Top 10 Destinations for Sustainable Travel

By Ensemble Travel Group  ·  June 2022

When it comes to sustainable travel, the companies that do it best are those with sustainability as part of their core values or as the driver of their missions. For example, our partners G Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions both consider sustainable tourism as part of their DNA, and their origins and actions back their claims.

Since 1990, G Adventures has been the pioneer of community tourism ensuring tourism benefits the local people in the places we travel to, and in turn, turning the local people into custodians of their surrounding environments. In 2017, G Adventures introduced the Ripple Score to help customers transparently see how much of the money they spend locally in a destination actually stays there.

Lindblad Expeditions is the pioneer of expedition travel, especially expedition cruising, inspiring people to explore and protect the planet. For more than 50 years, Lindblad has built ground-breaking programs in education, empowered local artisans, protected wild areas, and so much more. They create “planetary stewards” by taking travelers into the wild and inspiring them to care.

If you’d like to travel to a destination where sustainable tourism lives at the forefront, here are 10 places G Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions recommend.

1  |  Galápagos Islands

Lindblad Expeditions pioneered expedition travel to the remarkable Galápagos Islands more than 50 years ago. Today, they lead expeditions year-round to this magical archipelago famed for its vibrant wildlife. Encounter giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, playful penguins, and charismatic sea lions in their natural habitats, unfazed by your presence. Over the years, Lindblad Expeditions has provided key funding, via their local partners-in-conservation, for the ecological restoration of island ecosystems, and in 2017, they pioneered a trailblazing farm-to-table program.

2  |  Ecuador

On a trip by G Adventures, travelers will stay at their new home in the jungle and meet a Quichua family who will host the group in their village for the next four nights. You’ll discover waterfalls on jungle walks, travel to an animal rescue center by canoe, learn about medicinal plants and how to use a blowgun, and experience a shaman ceremony.

3  |  Pacific Northwest

Discover the bountiful Pacific Northwest in Lindblad Expeditions’ dining rooms, on farms, in orchards, and at wineries. Lindblad chefs source ingredients from local, sustainable farms as part of a culinary program raising the bar on locality, seasonality, and sustainability. Their certification as a Food Alliance Supply Chain Ally ensures food served aboard their ships in the Pacific Northwest is produced by well-treated workers, derived from humanely raised animals, and that regional wildlife habitats are protected and enhanced in its production. Additionally, Lindblad’s Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch certification means every species of seafood is assessed to ensure only the most sustainable options are served.

4  |  Bhutan

Imagine exploring the “happiest country on Earth” while walking along the same path used by royals, monks, and traders for thousands of years. That’s the Trans Bhutan Trail. Until the 1960s, it was the only way to get around the mountain kingdom of Bhutan. Now, it’s reopening for the first time in 60 years. On a 12-day tour with G Adventures, you’ll travel and trek along the best portions of this historic trail, using your own two feet to experience rural and spiritual life in the most beautiful parts of the country.

5  |  Alaska

Lindblad Expeditions’ small ships go beyond the predictable ports to where authentic Alaska is found — in the palpable thunder of a calving glacier, amidst the smell of towering spruce trees, and during intimate encounters with wildlife. Through the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund, Lindblad supports projects, such as the Alaska Whale Foundation and National Geographic Society Grants, which are both crucial to preserving Alaska’s expansive wilderness and iconic wildlife for generations to come. Additionally, Lindblad’s culinary program is committed to serving sustainable seafood and regional produce, and it’s rooted in long-lasting relationships with their providers.

6  |  Thailand

With G Adventures, Thailand becomes so much more than an exotic beach destination. You’ll trek up into the mountains to meet Thailand's remote hilltribe communities on a five-day adventure. Head out from wondrous Chiang Mai and through a national park to Lahu and Karen villages, spend time with a shaman, explore deep caves by bamboo raft, and marvel at the lush jungle scenery before arriving at the hilltop village of Ban Jabo with the warmest of welcomes.

7  |  Baja California

Sail among pristine islands in search of rare endemic creatures, encounter whales for an experience that will never leave you, and snorkel with playful sea lions. Wildness surrounds travelers as Lindblad Expedition ships ply the rich waters of the Sea of Cortez and whale nursery bays of the Pacific. Traveler donations in Baja California support Fondo Mexicano’s Gulf of California Conservation Fund, and every dollar donated to the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund in Baja California generates at least two additional dollars from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature, tripling the power of each donation. Additionally, through Lindblad’s Artisan Fund, travelers will empower local artisans, helping them hone their craft-based businesses and achieve financial security for themselves and their families.

8  |  Kenya

On the Upgraded Kenya Safari with G Adventures, you’ll travel through Kenya’s vast, jaw-dropping landscapes on an exploration of three of the country’s protected natural areas, including the Masai Mara National Reserve. While driving through open, acacia-dotted plains and rolling hills that seem to stretch on forever, you’ll spot a variety of African wildlife and, hopefully, the Big Five. While on the trip, you’ll also learn about rhino conservation at the Kenya Wildlife Service, and you’ll spot wading hippos on the shores of Lake Nakuru.

9  |  Costa Rica

G Adventure’s action-packed tour of Costa Rica’s highlights is perfect for the adventurer with limited time who wants to explore the region’s diversity. Get your adrenaline pumping, follow a trail to the base of a waterfall, melt away in thermal springs, or relax on a beach — your CEO (Chief Experience Officer) will guide you away from the tourist hotspots and help you find the secluded places only the locals know.

10  |  Antarctica

Exploring Antarctica should be a pinnacle event in any traveler's life, and key to your experience is the Lindblad Expedition fleet: top-tier Ice Class vessels, purposefully designed and built to venture deep into the ice in comfort and safety. Over 50 years ago, Lars-Eric Lindblad chartered a ship bringing the first non-scientific travelers to Antarctica, and preserving this special place and its wildlife while leading the way in sustainable tourism has been part of Lindblad’s DNA ever since. Lindblad was involved in the creation of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), they support world-renowned scientists who use their ships as a platform to study whales around the Antarctic Peninsula, and they help Extreme Ice Survey maintain their time-lapse cameras. Plus, donations from Lindblad’s Antarctica travelers contribute to impactful work such as National Geographic Pristine Seas.


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