On April 22nd, the 49th annual Earth Day is being celebrated around the world. This year’s theme – to protect the Earth’s endangered and threatened species – could not be more important. The world is facing unprecedented climate change and a mass extinction of many of the amazing species of plants and wildlife that make our planet so incredibly unique. Unlike the extinction of the dinosaurs 60 million years ago, the devastating changes to our planet are driven by us. As concerns grow, there is still hope that we can fight climate change and reverse the mess we’ve made of our planet. As travelers, we have a choice on how we spend our money and we can make a difference by supporting travel organizations that help protect the environment and its wildlife.

In honor of Earth Day’s Protect Our Species campaign and as a member of Impact Travel Alliance (the world’s largest community for impact-focused travelers and travel professionals), I am highlighting some of the amazing tour operators working to help travelers responsibly visit and protect wildlife around the world.

“Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat can become some of our most vivid travel memories. I was deeply impacted by a trip to Uganda where I watched gorillas go about their daily lives in the Bwindi National Park and I bonded deeply with elephants while interacting with them at a conservation park in Thailand,” said Kelley Louise, Impact Travel Alliance founder and executive director. “It’s important to take the time to research and book wildlife tours that put the animals and their environment first.” As an avid traveler and nature lover, I could not agree more. Whatever we can do as travelers to make a difference is better than not doing anything at all. By choosing to travel with an ethical organization, we are making a big difference in hope that these incredible animals will be around for future generations.

Photo credit Playa Viva and Dave Krugman

Leatherback Sea Turtles on the shore of Playa Viva, Mexico. Photo credit Playa Viva and Dave Krugman

Here is a list of sustainable tours that help travelers see and protect Earth’s wildlife:

Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura’s mission is to inspire wonder and curiosity about the incredible world we all share by offering unique trips, sharing stories, holding events and fostering a global community to create a comprehensive database of the world’s most wondrous places and foods.

Atlas Obscura offers some pretty fabulous trips such as tracking wild bumblebees in the wild with expert biologists. Travel to Sequoia National Park with Atlas Obscura and expert biologists to track, conduct research on and help protect wild bumblebee populations and explore this peaceful landscape. You will learn firsthand about the plight of the humble bumblebee while also supporting them.

Atlas Obscura

Giant sequoia grove near auburn california trees, nature landscapes. Photo credit: Atlas Obscura

Playa Viva

Playa Viva is a unique yoga retreat destination where you will enjoy the rugged, unspoiled beauty of Mexico in the guilt-free luxury of an environmentally conscious resort. Become immersed in nature, volunteer in the turtle sanctuary, give back to the local community, engage in a workshop, or just relax completely.

Stay in Playa Viva’s sustainable hotel in Mexico and participate in the Playa Viva Turtle Sanctuary’s efforts to protect leatherback sea turtle eggs from predators.

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Climate Trek Nepal

Red panda conservation is a priority in Nepal. Royal Mountain Travel is a part of the Climate Trek Nepal team developing a climate-friendly trekking route north of Kathmandu through some of the protected areas where these highly endangered pandas can still be found in the wild. Join them on the 8-day Climate Trek Helambu where you will see Rhododendrons (in bloom March-May), Tibetan Buddhism, meditation caves (Melamchi), and oldest Buddhist cloister in Nepal Cherughyang near Tarkeghyang . This amazing trip supports local villages impacted from the 2015 earthquake and also helps protect endangered pandas.

 Royal Mountain Travel

Incredible Nepal. Photo credit: Royal Mountain Travel

PacWhale Eco-Adventures

PacWhale Eco-Adventures are based on nearly four decades of marine research and ecotourism experience. Every trip is led by certified Marine Naturalists who provide a truly unique, educational and fun adventure at sea. Watch wildlife in their natural habitat, snorkel Molokini, Lanaʻi and Honolua Bay, enjoy a relaxing sunset dinner, cocktail or stargazing cruise.

Go whale watching with marine naturalists from PacWhale Eco-Adventures off Maui. Tour profits support the Pacific Whale Foundation’s research, education and conservation programs to save whales, dolphins and our oceans.

PacWhale Eco-Adventures

Whale Watching. Photo credit: PacWhale Eco-Adventures

Wild Sumatra

Wild Sumatra takes travelers jungle trekking to find Sumatran tigers and sun bears, while supporting tiger conservation projects in the Kerinci Seblat National Park. Trip costs support the local economy and helps with conservation.

Take Wild Sumatra’s longest and most wild trek, the Sumatran Tiger Trek which takes you deep into primary rainforest and through Sumatran tiger habitat. You’ll hike up ridge trails, cross jungle streams,  visit peaceful waterfalls, and even take a dip in the magnificently blue Lake Kaco.

Bersisik Emas waterfall. Photo credit: Wild Sumatra

Bersisik Emas waterfall. Photo credit: Wild Sumatra

Earth Changers

Explore Chumbe Island’s stunning coral reef sanctuary and coral rag forest, the first marine protected area in the world, with Earth Changers. Located off the coast of Zanzibar, the island’s conservation, research, education center and ecolodge are fully funded by travelers. Located off the coast of Zanzibar (off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa), just seven thatched roof bandas (bungalows) are stunningly set in the surrounding forest, 30 seconds to the beach, offering natural beauty and a way to truly support sustainable travel.

Earth Changers Chumbe Island

Earth Changers. Chumbe Island. Photo Credit: Earth Changers

Alladale Lodge

Photo credit: Alladale Lodge

Alladale Lodge is located in the Alladale Wilderness Reserve is a 23,000-acre gem in the Scottish Highlands, about 1.5 hours North of Inverness. This part of Scotland remains truly wild and its rugged terrain, dramatic glens, colorful hills, glistening rivers, and herds of majestic red deer will take your breath away.

Take a guided hike or a 4×4 tour of the Alladale Wilderness Reserve from Alladale Lodge in Scotland. The lodge works to restore the Highland ecosystem, actively participating in the reintroduction of original plant and wildlife species and recovery of the threatened Scottish wildcat.

Above Safaris

Above Safaris is the brainchild of a social entrepreneur and an expert with 10+ years in the travel sector. They evolved from a desire to do travel differently — to bring you unique and life-changing experiences with real impact. Above Safaris begins with a responsible and sustainable approach, and builds the highest quality experiences on top of it, creating impact-driven travel without sacrificing any of the quality and expertise that you seek.

Above Safaris places conservation at the forefront of its trips to witness the great migration through Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

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G Adventures

Photo credit: G Adventures

G Adventures was founded in 1990 with the goal of providing travelers with authentic adventures in a responsible and sustainable manner. They have grown from a one-man show to a company of more than 2,200 worldwide in 28 offices, and from a handful of trips in Latin America to more than 700 adventures spanning the globe. Each trip supports the local communities and helps give back to projects around the world.

Cruise the Galapagos Islands, famous for amazing animal species found nowhere else in this world, with G Adventures, which includes animal welfare in its responsible tourism policies.

Global Family Travels

Global Family Travels’ mission is to Learn, Serve and Immerse, using travel as a means to build cultural bridges and to foster global citizens. In partnership with community-based tour operators and local non-profit organizations, Global Family Travels creates service learning tours for families which include a unique mix of cultural and educational activities, home stays and participation in local service projects aimed at directly improving the lives of people in the communities we visit.

Global Family Travels offers a family friendly safari in Zimbabwe complete with game drives, walking safaris and a day at the Painted Dog Research Trust to learn about one of the most rare species on the continent in the field.

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Whether at home or abroad, Impact Travel Alliance encourages all travelers to support local Earth Day celebrations on April 22, and to take action through a Billion Acts of Green.

About Earth Day Network

Earth Day Network’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in nearly 192 countries to build environmental democracy. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. For more information, go to earthday.org.

The unprecedented global destruction and rapid reduction of plant and wildlife populations are directly linked to causes driven by human activity: climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, trafficking and poaching, unsustainable agriculture, pollution and pesticides to name a few. The impacts are far-reaching. If we do not act now, extinction may be humanity’s most enduring legacy. Here are some quick facts on the current wave of extinction and additional information about this problem here.

Earth Day Network www.earthday.org

About Impact Travel Alliance

Impact Travel Alliance is the world’s largest community for impact-focused travelers and travel professionals. The organization aims to educate and empower travelers on how to spend their money mindfully so that their experiences empower locals and protect our environment. ITA is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit with a highly engaged and active global community with 30 local chapters in cities around the world. For more information, visit impacttravelalliance.org.

Help Me Grow My List of Sustainable Travel Companies

Calling all readers and travelers! 

My tagline for the blog is “traveling the world and doing good”. As I aspire to promote sustainable travel, I’m in need of your help.

Do you know any tours and travel companies that help support wildlife and the planet? If so, I’d love to know. Please leave a comment below. I’m working on growing a huge database of Sustainable Travel Companies to help readers find amazing opportunities to travel the world and do good!

Like this? Why not PIN for later?

As travelers, we have a choice on how we spend our money and we can make a difference by supporting travel organizations that help protect the environment and its wildlife. Check out this guide of amazing tours that protect wildlife and the planet.

 

13 comments

  1. Hi Nicole, Congratulations on a very comprehensive post capturing a diverse range of options for connecting with wildlife across the globe. Of course I was very interested to read the section on the areas with the red pandas. We are talking about another trek in Nepal but it will be to another region. I have taken note of the Sumatran one because another trip to Indonesia is probably on the cards in the not to distant future. Although with the walking tours looking for tigers does pose a question. What do you do if you find one?
    I will pin this when I sort my Pinterest account issues out. Louise

    1. You’re welcome! I think all these tours looks so amazing!!! I’d love to do them all. I did see you did Everest Base camp again. You do so much incredible stuff! Please let me know if you ever end up taking any of these tours. I’d love to get some feedback!

      1. Hi Nicole thanks. We actually didn’t go to Base Camp but the next valley over. If we did do any of the tours I would let you know. Probably not likely that we would do them though. Yes I can understand you wanting feedback.

      2. You are so lucky to have gone trekking in Nepal so many times! I would love to get back there someday!

  2. Excellent information to have with so many travel choices are out there Nicole. A travel resource for anyone concerned about the impact of travel on the environment.

    1. Thanks Sue! Do you know of any good tour/travel outfitters that I missed on my list?

  3. It’s a great list Nicole! A really good start.

    You missed out Intrepid Travel, one of the most eco conscious small-group adventure companies in the world.

    The company has a focus on responsible travel and is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact. It became a carbon neutral business in 2010. In 2014, it was the first global travel company to ban elephant rides on its tours. By 2016, the company’s philanthropic fund had distributed more than $6 million towards healthcare, human rights, child welfare and environmental and wildlife protection programs in the communities in which it operates. In June 2018, the company launched vegan tours. In August 2018, the company became a certified B Corporation.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/ca/about/responsible-business

    Alison

  4. I don’t know what happened to my comment 🙁
    It’s a great list Nicole, and a really good start.

    You left out Intrepid Travel.
    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/ca/about/responsible-business
    Intrepid Travel is the world’s largest small group adventure travel company.
    The company has a focus on responsible travel and is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact. It became a carbon neutral business in 2010. In 2014, it was the first global travel company to ban elephant rides on its tours. By 2016, the company’s philanthropic fund had distributed more than $6 million towards healthcare, human rights, child welfare and environmental and wildlife protection programs in the communities in which it operates. In June 2018, the company launched vegan tours. In August 2018, the company became a certified B Corporation.
    Alison

    1. Thank you so much Alison! I have Intrepid on “my list” to add to my Sustainable Travel companies page (https://thirdeyemom.com/sustainable-responsible-travel-companies/). I learned about them thanks to you and am hoping to set up an interview for my blog. Yes, they do a ton of amazing things! This list I have on the post are all partners with Impact Travel Alliance. I should also look in and see if Intrepid is a partner and if not they should be! Thanks for the amazing information!!!!

  5. I can’t help with any additional entries to your list, but it’s a nice one to have for any future travel planning! (I had no idea Intrepid would fit into this group, and have now added them to the companies I’d consider using, too.)

    1. Thats ok Lexi! I’ve been searching more more on Twitter and am getting lots of new ideas! I’m excited to really get my sustainable travel tour operators page going! It will be a great resource!

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