Sustainable travel no longer means you have to compromise on style – find your perfect eco holiday this year with these award winning travel and tour operators, says Harriet Whiting
There are many reasons we travel. For the eco-conscious among us, travel helps to mentally and physically expand our mindsets. Exploring another country also lets us learn new cultures while appreciating nature and often new forms of wildlife. Simply being in another place can reconnect a traveller with our environment, especially if we have journeyed to one of the world’s many areas of outstanding natural beauty. These attributes help make us better people, more tolerant of other cultures, less wasteful and perhaps even give some of us an added incentive to protect planet earth.
But with recent reports stating the effects of tourism on issues such as climate change, water scarcity and animal welfare, it’s never been a more crucial time to make careful choices when considering travelling abroad. There are troubling issues surrounding the hotel industry and the sometimes negative impact such establishments have on local communities and wildlife.
There are things we can do to minimise our environmental concerns, such as packing smart to reduce our use of plastic, or offset our flights, but sometimes you have to trust that hotels, travel or tour operators are adhering to sustainability practices. It’s often hard to wade through the greenwash to work out who the true eco heroes are but fortunately these top tour operators and travel companies have done the leg work for us. Read on to find out where you can go to get genuine ethical advice on where and how to travel, with sustainability as an absolute priority from these top five eco tour operators.
One of the pioneers of responsible tourism, this travel company ‘helping dreamers do’ has unwavering integrity, and a desire to merge profits with principles. They aim to connect local communities with tourists who want to witness the real world through authentic experiences, ensuring revenue goes straight into the local economy. Unique trips are individually created and might include kayaking with orcas in Canada, a vegetarian visit to France or living with Berbers in the Sahara Desert. A year ago, Responsible Travel set up ‘A Trip for a Trip’ whereby each trip offers a local child living near a game park, World Heritage Site, or beach the opportunity to visit and enjoy as tourists.
To find out more about Responsible Travel visit the site here
If you’re planning a trip to Africa, Wilderness Safaris should be your first port of call. Widely accepted as the continent’s foremost ecotourism operator, they offer private access to 2.5 million hectares of Africa’s finest wildlife through 50 luxury camps and safaris across eight countries: Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. While their luxurious lodges offer a window onto stunning, off-the-beaten-track escapes, their focus is on ecotourism and protecting the landscape. Wilderness Safaris have successfully understood the link between conservation, local communities and sustainable tourism – in order for all to thrive, communities must benefit directly. Wilderness offer community training programs to ensure locals are equipped with the knowledge to protect their land and its wildlife. This ultimately safeguards their future with the proviso of continued tourism.
To find out more about Wilderness Safaris visit the site here
These are the style gurus of sustainable travel – casting a trustworthy and totally independent view over the world’s best eco boutique hotels. Labelled as the perfect site for the eco-luxury traveller by The Independent, Bouteco banishes the myth that to be sustainable you somehow must compromise on style. Visitors to the site can be inspired by their collection of ‘Bouteco Hero’ hotels, which embody luxury with a strong focus on design coupled with a deep rooted care for the environment and community. Through their experience of reviewing and writing about the top eco hotels of world, Bouteco now run a consultancy arm helping hotels achieve sustainability goals. This collaborative effort means a win-win for us all.
To find out more about Bouteco visit the site here
As the name suggests, this travel operator specialises in shining a light on the wildest, most remote and least-visited regions on earth, such as expeditions to Antartica, Mongolia, and Iran. Significantly, Wild Frontiers will always automatically offset your flight with a payment to Carbon Clear – a provider of carbon and energy management and sustainability services. At ground level, trips often centre around community-based tourism which might include dining with a local family to provide an experiential aspect to travel whilst ensuring local communities benefit directly. Winners of the Guardian’s ‘Best Ethical Tour Operator’, they also recommend a traveller take a LifeStraw bottle with them, which filters water from taps, rivers or lakes, negating the need to use even one plastic bottle.
To find out more about Wild Frontiers visit the site here
With an inspirational tagline to Do More Than Travel, Kind Traveler is a simple yet brilliant concept: a socially conscious ‘Give and Get’ booking platform where a ‘kind traveller’ gives a minimum of $10 a night to a charity of their choice then benefits from discounts on unique hotels and properties. By travelling kindly, travellers can make donations to a choice of causes, including clean water, conservation, reforestation or protection of animals that positively impact on the local community they are visiting. It’s a model thats gaining in popularity, not least because it makes it so easy to do good.
To find out more about Kind Traveller visit the site here