Ecotourism is more important than ever. If you’re looking to travel responsibly and sustainably, book local, eat local and think local – seek the out-of-season and the little-known. For sustainable travel locations that will inspire incredible adventures, from wind-battered Faroese isles to trail-laced Patagonian glaciers, discover these alternative eco-holiday destinations.
Comprising three regions on the outer reaches of Vancouver Island – Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail – the Pacific Rim National Park cradles rugged coast and temperate rainforest. Bordered by driftwood, Long Beach is best discovered by surfboard; this sandy stretch lies between buoyant Tofino and sedate Ucluelet. The secluded bays and sheltered waters of the 100-island Broken Group can be explored by kayak; drift through sea caves and spot harbour seals.
If challenging treks are more your thing, tackle the 75km (45mi) West Coast Trail. Tracing the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island, it was originally built to help rescue shipwrecked survivors along the perilous Graveyard of the Pacific. It passes through territory of the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht and Nuu-chah-nulth peoples, who today act as its guardians.
Bound by basalt cliffs, this oft-overlooked North Atlantic archipelago – halfway between Norway and Iceland – encloses dramatic fjords, stark moorlands and grass-roofed cottages. The wind-and-wave-battered setting calls for adventure: hike ancient cairn-marked trails, visit puffin-lined chasms or paddle a kayak to the distinctive Drangarnir sea stacks and feel the spray from the cascading Múlafossur. All the while knowing you’ll never be far from 4G signal, should you want it. The Faroes have recently developed a sustainable tourism strategy, termed the preservolution, which reinvests visitor fees in nature-preserving projects across the islands.
Although not as famous as Yala, its south-coast neighbour, Sinharaja is home to 95 percent of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds and 50 percent of its native species. This lowland rainforest is steeped in legend, too – sinha (lion) and raja (king) refer to a fabled feline that once roamed the jungle. The only way to traverse the forest today is by foot; guides will lead you along slippery trails veiled by mist, past ancient trees, tea estates and waterfalls. Don’t miss Kiruwananaganga Falls, which reaches a height and width of 60m (200ft) during the rainy season peak.
Stretching from northeastern Italy to Slovenia, the Julian Alps peak at 2,864m (9,396ft) tall Mount Triglav, the crown of Triglav National Park. In winter, visit Vogel, the only ski area within the park, for 22km (14mi) of pistes and views of Lake Bohinj; in summer, visit Lake Bled for a leisurely paddle around the baroque Church of the Assumption, harboured on a tear-shaped island. The Vršič Pass, at 1,611m (5,285ft), can be reached via a storied road and offers views of Mojstrovka (2,332m/7,650ft), Prisojnik (2,547m/8,356ft) and the Soča River valley. Mushroom foraging is allowed in the outer zones of the park from August; visit the Pokljuka and Mežakla plateaus. Slovenia is leading the way on green tourism.
Torres del Paine is the most-visited national park in Chile for good reason, but the January hiking crowds can congest the better-known hiking routes, such as the W. Instead, branch out into the lesser-known Aysén region, the third-largest in Chile but least populated. Here you’ll find the national parks of Laguna San Rafael, accessible only by boat, the eponymous Patagonia and Cerro Castillo, named for its crowning basalt spires. Cerro Castillo has far fewer visitors than Torres del Paine, but has comparable beauty; beech-lined trails etch their way between glaciers, rainforest and deep mountain valleys. Start at the Las Horquetas Grandes trailhead for an unforgettable, and undisturbed, three-to-four-day hike through these remote wilds.
Dividing the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts from the Sahara, the Atlas Mountains soar above Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The arid terrain is pocketed with argan- and almond-filled valleys, poppy fields and Amazigh (Berber) villages. Hardcore hikers head to the slopes of Toubkal (4,167m/13,671ft), the highest peak in North Africa; M’Goun (4,071m/13,356ft) and the Saghro range offer quieter, but equally challenging, multi-day alternatives. For two-wheeled adventures, get pumped for the Tizi n’Tichka Pass (2,260m/7.414ft) or the sensational hairpin bends of the Dades Gorge. For rock climbing, the sublime orange limestone of the 300m (984ft) deep Todra Gorge awaits.
Keen to learn more about what we’re doing? Check out Culture Trip’s commitment to responsible travel to read about our latest green initiatives.