When it comes to ecotourism, deciding where to go has everything to do with the experience you are looking for and how far you want to travel. Whether you're searching for something exotic, something remote or something that speaks to the conservation of the region and the planet, there is a destination for everyone. Here are the top five places to travel for ecotourism.
Cape Verde is a string of islands off the coast of Senegal; that range from green landscapes to desert islands. Here, there is a strong renewable energy movement, and Cape Verde has pledged to have 35 percent of the country's energy sourced renewably over the next 20 years. For ecotourism in particular, Pico do Fogo, the stratovolcano, is a sought after destination in this archipelago. Ecolodges and tours are available in the area. You can also experience the beautiful beaches, go diving or snorkeling, try wind or kite surfing, enjoy whale watching, or go trekking on many of the islands of Cape Verde.
This South American country is quickly becoming a leader in the efforts for sustainable energy. Uruguay boasts many wind farms and has surpassed expectations for renewable energy, sourcing 95 percent of the country's energy from renewables in 2015. Uruguay is home to two unique UNESCO world heritage sites and to many places that are on the Tentative List, locations that are in the running for a UNESCO designation. One notable selection on the list is Isla de Flores, off the coast of Montevideo. The minimal human interaction on the island has allowed wildlife to flourish, making Isla de Flores the perfect place to visit for the history buff and nature lover. With beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, hot springs to enjoy, and wildlife to witness, there is much to see and do in Uruguay.
This is one of many countries that have a front row seat to the effects of climate change. With ice and icebergs melting at an increasing rate, Greenland is one of the Midnight Sun countries that can quantify the way the world is changing. For those who want to understand fully the importance of reducing industrial emissions of carbon dioxide for the world as a whole, this country steeped in beauty is the place to experience it all. Consider visiting the largest National Park in the world during your stay. You can witness glaciers, fjords, icebergs and the unsurpassed aurora borealis when you visit Greenland.
The Republic of Palau is a country that consists of approximately 250 islands in Micronesia and is home to a wide array of wildlife. The waters surrounding the islands boast 400 coral species and 1,300 reef fish varieties, according to The Nature Conservancy. This small country made headlines in the fall of 2015 when it announced the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, an area of the ocean that is 193,000 square miles, as a fully protected place for marine life. Roughly the size of Texas, this swath of ocean is the sixth largest fully protected area in the world. Tourists will be challenged to get to Palau, as flights are scheduled weekly to this area. Whether you come for the beautiful islands, the exotic sea creatures or breathtaking beaches, the experience is well worth it.
Between Russia and China lies the country of Mongolia. Known for its nomadic and semi-nomadic inhabitants, this country is home to beautiful scenery and deeply regarded culture. This is a place where exotic and remote traveling equals an unforgettable experience. Mongolia is a great place for horse-trekking, long-distance cycling, hiking and yak carting. You may even consider staying in a traditional ger (Mongolian tent) camp out on the steppe and sleeping under the stars. Being one the most sparsely populated countries in the world makes Mongolia a great ecotourism destination.