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Eco Tours Abroad

Ecotourism is perhaps the best way to experience all of the remarkable sensations of a beautiful, natural environment and feel great about doing it, too. So, what is eco tourism? Great question! Ecotourism is defined as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” Don’t worry, this isn’t volunteering masked as adventure travel. If you think exploring ancient ruins, trekking through lush rainforests, or coming face to face with the world’s most endangered animals on eco tours won’t get your blood pumping, then think again! 


As an adventure traveler, you’re innately attracted to the extraordinary. Only the best food, the most unique landscapes, or the most exciting experiences make it in your exclusive itinerary. What’s worth protecting must be worth experiencing, right? Luckily for you, the world is chock-full of plenty of incredible places to help protect with eco friendly tourism.

Costa Rica. Surf, sustainability, and sheer splendor; this coastal country is considered to be one of the most biodiverse places on earth. This nation is leading the pack when it comes to conservation practices and with over a quarter of the nation’s land set aside as protected area, you won’t have to travel very far to find your next eco adventure. Traverse through dense rainforests, witness rare sea turtle nesting, ascend active volcanoes in Arenal Volcano National Park, or simply enjoy an enriching seaside homestay. In Costa Rica, eco tours are as plentiful as the wildlife. 

New Zealand. The North and South Islands of New Zealand are arguably the most ecologically unique and isolated regions in the world; humans have only lived there for 1,000 years. People are certainly making up for lost time now that millions flock annually to explore the many worlds of New Zealand. From a quick whale watching excursion in Kaikoura to an 11 day sea-kayaking tip around the South Pacific islands, you’ll have a variety of eco tours that will ensure your overseas adventure travel is both memorable and beneficial to these fragile environments. 

South Africa. A leader in conscientious tourism and home to megadiverse animal, plant, and human life, South Africa is perfect for those wishing to combine adventure and culture. Here, you will tour the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, nature reserves, National Parks, and protected areas designed to ensure the longevity of these natural environments as well as your appreciation of them. Connect with Africa’s most iconic species, such as elephants, wildebeests, and zebras in Kruger National Park, or spend a day climbing up Table Mountain only to paraglide down to the white sand beaches in Cape Town. Every country in the world has their prowess, but South Africa seemingly has it all!    

Thailand. You probably at least one friend who’s not only traveled to Thailand but will likely never stop talking about it, right? Well, their enthusiasm is not misplaced. The central jewel of Southeast Asia is a nation full of calm beaches, the loudest markets, and everything in between. Take an immersive journey through one of the oldest evergreen rainforests in the world in Khao Sok National Park, or try your hand at some agrotourism by joining in on a rice harvest or a fish haul. Do yourself a favor and spend an afternoon surveying an ancient temple instead of visiting the inhumane Tiger Temples. There is ALWAYS an eco tour alternative to a low-grade tourist trap no matter where in the world you visit.

Eco Adventure Tours

The mere concept of eco tours is reciprocal in nature...literally. It’s an investment to the natural world, which, in turn, provides humanity with excitement, humility, and a good photo opp or two. As you can see from the adventure travel examples above, eco travel companies come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but you’ll still need to keep the basics in mind. 

Unless you schedule a private tour for just you or your group, most eco adventure tours will include other like-minded thrillseekers to befriend and explore together. Because the emphasis of these tours is to showcase an environment without disturbing it, most tours will feature relatively small groups. You can also expect that the multi-day tours will be comprised of smaller groups than day or afternoon excursions. Aside from clothing, you can assume most of the gear is included, especially for technical excursions, such as rock climbing or scuba diving (but ALWAYS double check with your eco adventure tours!). Going up river without a paddle is a much better expression than it is a personal experience. 

Each program will be unique, and you will avoid leaving a negative impression on the environment, culture, and economies of that location. Many of the excursions between the tropics will be open year-round while outlying destinations may offer special seasonal programs.

Eco Tourism Tips & Advice

Being an ecotourist is pretty much like being a traveling superhero. With great privilege to see the world comes with a great responsibility to protect it. Here’s some quick tips to help maximize your adventure travel while you minimize your footprint: 

  • Be proactive. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding eco tours, but the larger ones pertain to cost and accommodation. The reality is you do not have to sacrifice luxury, quality. or compromise your checking account to be a responsible ecotourist. Eco tours come in a huge range of prices and many hotels, B&Bs, and hostels offer quality accommodation. Do your research, choose an eco tour based on your comfort and interests, and book early. Being proactive is key to saving green while going green.    
  • Eat responsibly. The best part of traveling is eating — okay, fine — one of the best parts of travel is eating. Between eco adventure tours, be sure to choose local cuisine over those international food chains you’re already used to. The brief familiarity of a Big Mac is worth skipping. Check out farmers markets or locally-owned shops and be sure to talk to your program providers for recommendations.     
  • Travel meaningfully. Travel with purpose. Meaningful travel means to see the world for what it truly is and respect that truth. Study each country’s culture beforehand, take initiative, and familiarize yourself with recent history. Ecotourism is all about accountability and eco friendly tourism. For an in-depth guide, check out the Meaningful Travel Manifesto, and sign the pledge!  
  • Avoid greenwashing. You know how some companies place a little recycling symbol on their packaging or throw the word “organic” around and they expect people to buy it? That’s greenwashing, and the only thing “eco” about these “eco travel companies” is their dECOration. Many programs claim to be environmentally or culturally conscious solely for the benefit of added business. Again, do your research, read reviews, and evaluate if your participation in the program will directly benefit the place you are visiting.  

Benefits & Challenges

With an annual growth rate of 10-30 percent, ecotourism is the largest growing sector in the tourism industry, and it’s easy to see why. The benefits of ecotourism are innumerable: cultural preservation, local job creation, and environmental conservation, just to name a few. Aside from the wide variety of eco adventure tours and programs, the greatest personal benefit for partaking in an eco tour is getting to directly interact with the people and environments that makes these destinations so special. You’ll have the chance to truly experience a new place by allowing you to become a part of it for awhile. 

The challenge? Ecotourism requires a vigilance and attention that may contradict your typical travel orientation. You have to do more than just show up. The conscientiousness required to choose and participate in an eco tour is suitably more demanding than blindly choosing an excursion on a brochure that looks interesting. Additionally, you may be exposed to environments, conditions, or people that you may not be used to or find uneasy at times. That being said, the most personal growth exists outside of your comfort zone. 

Ecotourism is an alternative to the mundane cycle of gift shops and concierge suggestions. Eco tours are responsible yet far from selfless. It’s the “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” of adventure travel, and it’ll certainly create a deep, lasting appreciation for a world full of experiences! 

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A Guide To

Eco Tours Abroad


522 Eco Tours Adventure Travel Abroad Programs


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Berlin  Amsterdam  London  Prague and more... Don't travel alone, join our fun group every July and August to explore Europe with our UK leader. Gapforce Europe is the quality way to experience Europe in 25 days. We use trains to speed us safely and comfortably between cities so you have the maximum time exploring. We are based in London  so will ensure you see all that's new in Europe ...


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Established in 1979, Machalilla National Park covers more than 60,000 acres, encompassing the islands of La Plata and Salango, Playa Los Frailes, wet lands, dry forests, and fog forests. About 20,000 of these acres are the adjacent ocean, including the coral reef off of the coast. It’s a truly stunning landscape along Ecuador’s Pacific Coast. The ocean region of the park is a particularly ...


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Jump on board with Stray New Zealand, meet adventurous like-minded travelers and prepare yourself for a trip of a lifetime on Stray's hop-on, hop-off travel network. Stray offers a truly unique way to explore New Zealand, discovering some of the most beautiful 'off the beaten track' destinations and access 8+ National Parks across its full route. Simply select a Stray Pass (North, South or ...


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Stray Asia offers a range of adventure travel passes on its flexible hop-on, hop-off travel network that spans across Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar too. Travelling with Stray Asia provides a safe, sociable and adventurous way to explore Asia, meet like-minded travelers and discover beautiful and remote destinations most tourists don't know to visit. Your pass will include trave...


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Pure Exploration offers interested individuals the chance to work and travel in New Zealand. Live and breathe the adrenaline-fueled vibe of Queenstown and you will find that you never want to leave. It's hard not to fall in love with the Adventure Capital of the World! We established our base in Queenstown for exactly this reason, so our participants enjoy an experience of a lifetime. A huge pa...


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Broadreach offers experiential summer adventures for middle school, high school and college students, including scuba, sailing, multi-sport, marine biology, language immersion and community service programs that span the globe. Over the years, we've taken thousands of teenagers to some of the world's most incredible destinations -- the islands of the Caribbean, Australia, Fiji, the Solomon Isla...


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Our Fiji Marine Conservation Expedition offers a unique opportunity to learn new skills, discover an incredible underwater environment and protect marine biodiversity in the Fijian Islands. Your research will provide long-term benefits to the local community and help guarantee food security for future generations. You will SCUBA dive and snorkel in the clear, blue waters of the South Pacific Oc...


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Join us on an overland experiential journey through the diverse and friendly Buddhist countries of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Southeast Asia is a fascinating melting pot of history, peoples, diverse cultures and dramatic landscapes. Get involved in service learning projects, have opportunities for meaningful connections with local people, gain knowledge of Southeast Asia's history, s...


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Camp Europe offers specializes in language & adventure sport camps for children & youth throughout Europe. We offer different positions, such as: Language Coach, Camp Counselor, Program Area Director & Group Leader. Camp Europe provides an intense training through which you will obtain professional instruction in many outdoor education fields, form canoeing, kayaking, swimming, archery, clim...


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Maximo Nivel work-study-travel programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. We have been a leading educational travel and study abroad provider since 2003. - Volunteer Abroad - International Internships - TEFL Certification & Paid Teaching work - Native Spanish Program - and more... VOLUNTEER ABROAD and get involved! Volunteer projects include Working with Kids, Construction, ...


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Seamester offers unique educational voyages where students spend their time sailing between countries and continents. For more than 40 years, we have consistently delivered outstanding educational experiences for students. We design our programs to provide engaging learning experiences with real outcomes in ways that are impossible to replicate in the traditional classroom. Living as part of a ...


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Intern abroad with Linguistic Horizons in the Sacred Valley of the Incas! Our program is located between Cuzco & Machu Picchu in the town of Urubamba, Peru. This program is ideal for people who want to go off the beaten path and have a truly immersive experience. You'll learn about the local culture of the people in Urubamba as well as the indigenous Andean communities in the surrounding ar...


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Tico Lingo's Spanish immersion programs encompass its philosophy to give students linguistic fluency through cultural immersion. The program includes four hours of language instruction per day, with homestay accommodation in the home of a Tico Lingo Homestay family. The program also includes yoga classes to calm the mind after a long day of Spanish classes. Students are encouraged to play aroun...


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We are welcomed into homes and work alongside local teens on service projects while improving our French language skills. Toss in some service and adventure in the French Alps and sightseeing in Paris and Provence et voilà! We have an amazing recipe for experiencing the heart of this incredible country. Global Works offers the only French program combining serious service projects, language imm...