Contributed

Top 5 sustainable travel experiences

SUSTAINABLE travel is not just about reusing the towels in your hotel room. It is all about packing good environmental habits when you go on holiday and it is about swotting up your destination so that you respect the local culture, customs and physical environment.

Australian travel company, Adventure World has put together its Top Five Sustainable Travel Experiences – where you enjoy a rewarding experience while also contributing to the local culture and economy.

1. Bateleur Eco Safaris, Kruger National Park

Sharpen your bush skills, enjoy walking safaris and learn basic astronomy as you sleep under the stars in this environmentally friendly tented camp situated in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. 

In 2006 the owner of the camp, Andreas Liebenberg, won a conservation award as the most eco sensitive and conservation oriented landowner in the Timbavati Nature Reserve. The ecological footprint is kept to a minimum in the camp. Tents are based on concrete slabs to ensure water drainage. Solar power is used, and natural fuel such as wood is purchased from local community driven projects. More than 200 indigenous trees have been planted in the camp.

As well as enjoying bush walks in this interactive holiday, you will observe the wonderful local wildlife in game drives in open 4WD vehicles.

Accommodation is in ten large East African safari tents, each comfortably furnished with beds, bedside tables, 100 per cent cotton linen, towels, battery operated reading light, plus chest of drawers for clothing. Three tents feature ensuite facilities. However there are four separate flushing toilets, four open air showers, fuelled by wood fires, as well as four outdoor washbasins.


2. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador     Finch Bay Eco-Hotel & Yacht

 

The Galapagos are actually made up of 13 major islands, only five of which are inhabited. A World Heritage site, the islands resulted from volcanoes which erupted violently out of the sea. Plant and animal special traversed 1000 km of ocean to colonise the islands, leaving species isolated and evolving independently on different islands. The most famous, of course, are the giant Galapagos tortoises.

The picturesque Finch Bay hotel is located just steps from a secluded beach on the island of Santa Crus. The hotel is a leader in tourism for helping to protect this environmentally sensitive area. Finch Bay has the Smart Voyager Certification exclusively supplied to hotels in Ecuador which meet strict conservation standards. The hotel has its own vegetable garden and its own sewage treatment. The hotel is 15 minutes walk from the Charles Darwin Research Station and 30 minutes by land to the giant tortoise reserves and lava tunnels.

Designed to take full advantage of the natural surroundings, the eco hotel has 21 air conditioned rooms. Facilities include a swimming pool, restaurant and bar. Spend exciting days exploring this enchanted paradise with a wide range of activities both on land or at sea.

3. Volunteer in Vietnam
    Volunteer Vietnam – Village Well

Stay in a local home in Thai Binh village and work for five days on a project to assist a family to set up a water well, under the guidance of a local tradesman. Or during harvest time you could join villagers to help cut and water the rice paddy fields.

Thai Binh is located 100 km from Hanoi in the coastal area of the Vietnamese Northern Delta. This area was harshly hit as a result of the use of Agent Orange toxic herbicides used during the Vietnam War. Around 50,000 victims of Agent Orange continue to suffer both physically and emotionally with enduring ailments and disabilities, creating multiple generations who struggle to survive from day to day.

4. Cruising in Antarctica
    Antarctic Experience with Lindblad and National Geographic

This is the classic itinerary to the Antarctic. It delivers everything you want: huge tabular icebergs and hillsides covered with gentoo, Adelie or chinstrap penguins.

The trips departs from Ushuaia in Argentina, the world’s most southernmost city, and then crosses the Drake Passage. While in Antarctica you will be able to take Zodiac trips to get a closer look at the wildlife and the ice formations, or you can kayak alongside a cliffside rookery. You’ll learn from National Geographic Oceanite scientists how climate change is affecting the penguin populations and a National Geographic photographer will give you tips about how to take pictures in such a stark atmosphere.

You’ll explore the world’s last great wilderness in a company of a team of top naturalists – in fact from February 4-17, 2012 you will have the company of New Zealand climber and explorer Peter Hillary on board. You will also visit Petermann Islands, the site of the research group, Oceanites, whose efforts to inventory the region’s many bird species is supported by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.

5. Himalayan Village Walks

Enjoy spectacular Himalayan landscape while gaining insight into the lives and routine of the Kumaoni villages.

The Kumaon region in Uttranchal is blessed with captivating views of the Himalayas. The Kalmatia Sangam resort, perched on a hill, was originally built in 1837 by a British soldier and built in charming colonial style. A cluster of cottages have now been added to provide more accommodation. Not a tree was felled in their construction, as most cottages were built of stones, and most of the current hotel staff worked on the construction of the cottages. The staff, unlike in most local hotels, are permanently employed. Water is scarce in the region and water tanks have been constructed. Trees are planted every year using monsoon rain.

Kalmatia Sangam is home to diverse flora, such as cedars, cypresses, Himalayan oak, mimosa. It is also home to indigenous and migratory birds and there are occasional visits from leopards, jackals and foxes.


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