The best holidays balancing eco-credentials with a good time
“Responsible tourism.” “Green trip.” “Eco trips.” “Sustainable holidays.” All can conjure up the image of a joyless, spartan endurance exercise, rather than a fun getaway.
But times have changed, opting for a more ethical break does not necessarily mean giving up luxury, hedonism or the possibility of immersing yourself in new experiences.
Here are seven journeys that balance doing good and feeling good.
Beyond Barcelona by train
Flightless travel company Byway has launched with a bang during the pandemic, despite the obvious hurdles, and is expanding its tailored travel portfolio at pace.
The latest deals are all aimed at getting off the beaten track in Britain’s favorite holiday destination – Spain – on multi-stop train breaks. One of the suggested itineraries sees travelers set off for a 10-day break in Catalonia, passing through Vic, Besalú and Girona, as well as the region’s sensational capital, Barcelona.
In addition to avoiding high-emission flights by arranging train trips, the company also recommends eco-friendly stays when possible, such as the Andante Hotel in Barcelona, a signatory to the Biosphere Responsible Tourism charter ( which means it has committed to a number of sustainable practices like generating its own energy with solar panels and using energy-efficient lighting).
“Catalonia has much more to offer than the bustling streets of its capital,” says Byway. “Venture inland from the city to explore the medieval towns and volcanic landscape of northern Catalonia by train and admire them from above in a hot air balloon.”
10-Day Byway Catalonia Itinerary from £1,265 per person.
Roadtrip from Porto to Lisbon
Pura Aventura organizes award-winning sustainable vacations in Latin America, Spain and Portugal. Certified B-Corp, it balances 160% of its carbon emissions and ensures that local people benefit economically from travel, and encourages travelers to travel longer to more advantageous destinations.
While all trips can be tailored to suit individual needs, the company recommends taking 23 days to do their epic road trip from Porto to Lisbon. Beginning in Portugal’s beautiful second city and ending in its historic capital, this itinerary encourages adventurers to take their time in between, truly digging into the best of history, wine, food, culture and Portuguese landscapes along the way. Stops include Vila Nova de Cerveira, the Douro Valley, and the Alentejo region.
Pura Aventura 23-Day Roadtrip from Porto to Lisbon from £3,750 per person.
Climbing and yoga in Morocco
Much Better Adventures offers small-group adventure vacations in some of the wildest and most beautiful places in the world – and also puts carbon labels on all trips.
From wild camping in Wales to kayaking in Corsica, there is a wide choice of trip types to immerse travelers in nature, with short trips available for those short on annual leave. Combining thrills and deep relaxation, the Intro to Rock Climbing and Yoga in Morocco package takes explorers for six nights to scale the cliffs of the Todra Gorge in the Atlas Mountains, perfect their lying dog and sleep in the beautiful star in the Sahara desert; no prior experience necessary.
Guests will hike through dramatic wadis and canyons and tackle Morocco’s only via-ferrata, start the day with sunrise yoga amidst the dunes, and sleep in a traditional riad in Marrakech before of luxury camping in the desert. Booking now for September 2022.
Six-Day Morocco Itinerary from Much Better Adventures from £675 per person.
Adventures led by women in Peru
Intrepid, the world’s largest certified B-Corp travel agency, has relaunched its Women’s Expeditions with new, redesigned tours for 2022. Designed to support and empower communities in Peru, India, Iran, Morocco and Jordan who have been deeply affected by the pandemic, these unique journeys are guided by local female escorts and offer experiences that would not be possible with men in the group, such as visiting a beauty salon in Iran or traveling in a women-only wagon .
On the Peru Expedition, travelers spend four days walking the iconic Inca Trail accompanied by female porters, a role traditionally held by men, to visit Machu Picchu and learn how history unfolded. here from a female point of view. There is also a walking tour of downtown Lima with a visit to a food stand run by a woman; an excursion to discover traditional techniques and the importance of weaving for the women of the Umasbamba community in the Sacred Valley; and dinner at Mama Seledonia’s in Cusco, a restaurant that supports single mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds by offering them employment and culinary training.
Intrepid’s Eight-Day Peru Itinerary from £1,110 per person.
Rewilding in Italy
Last year, Exodus Travels launched a new “Rewilding in the Italian Apennines” walking tour as part of its commitment to sustainable tourism. It partnered with Rewilding Europe through the Nature and Carbon Corridors project to offer the trip; the process of rewilding helps restore nature’s ecosystems and biodiversity while fighting climate change by increasing the earth’s capacity to absorb carbon.
During this six-day experience, travelers can see first-hand the beneficial impact of regeneration and the importance of using wildlife corridors to connect protected areas. Exploring the wild heart of Italy, guests may spot native chamois, deer, wolves and golden eagles, and if lucky, the rare Marsican brown bear. Tours are led by trained naturalist guides and complemented by some of the best local food and wine.
The Six-Day Rewilding the Apennines Tour from Exodus Travels from £2,199 per person.
Wine tasting in France
‘Sustainable rail travel for adventurous souls’: that’s the slogan of the No Fly Travel Club, which, you guessed it, offers a curated range of no-fly holidays across the UK and Europe.
One of the options is a sustainable wine tasting trip to the Loire Valley in France. Guests stay at La Grande Maison Ecological, where they will be treated to a wine tasting dinner featuring local and organic produce; an organic picnic in the vineyard; and an exclusive visit and an aperitif in the wine cellars and tunnels of the property. They will also enjoy private wine tasting sessions at two to three wineries, with a choice of eco-friendly transportation (walking, e-bike, or electric car) and a qualified wine guide. The best part? Traveling by train means wine lovers can take home as much of their favorite drink as they want, at no extra cost.
No Fly Travel Club 3-Night Sustainable Wine Tasting Break from £841 per person.
Walk and paint in Crete
Responsible Travel’s Walking and Painting Holidays take place in an area of Kissamos in Crete that is part of the European NATURA 2000 programme, which aims to protect the region’s rich natural heritage and promote ecotourism. The walks leave only a ‘green footprint’ as there is no need for transport and focus on local archaeological, historical, botanical and artistic sites.
The trip involves five mornings of leisurely walks of mild to medium difficulty, lasting two and a half to four hours. Travelers explore the beaches, hills, valleys, and town of Kissamos, as well as traditional villages and little-known ancient and Byzantine sites. After being inspired by the pristine local landscapes, holidaymakers have four afternoons of painting workshops for beginners and more advanced artists. On the last day, the group displays their paintings and celebrates the week’s achievements with a party.
Responsible Travel’s eight-day walking and painting holiday in Crete from £647 per person.