Eco-tourism coming to Goa

Posted January 14, 2016 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Eco-Tourism, Environmentally Friendly, India, Uncategorized

Although Goa, in India, is known for nightlife, beaches, and a “hippie” vibe, eco friendly travel is coming soon.  The forest ministry in Goa is looking to develop eco-villages in that city, in a bid to decongest the beaches and divert tourists to the beautiful, more rural, areas of the region.

Talking about the future of eco-tourism in the region, Goa Forest Minister Rajendra Arlekar was recently quoted, “We have to balance revenue generation as well as keeping the environmental balance of the state. Setting up eco-villages will help us greatly promote eco-tourism in rural areas.”

Hopefully those plans will become a reality soon.

How to be a responsible eco-tourist

Posted July 17, 2012 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Eco-Tourism, educational, Environmentally Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , ,

After reading an article in Discover magazine (which I would link to, but I can’t find other than on my bathroom counter at home), I realized that there is a dark side to ecotourism.  It mentioned the trash, pollution from jeeps, and danger to tourists from animals or acts of nature.  The following tips, from a hotel group in India, might help.

How to be a responsible tourist

• Do not use facilities that have altered the natural habitat. These may include resorts, hotels, swimming pools, especially boundary walls and fences. These alter and inhibit animal movement.

• Avoid resorts that have swimming pools or fountains. These are wasting a precious local resource, especially in areas with water scarcity. Check if the resort uses a rainwater harvesting device.

• Recycle: You can use a towel for two days instead of demanding room service replace it every day.

• Avoid the use of detergents, soaps and toiletries that are toxic or not eco soluble. Check if the resort has restrictions on detergents, soaps and toiletries or waste-management systems and solar power.

• Do not use perfumes and deodorants on a safari.

• Do not use light and sound in restricted zones after dark. Do not insist on night safaris, driving through protected zones, or playing the stereo loudly. If unavoidable, put headlights on low beam, use the dipper and drive slow.

• Use resorts or home-stays run by local communities, people dependent on the forest, however basic. Ensure you are contributing to the local economy.

• Do not crowd

Babys first swim

I just used this photograph (marginally relevant to the swimming pool tip) because I think my son Louis is cute, and it reminds me of his first swim! – Robert 

animals. You may feel like your safari is a waste if you haven’t seen a tiger up close, but as one conservationist put it: “How would you feel to be put on exhibition, surrounded by 40 jeeps, each with eight humans, each with a camera?”

World’s largest Crocodile found in an ecotourism park

Posted July 12, 2012 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Eco-Tourism

Tags: , , , , , , ,

World Record Crocodile: 2,259 Pounds And 20 Feet Long

A saltwater crocodile in the Phiippines has been declared the world’s largest in captivity.

The crocodile weighs more than 2,200 pounds, is 20 feet long and eats up to 22 pounds of meat per week.

He’s become a tourist attraction in the town of Bunawan, where an ecotourism park was built around his enclosure.

“Lolong” is the croc’s name. He was captured last year after a three-week long hunt, which came after the crocodile was believed to have killed a girl and a fisherman in the town.

The Guinness Book of World Records recently declared him the largest saltwater crocodile in captivity.

Lonesome George Dies, Ecotourism Companies pay tribute

Posted July 6, 2012 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Uncategorized

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Naturalist Journeys, an Arizona-based, nature travel company, joins the world in honoring the passing of a conservation icon, Lonesome George, famous tortoise of Galapagos. If he had a Facebook timeline, several parts of this reptilian celebrity’s story would stand out. Called the rarest animal on earth, at one time the government of Ecuador offered a $10,000 reward for anyone finding a genetic match. Thousands of tourists viewed Lonesome George every year. “Seeing George was pivotal,” says Peg Abbott, owner of the company and veteran host of Galapagos cruises. “He inspired ongoing conversations about the challenges and pitfalls of saving endangered species. Seeing the last remaining individual of a species or subspecies, particularly in the Galapagos where nature is so vibrant, was moving every time.” Visits by ecotourism groups, for Naturalist Journeys scheduled next year January 18-28, will help to ensure that his story is told, and the legacy of the island’s most famous mascot lives on.

Portal, Arizona (PRWEB) June 29, 2012

Naturalist Journeys joins the world in honoring the passing of a conservation icon, Lonesome George, the tortoise celebrity of Galapagos. Groups from the Arizona-based natural history travel company have been visiting George for nearly twenty years. “Seeing George was pivotal,” says Peg Abbott, owner of the company and veteran host of Galapagos cruises. “He inspired ongoing conversations about the challenges and pitfalls of saving endangered species. Seeing the last remaining individual of a species, particularly in the Galapagos where nature is so vibrant, was moving every time.” Abbott describes that groups over the years would joke about George’s lack of interest in females after years in isolation, but find sobering the reality that his subspecies’ existence rested on his failed sexuality.

Thousands of tourists viewed Lonesome George every year. If he had a Facebook timeline, several parts of his story would stand out. Called the rarest animal on earth, at one time the government of Ecuador offered a $10,000 reward for anyone finding a genetic match. In previous centuries, sailors and pirates captured tortoises, carrying them alive – sometimes for years – Flipped up on their backs with bound limbs, to supply fresh meat as they traveled. It was hoped that somewhere, in a port near or far away from the Galapagos Islands, there might have been a suitable female tortoise offloaded from one of those boats. Sadly, the money went unclaimed despite years of searching.

In 1992, with tourism on the rise, George was moved to a new pen along the public route through the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS), and his new lodgings came with company – two females. Acknowledging that no survivors of his kind remained, a mating with closely-related individuals seemed the only possible choice. Naturalist Journeys clients watched for several years as this attempt at captive breeding failed due to George’s lack of interest, and then cheered when in the year fifteen, he got inspired. One year, participants met a young Swiss graduate student assigned by the CDRS to help George find that interest in females, or to get familiar enough with him to collect semen – the only way his subspecies could survive. Through tourism, members of the group got caught up with his ongoing story; several joined CDRS or the Galapagos Conservancy. Clients kept in touch, and cheered when Lonesome George finally mated with a female, and then sighed with sadness when the eggs proved to be infertile – twice.

In 2008, National Geographic issued an article entitled, “Extinct Tortoise Could Be Reconstructed.” On tours, Naturalist Journeys clients learned that new techniques were making it possible to test some of the tortoises that did not seem to match their specific island prototype, and scientists were finding some of the lost genes. Remote Wolf Volcano to the north, the last island ahead of setting sail for the open sea, showed promise for such finds. Scientists decoding the genomes of the various subspecies of Giant Tortoises (once 15, now 10, and all but four very rare) thought they might be able to devise a breeding program, using molecular markers, to bring diluted genes from individuals of these mixed subspecies to a more pure form.

Giant Tortoises (Galapagos in Spanish) gave the fabled islands their name. Lonesome George acquired his from the popular 1950’s comedian television star, George Gobel, who inspired laughter in his role as a beleaguered, misunderstood husband. It is estimated that George Gobel’s namesake lived for over 100 years, forty of them at CDRS.

Space is still available on the Naturalist Journeys’ January 18-28, 2013 voyage to the turquoise-rimmed, World Heritage islands of the Galapagos. There, for the first time, Lonesome George’s story will be told in the past tense. Abbott is counting on positive news from a scheduled 2012 meeting of experts, held to work out a plan for breeding, repatriating, and managing tortoises over the next ten years to offset his loss. In this way, the island’s most famous mascot and his legacy will live on. Full details of the voyage can be found on the Naturalist Journeys website.

The Darker Side of EcoTourism Thrills

Posted June 13, 2012 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Uncategorized

Mention Chernobyl and you will get a reaction from people.  For those interested in Eco-Tourism, however, there is an intrigue about places not visited by man in a long time.  The New York Times recently (as in this week) had an article about Ecotourism in Chernobyl.

As they note, for

English: Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

English: Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

many people, ecotourism evokes a picnic in Muir Woods in California, perhaps, or counting endangered sea turtles on a Costa Rican beach or spending the night in a tree house with gibbons in Laos. Andrew Blackwell, a Brooklyn-based author and journalist, sees it differently. His idea of an interesting trip is less about beauty than environmental devastation.

Taking the idea to an extreme, he set out to chronicle some of the world’s most spoiled places for his book, just released, “Visit Sunny Chernobyl.”

The journey began several years ago when Mr. Blackwell visited Kanpur, India’s most polluted city. He spent three days slogging through illegal industrial dumps, toxic tanneries, overflowing sewage treatment plants and feces-laden beaches. The experience stuck with him, with his thoughts incessantly returning to that horribly contaminated but “inscrutably, mystifyingly beautiful” place. An idea began to blossom, and before long he was booking travel to some unusual destinations.

“On a more philosophic level, I’d gotten frustrated with how tightly our environmental values are tied into our sense of what’s pretty and beautiful and supposedly pure and wild,” he said in an interview. “I also became aware that, although I care about environmental issues, I had very little direct experience of them.”

Chernobyl, the site of the nuclear power plant disaster in 1986, ranked as an obvious first choice.

With a radiation detector in hand, Mr. Blackwell convinced Ukrainian locals to take him on a behind-the-scenes tour of the exclusion zone surrounding the reactors. He slunk through the decaying ruins of kindergartens and amusement parks in Pripyat, once a city of 50,000 but now a weedy, crumbling ghost town. He drove through tracts of deserted wilderness and breathed in the “sweet, sunny air” of the radioactive red forest.

Although the exclusion zone epitomized humankind’s heedless impact on the environment, he could not help thinking that, in a paradoxical way, it might have been good for nature: the disaster created what might be viewed as a giant radioactive national park that would be spared from major human intrusions for decades.

His improbable itinerary kept growing. He surveyed Alberta’s oil sands strip mines, where a boomtown of about 61,000 people produces double the carbon dioxide emissions of Los Angeles and supplies over a million barrels of oil per day headed for the United States. He spent weeks on a 150-foot-long brigantine combing the Pacific for the Great Garbage Patch, an area about twice the size of France where marine currents accumulate the world’s discarded and degraded plastic rubbish. He drank caipirinhas with boisterous Brazilian locals in clear-cut swaths of the Amazon rainforest.

He came out of the experience with a few nuggets of insight. “I really was struck by how much gray area there is in terms of what we know about the problems associated with these places,” he said. “What are the effects of having so much plastic floating around in the ocean, for example, and what can we definitively say about the health effects of Chernobyl’s radioactive environment on the people and animals that remain there? I’m not a scientist, but it didn’t take me long to get to the limits of what science could confidently say about these places.”

“I’d gotten frustrated with how tightly our environmental values are tied into our sense of what’s pretty and beautiful and supposedly pure and wild.”

— Andrew Blackwell

For anyone looking to delve into forsaken places, Mr. Blackwell points out that overseas travel is not a must. In New York City, for example, there’s the infamousGowanus Canal, where he often canoes. “There are still things floating in there that I don’t know what they are and I don’t want to know what they are, but at the same time if you hold your nose a little bit, it actually is a lovely place to go canoeing,” he said. “Every city has its underappreciated Superfund sites.”

Mr. Blackwell wants to convey a simple message: Just because a place is polluted does not mean it is not interesting or fun to visit, or not worth caring about. People still live in these places, he reminds us, and nature persists.

To value only the few pristine, unadulterated tracts of wilderness remaining on the planet is to ignore the reality that we have created for ourselves, he argues. Although he does support conservation, Mr. Blackwell said he hoped that environmentalism could find a way to embrace “the fact of all of these places, and the fact of human presence on the world.”

“I was trying to find a way to engage with the world that was not just based on purity and beauty,” he said. “It’s a love letter to polluted places.”

Sunset on the Pripyat River, within the radioactive exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
Sunset on the Pripyat River, within the radioactive exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Volunteering in Costa Rica and Protecting Wildlife

Posted June 8, 2012 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Conservation, Costa Rica, Eco-Tourism, educational, Environmentally Friendly

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Reporter Jane from the Brisbane Times had the following account of working as a volunteer taking care of wildlife in Costa Rica.  It’s a great read and makes me want to return to Costa Rica.


Tapir (Photo credit: FrogMiller)

By 8am we’re sitting on upturned buckets on the floor of a concrete shed, up to our elbows in bananas, plantains, papayas and a curious tuberous vegetable called yucca. It has very hard, pure white flesh and tough, brown skin and it takes a good whack with a lethally sharp knife to break into bite-size pieces – just the way a hungry tapir likes it.

Later we’ll load two big buckets of this concoction into a wheelbarrow and march it down a short track to four hungry tapirs.

Animal rescue... tapirs are cared for at La MarinaWildlife Rescue Centre.Animal rescue… tapirs are cared for at La MarinaWildlife Rescue Centre. Photo: Jane Mundy

Preparing food for the animals is the first task of the day at La Marina, a privately funded animal rescue centre in the central valley of Costa Rica. Animals as diverse as spider monkeys, capuchins, kinkajous, pythons, scarlet macaws, ocelots, eagles and vultures, crocodiles and even a pair of lions find homes here. Some are injured, some have lost their habitats or are handed in by people who have kept them as pets. Some will be nursed back to health and released into their natural habitat – but most will not. They will see out their days at La Marina, cared for and protected.

The small team of volunteers busy chopping, slicing and dicing is like a mini European Union. Tinoos is a thirtysomething Danish opera singer-turned-carpenter. Elias is a Belgian university dropout. Romy is undertaking field work for the biology course she studies in the Netherlands. There is someone from Russia, someone from Germany. They all seem younger than us and must wonder why a couple of oldies from Australia choose to spend a week of their Central American holiday in a place like this.

Yes, we could have opted for something cleaner, safer and more fragrant. But that’s one of the things about volunteering – you get all kinds.

As we come along the track with our wheelbarrow, the tapirs – three adults and an adolescent who has just grown out of his stripy juvenile coat – wait and watch. Tapirs are extraordinary-looking creatures, rather like a large pig with an extended nose-cum-trunk. It’s as though the animal thought for a while about being an elephant, then changed its mind. They come to the gate of their large, leafy enclosure, hungry and curious, sniffing the air, teeth bared.

I have a healthy respect for wild animals and the need to keep one’s distance so I tread cautiously. Two hundred kilograms of angry tapir can make a mess of your arm. Yet although they are equipped with a formidable set of teeth, these tapirs are docile and affectionate – seemingly not just because they’re hungry. They appear to be fond of being stroked, scratched and cuddled. Yes, cuddled. Arms around their necks, cheeks pressed against coarse hide. The full love-in.

Around the middle of the day we make our way to the lunch room where volunteers compare the contents of lunch boxes prepared for us by our hosts.

Part of the deal at La Marina is that volunteers are billeted with Costa Rican families and our “mother”, Xinia, takes the job of feeding us seriously. Today it is rice and beans. Yesterday it was beans and rice. Xinia speaks barely a word of English but we can more or less make ourselves understood and as well as feeding us and washing our filthy work clothes, Xinia makes us feel part of her wonderful extended family.

It’s usual for family members to live next door to one another; living next to Xinia is one of her five sisters and family, and next door again is a brother.

In Costa Rica, where more than 25 per cent of the country is dedicated national park, there’s no shortage of animal-viewing opportunities: by river, horse-back ride to the base of a volcano or guided walk through a forest.

Eco-tourism is a big earner but viewing opportunities in the wild, although plentiful, must be from a distance: scarlet macaws flash across a clear blue sky; a sloth is curled high in the tree tops; rustling branches denote a troupe of howler monkeys on the move.

You need luck, patience and good binoculars. At La Marina you get to see animals at close range, for longer, and can touch some of them.

But volunteering here is not all about cuddling tapirs, however. There is hard work to be done and it’s not glamorous: bird cages cleaned; building materials carried; paths swept. The wild pigs’ enclosure is cleaned daily – not a popular task.

However, there is something satisfying about these hands-on experiences and I find that I don’t want to leave. I have become attached to the animals. Even to tapirs.


Getting there

United Airlines has a fare to San Jose from Los Angeles for about $600 low-season round trip, including tax. Flight is about 8hr,s including transit time in Houston).

Volunteering there

La Marina Wildlife Rescue Centre is in San Carlos, Alajuela, 60 kilometres north-west of San Jose. A bus ($2.50, about 3hr) operates from downtown San Jose to Ciudad Quesada (8½ kilometres from La Marina).

A flat fee of $US250 ($256) applies regardless of the length of stay, including airport pick-up and introduction to a host family. An extra $US13 a day covers a room and meals; see

Read more:

South Carolina getting an Ecotourism Park?

Posted May 29, 2012 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Eco-Tourism, educational, Environmentally Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Patriots Point in Charleston, SC.

Patriots Point in Charleston, SC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A zip-line running from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Yorktown some 850 feet to shore is among the recreational possibilities being explored in a proposal to locate an adventure/eco-tourism-themed park at Patriots Point.

Other options include a boardwalk through a tree canopy, a tree house and a climbing wall.


“It’s just a great opportunity for both organizations. We’re pretty excited about the possibilities,” said Wayne Adams, Patriots Point vice chairman.

The new park on less than 10 acres would be a way to give more people access to Patriots Point, he said.

“It’s on land that we can’t use for anything else,” Adams said.

Patriots Point board member Edwin Taylor said the venture would cost the Naval and Maritime Museum nothing and could increase visitors.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

The PRC would fund the park, Taylor said.

PRC Chairman Ravi Sanyal said $1.5 million for the eco-tourism park became available when plans for an eco-lodge at Folly Beach fell by the wayside. No new funds would be needed for the project, he said.

The Patriots Point board approached PRC commissioners with the idea of an eco-adventure park that could also include kayaking and wall-climbing.

“The commission was overwhelmingly in favor of the idea. It’s a trend that we want to be a part of. PRC wants to be a leader in that genre. We want Charleston to be an eco-tourism destination,” Sanyal said.

PRC would lease land for the park from Patriots Point.

“We would fully operate the park,” he said.

PRC Executive Director Tom O’Rourke said that he and Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette came up with the idea for the park.

“This is an adventure park,” O’Rourke said.

He noted the proximity of hotels and the possibility for tourism packages. Canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and scuba diving might be part of the park, he said.

“Whatever is adventurous is on the table,” he said.

Burdette said the park is an option for land that has limited possibilities because of how its use is restricted. Patriots Point has 280,000 visitors annually. Existing parking would be used for the adventure park visitors, he said.

“These things are very popular,” he said. “At this point, we can’t see any downside to it. If we don’t do it, somebody else is going to do it