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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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.
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…
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.
Tourism has grown exponentially over the years since 2009’s economic crisis, outpacing every other aspect of the service industry. The United Nations World Tourism Organization found that Nature-based tourism accounts for about 20% of all international travel, with outdoor adventures becoming one of the fastest-growing sectors of the industry.
But these days adventure travel isn’t just for extreme sports enthusiasts. Whether it’s hiking glaciers in Argentina, zip lining in Costa Rica, camel trekking in the Wadi Rum desert or cycling in the Alps, outdoor adventures around the world have become increasingly accessible. The best countries offer a diverse array of options appealing to every possible interest and fitness level.
But don’t just take our word for it. Check out this guide to the 15 greatest countries for outdoor adventures, with suggestions from some of the world’s top travel bloggers for things you simply MUST see and do during your visit…
Machu Picchu ranks among the world’s most popular tourist attractions, attracting over 1.2 million visitors annually.
But a few years ago the number of daily visitors to the ancient archaeological site was getting out of hand. So UNESCO urged Cusco’s Ministry of Culture to create strict rules for Machu Picchu visitors. These included hiring an official guide, following one of three routes through the complex, and facing time limits to keep traffic flowing.
Machu Picchu is just one of many impressive cities the Incas built from 1438 to 1533, before the Spanish conquest destroyed their civilization. It’s not actually the largest, oldest, or most important of the Incan archaeological sites. For a complete picture of the history and culture of the Andes, travelers to Machu Picchu would benefit from exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Located near Cusco, the Urubamba Valley was considered sacred due to its natural beauty, which ample fresh water and fertile soil for growing food. Here we’ll take a look at the heartland of the Inca Empire, including the archaeological sites and cultural traditions that make the Sacred Valley of the Incas a one of the top things to do in Peru.
Wildlife encounters offer once-in-a-lifetime travel memories that you’ll treasure forever. Who doesn’t remember the first time they watched a Dolphin frolicking in the wake of their boat, saw a Deer or a Bear in the wild, or went snorkeling with aquatic life all around them?
These days, animals all around the world are facing an ever-increasing array of threats. Fortunately, there are also more opportunities to learn about wildlife conservation while seeing keystone species in their natural environment.
Not only do these activities teach travelers about the vital work being done to protect these animals, but in many cases they help to fund NGOs and other organizations working to save them.
Discover Corps offers several different trips that allow volunteers to work with wildlife researchers, conservationists and non-profit foundations. Our goal is to provide a hands-on experience that shows travelers the important work being done to save endangered species, and encourage them to become ambassadors for wildlife conservation.
Here are a few of our favorite wildlife encounters around the world, including several that you can experience by traveling with Discover Corps!
Discover Corps’ new Wildlife Conservation Experience tour was launched in June 2016. South African wildlife conservation has been a huge personal passion ever since my first visit to the country back in 2000. So I was delighted when my 14-year-old daughter and I were invited to experience the diverse itinerary for ourselves.
Having previously spent six weeks in South Africa, Tanzania and Rwanda, the biggest surprise for me was the weather. The African continent can get brutally hot in summer, when afternoon temperatures regularly reach 100º. But because South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, our summer is their winter, with daytime temps averaging 70-80º and nighttime temps dipping down to the low 40s.
But perhaps the biggest difference between Discover Corps’ South African trip and my previous one was the interactive opportunities this time around. From witnessing wildlife conservation first-hand with Project Rafiki and Care For Wild Africa to learning about traditional cultures at Nyani Cultural Village, this trip was immersive and expansive, providing a rich overview of life in South Africa.
Here’s a look at my day-by-day journal of our South African wildlife conservation experience…
It’s no secret that we love responsible travel, and we want you to love it, too. But the benefits of sustainable tourism go even further than helping the environment and the people we encounter along the way. Responsible travel can also make travel more fun, inspiring, and fulfilling for YOU, the traveler.
We understand that you might be skeptical. Sustainable tourism has become such a big buzzword lately. At first glance it can seem more like a marketing ploy (a.k.a. greenwashing) than an effective way to make travel better for everyone.
There are many travel companies out there who use the words “responsible ” and “eco-friendly” simply to attract customers interested in traveling sustainably, without making the effort needed to back that label up with the action necessary to make those claims true.
But once travelers understand what real sustainable travel is (and why it makes travel so much better), they can do a better job at traveling responsibly on their own, or through selecting the correct tour operator. Let’s take a look at why sustainable tourism really is the best form of travel…
My first trip to South Africa back in 2000 ultimately proved to be a life-changing experience. A lifetime of National Geographic specials couldn’t prepare me for the awe-inspiring South African wildlife sightings we were blessed with on every single safari drive we took during our week exploring Kruger National Park.
We saw the famed “Big 5” more times that I can recall. But we were equally enthralled by the hundreds of species of other animals we saw, from a mother Cheetah with two wrestling 7-month-old cubs and a huge family of Warthogs to a pack of endangered Wild Dogs we saw digging their way under a fence to get back to the safety of the park.
With 299 species of mammals and 858 species of birds, it’s virtually impossible to predict which species of South African wildlife you might see during your time in Kruger National Park. What follows is a brief guide to a few of our favorites: