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March 30, 2010

Destination 3 Degrees: Adventures Against Plastic

By Guest Blogger

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Both-horny toad
Morgan Hoesterey and Jenny Kalmbach (Destination 3 Degrees)

In April, a unique adventure is launching from the Big Island of Hawaii with Kauai as its endpoint. Taking to the storied waters that connect the islands, stand-up paddlers Morgan Hoesterey and Jenny Kalmbach are headed for a destination that stretches across three degrees of latitude—over 200 nautical miles—and, as recent reports tell us, a whole lot of plastic debris.

Hoesterey and Kalmbach will paddle from one island to the next, exploring above and below the waterline to help illuminate the impact of plastics contamination on some of the world's most celebrated shorelines and the creatures these coasts shelter.

Bound only by the elements, the women will have unprecedented access to parts of the islands most people never get to see. They'll cross channels more than 80 miles long and 10,000 feet deep, sometimes under the light of the moon, and always with the cooperation of the winds. For their efforts we'll all be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking natural beauty our oceans have to offer.

Continue reading "Destination 3 Degrees: Adventures Against Plastic" »

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Related Topics: Dispatches from the Road · Eco-Tourism

March 18, 2010

See Cities With Local Guides, and Intrepid Travel

Thai local and Intrepid Travel guide Ae Thagoon biking in Bangkok (Nathan Borchelt)

With the near-constant scramble to achieve zero emissions and carbon neutrality, with off-set credits, slow skiing, geotourism, certifications, and the looooong list other eco-trends embraced by so many companies in the travel industry, it sometimes feels the allure of travel itself is getting scrubbed off by all the green washing. This ain’t no anti-environmental screed. I do “believe in” global warming, and applaud any and all pursuits to circumvent the damaging impact of long-haul flights, 4x4 safari excursions, and all the rest.  But to me the umbrella concept of eco-travel should speak to the larger concept of sustainable tourism as much as it does to the environment. It should incorporate both earth-friendly practices as well as a localist centralism that both stimulates the local economy where you’re visiting (good for your conscious), and provides interaction with the people who live there (good for your travel experience).

Continue reading "See Cities With Local Guides, and Intrepid Travel" »

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Related Topics: All Inclusive Vacation · Dispatches from the Road · Eco-Tourism · Travel Tips · Travel Trends · Trip Ideas

February 26, 2010

Climb Europe's Highest Glacier

The tallest glacier, with program participants standing at the top (North 66)

What better way to fully grasp the environmental impacts of global warming than by literally witnessing its impacts by ascending Iceland’s 9,920-foot Hvannadalshnukur Glacier. Reach the Top with 66 North, now in its third year, a joint partnership between apparel company 66° North and Icelandic Mountain Guides that offers 14 climbs that marry an epic outdoor adventure with lectures and workshops about nutrition, alpine safety, gear preparation, and environmental responsibility. Training has already begun, and the event concludes with ascents at the end of May. Participants will get first-hand exposure to the sobering fact that Iceland’s glaciers have been retreating at an alarming rate for the last 15 years, as much as seven to nine square miles each year—that’s nearly the same size as Central Park. But the trip ain’t all doom and gloom. You’ll learn the ins and outs of glacier hiking from some of the best guides in the industry, and the 12- to 15-hour ascent through variable terrain, culminating in the snow-covered summit. Follow Reach the Top’s efforts—and try to hook up for a future climb—on their website.

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Related Topics: Eco-Tourism · European Travel · Outdoor Adventures

December 18, 2009

The Upside of Warming?: Sea Kayak Greenland's Forbidden Coast

As the Copenhagen climate conference grinds to its final tortured impasse today, here’s some news that ought to get the delegates’ attention: next summer, Explorers’ Corner founder Olaf Malver will personally lead the first ever commercial kayaking tour of Greenland’s remote Kangerdlussuaq Fjord, now accessible to small-boat tours because of the Arctic’s receding icepack. “It’s a sad thing that the area’s opening up,” Malver told in a recent phone interview, “but this is a really unique, exploratory opportunity.” A 32-hour boat ride from Iceland, the area—known as Greenland’s “Forbidden Coast”—was previously only accessible to a few hardy Inuit hunters and well-heeled explorers with access to boat and helicopter transport for getting around. In 2010, Explorers’ Corner will lead two groups of seven experienced kayakers on back-to-back trips that will delve into eastern Greenland’s wilderness by boat, from there they’ll launch out in sea kayaks to explore a lattice of remote islands, fjords, and inlets, as well as take day hikes onshore in the shadow of Greenland’s highest peaks. The rugged region is home to narwhals, polar bears, seals, and other Arctic wildlife. Both trips are now fully booked, although Malver expects to be able to offer the same expedition in 2011. A great opportunity for a truly unique adventure, it’s also one more indication that global warming is already altering the world we know.

Check out the video below of an Explorer's Corner Expedition through Greenland's Sermilik Fjord for a taste of what to expect:

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Related Topics: Eco-Tourism · Travel News

December 07, 2009

The World's 10 Best Ethical Destinations

By Lacy Morris

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Baobab at Sunset - Nigel Dennis - SATourism 01301814
South African Baobab tree at sunset (Nigel Dennis)

Ethical Traveler has released its annual list of the “Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations.” Traveling ethically is a way of preserving the wonders of the world for future generations to enjoy—“mindful travel,” as they call it. Started by an annual study of the world’s developing nations and narrowed to three general categories—environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights—the list is developed by a team of ethically-inclined travel experts who are dedicated to harnessing the “political and economic clout of tourism to support human rights and the environment.” So when looking for a travel destination where the host country is concerned about preserving its natural surroundings, promoting safe and responsible tourism opportunities, and protecting local communities, why not consider the following for your next trip:

1.   Argentina
2.   Belize
3.   Chile
4.   Ghana
5.   Lithuania
6.   Namibia
7.   Poland
8.   Seychelles
9.   South Africa
10. Suriname

Have you traveled to any of the countries featured on Ethical Traveler's list? What were your impressions? Tell us in the comments section.

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Eco-Tourism · Top 10 Lists · Travel News

November 12, 2009

Notes from the Field: Track Giant Pandas in China's Sichuan Province

Wanglang-reserve-wild-panda In April and October of next year, U.S.-and Beijing-based tour operator WildChina is offering two new weeklong itineraries to showcase the key panda-conservation area in southwestern China's mountainous Sichuan province. Starting out from the provincial capital of Chengdu, the group tours will delve into the bamboo and rhododendron thickets of Sichuan's Wanglang Nature Reserve, home to over two dozen Giant pandas. With a diverse array of habitat rising from between 7,500 and 15,000 feet in elevation, Wanglang is also home to numerous other wildlife species including Golden Snub-nosed monkeys, leopard cats, and some 165 kinds of birds.

Tour participants will follow "panda patrol" paths through the reserve in the company of local wildlife experts, learning how to spot panda tracks and helping to locate infrared cameras for recording panda behavior. Wanglang is home to a small but growing population of the world's estimated 1,600 wild pandas, all of which inhabit about 20 enclaves of isolated mountain forest in China's Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. WildChina's 2010 itinerary will also take in the alpine landscapes of Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World heritage site. Not only notable for its acclaim in high-end publications like Travel+Leisure and National Geographic Traveler, WildChina is a partner with the World Wildlife Fund to implement sustainable, environmentally-friendly tourism practices on the ground. Land-based costs for this trip start at $2,600 per person, with additional costs for domestic air transfers and optional trip extensions.

Photo credit: courtesy, WildChina

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Related Topics: Asia Travel · Eco-Tourism · Trip Ideas

October 28, 2009

Getting Out There With Afar Magazine

Afar Traveling home from a conference in Québec last week, I picked up a copy of the premier edition of Afar, the newest travel magazine to grace an already crowded category on airport newsstands. An hour later after a thoroughly absorbing in-flight read, I can report that I was impressed. The magazine is "for readers who are curious about everything the planet and its people have to offer," according to founder and editorial director Greg Sullivan. In this day and age, when magazines seek to impress with the most luxurious travel experiences imaginable or cater to a budget-minded, close-to-home crowd, Afar bites off the essence of experiential travel with an honest, open, and upbeat appraisal of the world we explore. A bimonthly publication to start, each issue of Afar will be organized under the typical See, Connect, and Go sections; its first edition profiled everything from Japan's costume-play fetish to a local's guide to East London to the world's best treetop lodging. As someone who reads a pile of travel magazines each month for work, I'm happy to say that this is one travel magazine that will open your eyes, mind, and heart—not just your wallet!

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · Asia Travel · Beach Vacation · Budget Travel · Caribbean Travel · Eco-Tourism · Exotic Escapes · Outdoor Adventures · South America Travel

October 20, 2009

Hotel Spotlight: Lapa Rios, Costa Rica


Lapa Rios has become a prototype of the successful eco-lodge, set under the verdant canopy of the Costa Rican rainforest and on a lip of land dropping dramatically into the country’s Pacific-side Golfo Dulce. The owners, Minnesota natives John and Karen Lewis, built the retreat in 1993 as a way to save hundreds of acres of rainforest from development. And by all accounts they’ve succeeded beyond even their initial ambitious dreams, crafting a tranquil retreat that comprises 16 thatch-roofed bungalows as well as a sustainable business that serves local community and conservation needs, including a lodge-funded school.

For more of the world's top resorts and lodges, visit's new guide!

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Eco-Tourism · Places to Stay

October 16, 2009

Photo of the Day: Lake Nakuru Flamingos, Kenya

By awayblog

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Lake Nakuru, located within central Kenya's chain of Great Rift Valley lakes, nourishes an incredible diversity of wildlife, including hundreds of thousands of pink flamingos that feast on the lake's abundance of algae. Part of Lake Nakuru National Park, founded in 1961, the park was recently expanded to provide habitat for Kenya's endangered black rhinoceros. It also home to white rhinoceroses, Rothschild's giraffes, baboons, and warthogs.

Planning a safari to Kenya? Learn about one company that has been leading the charge toward sustainable tourism in Africa for over 40 years. 

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · Eco-Tourism · Travel Photography

October 06, 2009

World Monuments Fund Announces Its 2010 Watch List

By awayblog

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Cordilleras rice terraces in the Philippines (Photodisc/Getty)

David Farley—author, New York Times blogger, and friend of the Travel Blog—writes today on the "In Transit" blog about the World Monument Fund's biannual release of its list of the world’s most endangered cultural sites. Ninety-three sites in 47 countries are listed as being under threat from neglect, overdevelopment, or mass tourism, among them Peru's Machu Picchu, the rice terraces in the Cordilleras region of the Philippines, and Taos Pueblo in New Mexico.

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · Asia Travel · Central America Travel · Eco-Tourism · South America Travel · Travel News

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