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During the last decade or so, ecotourism holidays have become increasingly popular.
But what exactly is ecotourism? The International Ecotourism Society defines it as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education”.
While it may sound like the ideal way to spend your time away from work, it can also be pricey. According to one news website, a 10-day all-inclusive trip to the Galápagos Islands with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, cost roughly $11,000. That works out at just over £8,000 in today’s money.
Although this may be out of reach for most of us, there are some ecotourism holidays that cost much less.
Deepdale Backpackers and Camping, Norfolk
When we looked, a standard tent pitch for 2 nights (4 people) over a weekend in June cost £42.
If camping is not your thing, the hostel has a range of self-catering rooms with ensuite showers and toilets. Alternatively, there are also single-sex dorm rooms, if your budget is tight.
From here, you can spend your holiday exploring the natural beauty of the North Norfolk Coast.
Ecotourism holidays: Stay on a biological farm in Italy
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, you could stay in a trullo (a traditional local roundhouse) or in an apartment on a biological farm near Alberobello, Italy.
Guests get the opportunity to taste various produce from the farm, including its olive oil, vinegar and wine. It may even be possible to take part in seasonal farm activities.
Plus, as the farm is only a short drive from the sea, you get to enjoy the beautiful Italian coastline, too.
Prices for houses range between €200 to €650 per week, depending on the season, the type of house and how many people are staying.
Plus, as you are staying in Europe, you have the added benefit of more budget-friendly, short-haul flights.
Stay on an organic wine estate, France
If you fancy learning about sustainable wine production through biodynamics on your ecotourism holidays, then a gîte on an organic wine estate may be exactly what you need.
Based in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region of France, this 3 bedroom gîte costs between €60 and €95 per night, depending on the season.
Volunteer with turtles in Costa Rica
Make a difference on your ecotourism holidays by volunteering.
If your budget stretches a little further, you could spend a week volunteering to help endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica.
Adults pay £899 each per week, while children cost £699 each. The price includes airport transfers, accommodation and food while you are on the project but excludes flights.
From only £555 (excluding flights), you could go on a 15 day holiday with a small group along Vietnam’s 3,000km coastline.
Costs are kept down by spending nights in everything from sleeper trains to boats.
Ecotourism holidays like this are a great way to go on an adventure to somewhere you have never been and experience the world from a whole different perspective.
Tips for saving money on ecotourism holidays
Make sure costs do not spiral out of control by following our tips for booking your holiday.
Travel outside of peak season
If you holiday when everyone else wants to go away, then you could end up paying over the odds. If possible, plan to travel outside of school holidays.
If you have children and have to go on your holiday in July and August, then consider booking a holiday at the end of August, when many people will be on their way home.
Cut travel costs by staying closer to home
When many people think of ecotourism holidays, they think of India or South America.
Long-haul flights can significantly add to the cost of a holiday. Staying within Europe can help you to save money on travel.
Consider what you want out of your holiday
Before researching ecotourism holidays, consider what you want out of a holiday. Would you like to volunteer to help with something in the local area? Or do you just want a holiday where you know you will have minimum impact on the environment?
Knowing exactly what type of holiday you would like to experience, can help you to ensure you are not going to waste money on something that you simply will not enjoy.
Remember, a holiday is meant to be fun. If the idea of camping makes you want to run a mile, then consider finding an eco-friendly gîte instead.