Comfortable hotels, local cuisine and traditions and vivid memories – it would appear as the ideal recipe to relax. But unscrupulous tourism has often resulted in destruction of entire natural areas. Tourists tend to not go to undeveloped resorts, and if they do, they prefer using large travel agencies, leaving the local business in difficult conditions. As the world is finding ways to become more eco-conscious, is it time to give up travel?

What is ecotourism?

Travel labelled “environmentally friendly” is when a tourist enjoys nature and culture, but at the same time consciously protects the flora and fauna, do not harm the environment, and use the products and services of local people to support them.

The environmentalists-founders of this direction believe that a modern person can easily abandon digital communications and package tours, and contemplate nature while traveling, treat it responsibly and at the same time be culturally enriched.

Ecotourism vs ordinary vacation

Despite the clear wording, many tourists mistakenly classify volunteer trips or vacations in a thatched villa on the Caribbean coast as ecotourism. For some, a backpacking trip is already a serious application for a deliberate journey. So how does ecotourism manifest itself?

There are 5 simple principles to help integrate ecotourism into any trip:

1. Contemplate unspoiled nature and travel to authentic places

Among them are ancient villages, nature reserves, national parks and natural areas – which brings a story about authenticity and the underestimated simplicity of being.

2. Get to know local customs and culture

For a great experience, do your homework. Learn the rules of conduct, communication format, and local customs. If you plan to interact with animals, check the rules.

3. Support ecology, society and culture and protect nature

Keep the “do no harm” rule in mind a priority, take part in activities that support the local environment.

4. Study the human impact on the environment on your own

Educational YouTube videos, lectures by nature conservation experts at Godel will help make your trips inside or outside the country even more conscious.

5. Financially support tourism services and goods of local residents (transport, rent, food)

Support the economy of the region, the development of the resort support for small businesses.

Where to begin in ecotourism?

  • Choose which of the directions you are most interested in.
  • Find a club or community that regularly organises hikes, swims, trips.
  • Try your hand by participating in a weekend hike; understand how you coped physically and mentally.

How to become an ecotourist

Transport: The idea, “the less fuel, the better” applies. Therefore, try to travel on environmentally friendly transport if possible. It can be hiking, bicycle or public transport. If you want to take a break, arrange it in a special place for this.

Food: Collect any natural food (berries, mushrooms, herbs) if it is safe and allowed so ensure you research beforehand. Go to the farmer or local cafes with a seasonal menu for a meal. The more local foods you have in your diet, the more benefits you will bring to the locals.

Shopping: Give priority to markets and small businesses instead of high-street chain shops, and buy souvenirs from people, and avoid taking from the natural environment such as shells, sand or precious rocks.

Locations: Include ecological trails, projects and places directly related to the improvement of the environment in your routes.

Ways the Godel team have embraced ecotourism

Aliaksei Kanaplitski, Senior QA Engineer recalled: “I went on my first trip 12 years ago, in 2009. It turned out that my friend leads the group every year, in the fall. His parents once did it, now he continues the tradition.

Currently, I am engaged in swamping, this includes hiking trips in swamps, wetlands, etc. They are also like an endurance test. Not so long ago I discovered mountain, water and cycling trips. The most vivid impressions are the very first trip and the feeling after a three-meter canal in full gear and kayaking down Ladoga. To start traveling like this, you need very little: ask friends or find a company (now there are enough resources), download a route, pack a backpack and go.”

Halina Ivanova, Senior Agile Delivery Coordinator said: “Since childhood, I went out with family and friends on camping trips, and I learnt a lot of the workings of tourism from the teacher who organized weekend trips. The most favourite part of the trip is to sit by the fire and listen to the magic stories all night long. I knew from childhood that I got a special thrill from spending time in the fresh air. For a person who has never lived in a village, this is unusual. At such moments, you realise that your life at the computer, despite your love for the profession, is unbalanced. Looking for something new, I travel to different locations, trying unusual routes.

Today I am engaged in four areas: horseback riding, hiking, kayaking and I recently started diving. In each of them, in one form or another, I come across large spaces, beautiful views and aesthetics in everything – from animals to the landscape. It takes my breath away from contemplation, I can’t imagine life without a surge of adrenaline.”