The Best Countries to Visit for Breathtaking Ecotourism

As a result of growing international awareness about how tourism can negatively impact the planet, ecotourism is emerging as an increasingly popular way to travel. It’s a great way to see the world and enjoy authentic local experiences, while also minimizing your environmental impact. It doesn’t need to be expensive either—while there are many luxury eco-friendly accommodations around the world, it’s also very possible to have a sustainable adventure on a reasonable budget, and limit your carbon footprint at the same time.

What is Ecotourism?

Lexico defines ecotourism as “Tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.”

As a new industry, you’ll find the ecotourism experience can vary widely from country to country, with some offering many long-established options, and others just beginning to grow. Before you hop on a plane, it’s also worth looking for ecotourism destinations close to home, which could be accessed via public transport or car-sharing. You might be surprised what gems can be found right on your doorstep!

See why getting a travel insurance plan for your ecotourism trip is a good idea

Top Ecotourism Destinations

Lexico defines ecotourism as “Tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.”

As a new industry, you’ll find the ecotourism experience can vary widely from country to country, with some offering many long-established options, and others just beginning to grow. Before you hop on a plane, it’s also worth looking for ecotourism destinations close to home, which could be accessed via public transport or car-sharing. You might be surprised what gems can be found right on your doorstep!

See why getting a travel insurance plan for your ecotourism trip is a good idea

Iceland

Exploring the stunning landscapes of Iceland is high on most ecotourists' bucket lists, and for good reason! As one of the first countries to promote and support ecotourism, there’s plenty here for the conscious traveler.

Geothermal and hydroelectric plants supply most of the country’s energy, and the tourism board is dedicated to promoting activities and accommodations that minimize your carbon footprint or use of motor vehicles. You can hike around volcanoes, see the Northern Lights and stay in boutique green hotels where even the bed sheets are fair-trade!

Malaysia

Home to an incredible lush, green ecosystem and thousands of miles of coastline, Malaysia is fast becoming one of the world’s top destinations for ecotourism. There are a huge number of activities available, including trekking in the rainforest, snorkeling in the Perhetian Islands, visiting an orangutan rehabilitation center and staying in incredible, sustainable vacation rentals across the country. There are plenty of bus, boat and train options connecting the major sites so you don’t need to always fly, and the country is largely affordable for all budgets too.

 

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Located off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are considered to be one of the best spots in the world for seeing a diverse range of wildlife in their natural habitat. Charles Darwin even paid them a visit when coming up with his theory of evolution! As a result of this amazing wildlife, the islands have increasingly focused on ways to promote ecotourism and sustainable travel to visitors, including education initiatives, stricter rules on accessing the National Parks, and limiting the number of visitors. Those who come are taught to leave nothing behind, and take only photographs—a policy that many places would do well to copy.

 

United States

America may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of ecotourism, but after numerous initiatives over the years it’s becoming easier and easier to travel sustainably here. Some states are better than others, with places like Alaska, California and Hawaii leading the way with their incredible national parks, eco-friendly activities and opportunities to stay in sustainable lodges. There are also numerous great spots for camping, and cross-country public transportation routes are an option (as long as you don't mind going a little slower).

 

Finland

Already renowned for their world-class education system and attitude to sustainability, the sparsely-populated nation of Finland is also making a name for itself with ecotourism. All over the country you’ll find pristine nature, from the forests outside Helsinki to the snowy expanse of Lapland, as well as authentic cultural experiences offered by friendly locals.

Finland is bike-friendly if you have the time to travel across it on two wheels, while their architecture, cuisine and fashion is increasingly created with sustainable and ethical goals in mind. Visit one of the many saunas, such as Kultuurisauana or Loyly, sleep in a glass prism overlooking the Baltic sea, or check out an Arctic treehouse—the options are endless!

 

Jordan

Many visitors flock to Jordan every year to visit the stunning historic site of Petra, but few are aware of the country’s growing ecotourism industry. Leading the way for sustainable travel in the Middle East, Jordan is a great example of how ecotourism can benefit the environment and the economy.

There are numerous protected nature reserves across the country, while conservation schemes have been set up to promote cultural heritage and protect the natural environment. The Jordan Pass encourages visitors to visit a range of incredible historic sites during their trip, while places such as the Wadi Rum desert offer the opportunity to stay in a genuine Bedouin camp and learn local history and customs. There are also a range of great hiking trails and sustainable tours if you’re looking to explore off the beaten path.

Travel Insurance for Ecotourism

The nature of traveling to the wild corners of our planet means getting off the beaten path to some areas where one wrong step could cause a broken ankle or a bite from the wrong bug could spell big trouble. Are you ready to foot the bill for a an expensive emergency medical evacuation on your trip?

Travel insurance plans from Generali Global Assistance, include Emergency Assistance and Transportation coverage, which can provide coverage for life-threatening situations, and other specific events that could wreck your trip or put you in danger. Plus, our 24/7 Emergency Assistance line means help is always just one call away. For more information read: What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

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