The Insider’s Guide To Sustainable Travel – Part Two

In this second of our two-part series on sustainable travel destinations we continue exploring urban and rural destinations which have embraced the power and importance of respecting the environment, understanding the local history, culture and values, while opening their homes to travelers who share this vision.

Here are more of the most green and ethical tourist destinations in the world. Check out where the experts want to go this year.

5. Palau

Palau is a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean that has been a pioneer of marine conservation and ecotourism. Palau is home to one of the world’s most diverse and pristine coral reefs, which host more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of coral. Palau has also created the world’s first shark sanctuary, banning all shark fishing and finning in its waters. Palau has also designated 80% of its maritime territory as a marine protected area, the largest in the world, to safeguard its marine resources and biodiversity. Palau has also introduced the Palau Pledge, a mandatory oath that all visitors must sign upon arrival, promising to respect and protect Palau’s environment and culture.

Palau is also a paradise for marine and nature lovers, with a range of activities and attractions to enjoy. You can snorkel or dive in the crystal-clear waters, and marvel at the colorful and abundant marine life. You can also visit the Rock Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can see the unique mushroom-shaped limestone formations, the Jellyfish Lake, where you can swim with millions of harmless jellyfish, and the Ngardmau Waterfall, the tallest in Palau. You can also learn about the culture and history of Palau, which is influenced by various Asian and Pacific Islander traditions. You can visit the traditional bai (meeting houses), the stone monoliths of Badrulchau, and the WWII relics and memorials.

Traveler’s perspective:

Sophia is a 30-year-old marine biologist from San Francisco, USA. She visited Palau in July 2019, and stayed for a week.

“Palau was a dream destination for me, as a marine biologist and a diver. I was amazed by the beauty and diversity of the coral reefs, and the abundance and variety of the fish and other marine creatures. I was especially thrilled to see the sharks, which are so important for the health of the ocean, and so endangered by human activities. I was impressed by how Palau is protecting its marine environment, and how it is educating and involving the visitors in its conservation efforts. I felt honored to sign the Palau Pledge, and to be part of the solution. Palau was a truly unforgettable and inspiring experience, and I hope to return someday.”

6. Rwanda

Rwanda is a small landlocked country in East Africa that has overcome a tragic past and emerged as a leader in sustainability and development. Rwanda has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty, improving health and education, promoting gender equality, and fostering peace and reconciliation. Rwanda has also shown a strong commitment to environmental protection and conservation, and has banned plastic bags, promoted clean energy, and restored its forests and wetlands. Rwanda is also home to one of the world’s most endangered and charismatic animals, the mountain gorilla, and has invested in protecting and increasing its population, as well as supporting the local communities that live near them.

Rwanda is also a captivating and diverse destination for travelers who want to experience a different side of Africa and make a positive impact. You can visit the Volcanoes National Park, where you can trek to see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, and witness their amazing behavior and intelligence. You can also visit the Nyungwe National Park, where you can walk among the treetops and spot the chimpanzees and other primates. You can also visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where you can learn about the history and the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, and the stories and the resilience of the survivors. You can also enjoy the culture and the cuisine of Rwanda, which is influenced by various African and European traditions. You can visit the local markets, museums, and craft centers, and taste the local dishes, such as ugali (maize porridge), isombe (cassava leaves stew), and brochettes (skewered meat).

Traveler’s perspective:

James is a 40-year-old photographer from London, UK. He visited Rwanda in September 2019, and stayed for two weeks.

“Rwanda was a powerful and moving trip for me, as a photographer and a human being. I was touched by the history and the people of Rwanda, who have shown incredible courage and forgiveness in the face of unimaginable horror. I was also inspired by the progress and the vision of Rwanda, which has transformed itself into a model of sustainability and development. I was lucky to see the mountain gorillas, which were the highlight of my trip. They were so majestic and gentle, and so human-like in their expressions and gestures. I felt a deep connection with them, and a sense of awe and respect.”

7. Singapore

Singapore is a small city-state that has become a global leader in urban sustainability and innovation. Despite its high population density and limited land area, Singapore has managed to achieve a high quality of life and a low environmental impact. Singapore has invested in green buildings, public transport, waste management, water recycling, and urban greening, and has set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 36% by 2030. Singapore has also created the world’s first vertical forest, a 280m-tall skyscraper that hosts more than 60,000 plants, and the Gardens by the Bay, a futuristic park that showcases various ecosystems and plants.

Singapore is also a dynamic and diverse destination for travelers who want to experience a modern and multicultural city. Singapore is known for its stunning skyline, its vibrant nightlife, and its world-class shopping and dining. You can visit the iconic Marina Bay Sands, the historic Raffles Hotel, and the cultural districts of Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam. You can also enjoy the diverse and delicious cuisine, influenced by Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Peranakan cultures. You can also explore the nature and wildlife of Singapore, such as the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari, and the Jurong Bird Park.

Traveler’s perspective:

Zoe is a 26-year-old marketing manager from Auckland, New Zealand. She visited Singapore in May 2023, and stayed for four days.

“Singapore was a surprising and impressive trip for me. I was curious to see how a city could be so sustainable and innovative, and still be so fun and lively. I was amazed by how Singapore has transformed itself into a green and smart city, and how it has balanced urban development and nature conservation. I loved visiting the Gardens by the Bay, which were like a sci-fi movie come to life. I also had a blast exploring the city, which was so clean, safe, and efficient. I also enjoyed the culture and the food of Singapore, which were so diverse and flavorful.”

8. Botswana

Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa that has been a success story of sustainable tourism and wildlife conservation. Botswana has one of the highest wildlife densities in Africa, and is home to the largest elephant population in the world. Botswana has also adopted a low-impact, high-value tourism model, which limits the number of visitors and lodges in its national parks and reserves, and ensures that the local communities benefit from the tourism revenue. Botswana has also banned hunting and poaching, and has established anti-poaching units and wildlife corridors to protect its animals and habitats.

Botswana is also a dream destination for nature and wildlife lovers, with a range of experiences and attractions to enjoy. You can visit the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta, where you can see the wildlife from a traditional canoe or a helicopter. You can also visit the Chobe National Park, where you can witness the largest elephant migration in the world, and the Kalahari Desert, where you can meet the San Bushmen, the oldest inhabitants of the region. You can also enjoy the culture and the hospitality of Botswana, which is known for its stable democracy, its peaceful society, and its friendly and welcoming people.

Traveler’s perspective:

David is a 38-year-old doctor from Toronto, Canada. He visited Botswana in November 2023, and stayed for two weeks.

“Botswana was an incredible and unforgettable trip for me. I have always loved nature and wildlife, and Botswana was the ultimate destination for me. I was blown away by the beauty and diversity of the landscapes, and the abundance and variety of the animals. I was especially lucky to see the elephants, which were so majestic and gentle, and so important for the ecosystem. I was impressed by how Botswana is protecting its wildlife and its environment, and how it is involving and empowering the local people in its tourism and conservation efforts. I felt privileged to visit Botswana, and to be part of its sustainable and responsible tourism model.”

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the destinations that are leading the way in sustainability, and that offer a lot to travelers who want to make a difference and have a memorable experience. There are many more places that are working towards a more sustainable future, and that need our support and appreciation. As travelers, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to choose our destinations wisely, and to travel in a way that respects and protects the places we visit. By doing so, we can contribute to a more sustainable and harmonious world, and also enrich our own lives and perspectives.

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