Tourism can be both a positive and a negative for some areas of the world. While tourists bring money and jobs to the economy, they also can reap havoc on our natural wildlife. When there just isn’t enough infrastructure to accommodate a surge in incoming travelers, our national parks, rainforests, coastlines, and ecosystems pay the price. It can become a never-ending cycle of development and preservation. In order to keep the travelers coming you need to keep the areas beautiful and serene. But in order to house all of these travelers you need more infrastructure.
If you’re interested in going off the grid to experience nature in its untouched natural beauty, these places are sure to speak to you. To learn more about eco-centers, check out prb.org. Here’s a list of a few of the most amazing ecotourism destinations in the world.
Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica
It’s no secret that Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful ecosystems in the world. Their largest national park, Corcovado National Park is a nature lover’s heaven. The park features 164 square miles of rainforest, beaches, and forests and is home to a whopping 13 different ecosystems.
While on a hike through the park you may have the privilege of seeing monkeys, anteaters, countless different exotic birds and more. On the shore, you may also see dolphins and whales swimming offshore. For lodging, there are several campsites located in the park borders as well as in eco-lodges.
Chi Phat Ecotourism Project, Cambodia
The community of Chi Phat was once a dangerous place for wildlife. Poaching and logging threatened to ruin the natural habitats of one of the biggest elephant populations in Asia. To turn things around, conservationists turned to the local community to stop poaching and logging and instead set up a community-based tourism center. The center now focuses on preservation, education, and conservation. The people that were once poachers are now some of the leading local tour guides and nature experts.
Lodging and meals are run by the community on homesteads. You can feel good about paying for your stay and special hikes through this natural wonder knowing that you’re also giving back to this community. Not only will you come up close and personal to elephants, but you can also drink water from the trees, see beautiful waterfalls and stargaze in hammocks throughout the jungle.
Akaroa, New Zealand
The Akaroa Harbor in New Zeland is home to the world’s smallest dolphin. These endangered species swim freely in this region due to a marine reserve that has been established here. On the reserve, you’ll also find the endangered white-flippered penguin. Here, you can take a cruise to see this rare wildlife in their natural habitat. Although there are other tours available, Black Cat Cruises has been nationally acclaimed for their efforts in conservation and eco-tourism. Every purchase gives back to a local community fund to protect these animals and the harbor.
Located in the Alps, the Carezza Ski Resort is focused on making a difference in the South Tyrol region. The ski resorts in this area are now run off of 98% renewable energy. At the Ccooow reach the town using a cable car in ten minutes without the use of a car. This resort has also joined forces with others to use solar energy, produce snow using conserved water and more.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda
Due to poaching, rhinos in Africa are an endangered species. You can now only see these rhinos on the reserve in the sanctuary.
Through an excursion on foot, you’ll be able to see these beautiful creatures living in their natural habitat, carefully protected.
Angami-Nagas is an indigenous tribe of the Nagaland region in India. This beautiful region is lush, green and full of wildlife. Although not many people travel to this region of India because of the political climate, it is well worth the trip. You can visit local farms, hike through lush forests and see how this small traditional community became an eco-village.
Since its establishment, this village has helped reduce poaching, logging and wildlife desecration. The conservation efforts and mindfulness in this community is a sight to see in and of itself.
Northland, New Zealand
If you’ve ever dreamt of a glamorous camping experience in a beautiful natural habitat, Northland, New Zealand might be your place. The High Forest Retreat features a camping experience like no other. With a small eco-footprint, this retreat features no electricity and light powered by solar power. Once here, you can explore and hike the beautiful forests. There is even a natural stream and bath where you can enjoy a soak. The retreat is located next to conservation land and a Kiwi sanctuary. These endangered and rare birds are well worth the hike if you are lucky enough to see one.
Otter Trail, South Africa
Known as one of the most scenic hiking trails in the world, the Otter Trail in South Africa is a wonder to behold. With a beautiful coastline, valleys and mountains of lush terrain, it’s hard to beat a wildlife experience like this one. This trail can be done in 5 days and includes sleeping in the forest with no electricity or cell phone reception.
With only 12 hikers allowed each day, keeping this region free from overcrowding is key. You’ll not only see amazing wildlife on land in the forest but you can also see dolphins just off the coast.