7 sustainable travel experiences to have this summer as an ecotourist

June 24, 2019 by  
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Planning an international trip can be pretty overwhelming as it is, but it can be even harder for eco-friendly travelers looking for sustainable activities that promote cultural travel and ecotourism. Luckily, more and more travel companies and agencies are making it easier to travel with the environment in mind. Start off by researching green destinations, travel packages and green hotels at websites like Lokal Travel , Green Pearls or Responsible Travel . The World Travel Market Responsible Tourism website is a great resource, as it gives out awards each year recognizing worldwide travel organizations in categories such as “Best for Reducing Carbon & Other Greenhouse Gases” and “Best for Reducing Plastic Waste.” Look for hotels and resorts that have been certified eco-friendly or green, that have clear evidence of protecting the Earth, that are built with environmental sustainability in mind or that have made the investments to truly change their business models toward long-term sustainability. Once you’ve chosen a destination and accommodation, look for travel companies that are trying to help the local culture or the land in a positive, significant way and have hired local employees with fair wages. While these organizations are usually small and focused on a few specific places, there are larger companies doing good work as well. Sadly, plenty of “volunteer” programs out there are aimed at making the client feel good about themselves, rather than making an effort to make a positive difference on the destination (or at the very least leave it unharmed by the presence of visitors). If your volunteer trip costs money, find out where the money is going. Related: Natural Habitat Adventures launches the world’s first zero-waste vacations Of course, flying is something to keep in mind, as the carbon emissions from airplanes are high. Don’t be afraid to stay close to home or travel by train to somewhere near you. If you do decide to fly, as many of the destinations below might require unless you are a local, do some research into the most sustainable airlines and consider carbon offsets to ever-so-slightly lessen the impact of this form of travel. Here are seven eco-friendly activities to enjoy in destinations around the world. Watch the Northern Lights in Norway Not only is Norway one of the most environmentally conscious countries on Earth, it is also one of the most beautiful. Its capital city of Oslo was named Europe’s greenest capital by the European Union in 2019. When it comes to seeing the Northern Lights, don’t do it as an afterthought. Take the time to plan a trip with local guides that benefits the economy. Consider an immersion program with the indigenous Sámi people, who have recently embraced sustainable tourism as a vital source of local income. Volunteer in the Galapagos, Ecuador An undisputed leader in ecotourism destinations worldwide, the Galapagos are home to some of the most exciting and important lands on the planet. Almost 100 percent of the island chain is protected as a national park , and visitor fees go straight toward conservation efforts. Look for a company that organizes volunteer trips rather than sightseeing; the latter creates unnecessary trash and carbon emissions. Book an eco-friendly safari in Kenya It’s no secret that poaching is one of African wildlife’s greatest threats. Eco-friendly safaris and lodges provide alternative employment to poaching in Kenya, all while supporting the community and putting money toward the upkeep of nature preserves. A good tourism company works hand-in-hand with the local people (such as the Maasai tribe in Kenya) to protect the land and animals. Consider staying on conservancy lands, where the area has been set aside for wildlife conservation and is strictly regulated. Related: 7 eco-friendly and conservation-minded safari lodges across Africa Help save elephants in Thailand The tourism industry is beginning to see elephant riding for what it is — cruel. What was once a misunderstood and popular bucket-list item is now one of the main proponents responsible for the rise of ecotourism. Skip the elephant ride and opt for a trip to an elephant rescue center, where your money will go toward the betterment of these animals rather than the exploitation of them. For a day trip, check out the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, but if you want to spend a week or more volunteering, the Surin Project is another great choice. Go hiking in New Zealand New Zealand is world-renowned for its luxury ecotourism (such as “ glamping ”) as well as plenty of hiking opportunities that let tourists submerge themselves in the natural environment without doing any damage. Another thing to consider: Air New Zealand recently got rid of all single-use plastics from its entire fleet of planes. That means no plastic bags, cups or straws are being used on any of these flights, resulting in about 24 million less pieces of plastic being used each year. Visit animal sanctuaries in Costa Rica Costa Rica pledged to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021, and with 25 percent of its territory protected as national parks or biological reserves, it is setting the bar pretty high for the rest of the world. The country is known for its abundance of eco-friendly accommodations and wildlife sanctuaries. Check out the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula or the Jaguar Rescue Center in the Limón Province. Stay in self-sustaining accommodation in the Maldives With more than 1,000 islands making up this archipelago, environmental awareness and protecting the ocean is a vital part of life in the Maldives. For example, Soneva Fushi Resort has been completely carbon-neutral since 2014. It has an on-site recycling program, and all the water used at the resort is desalinated. Ninety percent of the waste produced is recycled, including 100 percent of the food waste , and all of the facilities run on the energy from solar panels. Images via Derek Thomson , Claudia Regina , Peter Swaine , Marcel Oosterwijk , Bruce Dall , Jeff Pang , Michelle Callahan and Selda Eigler

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7 sustainable travel experiences to have this summer as an ecotourist

This bubble hotel gives you front-row seats of Icelands northern lights

June 6, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamed of watching the northern lights from the comfort of your bed, here’s a chance to turn your dreams into reality. To the delight of stargazers and nature lovers, the 5 Million Star Hotel installed eight unique bubbles in a hidden Icelandic forest, with each bubble offering perfect and private outdoor views. Equipped with heating and a comfortable bed, these transparent bubbles give guests magical front-row seats to the dancing northern lights. Founded in November 2015 by Robert Robertsson, the 5 Million Star Hotel was created to fulfill childhood dreams of sleeping beneath the aurora borealis. Tucked away on private farmland, the location is only disclosed to those who make reservations in order to preserve guest privacy. The eight inflatable bubbles—only five are currently open for booking—are named after different women in the owners’ family and are available in two styles: fully transparent igloo -shaped bubbles and partially transparent spherical bubbles. Built with sturdy translucent plastic, each bubble comes with a double bed, nightstand, space heater, outlet, and a lamp. The bubbles are inflated with a constantly running noiseless ventilation system. Air blowers keep the bubble warm and toasty all winter long. Related: Thermal Glass Igloos Offer Views of the Northern Lights at Finland’s Hotel Kakslauttanen The bubble rooms that are currently available fit two adults but the spherical versions can accommodate an extra child for those traveling as a family. The bathroom, showers, and kitchen are located in a timber-clad shared facility. The price for a night’s stay at the bubble hotel starts at ISK 28,900 (approximately USD $295). Want to maximize your chances of catching a glimpse of the northern lights? Try booking a night between September and March. + Buubble | Five Million Star Hotel Via Travel and Leisure Images via Buubble

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This bubble hotel gives you front-row seats of Icelands northern lights

Shigeru Ban Architects unveil plans for the worlds tallest hybrid timber building

June 6, 2017 by  
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Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban just unveiled plans for the world’s tallest timber hybrid high-rise, the Terrace House . Slated for Vancouver’s Coal Harbour neighborhood, the angular structure will have multiple tiers of abundant greenery rising up through a latticework frame made out of locally-sourced timber . According to the design description, “meticulously engineered timber” will be used to create the building’s latticework frame , which will be interspersed with an abundance of greenery rising up from the ground floor. The proposed design will create not only the world’s largest timber hybrid structure, but will be a luminous icon for Vancouver’s growing cityscape. Ban’s proposed design will hold court right next to the city’s famed Evergreen Building , designed by late architect Arthur Erickson . Related: Nation’s largest cross-laminated timber academic building is an icon of sustainability The stunning project, which will be led by Vancouver-based developer PortLiving , was carefully crafted by Ban to stand out for its cutting-edge design without taking away from the existing architecture, “We have brought together the best of the best – a team of true experts in creative collaboration, working together for the first time ever on a single project. The result is truly a once-in-a-lifetime project setting new standards in design and construction,” said Macario Reyes, founder and CEO of PortLiving. “Every detail has been considered right down to the specific foliage on the terraces. It only made sense to bring on Cornelia Oberlander to continue her vision and create continuity between the Evergreen Building by Arthur Erickson and Terrace House by Shigeru Ban.” Although Ban’s design is sure to be a stellar icon of timber architecture , it won’t be the city’s only wooden wonder; the world’s current tallest timber building, Brock Commons , was completed in Vancouver just last year. + Terrace House + Shigeru Ban Architects Via Archdaily Images via PortLiving

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Shigeru Ban Architects unveil plans for the worlds tallest hybrid timber building

Iceberg-inspired Greenland cultural center celebrates 20 years of resilience in the Arctic

February 21, 2017 by  
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Greenland’s harsh arctic climates are notoriously unforgiving, which makes the Katuaq Cultural Centre of Greenland’s 20th anniversary all the more impressive. Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects completed the cultural and artistic center in February 1997 and forged a meeting space open to locals, the international Inuit community, and visitors from around the world. Located in Nuuk, the award-winning Katuaq Cultural Centre is largely inspired by the environment, from its iceberg-like massing to its timber unudulating screen that acts as an architectural metaphor for the northern lights . Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects won an international competition for the Katuaq Cultural Centre in 1992 with its conceptual designs of a dramatic building inspired by the Greenlandic landscape. The 4,800-square-meter undulating building features a triangular monolithic body that mimics an iceberg , a “floating” second skin made up of golden larch wood that alludes to the northern lights , and a bright, white foyer space that references snow and ice. Natural light illuminates the foyer through roof lights and narrow oblong glass slits in the timber screen. The foyer leads to a theater, cinema, and cafe. Related: Greenland’s wooden Icefjord Center will offer sweeping views of the glacial landscape “Winning the competition to design the Cultural Centre in Greenland was a major breakthrough for our studio as our first project on an international scale. It spearheaded our architectural ambition to create cultural buildings with a strong sense of place and a space that acts as a meeting place for people,” says Founding Partner Morten Schmidt. “The challenge of constructing a sustainable building that could withstand the arctic climate conditions also brought us new knowledge about which materials we should use.” The Katuaq Cultural Centre has stood the test of time and welcomes approximately 100,000 visitors every year, an impressive number given Greenland’s estimated population of 56,500. + Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects Images via Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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Iceberg-inspired Greenland cultural center celebrates 20 years of resilience in the Arctic

Iconic ICEHOTEL to offer stunning solar-powered ice suites year round

November 2, 2015 by  
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Iconic ICEHOTEL to offer stunning solar-powered ice suites year round

Daan Roosegaarde’s Waterlicht light installation mimics the beauty of Aurora Borealis

March 5, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Daan Roosegaarde’s Waterlicht light installation mimics the beauty of Aurora Borealis Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: art installation , aurora borealis , Daan Roosegaarde , Dutch artists , LED lights , light installation , northern lights , Roosegaarde northern light , the netherlands , Waterlicht

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Iceland’s Ion Hotel Offers Dramatic Views of the Northern Lights

January 30, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Iceland’s Ion Hotel Offers Dramatic Views of the Northern Lights Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , floor to ceiling windows , geothermal energy , Iceland , icelandic art , icelandic landscape , ion hotel , LAVA , minarc architects , mnmMOD , mount Hengill , natural daylight , northern lights , Prefab , reclaimed wood

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Iceland’s Ion Hotel Offers Dramatic Views of the Northern Lights

Iceland’s Ion Hotel Offers Dramatic Views of the Northern Lights

September 16, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Iceland’s Ion Hotel Offers Dramatic Views of the Northern Lights Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , floor to ceiling windows , geothermal energy , Iceland , icelandic art , icelandic landscape , ion hotel , LAVA , minarc architects , mnmMOD , mount Hengill , natural daylight , northern lights , Prefab , reclaimed wood

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Iceland’s Ion Hotel Offers Dramatic Views of the Northern Lights

Gorgeous Solar Geodesic Dome Crowns Cob House in the Arctic Circle

February 25, 2014 by  
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Gorgeous Solar Geodesic Dome Crowns Cob House in the Arctic Circle

Umea’s Spectacular Ice Block Sculptures Bring the Glory of the Northern Lights to Cities Across Europe

October 29, 2013 by  
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