The following travel planners put together a list of trips and journeys that support local conservation, promote community-based activities, and encourage making environmentally aware choices when traveling. Here are their top picks for sustainable travel for Earth Day and beyond.
Naya Traveler creates journeys that transcend mass tourism, bringing back purpose and depth to travel through authentic cultural experiences that honor the traditions and heritage of its destinations. Naya Traveler offers curated experiential journeys to culturally rich destinations, steeped in ancient traditions and customs. www.nayatraveler.com
Nature-Positive Travel in Mashpi Rainforest, Ecuador
Supporting local conservation efforts goes hand-in-hand with enriching your travel experience with invaluable learning opportunities. Ecuador packs a wide range of biodiversity, from the last bastion of the cloud forest to prehistoric volcanoes along the tip of the Andes range. Just a 3-hour drive from Quito, Mashpi Lodge is a unique luxury hotel that doubles as a research station, sitting in the heart of a 3,000-acre private Reserve made up of 70% primary forest. Mashpi Lodge’s accommodation and orientation towards families, wellness, and scientific research offer a perfect environment for sophisticated and inquisitive travelers to experience the refuge and biodiversity of the Ecuadorian Rainforest. This journey includes Quito, the Otavalo Region, and The Galápagos Islands. Rates to start at $900USD per person per day and are based on double occupancy, dependent on itinerary specifics, and do not include airfare.
Community-Based Experiences with The Matriarchal Weavers of Chinchero, Peru
In the Peruvian Highlands, handwoven textiles embody the living history and heritage of the indigenous Quechua people. For centuries, Quechua communities have been the keepers of tradition and the sustainers of an ancient yet arduous way of life. They work in absolute harmony with the Peruvian mother earth, whom they call Pachamama. Their unique weaving practices and patterns date back to pre-Columbian civilizations and continue to be a great symbol of Quechuan cultural identity. Preserving ancient weaving traditions among the Quechua communities in Peru’s Sacred Valley supports many native families and provides precious protection for their traditional way of life. This journey to Peru includes Lima, Cusco, The Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. Rates start at $800USD per person per day and are based on double occupancy, dependent on itinerary specifics, and do not include airfare.
Environmentally Aware Choices in the Comporta Countryside, Portugal
With the help of Naya Traveler’s experts, it is now easier than ever to make informed decisions on the logistics of your journey, which not only contribute to a more meaningful trip, but also to the preservation of the environment on a local and global scale. Sprinkled with surfers, fresh fish shacks and bohemian boutiques, the village of Comporta on Portugal’s west coast—just an hour’s drive from Lisbon—can be easily compared to Montauk, Mallorca, or Jose Ignacio, thanks to its laid-back lifestyle. Yet beyond the charms of the town itself, the countryside of Herdade da Comporta sits within one of Portugal’s most valued and looked after nature reserves. Rolling estuary prairies, deserted sandscapes and flourishing rice paddies set a pristine backdrop for a unique wellness experience that places positive environmental practices at the forefront: Quinta da Comporta. Designed by Miguel Câncio Martins, this unique wellness-centered property weaves the principle of minimizing the environmental footprint to every aspect of the experience; from the calming and sustainable decor that blends seamlessly with its surroundings, to the construction of the property itself—where recycling and natural energy sources where prioritized—and the focus on locally-sourced ingredients for its wellness offerings as much as the delicious on-site gastronomy, it’s one of those rare, one-of-a-kind places that can empower our experience of a destination as whole. This journey includes the regions of Lisbon, Alentejo and Porto. Rates start at $700USD per person per day and are based on double occupancy, dependent on itinerary specifics and do not include airfare.
Origin is a membership travel company that creates completely individual, personalized trips. Origin uses the knowledge of human travel experts and then superpowers their trip curation with machine learning – all in one app. Origin believes strongly in having a positive impact on the world and on the places its travelers explore. The company carbon offsets all members’ trips and prioritizes accommodation and destinations that have a strong connection to the local community and share Origin’s sustainability values. Get on foot, train or even horseback with one of Origin’s slow travel trips. www.origin.me
Crossing the Andes on Horseback from Chile to Argentina
This adventure of a lifetime is the epitome of slow travel in the most traditional sense of the word. Strictly available during the warmer months of November through March, the itinerary crosses the Andes from Chile’s Lake District to northern Patagonia in Argentina led by an export horseback rider and guide. The unmarked trail is completely off-route and border crossings are done by boat across glacier-fed rivers and lakes. Prices starting at $4,000USD per person for 5 nights or more.
Sailing through Balearic Islands
Take a sailboat through Spain’s stunning archipelago where waves are seemingly non-existent. Start in Mallorca, the biggest island of the four with its dominating Sierra de Tramuntana (World Heritage Site) and secluded coves. Sail along the jagged coastline and jump off cliffs into turquoise waters. Continue overnight to Ibiza for a night out after docking at the buzzing port. Take it easy as you make your way to Menorca and the famed sanctuary of Formentera with its stunning white-sand beaches. Prices starting at $1,200USD per day for up to 10 people.
Train from Amsterdam to Venice
Sit back and relax as you glide past the traffic, out of Amsterdam and into the countryside on your way to the floating city of Venice. This newly launched overnight sleeper service takes you right to the city center straight to St. Mark’s Square. Cross snowcapped mountain ranges and adorable villages making your way to one of the most romantic cities in the world, all with peace of mind that you’re doing the environment a favor by skipping that low-cost flight. Prices starting at $800USD per person for 5 days.
Hike coast to coast in Costa Rica
How about a hike from the Caribbean to the Pacific? In Costa Rica, it only takes 16 days. The newly minted Camino de Costa Rica starts at the Pacuare Nature Reserve and ends at Manuel Antonio National Park. Both are well-known tourist destinations (and rightfully so), but everything in between is solidly off the usual itineraries. In a country with so many zip lines that its forests sometimes feel like theme parks, the Camino offers a completely different perspective. Prices starting at $600USD per person per day.
Biking the temples of Cambodia
Take the slow road from Bangkok to Angkor on a 7-night bike adventure through the countryside of Thailand and Cambodia. This low-carbon footprint experience allows you to bike along the coast to Chanthaburi, through thick jungles, past charming villages and culminates with a spectacular sunrise at Angkor Wat. Prices starting at $2,000USD per person for 7 nights or more.
How to Book a Slow Travel Journey
Download the Origin app (available on Apple Store), create a user profile and submit a trip request with your desired destination, itinerary, and preferred budget. An expert travel curator will then be in touch with you via the app’s chat to start planning your trip.
Photos credits Courtesy of Naya Traveler