Magnificent Frigate, Galapagos Islands

The Benefits of Ecotourism

20 Top Travel Bloggers on the Importance of Nature Travel

 

What is ecotourism, and why does it matter? What are the benefits of ecotourism compared to other, less sustainable forms of travel? How can responsible ecotourism help to make the world a better place, preserving nature, wildlife, and the indigenous cultures that often depend on those ecosystems for sustenance? These are the questions that inspired us to launch Green Global Travel, and finding the answers has been the focus of our mission from day one.

 

As you may know, April 22 is Earth Day, an annual day for worldwide events demonstrating support for environmental protection. But it is our humble opinion that ecotourism– which we define as “Responsible travel to natural areas, which helps to conserve the environment and improve the welfare of local people”– offers a simple way that travelers can support environmental protection all year round.

 

In the two years since we launched this site, we’ve been extremely fortunate to visit some of the world’s most incredible ecotourism destinations, from the Galapagos Islands and the Peruvian Amazon to Churchill, Manitoba and Antarctica. Over the course of our travels, we’ve come to understand that exploring the world’s last remaining pristine ecosystems, seeing its most beautiful (and, in many cases, most endangered) species, and understanding its indigenous cultures enrich our lives immeasurably.

 

The benefits of ecotourism are not just measured in the amount of wilderness preserved, species saved, or economic impact on developing nations. There are intangible benefits as well, changing us as human beings and altering the way we perceive our role in the Universe. The more of these life-changing experiences we have, the more eager we become to protect these special places from the ravages of climate change and unsustainable development.

 

So this year, in observance of Earth Day, we reached out to 20 of our favorite travel bloggers to ask why ecotourism matters to them. From fellow nature/wildlife lovers and adventure travel specialists to family travel experts and cultural travel enthusiasts, what all of these bloggers have in common is a love of the great outdoors. Collectively, we hope their words will inspire you to travel the world, and to help protect it in the process…

 

Black Bear reflection, Outer B anks, orth carolina

 

Nancy Sathre-Vogel, Family On Bikes- “As a long-time schoolteacher who took her own children on a three-bike trip through the Americas, I am convinced that Mother Nature is the best teacher around. I saw profound differences in my sons when we camped out consistently: they were more creative, and argued less. When we consistently stayed indoors, they became more like ‘typical’ kids, with their noses crammed into their Nintendo or glued to the TV screen. If all kids could get out in nature, our world would be a very different place.”

 

Michael Turtle, Time Travel Turtle- “For me, one of the most fascinating things about nature is the relationship that people have with it. In some ways we have become the custodians of this world, and it’s important that that’s not abused. The way we treat our environment is a reflection on our society. It was a really special experience for me to spend a week working on turtle conservation on the coast of Uruguay, and not just because of the link with my blog’s name. I was surrounded by local South Americans, who were volunteering there because they felt passionate about the environment. Although I loved being around the animals and spending the day on the deserted beaches, what really touched me was the generosity of the people I met.”

 

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

 

Lainie Liberti, Raising Miro- “As we’ve learned from ancient cultures throughout the Americas, the Earth is believed to be a living entity. As her inhabitants, our relationship is designed to be symbiotic. Mother Earth, known as pachamama here in the Andes, is normally represented as a female fertility symbol. Indeed, the earth is fertile, supporting life through the trees that produce the clean air we breathe, the rich soil needed to grow food and abundant bodies of water to sustain all life. As humanity advances, it seems as if, collectively, we have neglected the most advanced technology ever designed… our delicate ecosystem. Ecotourism does matter, as it’s one opportunity to bring focus back to what matters most– the health of our precious mother earth.”

 

Ethan Gelber, The Travel Word- “Have you ever been out at night alone in the wild? I’ve lain alert for hours in Malawi, listening to a fanged maw gnaw at a kill. I’ve stood stock still, enthralled by a Maine forest’s nocturnal cacophony, only to move but a twig-snapping inch that precipitates silence. I’ve learned to accept a rising panic when all that separates me from a Sri Lankan jungle heavyweight is a rickety rattan blind. But in all three situations, I’ve been reminded that these habitats, animals and a sense of connection with the primeval are under threat. All because simple acts taken (or not taken), both at home and on the road, put the health of this precious planet at risk. Ecotourism helps put us in places that remind us we’re part of a global ecosystem… one we should embrace, especially out at night alone in the wild.”

 

leopard family south africa

 

Cristina Garcia Brindley, Travel For Wildlife- “Nature and wildlife give us a lesson in humility. All our problems seem insignificant when compared to those of a mother antelope fending off predators. When we travel in Southern Africa, we prefer to stay in unfenced camps. This allows us to feel an intimate connection to the environment. The thrill of being surrounded by potentially dangerous creatures is tempered by the realization that we are just one of the animals on this planet, and not its master. When we look up from our dinner to see a leopard watching over us, we keenly feel our place amongst the family of life on Earth.”

 

Laurel RobbinsMonkeys & Mountains-  “Seeing wildlife in the wild makes me feel more connected to nature, and to our planet. After diving with hundreds of schooling hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos, I was in complete awe of these amazing creatures. I knew afterwards that I needed to do something about the cruel and unsustainable practice of shark finning. It was now my responsibility– a way to say thank you for witnessing a phenomenon only seen in a few locations on earth. I have since signed hundreds of petitions and continue to raise awareness for the cause. I believe that experiencing a ‘WOW!’ moment in nature is the catalyst necessary for a lot of people to take positive action.”

 

Humpback Whale Tail in Antarctica

 

Michael McColl, Ethical Traveler- “Nature helps me see how I am part of a wild, vibrant world full of mysteries, tragedies and delights. It gets me out of my head, and connects me with the broader, non-human-centric world all around us.  Last year, on a trip to Laguna San Ignacio in Baja, we met a ‘friendly’ gray whale who decided to approach our small dingy of its own accord. She nudged her baby towards us, encouraging it to interact with us. Why? No one seemed to know. At one point she rolled her massive body sideways, so she could look me straight in the eye. She held her gaze for 30 seconds, her huge eye locked onto my eyes. What was she thinking? I don’t know, and I may never know. But I remain captivated by the memory…”

 

Barbara Weibel, Hole in the Donut-  “Some years ago, stressed by Bangkok’s incessant crowds and traffic, I fled to Khlong Saeng, a wildlife sanctuary on Thailand’s peninsula. In this virtually unknown paradise of dense jungle and sheer limestone pinnacles, a single Thai family had cobbled together a string of bamboo huts that floated on the sanctuary’s cobalt lake. Each morning I awoke to the whoops of gibbons; at night I was lulled to sleep by wild elephants slowly tramping through the forests. And I was renewed. I worry that these places of great beauty are fast disappearing and wonder what kind of world it will be if the calls of the gibbons are silenced.”

 

Icebergs in Antarctica

 

Audrey Scott, Uncornered Market- “Mother Nature has a way of humbling you, of providing perspective on life and our place in the universe when you most need it. When we visited Antarctica, Mother Nature showed its full force during the Drake Passage. Our boat spun in circles for 16 hours. But when we arrived south of the Antarctic Circle, there was a peaceful calm in the deep blues of the icebergs and darkness of the water. It was like she had put us through a test so we could truly appreciate her true beauty and not take it for granted. We didn’t. And we still don’t.”

 

Caz Makepeace, yTravel Blog- “Experiencing nature and wildlife is one of the major reasons I travel. It allows me to live in awe and to fully appreciate how interdependent all living things are. The Earth gives us all we need, and every creature plays a part in making sure we are all provided for. One of the most beautiful wildlife experiences we had was stumbling upon a mud bath in Africa’s Addo Elephant Park. Herds of elephants came loping down from the nearby hills to meet and play with their family and friends. We watched them bathe in mud and wash each other down. The most precious moment of all was when a young calf and a baby elephant saw each other in the distance and ran towards each other, linking their trunks in greeting before running off to play. It was a priceless moment that can never be matched.”

 

Red-Eyed Tree Frog in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

 

Iain Mallory, Mallory On Travel- “It seems essential that we protect all of nature. It’s not merely the great whales, polar bears, rhinos– the ‘poster species’ of environmental groups– that need protection. It’s vital that more humble creatures are also protected. At the moment a whole animal kingdom class, the amphibians, is endangered, and in many cases critically. The effect of losing any species can have catastrophic effects on entire ecosystems. Ultimately, it is the ecosystems themselves that need to be protected, as habitat destruction is responsible for the loss of numerous species. They are the last refuges for the wonderful biodiversity of our planet. We have a responsibility to preserve them, both for the sake of future generations and because it is simply the right thing to do!”

 

Matt Gibson, MattGibson.org-  “I love (and write about) ecotourism because it offers developing countries responsible and sustainable methods for using their natural resources to grow their economies. But I also think it’s an essential part of travel.  Trying to understand a culture without learning about the geography and ecosystem that moulded it is like trying to understand a person without meeting their family.”

 

Sunset in Wadi Rum, Jordan

 

Jeremy Branham, Budget Travel Adventures-  “When I was younger, I never spent much time hiking or in the outdoors. As I’ve gotten older, it’s become an essential part of who I am and what I enjoy doing. I can’t say I’ve always been a huge fan of ecotourism. However, when your soul and spirit are touched by nature in a way that the world becomes calm and makes sense, there’s something about preserving its beauty that really does matter.”

 

Mariellen Ward, BreatheDreamGo-  “Traveling in Canada and India, there’s no doubt that I feel much more connected spiritually to our world and the cosmos when I am surrounded by a natural environment. The rugged Canadian wilderness, the Himalayas, a pristine stretch of the Ganga (Ganges River) as it flows through a national park in north India, and the great Thar desert in Rajasthan are some of the most beautiful, powerful places I’ve visited. One night in Jaisalmer, I went out into the dunes and slept on the perfect sand, kept awake all night by the shower of pulsating stars above me. At Aurovalley Ashram near Rishikesh, I meditated by staring at the fast-flowing Ganga and the mist-draped hills of Rajaji National Park. Canoeing at dusk on a forest-encircled lake in Canada, I saw a hawk fly across the face of the setting sun. These experiences made me feel part of the living consciousness that cradles all of us.”

 

BBlack Tip Reef Sharks Tahiti

 

Matthew Karsten, Expert Vagabond- “I’ve always loved wildlife and the natural world, but it wasn’t until I began traveling that I became acutely aware of the significant threats facing Earth’s beautiful creatures. In Fiji I was able to scuba dive with many different species of sharks in a protected ocean marine reserve, learning how overfishing was quickly contributing to their decline all over the world.  Swimming face to face with sharks completely changed my previous perception of them as dangerous man-eaters. Responsible ecotourism helps spread awareness and respect for the other lifeforms we share our planet with. Locals benefit by saving their natural wonders, not destroying them.”

 

Jen Miner, The Vacation Gals- “The ocean covers around 70% of our planet’s surface. Scuba divers and snorkelers are privy to glimpses of a world that seems foreign to landlubbers. One moment we’re bobbing along in the sunlight; the next, everything is blue and quiet. Exploring underwater is akin to exploring a new world. Recently, off the coast of Maui, while floating along and admiring the yellow tangs, wrasses, and one crabby-looking moray eel, I turned to the right. I stopped in my tracks (if snorkelers have tracks). Seven feet in front of me, a green sea turtle casually bobbed along. Without intending to, I drifted closer. It didn’t mind. We both stayed still. Eventually, it tired of the pale alien creature staring at it, and dove lazily to the bottom. Unexpected encounters like this one make vacations into memorable travel experiences. And, this Earth Day, I am grateful for destinations like Maui, for taking care of the island, its waters, and its flora and fauna.”

 

 

Diana Edelman, D Travels Round- “Wildlife species are currently dwindling across the world as their habitat is encroached on and the demand for them used in tourism, medicine and entertainment increases. When I first visited Elephant Nature Park in 2011, it made a lasting impact on me. I learned about the abuse Asian elephants face in the name of tourism, and vowed to raise awareness about what the animals go through in order to satiate an unnecessary human desire. With education, people around the world can make a difference.”

 

Jessie Voigts, Wandering Educators- “When we travel, we seek out nature, quiet, a place to be and explore locally. One travel experience that profoundly impacted our family was living in a seaside house on the Ring of Kerry. Experiencing the flow of the tides– and seeing the immediate impact it had on fishing, animals, and the landscape– was incredible. We were outside as much as possible, even in the amazing daily Irish rain. When I think of Ireland, I think of that green location, and how being outside, in nature, was the essence of the country.”

 

Sunset on the Amazon River, Peru

 

Jim O’Donnell, Around the World in 80 Years- “Travel has taught me that it IS possible for humans to work with, and be part of, nature. In the swampy delta of India’s Mandovi River, my friend Meghnath introduced me to a food forest. His mother has a garden there and sells the produce in Goa, and food was the jumping off point for our friendship. Meghnath showed me that the food forest– an ancient agricultural concept that mimics nature– is a self-sustaining system of multi-storied trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, pollinators, soil, water and human beings. The food forest thrives on biodiversity, and the interplay between humans and wilderness. As an avid traveler who is passionate about both food and nature, the experience taught me to seek out in my journeys those transition zones where people become one with the natural world.”

 

Karen Catchpole, Trans-Americas Journey- We created our Trans-Americas Journey road trip through the Americas with a focus on wild spaces, parks and nature. Yes, we like hanging out amongst the trees. But the real thrill, for us, comes when a wild animal chooses to let us see it. We’ve spent enough years in the outdoors to know that it’s the height of hubris to think that we see them. We don’t: We merely stumble close enough to a creature, which then decides to show itself (or not). Every glimpse is a gift and, in the past six years, we’ve received a lot of them, including wild time spent with resplendent quetzal birds, snorkeling with whale sharks, watching grizzlies gorge themselves, scuba diving with hammerheads and dolphins, camping underneath howler monkeys, and so much more. Many thanks, mother nature!  –photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, unless otherwise noted

 

How has nature travel changed you?  Why is ecotourism important?

Add your voice to the conversation below.

 

If you enjoyed reading about The Benefits of Ecotourism, you might also like:

The Beauty of Nature Travel: A Blog Round-Up

GO GREEN TIP #98: 40 Earth Day Tips For Going Green

Easy Ecotourism: 10 Simple Steps To More Sustainable Travel

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85 Responses to The Benefits of Ecotourism: 20 Top Travel Bloggers on the Importance of Nature Travel

  • Jennifer says:

    What I really love about this round-up post is that the places and animals highlighted are so diverse. To the more romantic and mushy-minded among us (hello!) this makes this Earth Day round-up post a metaphor for the importance of biodiversity. Thanks, Bret and Mary.

    • The funny thing is that there was no intentional coordination for the purposes of diversity. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even read anyone’s entries until we edited it last night, and none of the writers involved knew what the other bloggers had written. As you said, it’s such a great metaphor for symbiotic biodiversity: Together, we told the story of the planet!

  • I read the entries for top 20 travel bloggers and not only found them interesting, but also inspired us to contribute. I would encourage others to post-comment their take on the benefits of ecotourism. Bret and Mary, I hope this is appropriate. Please let us know if it is not or delete the post as needed.

    Alfredo Begazo and David Moran, Surbound Explorer http://www.surbound.com/blog. From weighing baby macaws in the rainforest, videoing pink river dolphins in the Peruvian Amazon, working as nature tour guides, to long evening conversations with leaders in the eco-tourism industry and nature conservation organizations (as they visited the sites we were working at), we believe the link between nature and people exists in all of us. There is a deeply ingrained desire to connect with wildlife and nature sites. For some is more than a pastime or a hobby, it’s a way of live. For others, the bond to nature and the outdoors may be dormant waiting to be tapped. As nature travel writers, nature photographers, ecotourism outfitters, or service providers, it is our collective mission to help people revive this bond. Each post, article, travel log, inspiring photo, and nature travel experience counts towards our collective mission. Why ecotourism matter to us? Because it is a way to help connect people with nature and inspiring places.

  • Victoria says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post and to all who shared. As I sit with my kitty on my lap and can see the blue sky and silent stoic trees…I am reminded that we ARE Mother Nature! All of us…everything…and it’s an act of self-destruction when we forget…when we contribute or allow her…us to be violated.
    Vigilance, awareness, with every breath and act is how we must all live…we are guests no matter where we live or travel…all sharing this experience together.

    • I think it’s important that we see ourselves, not merely as guests, but as caretakers for this precious planet. I don’t think it’s enough these days not to add to the self-destruction: I think we need to take small individual steps towards addressing the destruction of the 100+ years since the industrial revolution. Only through collective action can we hope to reverse the increasingly alarming global environmental trends. And traveling and living more sustainably can be a great first step.

  • Bret and Mary, thanks so much for including me in this roundup of eco-minded travel bloggers. I write about culture, not only because I’m fascinated by other cultures, but also because I believe all war and hatred stems from fear of others whom we see as different from ourselves. By spending time with different cultures around the world, I have come to believe that people everywhere are more similar than different. So when I travel I try to eat at local restaurants, stay with local families, buy goods made by locals, etc. By doing so I am not only supporting the local economy, but I’m learning, which allows me to share this with my readers. Hopefully, my articles encourage others who travel overseas to take a more local approach as well.

    • I agree, Barbara: Traveling and learning about other people, other cultures, other ecosystems can only serve to reinforce the connections that bind us all together. Mutual understanding and enlightenment are, in my eyes, the primary keys to a brighter future for the entire planet.

  • Cheryl says:

    Not only is ecotourism so important in this day, but let’s not forget slow travel and the patience it actually takes to observe nature without disruptions. Spending a month (or more) in a location gives one a feel for the flora, fauna and language of the plants and animals. Travel slowly so that we may all have a chance to see the beauty of the world.

    • Cheryl, I do understand what you’re saying, but we’re careful not to emphasize “slow travel” over any other form of ecotourism. It’s great if people have lives that allow them to spend a month in a given location. But even if they don’t, there are things you can learn and experience in a week, or even a few days, that can change the course of your life forever. In our eyes, even a single day spent embracing the beauty of nature can make a world of difference in your mind, body, soul and spirit. We try to get out and enjoy the natural world as often as we can, even if it’s only at the lake located 20 minutes from our house.

  • Great post, Bret and Mary! Thank you for keeping this issue alive. This is more than a cause du jour. Eco-consciousness is vital to the future of our planet. The vibrancy and vitality of our planet’s diverse life depend on the everyday choices that we make. In my 68 years I have seen the issue of ecology go from being considered a peripheral issue to a political one to now, being so vital that it transcends politics. Besides that, there need to be places that people can go to escape the toxicity of everyday life in a hectic scramble for existence. Our health and sanity depend on it.

    • Sustainability is definitely more than a cause du jour! It’s a gradual recognition that the rush to “progress” that began with the dawn of Industrial Revolution is having unexpected consequences that are endangering the lives of people, animals and ecosystems around the world. Just as people used to smoke cigarettes indoors and drive without seat belts, I think we’re starting to realize that our reliance on fossil fuels and chemicals that pollute the ground and water will eventually have serious long-term consequences. As the public consciousness shifts in a more eco-friendly direction (with recycling, alternative energy, etc), eventually political policies will need to shift as well. Hopefully in the next 10 years will see widespread bans on fracking, unsustainable farming practices, plastic bags and the like, and sustainable energy becoming the norm rather than the exception.

  • Great site. Very diverse set of locations and attractions. Eco-tourism is great not only for the reduced impact it leaves, but because it introduces a new set of people to some of the world’s greatest natural wonders and teaches about why it’s so important to guard them.

  • Thank you for this post Bret and for including us. I truly believe that travel is the most important thing anyone can do to change their life and empower themselves I think travel teaches us to be in awe of the planet and therefore love and respect it–the environment and all living things. IT teaches you not to be fearful, that every single person you meet is like you despite the differences. They all love, hope and dream in the same way and THAT is all that is important.
    It’s why we started our travel blog. Helping one person at a time change their life through travel. I know if I can do that small thing, the world will slowly start to move towards peace

    • That’s a great philosophy, Caz. Hopefully, over time, we can individually and collectively make a difference in the way people travel, encouraging them to see the planet– its amazing ecosystems, animals and human cultures– with respect and awe, and to take a more active role in doing the little things to preserve it. Like you said, one person at a time, one small step at a time, I believe we can change the world.

  • Since the time I first ventured into Himalayas, I have been smitten by the beauty of this world. I used to dream of all the beautiful places I saw in NatGeo but never expected such places to be so close to my home. I live and travel in India, but never knew India had such natural diversity until then. From the lofty Himalayas to salt deserts to tropical forests to remote islands, I am taking my time and experiencing each one of these natural wonders. It was in these quiet places I got a chance to organize my thoughts, learn what is important and understand how unfortunate it would be, if we destroy this world under the pretext of mindless development.

    But the point is, if I hadn’t visited any of these places, I never would’ve understood their importance. To that effect, eco-tourism is vital to reinforce the broken bonds with nature.

    • Well stated, Neelima! We’ve heard from quite a few of our friends about the transformative power of travel to India and the Himalayas, but I’ve never been there myself. Hoping to make a trip to India later this year. But Asia on the whole is obviously a key region for conservationists, and we’re hoping those ecosystems you mentioned will be protected for generations to come.

  • Amazing post guys! So good to hear everyone’s personal views on ecotourism, what drives them to write about it, and to see how similar so many of us are in the way we travel.
    And Bret, thanks for suggesting I post my bit here :)

    “Coming face-to-face with animals in their own habitat makes me realise how human I am. How small and insignificant, yet still a part of something so big it’s hard to comprehend. After many years of diving, I still hadn’t seen the ever-elusive manta ray, until, one day, what I thought was a dive boat overhead turned out to be my raison d’être. Directly above me, within touching distance, was a 10m-wide manta ray circling as gracefully as an eagle in flight. I was completely awestruck. This one moment encouraged me to enrol in a marine conservation project, researching manta rays.”
    Eco Traveller Guide

  • Thanks so much for including me. What a phenomenal round-up!

    • Thanks so much for your contribution! It’s inspiring to see how your passion for protecting wildlife has actually led to a job with Save Elephant Foundation, and the work they’re doing in Thailand is a great model for other wildlife sanctuaries around the world.

  • I love the photos. I need to find time to spend more time in nature. I usually end up traveling from one big city to another ignoring the beauties in between.

    • That’s funny because we’re the exact opposite: We usually spend only one night in major tourist towns (Bozeman, Lima, Santiago, etc), then head out into the wilderness the next day. Asheville, North Carolina was the rare city we actually want to go back to and explore in much greater detail.

  • We love spending time in nature wherever we go. It’s so important to take care of our natural world, its survival means our survival :)

  • Great round up for Earth Day! Paints such a beautiful picture about why the outdoors and nature matter. So many different reasons for loving this place we call home.

    • Thanks, Jeremy! I my eyes, there are as many reasons to love the planet as there are people and animals who inhabit it. Each and every living thing offers its own unique form of beauty.

  • Vera says:

    Great post! Travelling takes you out of your bubble, helps you see the bigger picture and understand the interconnectedness of things. Through beautiful moments you experience the preciousness of nature and become inspired to support and not to harm her. Happy Earth Day!

  • Thanks for this awesome post guys. It was a great idea! Ecotourism is one of the most important sustainable forms — not only of tourism — but of development in third-world countries, which makes it doubly important in my eyes.

    • Agreed, Matt. Sustainable travel, sustainable living, and sustainable development must all work hand-in-hand if preservation is to work long-term. You only have to look to places like the rainforests of Indonesia and the Brazilian Amazon to see the devastating effects unsustainable development can have on important ecosystems.

  • Jenna says:

    Keep it up. This is SUCH an important issue.
    I especially like what Diana said.

    • Thanks, Jenna! Even though writing about the importance of conservation and sustainability isn’t as “sexy” as stories about traveling, we will continue to emphasize those subjects in our work. Mainly because, without a long-term focus on conservation and sustainability, the type of travel that we prefer to do won’t exist in a few decades. I wish more people understood (and wrote about) the inherent connection between the two…

  • Bijaya Ghimire says:

    This must be the travel ethics of our time. Travelling without giving pain to mother Earth. Great post

    • Thanks, Bijaya! Hopefully we’ll continue to see a gradual shift in the public consciousness in this regard. It just takes time, patience and persistence to educate the average traveler on the incredible benefits of ecotourism.

  • Monette says:

    Knowledge of the outdoors educates people about the importance of wildlife and preserving their habitats. It also allows respect between and among peoples’ culture and beliefs. As was said, ecotourism impacts the way travelers perceive things and may even stimulate creativity and innovation.

    • Agreed. I am definitely more creative when I’m out in nature, perhaps because being free from the distractions of modern-day society allows me to think more clearly. I need to spend more time away from phone/computer/TV/etc.

  • Talon says:

    So bummed I spaced out and couldn’t join in! But I’m glad someone talked about sharks. Like Matt shared, I never really fully appreciated sharks until I was in the water with them. While becoming a scuba instructor, I learned how critical they are for healthy oceans, but actually diving and spending time with them, staring into their eyes and feeling their intelligence really gave me a deep appreciation for them.

    Great roundup!

  • gabi klaf says:

    what an inspirational post. so much respect for mother earth and her endless power, perseverance, and beauty. we’ve found world travel has brought us to jungles, forests, oceans, and most notably, sunsets, and have changed our life view into one that breathes that energy. thank you bret. wonderful read.

    • Thanks, Gabi! I find that the more time we spend in nature, the more it changes us. After months of living in the suburbs, getting out into the woods/jungle/river/lake really is like a breath of fresh air. It’s like a healing salve for the soul.

  • Gustavo Bassotti says:

    Nature travels give you the opportunity to reach other feelings, new spiritual levels, being with your feet on earth. If we are sensitive during our trips in nature, we can find amazing worlds in each square meter.
    Thank you all bloggers to keep this in everybody’s minds.
    Great post.
    Gustavo

  • Ali says:

    Great round up! I agree that it’s so important to preserve the world around us. It’s interesting to hear so many different perspectives about such a variety of places around the world. Makes it all easier to relate to when you can read about something specific like gibbons or elephants or a specific place like India. I’m glad you guys keep bringing attention to such an important topic.

    • Thanks, Ali. I think the more travelers (and travel bloggers) have these sorts of deep, personal encounters with nature and wildlife, the more they’re inspired to talk about them, and the more others are encouraged to try it themselves. I see it as a chain of enlightenment that will gradually change the way people travel, and ultimately change the world.

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  • Larissa says:

    Great post, Bret and Mary! I appreciated reading suggestions of places I hadn’t considered before. Michael and I also occasionally take an alternate approach to eco-tourism: visiting places that have been ruined. Admittedly it’s a bit “out-there”, (and we do it for a day–not for an entire vacation) but’s fascinating and sobering to see a reminder of what can happen if we neglect our planet. Viva la Earth Day! :)

    • We’ve never done places like Chernobyl and such, but I admit that I do find stories about those places fascinating. I’m so emotionally empathetic that I’m afraid I’d be overwhelmed by visiting, say, the Killing Fields. I prefer places where the history of human horror and devastation isn’t quite so fresh.

  • As a travel blogger, it sometimes makes me feel guilty to write about a place, promote it, and see afterwards the effect of tourism on the once-pristine beauty. I know tourists are bound to find out about it, with or without my blog, but I still feel responsible when it happens. That’s why I see advocacies on ecotourism or sustainable tourist as very important. Thanks for this excellent post!

    • I understand what you’re saying, for sure. Just saying “Go visit the Amazon!” without talking about the problems currently facing that ecosystem and the need for sustainable preservation of the region is irresponsible. That’s why we try to reinforce the philosophy behind responsible ecotourism as often as possible. I sometimes worry that we sound like a broken record!

  • Victoria says:

    Happy Earth Day!

    I think it’s important to remember that being a green or “eco-tourist” isn’t just about going to faraway, pristine places, it’s about how we choose travel providers and how we behave wherever we go. Whether it’s backpacking and trekking, cruising or taking a tour, we can choose “green”.

    • Agreed! Being a “green” traveler involves lots of little choices you make along the way. Whether we’re on a “staycation” at the lake 20 minutes form our house, a road trip to North Carolina, or flying to the Middle East or South Pacific, we always try to make the choices that will allow us to travel as eco-friendly as possible.

  • Red Hunt says:

    Great contributions and stories collected here Bret, such a fantastic post. Nature is my inspiration for travel and I echo the same feelings and similar experiences of many people here. One thing I do every year is take a short solo-camping trip here in Canada. It’s my way of checking to see that my own life/work balance is “sustainable” itself and that my health and happiness levels are are also in-check.

    • Thanks so much! Camping is definitely a great way to get back in touch with nature, and with yourself. Hoping to do some in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park later this year.

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  • I wholeheartedly agree with Nancy – as a teacher, I’m often horrified to discover that many of my teenage students don’t pick up a book or haven’t visited the natural history or environmental attractions available in Spain (Doñana, for example, is less than an hour away from Seville). Kids benefit in countless ways, the same way we do as adults.

    • Agreed. Being able to educate my daughter on ecotourism, marine conservation, global warming and the science behind sustainable ecosystems has been one of the most rewarding benefits of Green Global Travel’s success.

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  • Kate says:

    I especially love Nancy, Lainie, and Barbara’s contributions here. I am inspired by Nancy and fam’s epic trip on an almost daily basis as I’m getting ready for my own open-ended travels. Anytime I think something is hard, I think “Nancy took her kids biked from Alaska to Argentina, this is not hard!”

    • Yeah, Nancy’s adventure seems remarkable to me! I wish that long-term travel with my kiddo was an option. But, as a divorced co-parent, I’m limited to a few weeks of travel at a time, at least until she graduates high school.

  • Fantastic roundup. I always take some time to find nature on every trip, even if that only means strolling through an urban park for a couple hours to get away from city life. It refreshes the body and mind. And I go to national parks every chance I get!

  • Ben Sherman says:

    Every blogger and responder offers eloquent expressions about their observations and attachments to the natural world. Bret and Mary mention “preserving nature, wildlife, and the indigenous cultures that often depend on those ecosystems for sustenance.” Indigenous populations are threatened throughout the world, often surviving in the margins where one can find tourists and bloggers admiring natural wonders.

    I would challenge each of you to examine your inner feelings and see if you are as concerned about the preservation and restoration of Indigenous cultures and their homelands as you are about the beautiful animals and plants. Do you understand and heed the natural laws that connect all humankind and living and inanimate things in the sacred circle of life?

  • we are in love with nature, will always be. this is a great theme, thank you for sharing it to the world. we hope more and more people will value the importance of ecotourism,

  • Justin says:

    Great post and some insightful thoughts!

    As we travel around, we find again and again that there is nothing quite like nature. It surprises us always, and the thought of losing what is have in nature is very scary. Thanks again for keeping us up to task!

    • Thanks, Justin! The prospect of losing our favorite natural attractions and wildlife is definitely a big part of what drives GGT, and our travels. Hopefully we can inspire others as well.

  • Cassie says:

    Great collection of thoughts. Matt Gibson’s first comment resonate most with me. One of the many things I think is important about ecotourism is the impact on local communities. Less sustainable land uses may offer a quick buck, but in the long term it’s better for the community to build an economy that protects and strengthens their natural resources.

  • Larry Silva says:

    It is very helpful ! Thanks for this fantastic post….:)
    I LOVE THE ANIMALS!! <3

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  • travelopod says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post and to all who shared it. Let’s not forget the slow travel and patience it actually takes to observe nature without disruptions.

    • Agreed. We often wish we had more time to travel slower, as that would be our preferred method in a perfect world. As it is, we usually have to see as much of a country as possible in a very short amount of time, usually a week or two at most. But we do try to take what little time we do have to savor the beauty of nature, and to share our appreciation with others.

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  • Angela says:

    I love traveling to places where nature is held in great consideration and protected. Recently I’ve been to Sri Lanka and visited places hit by the deadly tsunami of 2004. One of those places was Yara national park, where local wildlife lives protected, and one of the things all tour guides always say to visitors is that no animal had been killed by the huge wave. Why? Because they felt it, they have that connection with nature we humans have long lost but that it’s crucial even for our survival. This is why I’m always fascinated by all things natural, and I think everybody should somehow “get back” to the origins :)

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Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is an ecotourism, nature / wildlife conservation & cultural preservation magazine. More about us.

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Check out our other sites! Green Travel Media
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Proud members of: The International Ecotourism Society

As Seen In:

Destinations We’ve Covered:

• AFRICA
Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

 
• ANTARCTICA
How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
 
• ASIA
India- Ranthambhore National Park
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
 
• AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities

 

• NORTH AMERICA
CANADA
Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

UNITED STATES
America’s Best Volcanoes
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

MEXICO
Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba
 
• CARIBBEAN