Here is our handpicked list of 15 sustainable tours and experiences across the world for your next conscious travel trip. By Team T+L India & SA
Sign up for an Eco-conscious Tour | Morocco
A riot of mesmerising sights, sounds, and smells, Morocco is perfect for the culturally inclined. At the intersection of African, Arabian, and European influences, the country is a tourism hotspot.
Make your visit count by signing up for a private tailor- made sustainable tours with an eco-conscious tour operator such as Intrepid Travel, which achieved carbon-neutral status in 2010. From sampling the best of tagine to shopping for carpets or ceramics in buzzing bazaars, discovering age-old traditions in Old Town, meeting with the native Berber people in the High Atlas Mountains, and more, an Intrepid trip lets you check authentic experiences in a sustainable fashion.
Be a Citizen Scientist at Refugio Amazonas | Peru
This 32-bedroom jungle lodge sits snug on a 200-hectare private reserve within the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve,
in Southeastern Peru. As the headquarters of Wired Amazon, the citizen science programme of Rainforest Expeditions, the lodge lets guests contribute to science or even discover a new species! The latter includes getting a lowdown from experts on identifying insects and visiting a ‘light trap’ to find the ones you’re looking for. Or you can explore Brazil-nut forests to see how locals harvest the nuts and transform them into familiar products. Some of the other experiences include jungle night walks to see the nocturnal denizens of the Amazon rainforest, medicinal plant trails, visits to clay licks to spy on macaws, parrots and parakeets, etc.
Learn the Sustainable Way of Building a Life | Netherlands
The Netherlands has been at the forefront of sustainability for years. They have been harnessing wind energy, and a few years ago, achieved their target of running their trains solely from this renewable source. Further, Amsterdam aims to be the first European city to achieve zero carbondioxide emissions by 2050. With 33,000 kilometres of cycling infrastructure, the country has been championing sustainable transport, and by 2030, it aims to make all cars electric. The Dutch have shown innovative solutions for the world to emulate. To show you how it’s done, Architour offers architecture tours guided by local experts. Take your pick from topics such as affordable housing, self-building, living on reclaimed land, and living on water.
Trek to See Mountain Gorillas | Rwanda
Rwanda is fast becoming the hub of luxury eco-tourism, with some of the most spectacular eco-lodges and resorts in East Africa. While the Akagera National Park is a single-use-plastic-free haven for wildlife enthusiasts, the oldest protected mountain rainforest in Nyungwe National Park is reminiscent of Jurassic Park. You can even visit the endangered mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. Rwanda Eco Tours offers a range of itineraries, starting from one day to 12 days. The Best of Rwanda tour starts with a city tour of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, covers the Akagera and Nyungwe National Parks, where you can trek to see chimpanzees, drive along the shores of Lake Kivu and possibly witness an eruption from nearby Mount Nyiragongo, and trek to meet the mountain gorillas in Parc National des Volcans.
Go on an Ecological Safari | Brazil
On an 18-day adventure in Brazil, explore the vast Pantanal to find South America’s Big Five—jaguar, giant anteater, giant otter, ocelot, and South American tapir—with Cheesemans’s Ecology Safaris. The late Cheesemans, Doug (a zoology and ecology professor) and Gail (a naturalist), turned their passion for nature into a travel company focussing on comprehensive wildlife tours all over the globe. These sustainable tours start in São Paulo, followed by a flight to Cuiabá in the northern part of the state of Mato Grosso, and eventually a combination of boat, bus, and jeep transfers to explore the world’s largest tropical wetland area. The Pantanal is famously a treasure trove of information for biologists and naturalists, some of whom you get to meet on this trip as you learn about the conservation efforts at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Go River-Rafting in Oregon | USA
The US state of Oregon offers some of the best white-water rafting in the world. The Rogue River is one of the most sought-after rafting destinations in the American West. Embark on a multi-day rafting adventure with ROW Adventures, an adventure travel company that advocates the transformative nature of human-powered experiences. Flowing from the Cascade Mountain Range near Crater Lake National Park into the Pacific Ocean, the Rogue River has stunning stretches for beginners as well as the most experienced rafters. Picturesque riverside accommodation options add to the charm of this nature-centric experience.
Save Trafficked Pangolins | South Africa
The world’s most trafficked animal, the pangolin, is poached at a rate of one every five minutes for its unique scales. AndBeyond’s Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa has a programme that reintroduces these endangered animals to the wild (every pangolin in this programme was retrieved from illegal wildlife poachers and traders), reversing local extinction. Guests can assist with tagging and monitoring, a rare opportunity as pangolins are notoriously elusive to spot.
Help in Protecting Rainforests | Borneo
Seacology is dedicated to protecting the unique habitats and cultures of islands. Since 1991, the organisation has launched more than 350 projects in 65 countries. It offers unique ecotourism adventures and sustainable tours on islands across the world, including Madagascar, Fiji, Grenada, Thailand, and more. In Borneo, the world’s third-largest island, you can join one of their active projects with the people of Kolosunan, a small village in the mountains up north, meet great apes in an orangutan rehabilitation facility, and witness more wildlife in Borneo’s spectacular rainforests.
Encounter Glaciers and Grizzlies | Alaska
Think Alaska and you picture huge glaciers, sub-zero temperatures, and Northern Lights. But the US state is also home to the
world’s largest brown bears, or grizzly bears. A nine-day Glaciers & Grizzlies Adventure with Gondwana Ecotours is a great way to experience the otherworldly destination. The sustainable tours include travelling across Seward, Homer, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Katmai National Park; to the famous Brooks Falls to watch the grizzlies fishing atop waterfalls; and offbeat excursions to places such as Swikshak Lagoon, Hallo Bay, Chinitna Bay, Moraine Creek, and Silver Salmon.
Befriend Belugas | Canada
Set out on a week-long expedition to the Great White North with Natural Habitat Adventures, the official travel partner of the World Wildlife Fund. Come summer, the polar bear capital of the world, Churchill, in Canada’s Manitoba province, transforms into a hotbed of wildflowers, welcoming flocks of birds and herds of animals back from hibernation. At the mouth of the Churchill River, dozens of pods of friendly white belugas draw attention. This 14-person adventure allows you to meet them at arm’s length and listen to their songs via hydrophone. It also involves a scenic helicopter ride over the region’s roadless terrain in search of polar bears, Arctic foxes, reindeer, and other wildlife.
Backpack from Coast to Coast | Iceland
Known as the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’, Iceland’s natural beauty is unmatched. It is also a leader in sustainability, as the country meets 90 per cent of its energy needs through renewables and aims to be carbon-neutral by 2040. One of the best ways to enjoy the wilderness of Iceland is on a backpacking expedition via sustainable tours. This 32-day tour is available through June-July and offers the ultimate challenge for backpackers. Covering a distance of 450 kilometres, through volcanic and glacial landscapes, you encounter all kinds of weather conditions as you move from the northern lowlands, across the highlands, to the southern coast.
Monitor Wildlife in the Desert | Dubai
In January 2023, Biosphere Expeditions is set to host an eight-day voluntourism experience in Dubai. The Arabian oryx and desert species conservation expedition involves camping in the middle of the desert, working alongside scientists from the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, and monitoring Arabian oryx, Gordon’s wildcat, red fox and sand fox, Arabian sand gazelle, and other desert species. The participants would be required to study and monitor animal behaviour with the help of camera- and live-traps, and radio and GPS telemetry. Leave the creature comforts behind for this one.
Undertake a Riverboat Expedition | Peru
On an eight-day Amazon Riverboat Exploration curated by Earthwatch, you can help in conserving river dolphins and protect the fragile South American wilderness aboard a riverboat deep in the heart of Peru’s flooded Amazon region. The vast, pristine Amazonian forests of northeastern Peru are home to an incredible diversity of wildlife. As you travel along the Yarapa River, you’ll spot pink river dolphins and caimans swimming through the waters, while monkeys and extraordinary birds move through the canopy overhead. In the lakes you can find manatees grazing, and sometimes you can even spot rare giant river otters hunting and playing.
Discover Wonders of Nature | Chile
A seven-day itinerary curated by &Beyond highlights the spectacular beauty of Chile and its pristine natural wonders. The sustainable tours begin in the stark landscape of the Atacama Desert, in the north of Chile. The scenic terrain includes arid desert, striking salt flats, thermal pools, geysers, marshes, lagoons, towering volcanoes, and a clear, limitless sky. The laid-back oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama, in the heart of the desert, offers a wide range of adventures and is the cradle of the area’s ancestral cultures. Clear, unpolluted desert night skies allow for unrivalled and unforgettable stargazing. Head to Pucón, known as the adventure capital of Chile, where you can partake in myriad outdoor activities such as rafting, hiking, skiing, kayaking, fly- fishing, mountain biking, and horse riding.
Go on a Carbon-Neutral Expedition to the Galápagos Islands | Ecuador
Lindblad Expeditions is a completely carbon- neutral company committed to green business operations. They have been working in the Galápagos for over 50 years, facilitating research, contributing towards the growth of young local scientists, promoting conservation, and investing in local communities. The company conducts a marquee expedition in the region, which includes discovering pristine beaches, kayaking, paddleboarding along volcanic shores, hiking, snorkelling, walking trails led by naturalists, as well as deep dives to meet marine life up-close. Together with the expertise of a crew of local Galapagueño members, the destination continues to inspire people years after Darwin did.
This is the final part of our five-part series —TL Conscious Travel List (compiled by Rashima Nagpal, Bayar Jain, Srushti Kulkarni, Shibani Bawa, Adila Matra, Sumeet Keswani) which lists 50 sustainable experiences and destinations around the world.