Key Tips for Travel Planning with an Eco-Impact

“The declaration by the UN of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued.” – UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

There could be no greater time in history as a traveler to impact our future and the world than now. As the international community embraces the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), approved by the UN General Assembly last September, tourism has a significant opportunity to support three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) ranging from promoting sustainable, inclusive economic growth to conserving and sustaining the use of the oceans, seas and marine resources.

There has been more talk than ever about sustainable travel but what exactly does sustainable travel mean?

“In its simplest definition, sustainable travel can be defined as travel that positively impacts the community, environment and economy of the destination visited” states Kelley Louise, Executive Director of Travel+SocialGood, a global community of changemakers, passionate about transforming the travel industry into a force for good.

As a member of Travel+SocialGood and a strong supporter of sustainable travel,  I am continually on the search for sustainable travel resources and operators. I have been highlighting sustainable travel opportunities on my blog for quite awhile to help readers discover these experiences in one quick and easy place. (Here is a list of the past 20 posts in case you missed them).  

I hope you enjoy this guest post written by Jonny Bierman, founder of Eco Escape Travel,  a community-based ecotourism content hub with the mission to provide reliable ecotourism and adventure content that aims to grow a community of responsible travelers and inspire ethical travel. A special thanks to Sue of the fabulous travel blog Travel Tales of Life for introducing me to Jonny. Here is the post.

Avatar Grove. Photo credit: Eco Escape Travel

Observatoire, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Where to Eat and Stay in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

“Anpil men chay pa lou” – Haitan proverb meaning “Many hands make a load lighter”.

To say that the bustling, congested and vibrant capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, is a bit chaotic and overstimulating would be an understatement. Monstrous traffic combined with endless honking horns, pedestrians, street vendors, motorbikes and every thing imaginable being sold on the street leaves you with such an immense sensory overload that your head is spinning by the end of the day.

As a newcomer, it is hard to conceive that peaceful, beautiful places coexist with the utter chaos of this hectic city of neglected potholes, broken down cars and uncollected garbage. However if you dig deep within the local culture and outskirts of town, you will be surprised at what true treasures Port-au-Prince has to offer.

Above the urban sprawl rising up the northern hills of the Massif de la Selle lies the affluent suburb of Pétionville which was founded in 1831 and named after Alexandre Sabes Pétion (1770-1818), a Haitian general and president who is recognized as one of the founding fathers of Haiti. Today Pétionville hosts some of the most desired restaurants, shops, hotels and residences in the capital. The views from Pétionville are beautiful and the air is much clearer and calmer than in Port-au-Prince.

However, the growth of Pétionville has not come without a price. A lack of governance in development has led to some serious problems with squatters. On the outskirts of Pétionville, a massive slum of rural migrants have dangerously built homes moving up the slopes of the mountainside, offering little protection against mudslides, heavy rains and earthquakes. The slums are always in view and are a big contradiction to the large mansions and wealth of Pétionville.

Oftentimes it was hard for me to wrap my head around the luxury I was experiencing and the horrible conditions just across the way. Yet, as a conscious traveler to many developing countries, it is something I just have had to accept and hope that at least my voice as a blogger and my tourist dollars will somehow help.

Hotel Montan Pétionville, Haiti

Off in the distance, moving up the hills at the edge of Pétionville lies the slums. These were built illegally by rural migrants who came to the city.

Pétionville, Haiti

Sadly these slums are poorly constructed and prone to washing away during mudslides. A lot of destruction and devastation happened here too from the 2010 earthquake.

From Port-au-Prince, there is one main road that winds up the mountainside to Pétionville. The road is narrow and depending on the time of day, traffic can be horrific especially if there is a stalled car. It is best to plan at least an hour from downtown to Pétionville unless you leave very early in the morning or very late at night.

As you drive up the mountain, the road is filled with art stands selling all kinds of local Haitian art. The views of the city are spectacular but it is hard to stop since there are no shoulders on the road.

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One thing I love to do when I travel is stay and eat local. Being conscious about where my tourist money is spent and how can have a big impact on the local community. Sadly, the majority of revenue earned from tourism often goes into only a few hands (large international corporations or wealthy elite) and very little money goes to support the local community. This is a huge missed opportunity because supporting local businesses creates a ripple effect that benefits entire communities of people. More local jobs means more income enabling more people to send their children to school, buy food and afford homes. In a country of vast unemployment, sustainable local tourism has an enormous potential to help eradicate Haiti’s crippling poverty.

I was pleased that our guide Haitian-American Natalie Tancrede of Explore with Nat selected all locally run and owned venues for our stay in Port-au-Prince. We could have chosen to stay at the beautiful new Marriott Hotel downtown but instead opted to stay at the tranquil, family owned Hotel Montana in Pétionville. It was my second stay at this beautiful hotel and I would go back there in a heartbeat.

Here is my list of the best places to stay and eat in Port-au-Prince.

Where to Stay:

Hotel Montana

The Hotel Montana is a true gem. Located up in the hills of Pétionville high above Port-au-Prince Hotel Montana has been run by a Haitian family since 1947 and is designed in Haitian Art Deco flair. The grounds and 45 rooms are stunning and the staff is delightful. There is a large open-air terrace that has a restaurant, bar and pool affording breathtaking views of the city below. The personalized service is lovely and it feels like a home away from home for many of the guests.

Hotel Montana Pétionville, HaitiHotel Montana Pétionville, Haiti

Pétionville, Haiti

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

A Guided Tour of Manuel Antonio National Park with Naturalist Johan Chaves

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”. –  John Muir

Our villa at Tulemar was like a treehouse, perched high above the jungle and surrounded by nature.  I woke at 5:30 am to the sound of the birds greeting the day and went out to watch the tropical rainforest come to life. Two pairs of scarlet macaws flew poignantly overhead and settled in a neighboring tree where they squawked a bit before taking flight. Kingfishers, warblers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and tiny hummingbirds enjoyed their breakfast in the morning light. I could have laid here all morning but alas I had to get everyone else up for our seven am tour of Manuel Antonio National Park.

Tulemar Vacation Rentals, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

My favorite place of all – the hammock

Tulemar Vacation Rentals, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Morning sunrise from the balcony at Tulemar

Visting Manuel Antonio had been a dream of mine ever since I first visited Costa Rica on a volunteer trip in 2011. Today I would finally see one of Costa Rica’s most popular and beloved parks and I could hardly wait.

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Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

A Slice of Heaven at the Cascada Naguala Ecolodge

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love”.-  Marcus Aurelius

After my peaceful canoe ride down the Laguna Chocuaco, it was time to leave Rancho Quemado and head to our next adventure in the community of Los Planes. We loaded up our rented SUV and headed northwest towards Drake Bay, the main tourist town in the Osa Peninsula.

The drive was rough and lovely, affording sweeping views of the stunning Drake Bay and the verdant tropical jungle. I was quite thankful we had our heavy duty SUV as there were several river crossings along the way and I cannot imagine how we ever would have made it in a car. Eytan told me that there had been times when he got stuck for hours waiting for the swollen waters to subside enough for him to safely pass and he had even once seen a small bus floating down the river. I definitely didn’t want that to be me!

As we entered the river I held my breath wondering how I’d break the news to my husband that we may have to do this ourselves during our upcoming family trip to Costa Rica in April. Hopefully the roads in northern Costa Rica are a bit better than in the Osa Peninsula.

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This afternoon we were headed to a remote, sustainable family-owned ecolodge called Cascada Naguala that is in the middle of the jungle and only accessible via foot across acres of beautiful private land. It had opened up to tourists only a few months ago after a series of tragic losses in the family. The first owner died eight years ago by a fallen tree and his brother took it over only to die in an ATV accident six months ago. Despite the tragedy, his son Eric and lovely wife Francesca reopened the lodge and went into business. We would be their first customers.

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Laguna Chocuaco, Rancho Quemado, Osa Península, Costa Rica

Canoeing in Laguna Chocuaco

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order”. – John Burroughs

By my fifth day in the Osa Peninsula, I was finally beginning to fall into a rhythm. My rusty Spanish was improving and I could comprehend more. My body had adjusted to the high humidity and heat of the jungle, and I naturally began rising at dawn with the morning sun and singing of the birds. My soul was relaxed, and I finally felt peaceful and free. Sadly I only had three more days left of my epic adventure yet I was determined to make these three days as fantastic as possible.

There is something about a Costa Rican breakfast that makes me smile. It is almost always the same: Gallo Pinto. Black beans and rice from the meal the evening before, stir-fried with the magic Costa Rican sauce Lizano and then topped with queso crema, a homemade sour cream that has a tangy taste to it and complements the dish well. There may be a slight variation to the morning meal that includes scrambled eggs, freshly made tortillas, fruit or fried plantains. But the gallo pinto are always available and after my week in Costa Rica I grew to love it.

Rancho Quemado, Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

My incredible breakfast

For today’s tour, we would meet Carlos Villalobos at his family property in Rancho Quemado for a birdwatching canoe ride on “Laguna Chocuaco” their private rainforest lagoon. We said our goodbyes to our friends Alice and Enrique at Rancho Verde and were on our way.

Their property includes a farm with livestock (pigs, chickens, cows and horses), a vast pasture and field for growing trees and produce, a dormitory for tourists to stay in, and a large open-air eating area for home-cooked Costa Rican meals.

When we arrived at the ranch, Carlos’ brother was milking the cows and getting ready to lead them out to the pasture. We had a brief tour of the farm and then headed out to the pasture where Carlos showed us some of the trees that they raise at the family farm.


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While many farmers cut down all the trees so there is more pasture for the livestock to graze on, Carlos and his family believe it is important to keep the trees for various reasons. The trees provide shade for the animals on the hot, humid days and fruit for the birds and to sell at the market. Lots of birds like toucans rely on the seeds and flowers off the tops of the trees for their diets. The trees also provide a lot of natural beauty to the landscape and a place for birds to nest in. The property has over 40 species of birds in which 20 species live along the low growing trees and bushes along the lagoon.


A toucan

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Rancho Quemado Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

An Artisanal Gold Mining Tour in Rancho Quemado

I woke to the sounds of the jungle in my open-air cabin at Amazonita Lodge in Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre. I felt amazingly refreshed and quite invigorated for another adventurous day ahead in the Osa Peninsula. Our gracious host Zulay made us a wonderful Costa Rican breakfast in her house before we headed out for our next tour. The beauty of rural tourism is that besides the tours and sightseeing, you also receive an intimate experience with the local community. You are welcomed into their homes for conversation, friendship and delightful home-cooked meals. It truly is an incredible experience that you miss when simply staying at a regular hotel or doing mainstream tourism.

It was time for us to say our goodbye to our friends in Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre and head to a new rural community called Rancho Quemado which is the least-visited community in the Osa Peninsula. There we would meet Juan Cubillo and his family to learn about artisanal gold mining, a traditional way of life that is on its way out.

The drive to Rancho Quemado was about an hour and half northeast into the interior of the Osa Peninsula on bumpy roads. It was a beautiful drive through glorious lush countryside and rolling hills. We were surprised to see many dump trucks hauling debris and road work being done to repair the damage from the Hurricane Otto. Normally there are very few cars and rarely a truck on these remote dirt roads. However, two months after the storm hit there is still much clean-up to be done.

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We arrived at Rancho Quemado around ten o’clock and of course it was already steaming hot. Juan and his lovely wife Rosa welcomed us into their home and farm at Finca Las Minas de Oro where they have lived for many years with their family of three children. We were one of Juan’s first customers for his newly launched gold mining tour, a way for him to provide income for his family without having to illegally mine for gold.

Rancho Quemado Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Juan’s wife Rosa painted this sign advertising their new business, gold mining tours, open to tourists.

 Rancho Quemado Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Rancho Quemado is a small, rural town of about 300 people and has its origin in gold mining. Two gold miners settled on the site of Finca las Minas de Oro in the early 1940s when they discovered gold within the neighboring creek. One day when they were out hunting, their house burned down hence the village was named Rancho Quemado which means “Burning Ranch”.  As soon as word got out there was a sizable amount of gold in the area, people came from all over Costa Rica to find their fortune and pan for gold. Juan and Rosa also moved to the community searching for gold and a better life for their growing family. Juan has panned for gold for years however it is difficult, backbreaking work in high heat and humidity for upwards of 8-10 hours a day and it is also technically illegal. But like most people in rural communities throughout the Osa Peninsula, gold mining is their only source of income and until more sustainable jobs are available, mining will continue.

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An Overnight Stay in the Heart of the Jungle: Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre

We slowly drove down the narrow dirt road through Dos Brazos de Tigre until we reached a grouping of small wooden homes at the edge of the vast rainforest jungle. At the end was a one-bedroom house with green and red flowered curtains. It was Xiña’s house, our host, for the next twenty-four hours in the heart of the Osa Peninsula in rural Costa Rica.

We parked the Land Cruiser, grabbed our day packs and knocked on the door. Xiña greeted us with an enormous smile and welcomed us to her home. Inside an adorable neighbor girl in pigtails was sitting shyly on the couch watching a Chinese soap opera dubbed in Spanish. I couldn’t help but laugh at the hilarity of it all. I smiled even brighter when I asked her name and she replied “Me llamo Nicole“. “Me llamo Nicole tambien” I replied.

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Xiña was dressed in shorts, knee-high wool socks, calf-length mud boots and a pink tank top. Her long black hair was pulled tightly back in a braid. Besides a wrist watch, the only piece of jewelry on her was a homemade necklace with a red and black seed found in the jungle. Her warm, charismatic smile made me instantly like her and feel at ease. I had no idea what was in store for me over the next day!


Xiña standing outside her home in Dos Brazos de Tigre


Xiña displays her new handmade sign for her mountain cabin open to tourists, “Descanso La Pizota”. “Descanso” means “a place of rest” and “pizota” is the indigenous word for coatimundi.

We sat down next to pequeña Nicole and drank a glass of homemade lemonade, its bittersweet tang resting pleasantly on my tongue. Xiña and Eytan conversed in rapid fire Spanish while I desperately tried to follow along. Meanwhile, Xiña’s sister Nuria gathered up our food for the next lunch, dinner and breakfast, and placed it into a rucksack. Despite only being a few years older, Nuria looked much older than her younger sister whose fit shape, sturdy legs and youthful air reflected a certain joie de vivre of life in the jungle.

Xiña and her sister who lives in Puerto Jimenez and will be our cook for the next day.

Xiña and her sister Nuria who lives in Puerto Jimenez and will be our cook for the next day.

Shortly after ten, we were out the door and ready to begin our hour and a half hike up through the rainforest to Xiña’s cabin which she proudly named “Descanso El Pizote” after the infamous Coatimundi (indigenous name pizote) a raccoon-like animal that is common in the jungle. If we were lucky, we would possibly see one on our hike today.

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White-faced or Capuchin monkey

Exploring Rural Tourism in Dos Brazos de Tigre, Costa Rica

As we pulled out of the gravel driveway to waves of goodbye from our gracious hosts at the Osa Lodge, I realized that the real adventure of my week in the Osa Peninsula was about to begin. I was saying goodbye to air-conditioning, hot showers, wi-fi and all the worries of the modern world and heading off into the rich tropical rainforest jungle that makes this place so special.

I would be visiting places that hardly any tourists have ever seen, and staying in rural communities for the next six days. The tiny town of Dos Brazos de Tigre would be the first community we would explore and my first experience in rural tourism.

The Osa Lodge, Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica

We followed the one and only paved road leaving Puerto Jimenez enjoying the beautiful lush countryside. We had the radio on and the windows down, blowing in a fan of thick sticky air that felt liberating to the soul. It was another hot and humid day in the Osa and my northern skin was sweating profusely. It wasn’t long until we turned off our last paved road for the week.

The dirt road was lined with banana trees, sugar cane, small plots of farmland and pastures for grazing cattle. Despite its fertile land, plentiful rain and sunshine, the farming industry in the Osa Peninsula is not very developed. Most produce and meat come in to the Osa via truck from other parts of the country to the main grocery store in Puerto Jimenez and if the truck is late like it was on our way out of town, you are out of luck on certain items. (We were supposed to bring cilantro, broccoli and peppers with us for our dinner but alas the truck hadn’t arrived). Like tourism, developing the farming industry would be a great way to make the Osa more sustainable and provide much needed jobs.

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The Journey Begins: My Adventure to the Osa Peninsula

“May the sun bring you energy by day, may the moon softly restore you at night, may the rain wash away your worries, may the breeze blow new strength onto your being, may you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.” – Apache Blessing

Gently pushing off the southern tip of Costa Rica lies the beautifully pristine Osa Peninsula, a magical paradise of untouched virgin rain forests, deserted beaches and rural communities relatively hidden from mainstream tourism. Named by National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on earth,” the Osa Peninsula is a treasure trove of land, water, and life hosting 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity within an area of just 700 square miles.

It is here where conservationist and filmmaker Eytan Elterman and his good friend photographer Marco Bollinger lived for five months to produce the award-winning documentary “2.5 %  – The Osa Peninsula”. This experience changed the course of their lives and inspired them to create Lokal, an online booking platform and marketplace for community-based rural tourism in remote places around the world.

It was my interview with Lokal’s co-founder Eytan Elterman that would inspire me to join Lokal on their first ever week-long adventure in the Osa Peninsula, rewarding me with the unique opportunity to immerse myself in local life, culture and nature in one of the most magical places on the planet. I would travel to places few tourists have ever seen, and spend a week bathing in waterfalls, swimming in the sea and hiking in the deepest parts of the rainforest. I confess it would be even an adventure for an adventurous girl. Yet I was ready.


The Osa Peninsula has the largest population of scarlet macaws in all of Costa Rica.

Osa Peninsula

Swimming in crystal clear waterfalls is a must in the Osa Peninsula.

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Blue Planet Kayak

Sea Kayaking in the Mangroves off the Florida Keys

From Miami to Key West, U.S. Route 1 leapfrogs key to key for 113 miles and across 42 overseas bridges in a rather amazing feat of engineering. Known as the Overseas Highway, U.S. Route 1 runs through the heart and soul of the Florida Keys passing by an endless supply of souvenir shops, strip malls and fast food joints directly parallel to the third largest barrier reef in the world.

Despite being one of the most touristy spots in the nation, welcoming cruise ships, bohemians, bikers, margherita drinkers, fisherman and boaters, the Florida Keys is also home to one of the most unique ecosystems in the United States. Off the tip of Florida, curving southwest for 126 miles, lies an archipelago of 1,700 islands which are part of a massive coral reef known as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Covering 9,600 square kilometers, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is the closest federally protected coral reef in the continental United States and the third largest coral reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the reefs off of Belize.

Without the barrier reefs, the entire ecological and environmental make-up of the Florida Keys would be different. Instead of the gentle, calm, nurturing warm waters that provide an essential protected habitat for fish and organisms, there would be rough waves and sandy beaches replacing the mangroves and sea grass that are the trees of life in the Keys.

Florida Keys Mangroves

Mangroves line more than 1,800 miles of shoreline within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In the Florida Keys, the red mangrove, black mangrove, and white mangrove tend to dominate wetland areas.

Although I have visited the Florida Keys numerous times over the past twenty years, I had no idea that that the Keys represent such an amazing ecological treasure until I spent a morning sea kayaking in the backwaters of Stock Island Key. During a fantastic two-hour ecotour with Blue Planet Kayaks, my family and I set off into the warm, shallow crystal clear waters and entered the magical canopies of mangroves where we learned all about the magnificent ecosystem of the Florida Keys.


Lokal Travel’s Upcoming Epic Trips to the Osa Peninsula

Quietly pushing off the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica lies the beautifully pristine Osa Peninsula, a magical paradise of untouched primitive rain forests, deserted beaches and rural communities relatively hidden to mainstream tourism. Known for its conservation efforts and robust ecotourism industry, the Osa Peninsula is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet with over 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity in less than one millionth of the Earth’s surface area.

It is here where conservationist and filmmaker Eytan Elterman and his good friend photographer Marco Bollinger lived for five months to produce the award-wining documentary “2.5 %  – The Osa Peninsula” that would change the course of their lives and inspire them to create Lokal, an online booking platform and marketplace for community-based tourism in remote places around the world. Lokal is unique in that it also helps support the local economy and protect the environment by offering ways for locals to embrace sustainable, responsible tourism.

One of the many colors found in Costa Rica's biodiverse rain forests. Photo credit: Lokal Travel

One of the many colors found in Costa Rica’s biodiverse rain forests. Photo credit: Lokal Travel

I wrote about Lokal back in July when I first learned about their amazing, unique platform for local travel opportunities in some of the most remote places in Costa Rica. I have been in love with their work ever since and a colleague of mine, Kelley Louise, the Executive Director of Impact Travel Alliance recently went on a trip with Lokal describing it as one of the best trips she has done in a long time.

Lokal Co-Founder Dave Koken embarking on a traditional 'ox cart' ride through the community of Cedral in the highlands of Southern Costa Rica. Cedral offers hiking, visits to an indigenous cemetery, waterfalls, tours of their coffee plantation and coffee roasting factory, and overnight accommodations in a guesthouse.

Lokal Co-Founder Dave Koken embarking on a traditional ‘ox cart’ ride through the community of Cedral in the highlands of Southern Costa Rica. Cedral offers hiking, visits to an indigenous cemetery, waterfalls, tours of their coffee plantation and coffee roasting factory, and overnight accommodations in a guesthouse.

Lokal represents a unique kind of travel opportunity to experience local life in untouched, remote and rural areas around the world. Places that most travelers would never ever dream of experiencing and a much needed income to preserve a way of life. All trips work to support local communities by putting money directly into the hands of locals and supporting work to preserve natural and cultural heritage. Generally, only 5% of money spent by tourism around the world goes back into local hands however with Lokal Travel 80% of the money is reinvested back into the community. It is a fantastic way to promote sustainable, responsible travel.

Getting to visit the Osa Peninsula Lokal-style is bound to be one of the most unique, inspiring trips ever, and luckily Lokal Travel is offering two one-of-a-kind epic week-long adventures for those conscious, adventurous travelers who want to get a taste for going local.

Lokal Co-Founder Eytan Elterman visting the Seacacar community tourism project in Guatemala. Seacacar offers tubing through the El Boqueron river as well as hiking and overnight accommodations at the local ecolodge.

Lokal Co-Founder Eytan Elterman visting the Seacacar community tourism project in Guatemala. Seacacar offers tubing through the El Boqueron river as well as hiking and overnight accommodations at the local ecolodge.

I wish desperately I could go as I’d be there in a heartbeat. I wanted to let you know about the trips in case you or someone else you know is interested in signing up. There is also a discount offered below. Here are the details. 

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Kilimanjaro hike to Barranco Camp Machame Route

Why I support sustainable, responsible travel

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see”. –  Gilbert K. Chesterton

Although I have traveled all my life, sometime in my late twenties I became a traveller. For most of my life I had been more of a tourist trying to rush around the world seeing as much as I could possibility see, never fully understanding what it all meant. It was in my twenties that I went on my first truly eye-opening trip to Peru. Within the first half hour of being on the ground, I was mugged inside a taxi and it was at that point I realized that the world is not a giant playground for me to explore yet a place for me to search for answers and try to understand.

It was in Peru that I first saw extreme poverty and what it does to people. Forcing mothers nursing their babies to ask for handouts through the glass window of a tourist restaurant while I ate. Motivating people to pick you out at the international arrivals of an airport, follow you in a trailing car and at the first chance, bust open your car window with a bat and steal a backpack with only a hairbrush, makeup and book. Unknowingly hiring a company that employed native Peruvians to walk nearly barefoot for three days, carrying 30 pounds of my stuff on their back so I could hike the Inca trail without the hassle.

This was my first eye-opening experience into a world that is much different from the one I had perceived. A world that is unfair, unjust and inequitable. I had finally opened my eyes to the reality of what I was seeing and from that point forward changed myself from a tourist to a traveller and even one step further, a world citizen trying to make a difference.

Over the past twenty years, travel has become much more available to people and more people are traveling than ever before. Travel isn’t only for the rich or the hippies or the retirees, but for anyone who has a passport and some financial means to pay for a trip.