Part of making informed travel choices is knowing where to look. No matter what your passion or purpose, the world of ecotourism offers exciting destinations, stimulating tours and comfortable accommodations that benefit you, the local people and the planet.

Though currently only Australia and Costa Rica certify ecolodges and tours, The International Ecotourism Society and other international organizations have developed guidelines for travelers, along with environmental, conservation, and cultural guidelines for ecolodges and tours. Ecotravelers can use these guidelines to help make the most informed travel choices.

Discover the world of ecotourism and change the way you experience travel. Learn more about choosing  destinations, lodges, and ecotours that make a difference.



Choosing A Destination  

Imagine visiting an un-crowded, actively preserved coastline or rainforest, guided by locals who are ready and able to explain the natural wonders before you. Envision dining on fresh foods from local farmers and fishermen, shopping in vibrant markets, and sensing the wealth of pride among locals who are genuinely happy to meet you and share their world.

This vision of an educational, environmentally sensitive and culturally aware destination is no fantasy, but reality in many locations around the globe. From Africa to South America, eco-destinations offer informed travelers the opportunity to explore the world in a responsible, purposeful way.



Characteristics of a good  eco-destination might include:  

 Natural and cultural attractions that are protected and regulated and can be utilized by both tourists and locals      

Locally owned lodges, hotels, restaurants and  businesses

 Opportunities for participation, education and training for locals interested in tourism

An on-going sense of pride in environmental and cultural heritage


Choosing An Ecolodge

It's been a long trip to reach your destination. But when you arrive at your lodge, you are warmly greeted by your local host, who escorts you to your private bungalow beneath the palm trees. Constructed with minimal impact on the surrounding environment, using indigenous materials and low-impact technologies, your retreat is as close to nature as you can get.

Meals are superb--fresh produce, meats and seafood supplied by local farmers and fishermen--and the helpfulness of your hosts and the services of local guides are outstanding. In fact, your lodge is one of the highlights of your journey.

Thanks to the efforts of The International Ecotourism Society and other organizations worldwide, ecolodges in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia and elsewhere offer accommodations from deluxe rooms to tents, yurts and geo-domes. Most provide unique opportunities for privacy and relaxation, as well as nature trails, cultural demonstrations and other features of responsible accommodations.  


A good ecolodge should:

Provide comfortable, somewhat basic, small-scale rooms and common areas

Utilize traditional local designs and landscaping

Use local, sustainably harvested and/or recycled building materials

Purchase foodstuffs from local farmers

Use environmentally sensitive, renewable energy, water and waste disposal systems 

Employ and train local workers

Offer a variety of excursions and educational materials to natural and cultural sites

Support and be supported by the local community and businesses


Choosing An Ecotour

Imagine arriving in an unspoiled, exotic destination, filled with adventure, both natural and cultural. Your tour company has arranged days of excitement for you: river rafting, mountain climbing, the opportunity to visit nature preserves and meet with local people in their homes. Local, trained tour guides are ready and able to provide both expert information and fascinating local lore during your adventure.  

At the end of each full day of activities, you return to comfortable, unique and environmentally sensitive accommodations. Meals, cooked from produce grown by local farmers, are outstanding. Conversations with local hosts are interesting and friendly. 

Most important, you discover the tour company gives a portion of their profits back to conservation and preservation programs in the area.

Welcome to an ecotour: a well-planned, interactive learning experience that introduces small groups of travelers to new environments and cultures, while minimizing impact and supporting conservation efforts.  



Check to make sure your tour company:

Builds environmental and cultural awareness through education, activities, and pre-departure information

Minimizes impact on the environment  and the local culture

Provides direct financial benefits for conservation

Supports local businesses and service providers

Offers site-sensitive accommodations

Respects local culture   

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  2001 The International Ecotourism Society Burlington, VT USA

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