Sustainability and travel don’t exactly go hand in hand. Most of us are more conscious of our carbon footprint than ever, and cutting back on flying seems like the obvious way to shrink it. But taking a train or staying put aren’t the only solutions. The rise of eco-tourism has made it possible to explore destinations in a greener, cleaner way. So, we’ve selected 50 destinations across the world that are doing good for the planet. Each of these cities, regions or countries has committed to protecting either natural resources, people or heritage. This might be through any number of initiatives, from investment in renewable energy to innovative community-led projects. If you’re looking to explore the road less travelled, here are 50 eco-friendly places to visit in 2022.
Where are the best eco-friendly places to visit in 2022?
It might be too late for the Dodo, but other bird species have thankfully been saved by recent conservation efforts. In the past few years, the tourist board has focussed on coaxing tourists off the beaches to enjoy the island’s impressive native wildlife. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation runs a wide range of tours to destinations like the Ile aux Aigrettes, where visitors can spot once-endangered birds species such as the pink pigeon, as well as huge Aldabra tortoises. These locally-run tours keep the benefits of tourism within the local communities too.
Local, carbon-free transport is promoted over private vehicles on the island and new hotels and villas with seriously green credentials are popping up too. Salt Resorts offers one-of-a-kind accommodation that gives back to local communities by employing, sourcing and collaborating locally.
49. Ucluelet (British Columbia) – Canada
The wild and weathered west coast of Canada is ripe for adventure. Local authorities have managed to balance the influx of holidaying Vancouverites with its resident population of otters, seals and sea lions by limiting commercial and charter fishing vessels. There’s been a drive for more eco-friendly tour operators too. Visitors can cycle around the Pacific Rim on state-of-the-art e-bikes or hop on a locally-run boat tour to spot the world’s largest mammals. Last year, Black Rock Ocean Front Resort became one of the first resorts in Canada to adopt a Refillable and Zero Waste model too.
Nicaragua boasts staggering biodiversity but until relatively recently most tourists hotfoot to neighbouring Costa Rica. Things are changing though thanks to a wave of forward-thinking hoteliers and tour operators keen to develop the country’s sustainable tourism offering. Instead of sleeping in a hotel chain, visitors can opt for one of the dozens of small eco-lodges run by locals. Morgan’s Rock Ecolodge is one of the most impressive. Most of the 4,000-acre reserve is low-impact agricultural land and sustainable tropical forestland.
47. Pafos – Cyprus
Cyprus was once a popular fly-and-flop destination, but it’s fast becoming a hotspot for those looking for a slow, sustainable trip too. Agritourism has taken off throughout the region. The local tourism board has introduced a number of cultural, cycling and nature trails too. Most recently, Pafos municipality and the tourism board developed a green mobility transportation system. The electric bus operates along special green routes promoting cultural and historical places of interest. They’re free of charge too.
46. Fogo Island – Canada
This tiny island was one of Canada’s oldest settlements but it faced a dramatic decline in the 1990s when the cod industry all but disappeared. The Fogo Island Inn has brought it back to life. Today, the island is a model of sustainable tourism. Through art and charity, the 29-room inn is channelling investment back into the island; one-third of households on the island work directly with the inn or the foundation. The inn even introduced an Economic Nutrition Certification Mark to show exactly where your money goes.
45. Hawaii – United States
Hawaii is setting standards when it comes to marine conservation. It was the first U.S. state to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, with a law that came into effect in January 2021. Local authorities are making sustainable leaps with pledges like the ’30 by 30′ goal, which aims for 30% of Hawaii’s nearshore waters effectively managed by 2030 too.
During your stay, you can join beach cleanup events with local organisations like Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and 808 Cleanups. Or, dig a little deeper with a trip to Ka Papa Lo’i o Kanewai to learn all about local traditional farming methods. Sustainable Tourism Hawaii also offers a trustworthy third-party tour certification framework, as well as sustainability programs.
44. Himalayas – India
Tourism has existed in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) for a very long time, but in the past decade, it’s diversified significantly. Today, it’s one of the main means of livelihood for local communities and driving future development in the region. For instance, in Uttarakhand, homestays are empowering widowed women through ecotourism.
There are lesser-known hotspots to explore too, such as Kaziranga National Park. It’s located on the great Brahmaputra River and is home to two-thirds of the world’s population of one-horned rhinos. There are also herds of the barasingha or swamp deer and wild buffalo.
43. Cabo Verde
Comprising ten islands with over 1,000 km of coastline, breathtaking virgin landscapes and unspoilt culture, Cabo Verde has remained untouched by mass tourism. The rise of eco-tourism has helped turn its economy around in recent years too.
The islands have also become some of the global leaders in renewable energy, generating at least 50% of electricity from renewable sources.
42. Trinidad and Tobago
Unlike most of the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago has avoided high rise hotels and ritzy resorts. Local authorities have restricted buildings to the height of a coconut palm, which makes smaller, locally-owned accommodation popular. The Main Ridge rainforest was the oldest legally protected forest in the Western Hemisphere – protected for over two and a half centuries. The sea is equally as bounteous, particularly since the island joined the Clean Seas Campaign and launched its first recycling program.
41. Nijmegen – Netherlands
The largest city in the Dutch province of Gelderland, Nijmegen is committed to achieving happier, healthier lifestyles. It’s no pipe dream either, it was awarded the European Green Capital in 2018 in recognition of how well it looks after its citizens. How so? The city is committed to becoming energy neutral and very, very green – in 2018 authorities replaced 190,000 paving stones with 10,000 trees and bushes. Green Friday sees locals and visitors roll up their sleeves to tidy up the city, while the river park on the Waal doubles up as a flood-defence system. Plus, Restuarant de Nieuwe Winkel was the first restaurant awarded a green Michelin star for its plant-based menu sourced from the local forest.
40. Tasmania – Australia
Tasmania is home to staggering natural assets. To ensure visitors can enjoy them for years to come the island has taken special measures to preserve the environment. Visitors can choose from a whole host of eco-adventure operators to help them maximize their holidays while minimizing their impact on the environment, like Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, which offers environmentally-friendly wilderness cruises. There’s also a whole host of eco-lodges combining luxury with eco-credentials initiatives to choose from too. Saffire Wilderness Lodge is the ultimate example. This six-star eco-lodge located at the Freycinet Peninsula, features 20 luxury suites, a day spa and an award-winning restaurant – and it’s carbon-neutral too.
One of the most biodiverse places on the planet, responsible tourism comes naturally in Ecuador. Much of its tourism industry is locally-run and environmentally aware. There’s even a chapter called ‘Rights for Nature’ written into its constitution. Volunteering holidays are big in Ecuador, but there are other ways visitors can contribute too. For instance, the Yasuní National Park – a 4,000sq-mile park — is the first of five pilot sites to support sustainable development and biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest. Tren Ecuador has turned luxury train travel on its head by re-engaging local communities after the collapse of the old railway.
Guyana is often overlooked in the rush to South America, but the country offers staggering biodiversity and rich culture. Unlike many countries in the region, Guyana boasts sustainable tourism and a community-led tourism framework geared toward preserving local customs and traditions, promoting low-carbon lifestyles and preserving local traditions. For instance, the Guyana Tourism Authority recently used community-led and owned tourism in Rewa to overcome issues around out-migration and threatened wildlife species. This differs slightly from traditional community-based tourism in that there is an interaction between an Indigenous host community and the travel.
37. Borneo – Malay Archipelago
In the past three decades, the island has lost over half its forests, mostly to palm oil plantations and loggers. But things are changing, thanks to a new wave of eco-lodges, tours and initiatives. Income contributes to community well-being, forest preservation and orangutan rehabilitation centres. You’ll find some of the best community tourism projects in Sarawak, where you can live alongside a tribe and invest your money directly in local initiatives.
36. Swedish Lapland – Sweden
Swedish Lapland – or Sápmi – is teeming with old-growth forests, mountains, glaciers, free-flowing rivers and wetlands. It’s the most uninhabited and road-less landscape in Europe. The indigenous Sami community has lived here for millennia, along with big elk, bears, wolverines, lynx and reindeer migrating between the mountains. Now, several initiatives are focussed on telling the story of this once excluded society, promoting the Sami community’s long-held sustainable practices and respect for nature too.
Ecotourism is playing a huge role in revitalising declining local communities. Eco-friendly accommodation providers like White Mountain Lodges are attracting crowds of eco-conscious travellers and the money is re-invested in the local economy. Rewilding efforts have ensured the full protection of remaining old-growth forests too.
Belize boasts staggering natural beauty for such a tiny nation. Think ancient Mayan ruins, rainforest, wildlife-rich mountains and the second largest barrier reef in the world. In the wake of the pandemic, the country has introduced a new strategy with a new focus on sustainability. This includes huge investments in infrastructure to ensure equity in the industry and in the ecosystems.
34. Koh Mak – Thailand
Koh Mak is a far cry from the country’s better-known and overcrowded corners. When tourism took off a few years ago, the island decided to take a different approach to the influx of happy holidayers. The community and council pledged to develop the island sustainably, working with nature rather than exploiting it. As well as investing in renewable energy, recycling and limiting development along the coastline, the island has prohibited foam packaging, engine-powered watersports and vehicles on the island.
33. Oder Delta – Germany & Poland
Strategically located on one of Europe’s ecological crossroads, Oder Delta sprawls across more than 250,000 hectares of heaths, wetlands, forests, lagoons and grasslands. It’s wildlife-rich and a stop-over site for migrating waterbirds using the East Atlantic Flyway. Thanks to rewilding efforts, two-thirds of the region is now protected and providing new sources of income for a once-declining population. The Oder Delta Safari Company offers luxury safaris in the region now too.
32. Lech-Zurs – Austria
Sustainable isn’t a word often associated with skiing, but Lech-Zurs is aiming to change that. Not only does it offer some of the best off-piste antics in Europe, but visitors can also enjoy them guilt-free. The village has capped beds at 10,000 and limited lift pass numbers to ensure longer-term preservation. They’ve also introduced a biomass heating plant that uses regionally sourced wood chips to provide heat and communal hot water. Guests can choose to leave their cars at home thanks to the village’s free ski bus, e-bikes and scooters rentals. And, when you’ve tired of chasing white stuff, you can explore the native-plant garden, which authorities add to every year.
31. Vilnius – Lithuania
Vilnius is serious about sustainability. Firstly, they’ve cut annual CO2 emissions by 35,000 tonnes through shared mobility services such as the Bolt scooter sharing team. The city also introduced an innovative deposit return system to boost recycling by adding a €0.10 tax to the cost of glass and plastic bottles. This resulted in 92% of plastic bottles and 85% of glass bottles were returned for recycling in 2021. Plus, in 2020 locals were asked to continue to care for their Christmas trees, which were replanted in the city’s Verkiai Regional Park in March, creating Vilnius’s Christmas Forest.
Panama is a carbon-negative country. Most of the territory is forested and national parks are common. There are hundreds of ecotourism initiatives supporting indigenous groups too. The country also boasts 25,000 square miles of protected marine ecosystems too. For a seriously sustainable stay, check into The Canopy Tower, a birding lodge in the Soberanía National Park. Profits support the Embera-Wounaan indigenous people.
No list of sustainable destinations would be complete without Iceland. The country is a leader in renewable energy, with 85% of its needs met with indigenous renewable resources. It also aims to be carbon neutral by 2040. Visitors can easily find ethical and sustainable businesses through its environmental certification too. You can also offset your trip by getting involved with a wide variety of offsetting projects.
28. Oregon – United States
The Pacific Northwest was an early pioneer of the green movement in the United States. It boasts 52 jaw-dropping state parks, miles of trails and evergreen forests, but its eco-tourism offering isn’t all outdoors either. Oregon’s world-famous craft beer is at the forefront of the sustainable-brewing movement too. Many of the state’s 250-plus breweries are implementing eco-friendly initiatives, from sourcing ingredients from local farms to using renewable energy to partnering with environmental organizations on a wide range of green initiatives. Oregon’s wineries have gone green too.
This tiny Pacific island is one of the largest raised coral atolls on earth. In the past five years, the island has launched a number of conservation projects and environmental initiatives to enable tourists to contribute positively to Niuean society. Thanks to the Niue Nukutuluea Multiple Use Marine Park, which safeguards 100% of its seas, Niue is exceeding global conservation targets too. As if that isn’t enough, Niue was also the world’s first country to become a Dark Sky Place.
26. North Island – Seychelles
Billed as ‘barefoot luxury with a conscience’, North Island boasts luminous white beaches, gently swaying tropical palms and absurdly turquoise waters. But there’s more to the island than good looks – conservation and sustainability are at its core. Everything from environmentally-friendly hotel amenities to the chemicals used for cleaning is designed to minimize impact. There are strict rules around single-use plastics, water and energy consumption are strictly controlled, and the island even bottles its own water in reusable glass bottles using a Vivreau Water Purification plant. Guest can also participate in conservation activities, such as monitoring the beaches for nesting sea turtles and planting endemic trees.
25. Menorca – Spain
The whole of this easternmost Balaeric Island has been recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve due to its abundance of native flora and fauna, birds of prey and endless sandy stretches. Since the 1970s, it’s managed to balance a thriving tourism industry while maintaining its wild environment and rich local traditions through countless initiatives. It’s working; in 2019 it became the largest marine biosphere reserve in the Mediterranean. Recently, it became a Starlight Reserve and Starlight Destination, in recognition of the clarity of its night skies.
Bonaire might be best-known for its swaying palm trees and coral pink sand beaches, but it has a sustainable story too. The wind turbine contribution is 40–45% of annual electricity on average and the island is also working towards a 100% sustainable energy supply. It’s home to one of the region’s most aggressively protected marine parks too. Plus there’s a whole host of sustainable tour operators on the island. Dive Friends Bonaire gives visitors the chance to join in with a quarterly Underwater Clean Up, Dive Against Debris speciality courses, while AB Dive offers sustainable drive-through tank refill services. ECHO Bonaire is a non-governmental conservation agency dedicated to preserving the yellow-shouldered Amazon parrot. You can also visit the Echo’s Dos Pos Conversation Centre in Washington-Slagbaii National Parks too.
23. Con Dao – Vietnam
This 16-island archipelago boasts a tropical climate, diverse marine life and sprawling beaches – the perfect getaway. As the islands gain popularity, local authorities have devised a plan for a greener, cleaner sustainable tourism model. The plan includes investment in waste and wastewater treatment and a commitment to engage local workers to boost sustainable tourism services, such as eco-friendly tours. Six Senses Con Dao has been voted as one of the best eco-lodges in the world too.
Of Italy’s 20 regions, few travellers make it as far as Molise. In fact, Italians have historically avoided the region too, joking that “Molise non-esiste” (Molise doesn’t exist). But, in the wake of Covid-19, as travellers increasingly look to more unchartered territories, Molise’s reputation is rising. It has all the best of Italy, without the crowds. It’s also at the heart of Italy’s slow food movement, which champions locally produced, seasonal foods. Travellers can take their pick from a whole host of agriturismo (converted farmhouses) to support local businesses. Plus, the Molise Express will open this year. The renovated 1920s train will enable travellers to travel to lesser-visited mountains and villages more sustainably too.
21. South Australia
South Australia has been championing sustainable travel for years. They were the first to master the art of off-the-grid accommodation, offering everything from wineries to seaside glamping. It was the first state to ban plastic bags and single-use plastics. And, it’s the highest producer of wind energy in Australia. It’s also the home of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery. Visitors can take their pick from a wide range of eco-friendly tours and pay it forward by participating in one of several conservation projects. Adelaide is on track to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city too.
20. Mafia Island – Tanzania
Mafia Island Marine Park stretches across 822 sq. km of protected waters, making it the largest marine protected area in the Indian Ocean. Its unique coral reef, mangrove and marine channel ecosystems are teeming with fish species, including whale sharks. Conservation and tourism happily co-exist here, since the local communities depend on the park’s marine resources for their livelihoods. It’s all about a slower, more immersive, local model of tourism on the island. Guests can make the most of their stay by booking their trips through sustainable tour operators like Afro Whale Sharks Safari, who can organise whale shark excursions and accommodation in solar-panel generated bungalows.
19. Patagonia – Argentina & Chile
Patagonia is home to some of the world’s most diverse landscapes and pristine wilderness. To keep it that way, there are now dozens of local tour operators, accommodation providers and eateries dedicated to preserving local landscapes and communities. Take the award-winning tour operator Cascada Expediciones, which offers soft-adventure trips throughout the region. They recently opened the world’s first geodesic dome hotel. Visitors are encouraged to get involved with local initiatives too. The Fiesta de la Limpieza helps keep the Torres del Paine National Park clean and the Tu Mejor Huella is busy rebuilding the base torres trail in Torres del Paine National Park.
18. Gozo – Malta
Nicknamed the ‘Eco Island’, sustainability is built into the story of Gozo. Unlike its sister island Malta, Gozo has a solid track record of green initiatives designed to retain the island’s awe-inspiring landscapes and authenticity. The local government has implemented initiatives such as solar panel water heating, water-saving and rainwater harvesting schemes and a wastewater treatment plant. Visitors can choose from a range of eco-certified hotels and farmhouses, including two five star hotels, to reduce their carbon footprint too. Plus, in the past few years investment in adventure sports tour companies and activities has repositioned the island as an all-year destination, reducing excessive (and damaging) dependency on the peak season.
17. Dana Biosphere Reserve – Jordan
Jordan’s largest nature reserve covers some 320 square kilometres of mountains and Wadis along the Great Rift Valley. It’s home to over 700 plant species, 190 bird species, 37 mammal species and 36 reptile species. The Dana Village area, which overlooks the Wadi Dana, has been occupied since 4,000 BC, though many are now moving in search of schools, jobs and housing. Thanks to a trailblazing ecotourism initiative, things are changing. The Feynan Ecolodge, situated on a former copper mining research camp, has played a big part. The local community is at the heart of the lodge, with a 100 per cent local employment commitment to ensure over half of the money that a guest spends is put directly into the surrounding economy.
This tiny Pacific island nation is made up of 340 lush green islands fringed by wildlife-rich turquoise waters. But while it might be small, there’s nothing modest about its sustainability goals. The ‘Palau Pledge’ is the world’s first mandatory visitor eco-pledge. Tourists need to sign the pledge promising to act as good environmental stewards during their trip. They risk fines if found engaging in activities like feeding fish or stepping on coral too. Tour operators are banned from using single-use plastics and the island nation also implements the world’s strictest national reef-safe sunscreen standard.
Until recently, the island relied on imported food but new tourism initiatives are re-addressing the issue by promoting sustainable agricultural products that showcase the islands’ culinary heritage.
Suriname has a carbon negative economy thanks largely to the vast rainforest that covers 93% of the country. In fact, Suriname has one of the largest protected areas of rainforest in the world – the Central Suriname Nature Reserve UNESCO World Heritage Site. This rainforest covers the southern four-fifths of the country. The forest contains more than 1000 species of trees and hosts a great diversity of flora and fauna including many protected animals, for instance, the giant river otter, the giant armadillo and jaguars.
Suriname has pledged to “maintain the share of electricity from renewable sources above 35% by 2030″ and increase its focus on climate smart agriculture.
14. New Caledonia
New Caledonia is the archetypal tropical paradise – sparkling turquoise waters, glorious stretches of unspoilt beaches and warm hospitality. But its lagoons, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are what really sets this island apart. It’s one of the world’s most extensive reef systems, packed with over 9,000 marine species. Local authorities are committed to preserving this delicate ecosystem too. In 2014, the government created the 500,000-square. mile Coral Sea Natural Park. It recently banned fishing, sports and nautical boats carrying more than 200 passengers too. This year the government banned all disposable plastic products and a coral farm dedicated to restoring tourism-damaged reefs will open on Lifou Island.
Billed as the ‘Amazon of Europe’, this newly declared Unesco biosphere sprawls across a hefty 930,000 hectares. It’s the world’s first five-country Biosphere Reserve (TBR MDD), spread across Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia. The biosphere protects the largest semi-natural river and floodplain ecosystem in Central Europe along the Mura, Drava and Danube Rivers. It’s also home to the highest density of breeding pairs of white-tailed eagles and endangered species, such as the black stork, beaver, and otter.
12. Colorado – United States
Colorado has always been a popular spot for outdoor adventures, but in the past few years, it’s really come into its own as an eco-friendly haven. Denver, Colorado’s charismatic capital city, is on track to reach its goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2023 and it’s recently earned the highly coveted LEED for Cities Platinum Certification. The city is also aiming to introduce 125-miles of new bike lanes by 2023. Outside of the city, the state boasts 42 epic state parks, with world-class skiing, hiking, wildlife-watching, and more.
11. Galapagos Islands – Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands is a biodiversity hotspot, beloved for staggering wildlife below the surface and on dry land. It’s home to nearly 3,000 marine species, as well as the largest biomass of sharks on the planet. But that makes it popular too. Recently, local authorities have introduced measures to limit the impact of tourism on the island, such as capping the size of boats and investing in renewable energy. Conscious community tourism has become more of a focus too. There’s now a variety of forward-thinking eco-friendly lodging options for visitors to choose from. Pikaia Lodge, a carbon-neutral hotel made from steel, is. real highlight.
Estonia has a bit of a head start when it comes to eco-tourism, with nearly 70% of the country covered by forests and bogs. It means that, as well as clean air, visitors are never too far away from the wilderness. A whopping seven regions from across the country made it into the Sustainable Top 100 Destinations competitions too: Hiiumaa and Saaremaa, Pärnu, Rakvere and Tartu, Järva County and Lahemaa National Park. The country’s colourful capital Tallinn is also the European Green Capital for 2023. The title comes with a €600,000 ($710,000) fund to invest in green projects. That should enable it to meet its target of a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050.
South America’s second-smallest country has a lot to say for itself when it comes to environmental innovation. Since 2016, over 95% of the country has been supplied by renewable energy sources. Montevideo’s international airport has its own solar panels that provide the airport with its own supply of electricity. The country’s surrounding waters have been protected since 2013 and they’re now teeming with whales and dolphins too. Air quality across the country is rated almost perfect and Uruguay comes third out of 146 countries for its dedication to environmental sustainability.
8. Scotland – United Kingdom
Scotland has been doing its bit for the planet for decades, but COP 26 put the spotlight on the region. Visit Scotland has been promoting eco, green and environmentally-friendly travel for decades. If you want to take it one step further, you can dedicate your holiday to looking after the local landscape on a volunteering holiday too. Forestry Land Scotland gives visitors the chance to help build mountain bike trails, while at Wild Oysters you can help protect the local waters. Plus, Scotland’s Green Tourism certification makes it easy to find eco-friendly accommodation for all budgets. It was also the first country to sign up to Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency in 2020
7. Azores Islands – Portugal
Set in the Atlantic Ocean between Portugal and New York, this wild and remote archipelago was the first region in Portugal to become a certified sustainable tourism destination. The Azores government, in partnership with local communities and the tourism industry, has pledged to preserve its natural landscapes, marine ecosystems and rich culture. These proactive measures range from renewable geothermal energy to creating more protected areas. Graciosa, in particular, is paving the way in decarbonising the islands, with an estimated reduction of 100,000 tones in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
Slovenia is green, in every sense of the world. More than 13% of the entire territory is protected parkland, 35% of it is a Natura 2000 designated Special Area of Conservation and 60% of the country is covered in greenery. The tourism industry encourages intimate relations with nature, be it through hiking and biking or diving into local gastronomy. Even Ljubljana, the country’s capital, is going above and beyond. It was the first capital city in the EU to take part in the zero-waste program, became European Green Capital in 2016 and introduced a huge no-car zone in the centre of town last year.
5. Costa Rica
As the most biodiverse country in the world, it’s little wonder why Costa Rica ranks on so many people’s bucket lists. They’ve mastered the art of sustainable tourism here too. The CST (Certification for Sustainable Tourism) framework promotes sustainable tourism practices across the entire tourism industry in Costa Rica, from transportation and tours to dining and digs. Ecolodges abound, each specifically designed to minimise the impact on the surrounding areas. Most of the country’s electricity is renewably sourced and authorities ban single-use plastics too.
4. Southern Carpathians – Romania
Described as a ‘wilderness arc in the heart of Europe’, the Southern Carpathians encompasses around one million hectares of wild rivers, forests and vegetation. It’s home to a rich variety of wildlife – wold, lynx, brown bear, wild cats – but numbers have dropped in recent decades due to heavy hunting. Thankfully, conservation measures are now well underway to bring the region back to its former glory.
WWF Romania and Rewilding Europe have been working together to reintroduce European bison to the region and supporting local enterprises to help develop a local nature-based economy. Local organisations, like WeWilder, are working with the community to compensate anyone who loses crops to bison, which may stray into the village too. For a truly immersive experience, visitors can book a wildlife safari through the European Safari Company, the tourism arm of Rewilding Europe.
3. The Gambia
The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa, best known for its scenic lagoons, golden beaches and year-round sunshine. For a few years, it became popular (and dependent) on the charter flight brigade seeking out warmer winter climes. But post-pandemic, the country has started developing alternatives to all-inclusive beach getaways. The Ninki Nanka Trail is an excellent example; the trail aims to draw visitors from the golden coast to discover rural communities along the River Gambia.
Botswana is one of the most convenient locations to spot the Big Five, but local authorities and the tourism board have made it easy to safari sustainably. The Botswana Ecotourism Certification System comprises 240 camps and lodges. Each of these are minimising the negative impacts of tourism and maximises the involvement of local communities and conservation. There are dozens of safari tour operators investing in community-based opportunities to help local villages thrive. For instance, Great Plains Safari uses a Tesla solar battery system to power the camp and bio-digesters to convert vegetable peelings into methane cooking gas, all while conserving nearly one million acres of land for Africa’s wildlife.
Despite its obvious appeal, not many people travel to Bhutan, but it’s not for want of trying. The government regulates tourism and caps numbers with a minimum daily package rate. That means fewer – but higher-spending – visitors who are essentially helping the country’s conservation efforts just by visiting. Bhutan is also one of the few carbon-negative countries in the world. It has a comprehensive plan of action including zero net greenhouse gas emissions and zero waste targets by 2030.