here’s a lead: a conservation project aimed at protecting a reserve and its dwindling population of black-crested gibbons. A 12-day itinerary curated and managed by Gane and Marshall includes visiting the remote north region of Laos, trekking the Luang Nam Tha hills, meeting the tribes of Muang La, and the Gibbon Experience, which has provided a new means of livelihood to the locals. As part of the experience, sure to be the highlight of your trip, you spend a night or two in the middle of the Bokeo Nature Reserve, living in sturdy treehouses perched at a height of about 30 metres, spotting wildlife from your windows, and zip-lining across the canopy (even the meals arrive by zip-lines). Since it is a consciously designed programme, each treehouse is shared, with the sleeping areas separated by nets. From Rs 2,10,658.
3. Study elephants in Kenya
On your next wild adventure, go beyond the safari, and sign up for a more fulfilling experience involving African elephants in southeast Kenya. Here, agriculture regularly suffers the wrath of wild tuskers. The EarthWatch Institute works with locals to reduce man-animal conflict. Intrepid travellers can join researchers in Tsavo Conservation Area—which holds Kenya’s largest elephant population (12,866 elephants, according to the 2017 census)—and work with local farmers to implement sustainable agriculture methods and protect crops while minimising the impact on native elephants. You get to observe and follow wild elephants, and gain skills in conservation, zoology, and veterinary science. The programme invites applicants almost every month, and demands a commitment of at least 12 days.
4. Care for an island in Fiji
Experience the island life in Fiji while participating in a Marine Conservation & Diving programme offered by See the Wild. The goal of the programme is to better understand, and educate local communities about the marine treasures on the Fijian island of Beqa. During this week-long programme, guests stay in a comfortable timber frame house; study and work to conserve a variety of invertebrate species; explore mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and intertidal zones; record feeding habits and other behaviour of marine life; participate in habitat mapping; conduct data surveys of the reefs; and savour the azure waters of the Pacific and the rich culture of the vibrant towns on the isle. If you do not already have a PADI Open Water certification, you can get certified on the site. From Rs 29,285
5. Monitor Siberian tigers in Russia
There are just 530 Siberian tigers left in the world. Of these, most live in Siberia, Russia. The
Siberian tiger has been classified as an endangered species, and its natural habitat has shrunk significantly in the recent years. Tracking these big cats is crucial to their survival. For Natural World Safaris, conservationist Alexander Batalov takes small groups to the Durminskoye Reserve in Russia’s far east to set and collect camera traps to document the tigers’ movements. Participants stay in a wooden cabin in the wildlife reserve, and head out every day with Batalov to set camera traps. While the chances of spotting a tiger are thin, the experience of living in this wilderness is spine-chilling. The reserve is also home to other rare wildlife, from snowy owls to red deer, which are far more easily spotted than the tigers. The best part of the experience is collecting the camera traps and examining the day’s findings.