We may have missed it but April marks the beginning of Earth Month. With today, 22 April, designated Earth Day, it’s a chance for us to step back, breathe and take a trip of nostalgia back to some of the incredible ethical travel experiences we have enjoyed in the past.
If you’re ready to start looking forward, add these to your future travel wishlist.
Keep it local in Peru
“One of the easiest ways to celebrate Earth Month is by aligning yourself with brands that promote meaningful initiatives,” says Sue Garrett, General Manager Product and Marketing at the Flight Centre Travel Group.
Although Machu Picchu is the main drawcard on a Peru itinerary, Garrett suggests skipping the crowds, and opting for a small group holiday. Visit off-the-grid locations, such as the community-owned Parwa restaurant in a place called Huchuy Qosqo. Earning rave reviews from those who have discovered its secret whereabouts, this restaurant serves up traditional cuisine using ingredients sourced from the region known as The Sacred Valley.
Eco-tourism flourishes in Seychelles
Get your green foot out the door and support Seychelles in the months and years to come. Explore the bounty of marine reserves surrounding the 115-island nation of Seychelles.
Just by deciding to visit Seychelles, you are already supporting the country. Seychelles has put a lot of hard work into preserving its natural resources and getting the right balance between infrastructure development and environmental protection.
Seychelles is a pack leader when it comes to sustainability initiatives, with a limit on hotel beds and new large-scale resort developments. Travel plastic-free with ease thanks to a ban on plastic bags, cups, cutlery and styrofoam packaging implemented back in 2016.
A curry and a ‘cuppa’ in Sri Lanka
For an island, Sri Lanka has a lot to offer. Think palm-fringed beaches and sights worth of UNESCO World Heritage status, food that bursts with flavour, and friendly locals.
A ban on plastic bags has been in place since 2017 but forward-looking South African travellers can do their part by spending time in the destination’s smaller villages, supporting local entrepreneurs and promoting job creation.
Travelling by train through the island’s tea country to Gampola is a must-do.
For example, Flight Centre works with a responsible travel brand called Intrepid. Tour highlights include a chance to “climb Lion Rock, a dramatic carved-rock fortress in Sigiriya, watch orphaned baby elephants enjoy their breakfast at Udewalawe, and explore Jaffna in the island’s north, previously off-limits to foreign visitors.”
Support Mozambican artists
“Not only are handmade souvenirs more aesthetically appealing and authentic, but this is your chance to make a difference by directly supporting and encouraging local artisans and artists when you next visit Mozambique,” says Natalie Tenzer-Silva, Director of Dana Tours, a specialist tour operator based in Maputo.
“Mozambique is a wonderland of art and culture [and] Mozambicans are so artistically talented. Their art takes many forms including wood carvings, pottery, paintings, and dyed fabrics which makes for meaningful keepsakes to remind you of your time here,” she adds.
If you are ever uncertain about the origin of an item on your next visit over the border, Tenzer-Silva suggests looking for a ‘made in’ label somewhere on the garment or object. “The best place to find unique, locally-made souvenirs is to venture out of the main touristy areas, but also to engage with them directly, asking questions, learning about their stories and their skills,” she maintains.
For Garrett: “Being a responsible traveller starts with aligning yourself with travel brands that strive to maintain a level of social responsibility and keep sustainability in mind.
“Speak to a local travel expert about their recommendations for eco-friendly accommodation, sustainable travel activities and destinations where you can contribute to conserving the environment and celebrating our earth,” she concludes.