Miss A Columnist

Adrienne Erin is an artist turned freelance writer who studied studio art and animation in a tiny town in central Ohio, but has worked in fields as diverse as career development, design, and public relations since. Now she resides in central Pennsylvania, but she takes the train or hops behind the wheel to visit nearby Philadelphia often. She blogs and ghost writes for a number of sites, but you can find some of her work on her personal blog, Pongra.

Her love of travel was ignited by her time spent studying art abroad in Paris, France. Since then, her travels have taken her across France, as far as the Czech Republic, and even to the site of the Chernobyl accident, not to mention more than a dozen US states. She is an avid road tripper, and has loved long distance driving since she first got behind the wheel of her car.

When she’s not on the go, she loves cooking, collage, and obsessing over vintage postcards. She frequently participates in mail exchanges and loves Skyping in French with her faraway friends. Please follow her on Twitter at @adrienneerin.

Eco-Tourism: How To Visit The Rainforest Without Destroying It

Many people have dreams of visiting the rainforest but stop short of actually doing it because these trips can be difficult to arrange. But if visiting the rainforest is on your bucket list, there are ways to accomplish this without hurting the beautiful landscape you were drawn to see in the first place.

The edge of the Amazon rainforest. (Photo credit: Naadir Jeewa)

The edge of the Amazon rainforest. (Photo Credit: Naadir Jeewa)

It can also be hard to plan an excursion and feel confident the tour operator you’ve chosen is doing its part to support the local economy and the rainforest itself. The last thing you would want to do if you finally get to make your dream trip to the Amazon is pollute the environment and hurt the people, plants and endangered species that call it home. Keep reading to learn how to put sustainable rainforest travel within your reach.

The Three Principles of Eco-Tourism

A term known as eco-tourism has become more widely used over the years, and now there are many organizations that specifically support eco-tourism trips. Supporters clarify that these sustainable and ecologically accountable trips must:

  • Preserve the environment
  • Directly benefit local economies
  • Provide educational advantages to tourists and locals alike

Look for operators that focus on eco-tourism to get a good start in finding a company that aligns with your desires to have a rainforest experience that won’t hurt anybody. If you’re unsure about a program you’re considering, here is a great list of questions to ask.

A tropical macaw, native to the Amazon rainforest. (Photo credit: Jaime Olmo)

A scarlet macaw, native to the Amazon rainforest. (Photo Credit: Jaime Olmo)

Getting There Responsibly

If you’re hoping to visit the rainforest while being kind to the environment, one of the worst things you can do is hop on a cheap indirect flight to Brazil or Peru. If you must fly, choose one of the greener airlines and do all you can to get a direct flight – the largest amount of pollution occurs during takeoff and landing, so the less connections the better.

A pause in a walkway tour. (Photo credit: Chee Hong)

A pause in a walkway tour. (Photo Credit: Chee Hong)

Ecologically-Sound Tours

The Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) is one worthy non-profit organization to support. It’s possible to give monetary donations via PayPal or by purchasing items from the online store, but more importantly for eager rainforest travelers, the ACA leads eco-tourism expeditions that depart from three biological stations located in Peru. Although it’s necessary to get in touch before stopping by, that’s just one way you could see the rainforest while also supporting a cause that’s working hard to keep the rainforest beautiful.

Whether you are looking to explore the rainforest from trails on the ground or from the iconic elevated canopy walkways that have made rainforest expeditions so popular, this group leads tours you may be interested in.

A Great Place to Stay

Accommodation is an important factor of any trip, and especially if you’re trying to visit the rainforest while being kind to the environment. The Yachana Lodge and Center for Geotourism Training is an excellent option to consider if you need a temporary home base. In 2008, it was a winner of the National Geographic Ashoka Changemakers Geotourism Challenge Award, and the staff members firmly believe education is a key to sustainability.

Wherever you choose, make sure there is a comfortable place to lay your head, spend some downtime safely inside a mosquito net and also go on guided nature tours. If you’ll be in the rainforest for a while, consider becoming a volunteer and getting placed in a program where you can work directly with others who are involved in the sustainability efforts.

Check Out a Database of Options

There are many ways to give back to the community and environment when you visit the rainforest. This website offers thousands of reviews from people who’ve actually participated in the trips listed. Most importantly, responsible tourism is at the heart of the business.

If you go on a trip with an operator concerned with sustainability, you can feel good about doing something that’ll be respectful to the environment and also give you a chance to make a meaningful impact on local residents. Along with rainforest conservation, you can get the chance to volunteer with kids or take part in a community project.

The well-known canopy walkway. (Photo credit: Wazari Wazir)

The well-known canopy walkway. (Photo Credit: Wazari Wazir)

Going to the rainforest could be the experience of a lifetime, and if you do your research, your journey could be one that makes a long-lasting and positive difference in your life and the lives of others.

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