Category Archives: Green Alternatives

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

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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.


  • 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.

Safari Spirit – On a Wildlife Cruise in Alaska

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By Shirley Linde, of

It was not like traveling on a big cruise ship, but like cruising in your own private yacht. In fact, I hung out at the helm station most of the time we were underway, getting the captain’s eye of the voyage, following our course on the charts, and hearing stories of how whales migrate and the crews’ experiences swimming with whales on research voyages. On two afternoons I even got to take the wheel for an hour or so…

Read more about this Alaskan Safari Adventure.

Cruising the Amazon

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MV TucanoIt was a pitch black night as we sat there in our canoes in the inky dark river waters. The guides shined search lights onto the shoreline and the trees, and eyes reflected back at us from the darkness with a cayman cooling off in the water. Cayman are a crocodile-like creature that can grow to 18 ft. in length! As we sat silently in the canoes we could hear the sounds of the night forest — crickets, frogs croaking, birds calling.  As our eyes became accustomed to the night, we saw a few tree frogs and birds, and the area seemed bright in the light of the almost full moon. There were lightning flashes in the distance. Awesome.

CaimanWe were on a seven-day expedition trip in the Amazon with Amazon Nature Tours on the Motor Yacht Tucano. We were cruising the Rio Negro, a tributary of the Amazon River. It is the second largest river in the world with the Amazon being the largest. The color of the water is that of strong tea, giving it its name Rio Negro or black river.  It is much more remote and pristine than the Amazon River. An added benefit — the chemistry of the waters is such that the Rio Negro has no mosquitoes. The entire river system is part of the Amazonas Region, the largest state in Brazil.

The Tucano is a classically constructed wooden river boat. It is 84 ft. long and has 3 decks. There are 9 cabins accommodating 18 passengers. The top deck includes a large shaded observation area. There is a crew of 8, including our 2 naturalist guides.

Follow this Amazon cruising adventure and see more photos on:

A Green Small Ship Cruise to Alaska

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Have you ever been on a SMALL cruise ship?

These boats are great because they use way less fuel and conserve overnight to reduce emissions in a big way. How do they do this? The Island Spirit shown here has large batteries – total battery weight is 7500 lbs. The batteries allow the vessel to shut off the generators at night, providing 10-12 hours of quiet and 0 emission bliss. Through the special 48 volt DC inverters, power is turned into normal electricity like home…Guests can run their heater fans, lights, razors, lounge tv, bar, etc. – even microwave popcorn for the evening movie.

In Small Ship Cruises’ SE Alaska itinerary the Island Spirit charges the large battery bank by day and uses those batteries at night to keep passengers warm. All ships engines and generators are turned off at 9 pm for quiet Alaskan evenings and you can listen to the sound of Alaska right outside your opening window.

The ship engines are low emissions and low smoke, making her one of the most environmentally friendly small vessels to cruise the region. Cruises, usually 9 days, feature small ports with a focus on wildlife, environment and local culture and include kayaking.

For more information on these Alaska Cruises visit: or

Monkey Poo in the Shower?

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Shady trees make the best beach umbrellas. Nestled among trees and lush vegetation on the secluded Santa Teresa Beach on the western coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, we found ourselves at Latitude 10. Sustainability is just given equal weight here as comfort and relaxation. We drove from the Arenal Area, through the long thin town of Puntarenas. A lazy ride on the ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya, and finally an adventurously bumpy road towards Montezuma and past Mal Pais got us here to Santa Teresa Beach. The total length of the trip was around 6 and a half hours (we didn’t time our arrival at the ferry just right, being in no hurry, and we stopped and ate at a favorite restaurant at Hotel Tambor Tropical in Tambor).

 It was dark by the time we got to the road that runs up the coast through the little surf towns here. Surfers returning from their wavy day gave us a tropical welcome as we were looking for a sign for our hotel… Guess what? Latitude 10 is a Costa Rica beach hotel, very much a boutique property, striving to be as sustainable as possible. Low-key hominess in a beach-luxury atmosphere is also a goal. So there are no signs at all along the road. It’s a move that warms our hearts, as the overabundance of signs in some areas of Costa Rica and other tourism destinations detracts markedly from the experience. It did take us a little longer to get here, since basically the only way to find the hotel with the naked eye at night is to know where it is. Or get here during the day so you can see the small sign in the entrance. Our solution for arriving at night – stop at a friendly looking clapboard house and ask the locals how to get there. Two minutes later and we were here.

The beach right in front of the hotel has a soft strip of sand and then is rocky as you move out toward the ocean, creating some inviting pools with all kinds of marine life. An ideal beach scenario for the young kids with us.  Just two hundred yards down the beach is the wide expanse of sand known as Mal Pais, with a sprinkling of surfers and surf wannabe’s. Or just as inviting for those of us who love to run on the beach. Low tide lets you run for miles.

The area gets a little more crowded when Costa Rica surfing really kicks in after the middle of November. But on a glorious August day, there was just the ride balance of sun, surf, scenery and local beach scene flavor. After working up a lather running in the sun, there was an interesting surprise in the open-air shower of our huge bathroom.

Latitude 10 has done a wonderful job designing gigantic bathrooms for each of the detached units here. Instead of looking up at a white ceiling while showering, you look up at the canopy of the tropical forest. This does, however, create some unexpected housekeeping challenges. My post-run shower had to wait a few minutes while the attentive staff got the astonishingly large amount of Howler monkey scat cleaned out of the shower floor. Pretty sure it was the large male leader of the troupe, and as he swung by he decided to leave us that little gift to remind us that we’re in his domain.

Back inside our suite sitting on our private balcony facing the ocean, just a few yards from the beach, the friendly lizards, iguanas and some other rainforest insects stared at us curiously. With the high tide’s waves crashing on the rocky beach outside, feeling very much a part of the surrounding environment, I picked up the little hotel manual (printed on recycled paper).

Is Latitude 10 for you!? Read the four following hotel highlights below and decide for yourselves.

– Latitude 10 casitas are tucked amongst the native vegetation, the wooden structures have shades but no windows.

-There are no locks on the doors

– There’s no a/c

– The bathrooms are completely open-air with large hot water showers and gardens (and regular wildlife visits)

Overall my take is that it has an upscale feeling, but is not overdone.




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