3 Ecotourism Destinations Not to Miss
Ecotourism has gained the stigma of camping in leaky tents and chomping on granola, but in reality, ecotourism destinations are as diverse and luxurious as you want them to be. Whether you're looking to spend a day in the water watching bright schools of fish swim by, are urged to buy dozens of varieties of fruit from local vendors, or yearn to lace up your boots and take to the mountains, there's an ecotourism destination for you. Below, find 3 you shouldn't miss.
Ecotourism Destination Not to Miss #1: Rwanda
Most visitors to Africa go straight for the safaris of Kenya and pass by the lush, amazing land in this tiny central African country. Rwanda is often called 'land of a thousand hills' and even just a quick walk around major cities will explain why. Adventurers can gear-up for a hike through Volcanoes National Park to come face-to-face with mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. The hike will take 3 or 4 hours but there are few other places in the world where will you see families of gorillas romping in the forest and feeding their young so close by. For the ecotourist who likes pampering, try a stay in a luxury tree house like Nyungwe Forest Lodge in Nyungwe Forest National Park, where sneaky monkeys have been known to creep through unlocked terrace doors to scavenge for goods.
Ecotourism Destination Not to Miss #2: Galapagos Islands
A UNESCO World Heritage Destination and favorite of Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands are more like a fantasy world come to life than a vacation hot spot -- and Ecuador aims to keep it that way. The islands practice low-impact tourism for the safety of the millions of unique plant and animal species that call it home. Besides the totally unique creatures that reside in the Galapagos, visitors are likely to have a run in with a few favorites. Sharks, sea lions, whales, and schools of fish are right within your reach: whether or not you're a scuba fan, you'll take up this activity on this dream ecotourism vacation. Animal lovers should not miss the world's most popular turtle, Lonesome George, at the Darwin Research Center, as well as Cerra Dragon, where hundreds of flamingos make their home.
Ecotourism Destination Not to Miss #3: Puerto Rico
Before you dismiss Puerto Rico as a haven for beach bums, get to know the amazing national forests that make it a great ecotourism destination. Visitors to the Caribbean National Forest, also known as El Yunque Rain Forest, can hike the picturesque La Mina Falls trail, a 4-hour trip featuring dozens of local bird species that ends in a stunning waterfall. Nearby islands Culebra and Vieques also offer favorites for the ecotourist. Quaint Culebra's Flemenco Beach is one of the world's most beautiful, with Leatherback and Hawksbill sea turtles nesting in the sand. The bioluminescent bay in Vieques features kayak rides on a lagoon aglow in sparkling little creatures. Back in the big city, check out the markets of San Juan to buy from area farmers and put some money into the local economy.
Photo courtesy of the Rwanda Development Board.