Greenloons which guides travelers to sustainable vacations lays out seven favorite international eco vacations for 2013 for adults and families with teens. These experiences range from sailing adventures in Australia to exploring the Croatian island of Krk replete with Roman ruins to an exclusive conservation safari special to Greenloons’ clients.
"The most valuable part of travel is always the cultural exchange between visitors and hosts. When a visit coincides with ecotourism, the exchange can be profoundly enriched as visitors equate the conservation programs they're experiencing to their hosts’ livelihoods and quality of life," said Irene Lane, founder of Greenloons that vets third-party certified travel around the world.
Following are Lane’s favorites for cultural and sustainable immersion in 2013:
Central America: Alexandra Cousteau Expedition offers eight days in the footsteps of Explorer Alexandra Cousteau, experiencing Belize as she did when she was gathering information for "Expedition Blue Planet: Belize", a documentary to raise awareness about Belize's crucial water issues. Travelers will learn about the conservation work for endangered Scarlet Macaws, Maya Mountain Massif, Jaguars, Pumas, Ocelots and Raptors. The per person rate is $3,015 including internal air transport, accommodations, meals, activities, and guides.
North America: Alaska Wildlands Collection offers seven days exploring the Kenai Peninsula with stays at three eco-friendly lodges located in river, back country and seacoast environments. Guests hike through hemlock forests, raft, canoe on a lagoon and kayak among glacial ice. The per person rate is $3,195 including accommodations, meals, transport, activities and guides.
South America: Machu Picchu Trekking & Lodging Experience is a seven day program and the only lodge-to- lodge trek to Machu Picchu. Adventurers trek among four mountain lodges from the Salkantay Peak of the Peruvian Andes to Machu Picchu. The per person rate is $2,690 including accommodations, meals, luggage transport, activities and guide.
Europe: Croatia Local Living Experience offers eight days on the Croatian island of Krk. Guests lodge in a fully equipped old stone home, part of a cluster of similar dwellings served by a swimming pool, bowling court, large terrace with a barbecue sitting area and a sundeck. They can witness wine-making and olive oil processing, cycle to Roman ruins and explore nearby islands. The per person rate is $1,129 including accommodation, local guide, a starter kit of breakfast essentials and local delicacies, and one dinner.
Africa: Greenloons Conservation Safari of Botswana, exclusive for Greenloons’ clients only, is a 12-day Botswana safari focusing on commerce, conservation, community and culture through its wildlife and tourism businesses that ensure the sustainability of conservation and wildlife areas of Botswana. The per person rate is $13,995 including luxury accommodation, internal air transfers, meals, activities, park and entrance fees, laundry, guides and applicable taxes.
Asia: Bali Monkey’s & Volcanoes Family Trip offers 13 days of off-the-beaten-track island adventure, with culture resonating from the art-filled markets of Ubud and rolling hills of Bedugl to jungle villages, remote temples and white-sand beaches. The per person rate is $1,630 including hotel accommodation, transport, guide, activities and some meals (12 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner).
Australia: Whitsunday Islands Sailing is an eight-day journey on the Great Barrier Reef for up to eight people who can enjoy snorkeling, swimming, walking across the sand, inspecting Aboriginal rock drawings or just relaxing on the deck while keeping an eye out for turtles, manta rays and maybe even a whale. The per person rate is $2,340 including accommodations, meals and guide.
Most tours are led by trained naturalists who instruct about indigenous wildlife and flora and fauna and the need to curb environmental degradation (soil erosion, air and water pollution and waste). Some regions provide opportunities to participate in conservation efforts or study the destructive role of invasive plant species in the wilderness. Other regions introduce alternative energy concepts to prevent the depletion of natural resources, such as an eco-lodge harnessing wind or solar power for their operations.
Intrinsic to Greenloons’ itineraries is interaction with villages and even cities. On the cultural side, no matter where they go, families taste new foods, learn foreign language phrases, hear unfamiliar music, perhaps engage in explorations of family heritage, and even develop new holiday traditions.