Category: Sustainable Travel

Mar
14

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The Importance of Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness

Posted by on March 14, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

In the past few months, the United States has experienced a dramatic increase in hate crimes being reported. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s monitoring group has reported a disturbing rise in the number of hate groups operating within the country, reporting a total of 917 as of this story’s publication.

To say that the Discover Corps team finds this to be an incredibly disturbing trend is an understatement. We are thoroughly disgusted by recently reported events such as the vandalism and destruction of headstones at Jewish cemeteries across the country, hateful rhetoric and violence aimed at Muslim Americans, and way too many other instances of intolerance.

In the first three months following President Trump’s election, the SPLC recorded a whopping 1,372 bias incidents. Of that total, more than 25 percent were motivated by anti-immigrant sentiments.

hate crime statistics

In short, 2017 is turning out to be a challenging year for many Americans. Even simple, rational beliefs about equality and basic human rights have become increasingly politically charged. Here at Discover Corps, we believe that makes culturally immersive travel more important than ever.

We’re proud to be facilitating experiences that open the hearts and minds of travelers to new experiences and cultures around the world. We’re especially aware of the increased importance of promoting cultural sensitivity and awareness through all aspects of our work.

These values are paramount to assuring that citizens of our increasingly globalized planet are able to understand and respect one another. And embracing them is the only way to ensure that we’ll be able to come together as people to ensure that our future holds more peace and promise than our past.

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Feb
19

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Jungle Love: Why Rainforests Are Important

Posted by on February 19, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

Anybody who has ever visited one know there’s something special about the jungle. But why are rainforests important? Not just for local people and wildlife, but for the health of our planet?

The Earth was originally packed with these regions, which are centered around the equator. They’re usually full of low-hanging vines, vibrant greenery, brilliantly colored blooms, and predators on the prowl. People travel from all across the world to explore these dense, tropical areas, and the reliance of locals on the regions continues even as threats to their survival increase.

These regions power our planet in more ways than one. They provide us with about 30% of the total oxygen used by all species to sustain life. They also serve as a protective home to millions of unique species of plants and animals. The power and productivity of rainforests is so intense that they’re often referred to as the “lungs of the earth.”

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Jan
26

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Islands and Elephants in Thailand

Posted by on January 26, 2017 · 1 Comment  

More and more frequently, issues surrounding the exploitation of animals are being brought to public eye. Massive organizations like Sea World and TripAdvisor have recently made major changes as a result of outspoken animal activism.

This critical lens has extended to travelers, who face many ethical choices when they travel abroad. Riding Elephants in Thailand is no longer considered responsible travel behavior, nor is walking with Lions in Africa.

From the shutdown of Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple to Ringling Brothers going out of business after over a century, there’s more awareness of animal abuse than ever before. And that awareness is important for those seeking exotic animal encounters. It enables them to carefully consider their options, and the impact of their actions.

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Jan
22

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Top 10 Things to Do in Costa Rica for Families

Posted by on January 22, 2017 · 1 Comment  

In its first week, the new U.S. administration has already removed all references to Climate Change from its website and is openly looking to sell off drilling rights in National Parks and other public lands to the highest bidder. So the responsibility of parents to educate their children on the importance of nature and wildlife conservation has never been more vital.

There are few nations on the planet that are better for illustrating the beauty of nature than Costa Rica. The country was one of the earlier adopters of responsible ecotourism, with more than 25% of its 19,700 square miles protected from future development. It’s been ranked the best country in the world in terms of environmental sustainability on more than one occasion, and became the first country in the Americas to ban hunting in 2012.

There are so many things to do in Costa Rica, it can be difficult to decide where to start. The country has 26 National Parks and myriad nature reserves and wildlife refuges, encompassing diverse ecosystems ranging from cloud forests and rainforests to wetlands and coastal marine areas. In short, the place is paradise for anyone with an interest in nature, wildlife and outdoor adventure.

Here are our picks for the best things to do in Costa Rica for families…

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Jan
11

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UN Declares 2017 The Year of Sustainable Tourism

Posted by on January 11, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

The phrase “sustainable tourism” has received a lot of attention in the last couple of years, as concerns over climate change increase and travelers become more aware of their contributions to that change.

But in 2017, the buzzword will gain even more visibility, thanks to the United Nation’s decision to deem this the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Tourism is a powerful industry with an enormous impact on the global economy. It employs one out of eleven people worldwide and accounts for 9.8% of the world’s GDP, or “gross domestic product.” That kind of reach and impact puts the travel industry in a unique position to promote responsible, environmentally-friendly practices all over the world.

By calling attention to this potential for a positive (or negative) impact, the United Nations is encouraging everyone involved in the industry– from tour operators to travelers themselves– to demonstrate sustainable travel practices with minimal or beneficial impacts on the ecosystems and communities they travel through.

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Jan
2

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Why Riding Elephants Should Be a Thing of the Past

Posted by on January 2, 2017 · 2 Comments  

The blessing and curse of Sustainable Travel is that it is a constantly evolving thing. The more we study nature, the deeper our understanding of how it works grows. Experiences that were once considered a must-do for wildlife lovers– from swimming with Dolphins to walking with Lions– are now known to be detrimental to the animals’ well-being.

A similar shift in consciousness is happening now, as more and more travelers shun the use of Elephants for entertainment. Humans have been riding Elephants for eons. They’ve been used as working animals (primarily for transport and logging) in Asia since the Bronze Age. They were also used as an instrument of war as early as 1000 BC, making legends of leaders like Alexander the Great and Hannibal.

Over the past half-century, Elephants have been increasingly employed in the tourism trade. Riding Elephants became big business in Thailand, Vietnam, and other parts of Southeast Asia, and you could also find them being used to perform tricks and paint pictures for tourists.

For decades riding Elephants was on every animal lover’s bucket list. But few people knew about the ugly truth behind this “once-in-a-lifetime” tourist activity…

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Dec
28

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Top Sustainable Travel Destinations for 2017

Posted by on December 28, 2016 · 1 Comment  

It’s become an annual rite of passage for travel writers to pick their favorite travel destinations for the coming year. Since we here at Discover Corps are committed to the concept of Sustainable Travel (travel that benefits the local ecology and economy of a place), we thought it would be fun to ask our favorite travel blogging experts to share their favorite eco-friendly destinations. Check out these mini-guides to the Top Sustainable Travel Destinations for 2017:

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Dec
1

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Why We No Longer Offer Walking With Lions Tours

Posted by on December 1, 2016 · 1 Comment  

Do a quick search for “Walking With Lions” and you’ll find no shortage of destinations offering animal lovers this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for around $150 a person.

It’s easy to understand why walking with lions tours, lion cub petting, and other wildlife encounters have become so popular in recent years. After all, who wouldn’t want to walk alongside one of the world’s most fearsome predators, or get a sweet selfie while cuddling adorable fur babies?

But how would you feel to learn that, as soon as those cubs are too old to be safely handled by humans, many will be forced into a cramped cage with dozens of other lions? And eventually they’ll be killed by rich hunters, who pay hefty fees to shoot their prize trophy.

This is the dark side of walking with lions tours that most of these attractions never tell tourists about. And it’s one of many reasons Discover Corps has decided to stop offering these sorts of tours going forward.
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Nov
20

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Galapagos Islands Animals: A Beginner’s Guide

Posted by on November 20, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

Named the world’s first UNESCO Site in 1978, the Galapagos Islands is an archipelago of volcanic islands located 563 miles off the coast of Ecuador.

The landscapes of these 19 islands are remarkably diverse, from the lush green flora of the Santa Cruz highlands (where the Galapagos Tortoise roams wild) to the harsh, alien lava fields on Bartolomé. It’s also home to some of the world’s most fascinating endemic species, from ocean-feeding Marine Iguanas and Flightless Cormorants to diminutive Galapagos Penguins.

The islands are most famous for their influence on Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. He observed that finch and tortoise subspecies genetically adapted to their environment differently on various islands.

Now, 177 years after Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, the Galapagos Islands is the only place in the world where wildlife has virtually no fear of humans. Curious Galapagos Sea Lions swim right up to you, and birds such as the Blue-Footed Boobie nest right beside marked hiking trails.

Here’s a look at some of the many Galapagos Islands animals you can expect to see when you visit Darwin’s paradise on Discover Corps’ new Galapagos Family Vacation

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Oct
9

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Be a Better Wildlife Photographer: 7 Tips

Posted by on October 9, 2016 · Leave a Comment  

My love of wildlife encounters and my love of travel went hand in hand, so much so that it would be hard to imagine life without either.

From early trips to Costa Rica and South Africa to more recent adventures in the Galapagos Islands and Tanzania, we’ve been fortunate to experience some of the world’s most incredible destinations to refine your skills as a wildlife photographer.

Over the course of 20 years of traveling professionally, my wildlife photography skills have improved dramatically, from simple snapshots back in the late ’90s to getting my first photo used by National Geographic last year.

There were a few photography classes and a lot of trial and error over those years, with thousands of terrible photos and a few really good ones. Most of the winners came from improving my gear and experimentation in the field, using  a few simple tricks I picked up along the way.

If you’re like me and you get a visceral thrill out of seeing wild animals in their natural environment, these tips can help you be a better wildlife photographer. Whether you’re a casual hobbyist or an aspiring professional, it’s really all about taking as many photos as you can, constantly adjusting in the moment to capture images that tell interesting stories worth a thousand words.

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