From eco tours to responsible travel
From eco tours to responsible travel – a blog about environmental travel
Traveling is an amazing experience; it can change your perspective of humanity and make you see the world in a whole new way. But many people don’t know how to travel ethically, nor do they take actions necessary to make ethical travel successful. Before I share with you how to travel ethically, I want to define what we think ethical travel is, so you have a better understanding of what it means to us here at Our Local Tour.
There is a small but persistent stream of opinion, mostly among environmentalists, that travel is unethical. It encourages luxury, it encourages environmental degradation, it encourages selfishness.
The UNTWO publish the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) which is a comprehensive set of principles designed to guide key-players in tourism development. The 10 articles of the code make for a comprehensive blue print for any organisation wishing to offer responsible travel and ethical vacations. We strongly recommend anyone interested in this area of tourism visit the UNTWO website on their Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
Our definition of ethical or responsible travel is to take a much deeper look at where you’re going and what you’re doing, and how it’s affecting the environment and your fellow travellers. In order to be ethical, travelling shouldn’t involve depriving local environments of their natural resources. In fact, it should even involve making a point to minimize your carbon footprint in the process and contribute to the places and communities that you visit.
So, how do you travel ethically?
- Be sure to research where you want to travel and what issues can affect your experience.
- Understand the issues facing the places you want to visit, and what impact your presence there can have on them.
- If you take a small group tour, the way you’re travelling will have a minimal impact on the local environment. Make sure that the tour operator and their tours adhere to the highest environmental, fair trade and human rights standards. (we do!)
- You will need to acknowledge that there will be a conflict of interest between your travelling and your environmental responsibilities. Consider not flying to your destination if possible and use local transport. Make your trips longer but less frequent, thereby reducing the overall carbon footprint.
- When travelling, it is important to obey local laws and regulations. You should not commit any crime or offense against the country’s regulations, and you must avoid engaging in any activity that is deemed offensive or injurious by the indigenous people.
- Nature tourism and ecotourism are recognised as being particularly conducive to enriching and enhancing the standing of tourism in destinations. This is true provided that the operators respect local populations and that there is not an overburden on the natural resources. Ask your tour operator how many people are travelling and how local natural resources are consumed.
- It’s important to make sure that the financial resources derived from visits to cultural sites and monuments are used for the upkeep, safeguard, development and embellishment of this heritage.
- How does your responsible tour operator treat their staff and freelance employees? Workers in the tourism industry and related activities have the right to acquire appropriate initial and continuous training, they have a duty to acquire such training, and there employers should ensure that they are given adequate social protection.
- A tour operator has a responsibility to the travellers on the vacation. Tourists and visitors have the responsibility to acquaint themselves with the characteristics of a country before leaving home. They must be aware of the health and security risks inherent in any travel outside their usual environment and behave in such a way as to minimize those risks. The tour operator should be leading this through pre-departure information and guidance.
The best advice we can give comes not from us but from Zurab Pololikashvili, the UNWTO Secretary-General who said ” Tourism is a genuine driver of solidarity and development. Let us all fully harness its power to bring people and communities together. This way tourism can keep delivering better opportunities and sustainable development for millions across the globe. ”
In the end, the only way to insure that your tour adheres to a policy of responsible travel and that it goes off without a hitch is to research and plan thoroughly beforehand.
Using a reputable tour operator such as Our Local Tour, who maintains long-term relationships with their local partners while maintaining a high standard of excellence for their tours is a good first step.
- Published in Responsible Travel
Costa Rica Eco Tourism Holiday
Costa Rica Eco Tourism Holiday
Costa Rica is the place to visit for eco tourism. The country has one of the most diverse ecologies in the world, with more than 50% of its territory protected by parks and reserves. Costa Rica’s ecotourism industry has developed around these natural treasures, creating economic opportunities for rural communities while protecting them from potential harm. Ecotourism has been able to actively contribute to the conservation of cultural heritage and natural environment of a country. It is one of the most forward thinking, sustainable tourism destinations in the world and that is why at Our Local Tour we LOVE Costa Rica. Here is our list of the best places to visit while on a tour to Costa Rica.
Papagayo is a peninsula on the Pacific coast, northwest of Liberia. It stretches from Ollieres on the south to Playa Herradura on the north, for about 30 km. It has ten beaches with turquoise water and consistent surf, making surfing a popular pastime. Public security is not a problem in Papagayo. Papagayo was named after a local tree called the Guacamaya or ‘Papagallo’ bird by Spanish explorers.
There are 5 parks in Costa Rica, but Manuel Antonio National Park is the most famous because it has the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica. You can see why it’s called the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica, with its amazing turquoise water, white sand and gorgeous views. The best part? It’s home to black tailed deer, howler monkeys, sloths and tons of other wildlife! All the trails throughout this entire park are paved or lined with stairs, so you never need to wear hiking shoes. You can even do the entire trail on your flip-flops.
Be sure to visit Arenal Volcano National Park and Lake Arenal, located in northwestern Costa Rica and towering above the town of La Fortuna. Travellers from around the world come to admire and study the volcano, hike on lava from previous eruptions and if lucky, glimpse some volcanic activity.
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde is a well-known, popular destination for ecotourism in Costa Rica and the best place to explore one of the countries famous cloud forests. The clouds over a cloud forest are a type of fog that forms when the warm, moist air from lower elevations rises and meets the cool, humid air from the coast. Lonely Planet describes the cloud forest as “a true wonder of nature.”
The beach of Tamarindo is located in Guanacaste Province, along the Pacific Coast. It’s not far from the capital San Jose, and is popular with surfers of all levels. When you visit Tamarindo Beach, you will find that the surfers create the laid-back vibe while the beach lovers delight in the crystal blue waters. The perfectly shaped coastline framed by magnificent palm trees is truly beautiful.
Poas Volcano is one of the most well-known active volcanoes in Costa Rica. Poás Volcano is one of Costa Rica’s most thrilling attractions, especially the bubbling crater lagoon, which has a variety of colours, from aquamarine to green. Looking down in to the crater is truly inspiring.
Tortuguero National Park
The Tortuguero National Park protects one of the largest remaining areas of tropical rainforest in Central America. A journey along the river will introduce you to howler monkey and toucans in the tree tops and crocodiles bathing on the shore. At the coast, the park offers vast, protected beaches from which you can enjoy endless vistas of the stunning Caribbean Sea.
There is so much more that you can see and do in Costa Rica. Why not get in touch with us here at Our Local Tour and let us put together the perfect tour of Costa Rica. We even offer an ebike tour of Costa Rica !Alternatively, why not have a look at our small group departure tours?
- Published in Responsible Travel
How to book the perfect yoga retreat
How to book the perfect Yoga retreat
Taking a break on a Yoga retreat is growing in popularity and becoming part of the mainstream holiday sector. They are no longer the domain of hippy travellers or similarly, stressed out city workers. The range of destinations and types of retreat that you can now attend is very varied and moreover there is always something to suit anyone and all abilities. Our Local Tour work closely with a range of quality professional and locally based retreat providers.
Domestic and international yoga retreats
You don’t have to travel abroad to attend a yoga retreat. There are many hotels and spas offering weekend breaks and local yoga instructors organising their own local retreats. If you attend a regular yoga class ask your instructor or other members for suggestions of locally organised events.
Travelling abroad to attend a yoga retreat requires a bit of research and planning. Firstly, you need to decide whether you want the whole trip to centre on yoga. For example, it is possible to attend an ashram for just a few days while travelling in India.
On the other hand, the opposite is to have your holiday focus entirely on the yoga with multiple lessons throughout the day. Holidays with a dedicated focus on yoga will often have other elements of well-being included, for instance ayurveda treatments.
Popular countries for a yoga holiday include India, Indonesia especially Bali and Sri Lanka. Other destinations that are up and coming and should be considered include Costa Rica and Morocco.
Each country has its own culture that will influence the type of retreat that you stay at. Indian and Sri Lankan holidays often have a core structure revolving around ayurveda and veganism. In Bali the Balinese Hindu-Buddhist religion dominates. This creates a different style to the yoga and the retreats on the island. There is much more focus on the traditional Balinese music and dance.
In Costa Rica you will find that many of the yoga retreats are based on eco-resorts and lodges. The ‘feel’ of the retreats is a lot more western. You will find that many of the instructors and lodge owners come from the USA and California in particular.
The types of Yoga
Whatever type of yoga you already practice, or would like to try; there will be a yoga retreat for that style. The most popular styles that you will find are;
A style of yoga as exercise often promoted as a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga. In Mysore, India, people gather to practice this form of yoga together at their own pace.
Teachers lead classes that flow from one pose to the next without stopping. Students will come away with a good workout as well as a yoga experience. However, many types of yoga can also be considered vinyasa flows such as ashtanga, power yoga, and prana.
Hatha yoga is usually a slower-paced practice where poses (asana) are held for a few breaths. A Hatha class will usually include breathing techniques and meditation as well as asana.
The Iyengar style of yoga has a particular emphasis on body alignment and is characterised by its precision and attention to detail. Iyengar yoga requires you to keep the pose for a slightly longer period of time, which increases the way a particular pose is performed thereby improving confidence, weight-loss and strength.
Hot Yoga (formally known as Bikram yoga)
Originally named after Bikram Choudhury and features a sequence of set poses in a sauna-like room. This is typically set to 105 degrees and 40% humidity. As a result of this, it is said to improve balance, lower body strength and range of motion for both the upper and lower body.In addition, it might even help improve arterial stiffness and metabolic measures like glucose tolerance and cholesterol levels.
There are many other types and styles of yoga. Certainly, you will find that many cross over into the styles of each other. If you are unsure of the style you want to practice on your retreat, try a few before booking anything. Many classes near you will offer taster sessions. These are perfect for deciding what’s the right style for you.
How to book your yoga retreat?
You have decided that you want to go on a yoga holiday and therefore know the style of yoga that you want. Likewise, it is going to be an overseas holiday and you want it to focus on the yoga. How do you go about booking this?
The first thing that you should do is contact us at Our Local Tour. For instance, we can help you decide on the best destination for you. Our local specialists will be able to give you exact details on what is available and where. Most importantly, they will have local knowledge and be able to speak to retreats and lodges in their area.
In conclusion, a yoga retreat is a specialist holiday. Let our team of travel experts arrange everything for you allowing you to focus on the important aspects of the holiday – you.
- Published in Specialist Travel