More and more of us these days are concerned about the impact we’re having on the environment. Gone are the days when we’d blithely fill our cars with leaded petrol, fling out our rubbish in un-recycled bulk, and jet off for a holiday that was ruinously bad for the environment. What is more, with our increased eco-conscious attitude has come a renewed interest in the natural world around us – rather than picking concrete resorts, more of us want their holiday to take them ‘back to nature’ (in the most environmentally friendly way possible, of course). An ‘eco-tourism’ industry has sprung up to accommodate these desires.
Best Eco Friendly Holidays with a Conscience
Eco-tour operators offer a fantastically wide range of experiences for the discerning consumer. Here are a few of the best eco friendly holidays:
Compass Cay, Bahamas
If you like your holiday to have a touch of paradise, then Compass Cay is for you. This privately-owned island offers not only turquoise oceans, soft white sands, palm trees, and a tropical climate – it also provides thoroughly ‘green’ accommodation designed to complement and work with rather than detract from the natural environment. The island’s owner protects and cares for a school of nursing sharks, which are surprisingly adorable. Visitors can swim with and even pet the sharks (don’t worry – they’re not particularly dangerous!) The holiday itself is a little on the pricey side, but much of the revenue goes towards the protection of the sharks and other marine life so, not only do you get an amazing holiday in paradise, you also contribute to the cause of marine biodiversity.
Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, UAE
Dubai, bustling city of skyscrapers and oil barons, does not seem like your typical eco-tourism destination. However, just a few miles outside Dubai is the Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa. This wonderfully luxurious resort boasts 100% recycling of its water, and draws extensively upon Bedouin heritage. It is located within the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, in which many threatened species (including the Arabian Oryx) are protected and preserved. The resort contributes to the preservation and enhancement of the reserve not only through its work in raising awareness and bringing in money, but through its seed-bank of over 6,000 indigenous plants, trees, and shrubs. It also has incredibly luxuriant accommodation, a spa that would delight Cleopatra herself, and offers experiences such as camel trekking, falconry, and desert safaris.
Part of the problem many people have with ecotourism is that it often comes with a heavy price tag. However, there is no need to break the bank in order to save the planet. There are plenty of ways in which one can enjoy an eco-friendly holiday at home. Camping, or house-swapping is a great way to get away from it all, maintain your green credentials, and (crucially) keep costs low. If you pick the right week (or don’t mind if the weather doesn’t play ball), camping can be an absolutely fantastic way to spend a holiday, with minimal environmental impact. It may even help your body clocks to re-sync with nature, meaning that you’ll pack up and leave at the end not only more in-tune with the environment, but with your self and your body. Britain is full of great camping locations – there are thousands of managed campsites to choose from or, if you can get permission from the landowner, you could go ‘wild’ camping. Just be sure to clean up after yourself and, if you must light a fire, do so with all due caution and respect for the local conditions.
Campi Ya Kanzi, Kenya
Campi Ya Kanzi is an African safari with a difference. Built with the aid and expertise of the Maasai tribe, on protected native land, this safari offers a wildlife-and-wilderness experience which works upon ancient Maasai principles of oneness with the land, and operates with deep respect for Maasai culture. You’ll see lions and zebras, giraffes and elephants – all of the African biggies – set against the awesome backdrop of Kilimanjaro. The lodges are almost entirely sustainable, and the safari experience is as good for the soul as it is for your camera-card. For every day spent by a visitor at Campi Ya Kanzi, the camp donates $100 US towards Maasai conservation and the preservation of the wildlife upon their land.