Responsible travel is about directly benefitting the communities you visit whenever possible through sustainable travel, environmental protection and social projects. Here are just a few responsible travel suggestions you can include as part of a trip to the destinations in question.
1. Elephant Hills Tented Camp, Thailand
One of the highlights of many peoples’ visits to Thailand is a chance to interact with Asian elephants. Elephant Hills Tented Camp looks after its elephants properly, often rescuing them from illegal logging companies, or from the streets of major cities. It’s a great way to experience the majesty of these creatures, whilst doing so responsibly: there is no elephant riding here, but visitors can help feed and wash the inhabitants, and then watch them at rest and at play in their large, free-roaming pen.
2. Moraine Lake Lodge, Alberta, Canada
Moraine Lake Lodge, nestled in a remote location on the edge of a glacier-fed lake in Canada, offers a detox from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With no phones or televisions in the rooms, the lodge encourages its guests to rekindle their relationship with nature. This philosophy involves self-sufficiency and reducing the lodge’s impact on the surrounding environment. When guests turn on the tap in their rooms, they experience some of the freshest water in the world, as it comes directly from an alpine mountain well. The lodge also generates all of its own power, with a focus on keeping waste to a minimum.
3. Philanthropic tour of Marrakesh, Morocco
This exploration of the souqs of Marrakesh focuses on the charity work being done to help Moroccan women in difficult social situations. Al Kaoutar is a great place to see this work first-hand. It helps women without any resources and who are in extreme poverty to learn a trade and be able to earn a living for themselves. The women learn how to make high-quality products which are sold as part of Al Koutar’s non-profit scheme to fund their vocational training.
The Amal Association is also doing vital work. It provides underprivileged single mothers with training to become professional cooks and pastry makers. Most have now found work in the many riads of Marrakesh through its support. You can enjoy a delicious lunch here, cooked by the trainees themselves.
4. Lapa Rios Lodge, Costa Rica
Set on a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean and nestled within a private rainforest, Lapa Rios Lodge manages to harmoniously blend the romantic, exotic appeal of a remote rainforest setting with the comfort and luxury of many modern hotels. The first hotel in Costa Rica to achieve the prestigious five-leaf status from the country’s tourism board, Certification for Sustainable Tourism, there is a strong emphasis on protecting the area’s fragile ecosystem. The lodge runs its own reforestation project and guests are encouraged to use the biodegradable products provided.
5. Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia
In January 2016 the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia was named as the world’s first, and only, carbon neutral national park. All of the safari camps in and surrounding the park have collaborated to develop a sustainable energy plan, leading the way for African tourism. Each camp now runs on solar-generated power, reducing the emissions from the traditional generators, and efforts are also being made to reduce the carbon footprint of journeying to and from these properties. Unavoidable emissions are offset through a sustainable system of rewards for reducing greenhouse gases, providing support for further climate innovations. This initiative demonstrates responsible tourism from small, owner-run businesses, paving the way for larger corporations around Africa to follow suit.
6. Bogani Cottages & Tented Camp, Kenya
Bogani Cottages and Tented Camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara region is one of the best responsible travel destinations in Africa. Three or seven nights at Bogani is your passport to a warm welcome from the Maasai and Kipsigi communities who are learning to work together to build a better life for themselves. At the camp, you join the Free The Children sustainable projects designed to increase access to clean water and sanitation, education, medical services and income generation. From working on building sites, visiting local markets and drawing water for local families, visitors experience Kenyan life in a way that provides great benefit to locals.
7. Araveli Cottages & Tented Camp, Rajasthan, India
You can work alongside local families on a Free The Children sustainable development project at Araveli Cottages and Tented Camp in the heart of rural Rajasthan, a sun-drenched landscape marked by white temples and wheat fields. Walk with locals as they collect water from a well, help make traditional food, learn about the crops they are growing or even help construct a community building. This is a place for those who want to immerse themselves in authentic Indian culture, and take part in a rewarding exchange which helps to empower local communities to end the cycle of poverty.
8. Minga Lodge, Ecuadorian Amazon, Ecuador
Deep in the Amazon jungle, the Napo River winds past shorelines enveloped by throngs of lush, emerald-green rainforest. At Minga Lodge, you can spot wildlife in the Amazon and get involved with activities such as building a health clinic, planting trees on the farm and making handicrafts with local women to sell at markets.
Craig Burkinshaw is Founder of Audley Travel.
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