The Canary Islands belong to Spain, but they sit in the Atlantic Ocean closer to the African nations of Morocco and Cape Verde than to the Iberian Peninsula. Not quite as popular as Mallorca, Ibiza and the other Balearic Islands of the Spanish Mediterranean, the Canaries (which comprise El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote) have become major tourist destinations in their own right. The entire region was a backwater until the jet age began and sun-seekers started hopping flights to Tenerife and Gran Canaria to enjoy their warm weather and beaches.
Archive for the ‘Europe’ category
If you share a love of both the environment and travel, then an ecotourism vacation could be a way to combine the best of both into one great adventure. You’ll get to see some of the most remote and beautiful locations on earth, all while making sure you preserve them for those who follow. Whether you’re new to ecotourism or an old pro, these sites can help you get some basic information, book a trip, and even contribute to making sure that the world’s most spectacular sites stay that way.
Organizations and Associations
There are numerous organizations worldwide that are dedicated to preserving and protecting the environment while promoting tourism. Here are a few you can get some great information from or even use to get involved.
- VISIT: VISIT stands for “Voluntary Initiative for Sustainability in Tourism” and this site was created to help tourists and tourist destination countries work together to protect the environment while still making it accessible for everyone.
- Tourism Concern: This organization focuses on issues related to tourism and the environment. You can read up on campaigns and get helpful information for your next trip.
- The Travel Foundation: This charity website can be a great place to find information on how you can better learn to travel without harming the environment. Even if you can’t take a trip, you can also get involved and give back through the site.
- EcoClub.com: This international tourism club is a great place to meet up with others interested in ecotourism, find environmentally friendly hotels, and even get links to jobs in ecotourism. Join the site or sign up to receive emails with loads of useful ecotourism information.
- International Ecotourism Society: This worldwide community can help you to learn more about ecotourism, support programs, find ecotourism experts, and locate exciting destinations and environmentally friendly accommodations for your next vacation.
- The Blue Flag Organization: This Foundation for Environmental Education-run site can help you plan your next beach getaway. Blue Flag rates and certifies thousands of beaches in Europe, South Africa, Morocco, New Zealand, Canada and the Caribbean on water quality, environmental management as well as a number of other factors.
- The Nature Conservancy: It’s only natural that one of the largest organizations dedicated to preserving nature would have a whole portion of its site dedicated to ecotourism. Learn how to reduce your impact, take trips through the Nature Conservancy, or check out their list of resources to learn more.
- The Rainforest Alliance: Rainforest lovers will find numerous resources on this site about preserving the rainforest, rainforest friendly tours, and even a place where you can adopt a little piece of the rainforest for yourself.
- South American Explorers: This non-profit organization can help you to book your next trip to South America. Whether you want to try out your Spanish in Lima or travel down the Amazon in Brazil, you’ll find help on this site to do so all while being ecologically responsible.
- World Tourism Organization: Find out everything you ever wanted to know about tourism on this site. The sustainable tourism section has articles on the latest developments and important issues in ecotourism.
- Green Cross International: According to the mission statement on this site, Green Cross “provides unbiased environmental analysis and expertise, information dissemination, education, objective evaluations for public debate, scientific studies, and social and medical support.” This site can be a great way to learn the real statistics of any place you choose to visit.
Whether you want to book an exotic rainforest vacation or a camel ride across the Sahara, these sites can help you find a trip that will be both environmentally friendly and fun.
- Sustainable Travel International: On this comprehensive site, you’ll find all kinds of ecotourism resources including trip bookings, eco-certification, newsletters and even advice on how to carbon-offset your trip.
- ResponsibleTravel.com: At this site, you’ll find loads of great ecologically friendly holiday getaways as well as travel tips, an ecotourism blog, and even an ezine to help keep you informed.
- MesoAmerican Ecotourism Alliance: Recognized for their ecotourism trips by National Geographic, the MEA offers numerous exciting vacations that will help inspire your love for the environment and nurture your adventurous spirit.
- GreenStop.net: GreenStop.net contains a directory of accredited green hotels and travel companies to help make finding and booking your next ecotour easier than ever. With destinations on every continent, you can find sustainable vacations just about anywhere.
- EcoTour: If you want to book an earth-friendly vacation, EcoTour is a great place to start your planning. With hundreds of ecotour providers, you’ll find tours to everywhere in the world from the Congo to Sahara. Additionally, you’ll find travel guides and articles to help you learn more about your destination of choice.
- EcoTourism at Conservation International: Whether you’re looking for an African safari or a trip to the Galapagos, you can find information on how to do so responsibly and even find some very special destinations the organization has helped set up in Brazil, Bolivia, Ghana, Venezuela and more.
- EarthFoot: This small company can help you create a fun and personalized environmentally conscious vacation. See the bright avian residents of Guatemala on a birding getaway or swim with the dolphins in beautiful Hawaii.
- GAP Adventures: Ecotourism doesn’t have to be boring. Turn your trip into an unforgettable adventure with this booking site. You can visit the new seven wonders of the world or get up close and personal with the mountain gorillas of Uganda.
- Global Exchange: Global exchange offers what are referred to as “reality tours”. Travel to Cambodia to learn about and how you can help stop child prostitution or get informed on protecting the coastal environment of Costa Rica.
- Intrepid Travel: This award winning company specializes in environmentally responsible tourism and can help you arrange your next eco-friendly vacation. With trips to just about every corner of the globe, you’ll undoubtedly find something that interests you and won’t leave you feeling guilty.
- Journeys International: You’ll find a wide variety of small group tours on this family-owned site. Whether your interests lie in trekking through the Andes or exploring the wildlife from the icy decks of an Antarctic cruise, this site has something for you.
- Blue Ventures: Combine education, research and conservation with the trip of a lifetime. This site’s tour of Madagascar was named one of the top 50 tours of a lifetime by National Geographic Traveler.
- Tribes Travel: This fair trade travel company offers expeditions to Africa, South America and Asia that can allow you to watch lions sleeping away the day or enjoy an eco-friendly honeymoon in a posh hotel in Marrakech.
- Wildland Adventures: Make your next trip an adventure by booking a safari or trip down the Nile with this small ecotourism company.
- Peregrine Adventures: This Australian based company offers small group adventure tours to destinations worldwide including far-flung locales like the Himalayas and Antarctica.
- World Expeditions: Get adventurous without hurting the environment with this ecotourism company. Book trips to volcanic landscapes, the lemur filled jungles of Madagascar or follow in the steps of Genghis Khan on the Mongolian Steppes.
- Earth Routes: Find your next earth-friendly vacation through this site. You’ll find tours to the Caribbean, Switzerland and even a few small ship cruises as well as travel tips and green travel information.
- Orbitz.com: Orbitz isn’t one of the biggest travel sites without a reason: they offer travel tailored to just about any need, even ecotourism. You’ll find a list of destinations, information about ecotourism, travel tips and more on this part of Orbitz’s site.
Blogs are becoming and ever more popular source of information for Internet users, and these ecotourism blogs can be a great way to learn about everything eco-friendly.
- Ecotourism Blog: This blog covers some of the most beautiful destinations in the world in regard to protecting and preserving them as well as reporting on various news stories that apply to ecotourism.
- EcoTravelLogue: This blog provides all kinds of information for the potential ecotraveler with posts on destinations, planning a trip, accommodation, things to do, and more.
- Development Crossing: Whether you’re looking for information on global warming or issues concerning ecotourism, this environmentally conscious blog addresses it all.
- Beautiful Oceans: If your ecotourism dreams lie in the coral reefs or kelp forests of the world’s oceans, then you’ll find plenty to read about here. Learn about reef conservation, eco-diving, and even a little bit about underwater photography.
- Low Impact Living: Focusing on all aspects of low impact living, this blog contains some great information on vacations that won’t take a toll on the environment. Learn about organic eating, green spas, hybrid car rentals, environmentally friendly hotels, and more.
Information and Guides
Before you ever leave your home, read up on all kinds of ecotourism tips, facts and other information on these great sites.
- EcoHoliday Guide: Find tons of resources for planning your next eco-trip on this site. You’ll find information on environmentally conscious vacation rentals, travel agents, activities, transport, and even places to eat.
- World Surface: This online travel magazine was created to promote sustainable tourism and is contributed to by writers and photographers from all over the globe. Visitors to the site will find information on tons of destinations and can create their own travel diaries and photo albums to share with other travelers.
- Planeta: Find resources on ecotourism, recommendations on books, and guides on everything from bird watching to local crafts on this site.
- GreenTraveller: Get some great tips on how to have a greener and more environmentally friendly holiday at GreenTraveller. You’ll find directories of green hotels, tours, and low impact ways to travel to them.
- Eco-Index: Sustainable Tourism: Here you’ll find a list of businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean that have been certified to be environmentally friendly. It can be a great way to protect the beautiful rainforests and beaches of these destinations while making sure they stay that way.
- EcoTravel.com: This online magazine features stories from all over the world about the most exciting ecotourist destinations. It also features a directory of tour companies and agents to help you book your next trip.
- Transitions Abroad: This site addresses a wide variety of travel issues, but it does contain a valuable section on ecotourism. You’ll find responsible travel programs and article archives, as well as links to important websites and organizations.
- NewConsumer: This UK based magazine is dedicated to stories about how you can live a more ethically, vacations included. Check out the travel section for articles on environmentally friendly vacation ideas all over the world.
- Big Volcano Ecotourism Resource Center: Find information on the history of ecotourism, codes of conduct, and loads of other ecotourism articles and resources on this site.
- Best Ecotourism Vacations: Not sure where you want to head to? Get some ideas of the best and most popular ecotourism destinations in this article from SmarterTravel.
Take ecotourism to the next level with these sites that allow you to get your hands dirty working on various humanitarian and environmental projects all over the world.
- GoEco: This organization arranges volunteer trips to South Africa, Kenya, Nepal and much more to help improve the welfare of the local people and the environment.
- EcoVolunteer: Just like the name suggests, this site helps set travelers up on various volunteering vacations, and users can choose their trips based on preferred destinations or particular animals they are interested in helping.
- Global Vision: Make a difference in some of the world’s locations that are in most desperate need of conservation help. Work at preserving marine environments, do wildlife research or even help teach others about conservation and wildlife.
- Voluntourists Without Borders: Use your volunteer power and vacation time to work on issues involving rural poverty, conservation and environmentally friendly tourism. Work to help preserve the Pang Soong Nature Trails or the village of Ban Mae Lai.
- People and Places: On this site, you’ll find a diverse assortment of volunteer projects that range from wildlife conservation in India to building Habitat for Humanity houses in Madagascar.
- Green Volunteers: With one of the largest collections of conservation volunteering opportunities, this site is be a valuable resource for those who want to provode a little environmental help on their vacation. Just purchase the guide and choose your exciting vacation from hundreds of options.
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- Costa Rica and Ecotourism: the End of the Honeymoon? (ecotourismleavingfootprints.blogspot.com)
- International Value Destinations (gadling.com)
- Expedia.ca Invites Canadians to Choose their Adventures with G.A.P Adventures (newswire.ca)
Ski, surf; hike, bike. Down dog, uphill — okay, already. When sporty isn’t thrilling enough (and when the future feels ominous), it’s time to upgrade to heart racing. These bold adventures should get the adrenaline rushing (even if all you’re doing is reading about them).
Ride Like the Wind
Until recently, HALO was done only by elite military. Now any wannabe GI can leap from a plane at 30,000 feet — twice the altitude of the average skydive — with Tennessee-based HALO Jumper
. Strapped onto a military-trained jumpmaster, you leap into air that’s 30 degrees below zero. Since passing out at such altitudes is almost a certainty, oxygen masks are a must. The parachute opens as low to the ground as possible (HALO stands for high altitude, low opening), and night jumps are offered during full moons in May, September, and October. Howl all you want.Swim with the Fishes
Cute little moray eel? Try a four-meter great white shark. Cage Diver
leads day trips to a little strip of sea south of Capetown known as Shark Alley. Brave beginners are welcome. A certified instructor helps you into the cage, which is submerged underwater for five to fifteen minutes at a time, “depending on the action.” (Cue Jaws soundtrack.)Mignificent, Yo
When competing against actual soldiers in virtual games runs its course, take to the skies for Top Gun action. In the cockpit of a Russian MiG-29
or a MiG-31 Foxhound. Over Moscow and Nizhny. It all sounds too incredible to be true, so start practicing your lines for when you get back to the cubicle: “Is that a Cold War in your pocket, or are you just impressed to see me?”Journey to the Center of the Earth
From glacier to geysers, Iceland is an adventure junkie’s dreamland. Your destination: a lake outside Reykjavik, where a diving instructor will accompany you on a stunning swim between tectonic plates.
Is that Paleolithic coral? Hell, who’s going to say it isn’t?
(The above article was from dailycandy.com).
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The following was posted on annietravel.com, and is worth reposting.
Had a great holiday recently for a fraction of the normal price. There are plenty of ex pats now living in Spain who regularly let out their apartments and with flights being so cheap I saved a fortune. I found the apartment I stayed in, which was fantastic, at the following internet address:-
The Apartment cost me just 200 per week and there was four of us! The flights from the UK were just 300 given the flew out late at night. So it was a holiday for 4 people costing a total of 500.
Often the apartments you rent are somebodys home and as such they are really well looked after, especially as many of the people who own them are now retired. Of course you are expected to look after them and a small breakages deposit was required. In any event I got my deposit of 50 back straight away after the holiday.
We stayed in Benalmadena which was fantastic, it has a great beach, excellent marina and apartments themselves had a pool with water slides. Benalmadena is situated on the Costa del Sol and lies between Torremolinos and Fuengirola, approximately 15 minutes from Malaga airport which was ideally located for travelling further afield to places such as Granada and Seville. It is made up of three different areas, Benalmadena Costa, Arroyo de la Miel and Benalmadena Pueblo.
The complex was surrounded by sub-tropical gardens and apparantly had one of the largest private swimming pools in Europe. A poolside bar/restaurant is also available during the summer season.
I would also recommend for flights easyjet:-
I can honestly say that given the amount spent we had a great time and to be honest it put much more expensive holidays we have been on in the past to shame – I won’t be going back to a travel agent again!
Summer cottages have always been admired by wealthy Europeans, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Emperor Leopold I–ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire asked for a hunting lodge to be built near the old Tiergarten, or Zoo, at Schnbrunn on Viennas outskirts in 1695. The surprising part was the lavishness of his vision. He ordered Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, the greatest architect of the Baroque Era, to design a palace larger than Versailles. Due to the huge estimate given by the architect the Habsburg family settled for a more modest dwelling with only 1,441 rooms.
Schnbrunn Palace with its neighboring buildings and the huge park is one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria. The castle was build to rival French Versailles in Baroque beauty and importance.
Emperor Franz Joseph who ruled from 1848 to 1916 was born here in 1830, spent the last years of his life entirely in Schnbrunn. In 1918, the palace became the property of the new republic. In view of its historical importance, as well as its beautiful location and its gardens this palace is one of the very top sights in Vienna. Furthermore the entire complex was added to the UNESCOs world cultural heritage list.
A tour of the residence should not be missed as it gives chance to admire the magnificent apartments of Maria Theresia, her sitting rooms, bedroom and the parlor in which 6 year old Mozart used to play for the Empress, as well as the parlors and apartments of Imperial couple Franz Joseph and Sissi. The interior is an orgy of frescoed ceilings, crystal chandeliers, huge mirrors and gilded ornaments.
The majestic collection of its architecture proclaims at once to be a royal residence. The gardens, nobly and most gracefully planned, interspersed with sheets of limpid water skillfully disposed, planted with trees of the most luxuriant vegetation, and studded with the most precious marble and bronze statuary, complement most imposingly with the magnificence of the palace itself.
The park is lively with deer of all kinds, the peaceful tenants of those beautiful spots, seemingly inviting the approach of visitors. Every day and at all hours these glades and avenues are open to the public. Numberless carriages and horsemen are constantly there.
Schnbrunn Palace is one of the most significant cultural monuments in Austria and since the 1960s has also been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. Soon after the end of the monarchy the population of Vienna discovered the park as an attractive recreational area. Ultimately the palace was also opened to the public, drawing around 1.5 million visitors annually. The park and all the other attractions at Schnbrunn together see a further 5.2 million visitors each year, giving a grand total of 6.7 million visitors to the imposing palace complex each year.
The park is surrounded by pleasances, the inmates of which in the milder season are the eyewitnesses of a succession of ftes and rejoicings. The sound of those rejoicings pierces the wall of the imperial taming, and adds by its animation to the charms of the noble pile.
The French property market has plenty of conventional houses and apartments for sale, many of them recently built and ready to move into. But if you’re looking for something special or uniquely French, then a browse through the listings of an established French property expert like French Connections will give you some ideas. For a French home with character or conversion potential, what type of property could you go for?
A farmhouse in France can offer bags of regional architectural features and charm. If you’re lucky, you’ll also find glorious views of unspoilt countryside. Traditional farmhouses are often spacious and may come with plenty of land and/or outbuildings to convert for guests, storage or hobbies. Practicalities to consider are whether the rural location might be too lonely and, if there’s a lot of land, whether you can manage or rent it out.
Owning a water mill in France – what a romantic prospect! Rugged stone, a huge grain loft with exposed beams, the dramatic sound of water as it rushes into a lake or river. Water mills do come on the market and, fully restored, command high prices. If you favour a restoration project, bear in mind that the work must be sympathetic to the architecture and could involve not only traditional building work but also specialist attention to the working mechanisms of the mill and wheel.
Think of a French chateau and you’ll probably see an elegant classical façade, tall stone turrets and rows of neatly shuttered windows. They whisper of bygone opulence and history’s half-forgotten secrets; the appeal is obvious. There are finds still to be made, especially in the Limousin, Auvergne and other up-and-coming areas. Whilst modernised chateaux command high prices, remember that restoration is also very costly. Renovation grants can be available for listed properties but the process is slow and you must use an approved architect and craftsmen.
Older village houses in France often go unloved and unwanted by natives, who prefer to build new. For those who like to be part of a community, these properties offer great potential. Usually much larger than traditional British terraced cottages, many have spacious rooms, high ceilings and beamed lofts ripe for conversion and oozing traditional charm. Before you buy, it makes sense to commission a survey, paying particular attention to the roof and foundations, and to check out both local and regional building restrictions and regulations.
Finally, a word on price variations. Paris, the south of France and popular tourist areas are most expensive, while properties in less accessible rural locations offer more for your money.
Travel in Eastern Europe is somewhat dicey, although the situation is much improved from my trip to Serbia in 2004.
Bulgaria, a country with a historical and cultural heritage, and attractive natural landscapes, is now slowly becoming one of the most visited tourist destinations in Europe. Tourism, as an industry, has been an important source of economic growth. In 2007 Bulgaria was visited by 5.2 million tourists, measured as outlined by the World Tourism Organization. Tourists from the top 3 countries – Greece, Romania and Germany, account for 40% of all visitors. In 2008 Bulgaria is estimated to welcome 6 million visitors. The country has historical cities and towns, summer beaches, and mountain ski resorts. New types of tourism, including cultural, architectural and historic tours, eco-tourism, and adventure tours, expand the range of services available to visitors.
Winter tourist centres, such as Borovetz, Bansko, Pamporovo and Vitosha are picturesque and popular ski resorts. The Bulgarian summer resorts along the Black Sea coast, include destinations, such as the summer resorts: Sozopol, Nessebur, Golden Sands, Sunny Beach, Sveti Vlas, Albena and St. St. Constantine & Helena. Some guests, such as the Germans, Russians or Scandinavians favour the summer beach resorts, while winter tourism, and the ski resorts, are the favorites of the British.
Emerging forms of tourism
Emerging types of tourist activities, such as “ethno-tourism” and “architectural-cultural” tourism, are increasingly gaining ground, catering to specialized tastes. These are new types of tours, which involve interaction with and living amongst the local people, in small mountain villages.
For the more adventurous, active recreation, involving mountain hiking and bike tourism, provides a close connection with nature. Climbers scale the granite mountains of Rila, Pirin and the Balkan. Hikers enjoy the mountains of Vitosha and the Rhodopes – the latter being the mythical birthplace of Orpheus. Mountain biking, and bicycle racing are also recreations, and Bulgaria is one of only six countries to annually host the official 1,200 km Randonnees – ultra-marathon bicycle rides patterned after Paris-Brest-Paris.
Cultural and historical tourism
Situated at the crossroads of the East and West, Bulgaria has been home to many civilizations Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Proto-Bulgarians, and Ottomans. Although Bulgaria is rich in historical artifacts, many of the museums and monasteries still need to be properly advertised and maintained, and some of the most interesting heritage sites may not be easily accessible, due to poor infrastructure. Yet, some visitors regard such “underdevelopment” as desirable – those who prefer to experience history first-hand rather than look at artefacts behind glass.
- Summer Resorts
- Albena Ahtopol Balchik Dyuni Elenite Golden Sands Kiten Lozenets Nessebar Obzor Pomorie Primorsko Riviera Rusalka Sinemorets Sozopol St. Constantine St. Vlas Sunny Beach Tsarevo
- Winter Resorts
- Bansko Chepelare Borovetz Pamporovo Uzana Vitosha
- Rural Tourism
- Arbanasi Ribaritsa Bozhentsi Kumani Ethnographic museum Etara Shiroka Laka Tryavna Zheravna Orehovo Madzharovo
- City Tourism
- Sofia Varna Burgas Plovdiv Rousse Kardzhali Pleven Vidin
- Balkan Mountains Pirin Mountains Rila Mountains Rhodopi Mountains Strandzha Mountains Sakar Mountains Vitosha Mountains
- Central Balkan Mountains
- Rila Monastery Rozhen Monastery Bachkovo Monastery
- Drianovo Monastery Pomorie Monastery
- Sokolsky Monastery Troyan Monastery The Assumption Monastery in Kardzhali town
- Most Picturesque Bulgarian Villages (per National Geographic, January 2005)
- 1. Orehovo
- 2. Narechen
A video was forwarded to me, promising it to be impossible to not smile if I watched it. A tear went down my face and pangs of jealousy and missed opportunities crossed my mind. It made me kind of sad.
Where The Hell is Matt is a website chronicling a traveller of the most aggressive sort. His catchy videos have been viewed millions of times.
You can see the video in high definition here: http://www.vimeo.com/1211060
Or just click below and enjoy:
Here’s an interesting thought – save the environment and take your next eco-tour in your own local area. Citation for the article at the end of the post.
The Closer to Home, The Greener You Go
In very basic terms, ecotourism protects the environmental resources and supports the economic stability of a particular place.
- Domestic eco-adventures within the U.S., often called bioregional vacations, leave a smaller carbon trail than international travel, as 12 to 20 hour flights are simply not necessary.
- Driving to your eco-vacation destination can be eco-friendly, if operating a hybrid or a vehicle compatible with bio-diesel.
- There are plenty of towns and cities across the country that have suffered past or recent economic collapse due to natural disaster, negligence, or lack of foresight. A visit allows you experience life in another corner of the country, and helps to rebuild the local economy.
Though all the goals of ecotourism may not be met by every American travel destination, thought and planning by committed eco-tourists helps.
Local Travel Opportunities
Domestic pursuits of environmentally friendly fun and education take many unusual forms… Here are a few of the possibilities:
- Is tee time a vacation essential for you or your loved ones? Check out the list of golf courses that have teamed up with the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Programs by joining the golf program of the Audubon International Ecotourism Alliance. The efforts of this alliance increase environmentally-supportive management of the lands used by golfers and build awareness in the golfing community.
- One green-living publication selected ten top eco-tourism destinations in North America. Domestic places of interest include Yosemite National Park in California, and a handful of lodges that aspire to meet eco-tourism standards.
- Outdoorsy travelers who are community-minded may find great potential in volunteer vacations. The American Hiking Society organizes trips that bring volunteers together to rebuild trails and shelters along various trails in unaltered backcountry areas. State Parks all over the United States participate in this program—view their schedule. Thanks to a wide variety of different locations, one may be nearby, which cuts down on gas-guzzling travel time.
So many possibilities for domestic eco-travel await the savvy eco-tourist. This list is by no means comprehensive but it provides a good start for the environmental enthusiast looking to relax and take some time away without leaving a huge carbon trail behind.