Category Archives: ecotourism

An Earth Day Gift for You – 5 Tips for Responsible Travel

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Earthday

It’s been many years since the terms ecotourism and sustainable travel first developed. Since then, the complex relationship between travel and responsibility to our planet, has grown in importance. Some even declare it an oxymoron to put the two together – opposites, like oil and water. Well, pardon us if we disagree.

Not only are there ways that tourism can benefit everyone, but the concept of  responsible travel is becoming more mainstream.

waterfallThe economic and social benefits of tourism are more obvious, particularly in developing countries, because (if done correctly) tourism can create jobs and increase the country’s revenue. It can also improve infrastructure and cultural understanding between guest and host. The environmental benefits are sometimes less obvious. However, tourism has helped promote awareness and conservation of natural resources and wildlife.

We thought that Earth Day would be a good opportunity to provide you with a list of a few things that you can do on your next trip, to be a more responsible traveler. This is not a comprehensive list. Travelers can do various little things to tread lightly and create a positive impact on the destinations they visit.

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  • Support local economies by buying local handicrafts and food that has not been imported.
  • Travel by public transportation within the destination, or better yet, walk or bike.
  • Respect the culture and engage with the local people.
  • Use natural resources sparingly.
  • Don’t buy bottled water – bring your own canteen instead.

*Bonus tip! Contact us to help you select sustainable hotels and local guides for a memorable (and responsible) holiday!

We would love to hear what responsible efforts (big or small) have you made while traveling.

Rainforest Lullaby

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Have you ever slept in the jungle? With the rhythm of nocturnal animals and the hum of insects soothing you to sleep? It might not be the soundless night you are familiar with, but there is a reason they make CDs of rainforest sounds with the purpose of lulling babies to sleep. It’s no secret that the noise of the jungle can be calming.

monkey in rainforestHowever, the best part of sleeping in the jungle might not be the sleeping at all. It might be waking up, to the mysterious sounds of the early risers, frolicking in the trees all around you. What will first cause you to stir? Will it be the high-pitched bird songs, the low cry of the howler monkey, the splashing of pelicans diving into the ocean for breakfast, or all of the above? You might be up early, but that’s okay. You need to set off in pursuit of those sounds.

Thinking of all this, caused me to modify one of my favorite poems:

 

 

“If Once You’ve Slept in the Jungle” {Adapted from the poem “If Once You’ve Slept on an Island” by Rachel Lyman Field}

If once you have slept in the jungle
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name, rainforest drops
You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see leaves of green and colorful birds
Wherever your feet may go.
You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear birds whistle and monkeys howl
And rain beat through your sleep.
Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept in the jungle,
You’ll never be quite the same.

Sunset Saturdays (aka #SunsetSaturdays)

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Costa Rica sunset

Photo courtesy of GreenSpot traveler, Eric Asch

sunset and palm trees

Palm trees: A sunset’s best friend

Every day, in every part of the world, the sun falls below the horizon. This happens rain or shine, in summer and through winter. We might be stating the obvious; however, the spectacle of a truly beautiful sunset is something that most of us do not take for granted. In fact, I wonder if you can remember some of the most striking sunsets you have seen in your lifetime. I bet you can. You might even be able to remember what you did that day or something that made that moment special. Maybe you have spent time chasing a sunset or put a lot of thought into the best place to see the sun go down. You might even have a picture of a sunset that capped off a special day.

The beauty often requires no filter and perhaps the most splendid can be seen amid stormy skies, when the colors can reflect upon the clouds. Yet, most people would agree that it is less about the photography and more about the moment. It is true that each sunset is unique in color and hue, yet they are also unique to each onlooker. We are most interested in what is happening on the other side of that vibrant glow…a couple holding hands; friends sharing cocktails; a family relishing a much needed break; the traveler reflecting on the adventures of the day…

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Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand

For example, the photograph to the left is a favorite of mine. Usually the one pressing the shutter, I am rarely the subject of a photograph, yet my husband snapped this picture of me (left), gazing at the sunset on the Thai island of Ko Pha Ngan. I remember, I was not only captivated by the beauty of the sky, but by the overwhelming gratitude I had for that moment. This photograph always reminds me of that feeling.

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Costa Rica sunset

A sunset often generates a sense of tranquility that many of us wish we could capture more often. This is what Sunset Saturdays are all about. If you can’t be on the beach, with your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand, we hope to offer you the next best thing: A moment to daydream. You might be reminded of a beautiful sunset you have witnessed in the past (and we hope you might send it our way!) or you might be dreaming up your next adventure, to a place where sunsets blaze orange and red every night. For a moment, you can transport yourself there. Breathe and surrender to the daydream, conjuring up ways to make it a reality.

Let us help you get there! And when you do, please send us a photo! We hope that the next sunset photograph we receive is from your happiest of places.

Where the Wild Things Are: Why you Should Expose Kids to Wildlife

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Like most children, I grew up with a love for all things small, innocent and fluffy. For years, I begged my parents for a puppy, but since we traveled a lot, I ended up with fish, gerbils and rabbits, as they were easier to pawn-off on people when we went away.039_36

Yes, I would consider myself an animal lover from a young age. However, it wasn’t until young-adulthood, while traveling abroad, that I had the chance to see exotic animals in their natural habitat. Although I was in my mid-twenties and did not yet have children of my own, I remember thinking what an amazing opportunity it would be for a child to experiences true wildlife encounters.

Recently, as my daughter and I watched in awe, as two wild stags fought antler to antler, she expressed it perfectly when she said, “Wow! This is way better than Animal Planet!”  Wildlife documentaries are wonderful, but here are some reasons to expose kids to the real thing.

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As many parents will tell you, connecting children with wildlife helps to develop kind, thoughtful, considerate and caring qualities. As children begin to realize that not all animals are respected and cared for, they can learn about the people who are working fervently to preserve wildlife. You can discuss what your family can do to help and even visit a wildlife sanctuary to see caring in action. (Contact us and ask about such experiences!)

Promote Environmental Values

Respect for wildlife and the environment go hand-in-hand. Develop this knowledge in your kids and produce great role models and advocates of future preservation.

Do it for Health

Studies show that getting outdoors is healthy for our body and our mind. Whether you are going on a nature hike in your area, or hopping on a plane for a wildlife expedition abroad, getting children (and ourselves) to abandon computer screens will keep us moving and reduce stress.

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Education

The world is a living classroom (we can’t say it enough). Even your backyard can support a love for wildlife and educate kids about local flora and fauna. Take them on a family wildlife expedition abroad and they will return with a treasure chest of knowledge that they will never forget.

An Opportunity to Bond

A love for nature and wildlife is something that is stimulating to people of all ages. Through learning and discovering the natural world, you will find boundless wild activities to do together.

How do I find out more?

Contact us and ask about the best family itineraries for optimal wildlife viewing. Experiences can range from staying deep in the rainforest, surrounded by nature and animals, to visiting wildlife sanctuaries or locations where endangered sea turtles are nesting.

Panama – in the (Green)Spotlight

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We’re putting Panama in the spotlight this week. Sometimes found in the shadow of other Central American countries, this unique and intriguing destination has a glow all its own and deserves to be celebrated.

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Speaking of celebrations…the Carnival of Panama (also known as King Momo’s party) recently took place. Each year, in the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday, the cultural festivities come alive – complete with night parades, elaborate costumes, dance festivals and musical groups, along avenues and in city squares. If you are an advanced planner, you might want to consider this for your next February travels.

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Albeit a spectacular display of cultural pageantry, if glitzy festivity is not your thing, the remarkable natural beauty and assortment of adventurous opportunities in Panama might catch your attention more. Slightly smaller than the U.S. state of South Carolina and hugged by the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, there is an astounding amount of diversity to be found in Panama. Not only does Panama City have the largest urban population in Central America, much of the country’s flora and fauna cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

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Whether you are hiking through the rainforest with one eye peeled for the Resplendent Quetzpanama_snorkleals, or on a snorkeling expedition, spotting vibrant tropical fish, there is no shortage of wildlife viewing in Panama.

As always, the activity level of your adventure is entirely up to you. With some of the best eco-lodges around, you can wake up surrounded by the sounds of life in a tropical rainforest or with waves lapping the shores. Get out there and do something active, or enjoy unsurpassed hammock views and unwind, knowing that tomorrow is another day in paradise.

 

 

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