Ecotourism 101: The Introductory Guide to Green Travel

Ecotourism has been a growing travel trend in the recent years – not least because of the impact the industry has on the climate change. This type of travel can be not any less exciting than ordinary, mass travel, while minimizing the industry’s harmful sway over the environment. And implementing at least some of the guidelines and adopting a few eco-friendly travel habits may be not as difficult as you imagine!

What Is Ecotourism?

Ecotourism is a form of tourism that involves travel to natural areas that support the protection and conservation of the environment. Usually, this means travelling to pristine, rarely visited natural sites, getting there with the use of environmentally-friendly transport, and ensuring the protection of flora and fauna in that area. Sometimes, one may add education and raising awareness about the necessity of protecting environment to this list, too.

According to the TIES, or The International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that converse the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” So, as you can see from here, ecotourism is an all-encompassing process oriented at preserving the nature.

So, unlike mass tourism that tends to pollute natural sites and cause congestion and overcrowding in the cities, ecotourism is one of the ways to keep travelling to and exploring new places without destroying the nature. Even though this type of tourism is oftentimes confused with sustainable travel, there are significant differences between these two types of environment-conscious tourism.

Ecotourism vs Sustainable Travel

Even though these two terms are often confused, the difference between these types of travel can be easily noticed. Sustainable travel (which we discussed in this article) is travel that involves minimizing the impact your trip has on the environment as much as possible. On the other hand, ecotourism is a travel focused on ecological conservation and the travelers’ education about the necessity of such protection.

In other words, ecotourism is a type of travel, just like many others like trekking, cultural travel, bar hopping, and so on. Meanwhile, sustainable travel is the concept that can be applied to any type of the trip and implies reducing the negative impact of your trips on the environment.

Ecotourism Guidelines

In fact, the main approach of ecotourism is to ensure that the travel doesn’t exploit the environment or local communities. And there are certain ecotourism guidelines you should be aware of when traveling to the sites with fragile environments:

Don’t interfere with wildlife. There are myriads of tours to national parks and wildlife safaris that harm the livelihoods of animals. If you want to be an eco-conscious traveler, choose to travel to the places where you will be able to avoid disturbing local fauna. For example, Norway has the famous Snøhetta, a wild reindeer centre pavilion in Dovrefjell National Park, which provides you with an opportunity to observe the animals while not disrupting their way of life.

Be conscious about resource consumption. Whenever you travel, do your best to limit the number of showers you take or the times when you need to use air conditioning. Indeed, it does not mean that you should remain dirty and have to stand 40 Celsius degree heat without air conditioning, but try to use the resources as efficiently as possible.

Protect the environment. Whatever your destination is, leave the place the way you found it. Keep the litter you brought with you and, when possible, pick up leftovers after the others, less conscious travelers. In addition to that, avoid making fires, which at times lead to devastating consequences for the nature.

Support local communities and eat local foods. Ecotourism is not only about preserving the natural riches of our planet, but the cultural ones as well. Interact with locals, support their communities, and buy local products, foods and drinks from them. Avoid purchasing goods imported from the countries with developed economies.

Show your respect and appreciation for the local culture. It is crucial that you treat local people, their customs and beliefs in a decent, non-offensive manner. Locals appreciate when visitors try to embrace their culture instead of attempting to impose their own.

Tips for Eco-Friendly Trips

Of course, there are many aspects of ecotourism, and it’s barely possible to cover all of them in one single article. Here, however, we would like to give you a few tips on how to make your trip more eco-conscious:

  • Avoid bottled water and use a reusable bottle instead
  • Travel overland whenever possible
  • Take public transport whenever you can do that on your trip
  • Travel with minimum luggage
  • When you go shopping to local markets and shops, get a re-usable bag with you (instead of buying plastic bags on site)
  • Use as minimum resources (showers, TV, air conditioning) as possible at a hotel
  • When hiking, stick to the path and maintain a safe distance from any animals you may encounter
  • Travel in small groups (they have a tendency to have a smaller negative impact on the environment).

Ideas for Green Travel in Norway

Indeed, Norway has definitely been one of the latest victims of mass tourism. And one should mention not merely the countless cruise ships that have arrived to the Norwegian ports day after day, but also the polluted and overcrowded natural sites across the country.

Luckily, there are quite a few opportunities for ecotourism in Norway. Here, we will give you a few ideas for traveling in Norway in an eco-friendly way.

green travel and ecotourism in Norway

There are countless opportunities for ecotourism and green travel in Norway

Dog sledding in Finnmark. Visiting Norway in winter? In that case, you may opt for an exciting experience of dog sledding in the country’s northernmost region. These friendly, excited animals will be happy to interact with you and share this fun with you. Once this activity comes to a conclusion, you will be served a delicious local meal and will share a nice meal with the locals over a bonfire.

Kayaking. Norway is an exceptional country for exploring natural sites, and kayaking is one of the most popular activities in the country. It is a great idea for an eco-conscious trip, and Hardangenfjord remains one of the most popular areas for kayaking.

Hiking in northern Norway. Our previous article contains quite a few hiking routes that are extremely overcrowded (such as Trolltunga and Preikestolen). But if the nature of an adventurer is inherent to you, you may choose an off-the-beaten-track hiking route. For example, one may name such trekking routes like Romsdalseggen Ridge, Ryten, and Måtind, among others.

Sun bathing and swimming on Jæren beaches. Of course, Norway doesn’t seem like a country that is associated with beaches. But Jæren beaches, located not far from Stavanger in Western Norway, are a perfect eco-friendly destination with countless activities on offer. If you would like to explore the coastal area at Jæren, you may embark on a cycling or horseback riding trip.

Hiking in the Jotunheimen mountains. The Home of the Giants, as is the meaning of these mountains, is a mountain range that lies in the heart of Norway and encompasses up to 2,500 kilometers of marked trails and astonishing natural sceneries. This place is perfect for ecotourism, and its abundant flora and fauna along with dramatic landscapes will make your trip unforgettable.

Activities in the Hardangerfjord area. The world’s famous destination has received a number of awards for the efforts aimed at the protection and conservation of this area. Located just south of Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, this area is a home to so many attractions and sites and offers so many activities that one would need a separate article on this topic (perhaps, we will prepare such an article soon). So, take your time to explore what you would like to do on your journey to Hardangerfjord.

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