Climate Ride Multi-Day Bike Trips Raise Money, Awareness, Advocacy for Sustainability

 On Climate Ride NYC-DC, riders will have a chance to meet with Congress. "Participants say this is one of the most powerful parts of the Climate Ride experience - pedaling your bike right to the US Capitol to advocate for change." © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On Climate Ride NYC-DC, riders will have a chance to meet with Congress. “Participants say this is one of the most powerful parts of the Climate Ride experience – pedaling your bike right to the US Capitol to advocate for change.” © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Biking is a great way to travel with minimal impact on climate. Now, an organization called Climate Ride, is arranging multi-day biking trips that raise money and awareness to support sustainability, active transportation, and environmental causes.

Climate Ride produces charitable multi-day rides, hikes and a DIY program:  Climate Ride NYC-DC, Climate Ride California, Climate Ride Midwest, Climate Hike and Independent Challenges.

Proceeds from the events benefit a collection of environmental and active transportation non-profits. Participants can choose to direct grants to the non-profit of their choice. (Learn more about beneficiaries and read common questions asked by participants in the FAQ.)

Here are some of the cyling trips still to come this year:

Climate Ride NYC-DC: (Sept. 20 – 24, 2014)

The ride begins in the heart of New York City to the tip of Manhattan where a ferry that will carry us off the island and across New York Harbor to New Jersey.  From there we travel along country roads passing through Princeton, near valley Forge, into Pennsylvania Amish Country, crossing the Susquehanna River into Maryland Horse Country. After a day of pedaling past farms and silos, we reach Maryland horse country. On the fifth day, riders cycle past the iconic Washington Monument to arrive at the U.S. Capitol. A highlight of the ride is that Climate Ride arranges appointments for every rider to personally meet with her/his Congressional representative. It makes a big impression to pedal 300 miles to meet your Member of Congress.

Climate Ride Midwest: (Sept. 6 – 9, 2014)

The Midwest ride spans three states and connects two vibrant cities, while exploring some of the best biking in the country. From the trip start in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we ride past historic lighthouses, blueberry farms, and quaint artist villages. We’ll also visit Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore before pedaling on paved rail-trails to a bicycle path on Lake Michigan that affords stunning views of Chicago’s dramatic skyline. The last 6-mile stretch leads up to Grant Park – know as “Chicago’s Front Yard” – for the ride finale.

Climate Hike: (Aug. 24-28, 2014)

On Climate Hike Glacier National Park, spend five days hiking the iconic trails on the ‘Crown of the Continent’. Witness majestic 500-year old cedar forests under threat of wildfires and glaciers in fast retreat. Over five days of hiking, participants build up stamina for an epic 15-mile journey across the park — traversing aretes and high alpine mountain passes. Professional Glacier Guides each day teach about Glacier’s unique ecosystem, so participants can bring this knowledge home to their communities.

Climate Ride California Wine Country, which took place in May, is likely to be repeated next year. The California Wine Country ride begins in San Francisco where we ride across the scenic Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County. From there we travel through quaint Marin cities and the bucolic Nicasio Valley before turning East toward Petaluma. Riders pedal north from here through pastures and rolling hills into Sonoma County for a picnic lunch right on the Russian River near Healdsburg. Continuing on, the scenic Alexander Valley wine growing region awaits before pedaling up the final hill to the top of the famed Napa Valley, considered some of the best cycling in the US. The final day is an exciting ride across California’s Central Valley, with a stop into bike-friendly Davis and the US Bicycling Hall of Fame, to the Golden State’s Capitol in Sacramento.

The Speaker Series

The Expert Speaker Series: Each evening of the rides, expert speakers educate and inspire participants about sustainability, climate, the green economy, and active transportation. “Our participants and the communities we pass through learn that our government, businesses, and each individual American will benefit from a cleaner, healthier planet. This is a unique event — a fundraiser and green conference on wheels.” Learn more about our speakers here.

Advocacy Meetings with Congressmembers

On Climate Ride NYC-DC, riders will have a chance to meet with Congress. The Climate Ride staff schedules hundreds of appointments for riders to meet in person with their senators and representatives when they arrive by bike in Washington DC at the end of Climate Ride NYC-DC.

“Climate Ride is a non-partisan organization and we do not endorse any particular candidates, politicians, or legislation. We’re helping to create a grassroots force of ‘people-powered’ advocates. Participants say this is one of the most powerful parts of the Climate Ride experience – pedaling your bike right to the US Capitol to advocate for change.”

Independent Challenges:

Can’t make it to Climate Ride this year? Have an idea for a great event that you want to create yourself? Or are you already participating in an event that you want to connect to a cause? Climate Ride has created an Independent Challenge program as a way to raise money and awareness of your favorite Climate Ride beneficiaries, no matter what the event. Events might include rides, swims, runs, hikes, weddings, birthdays, memorials, dinner parties.

Climate Ride was created by Geraldine Carter and Caeli Quinn in 2008. A year later Blake Holiday joined as Ride Director. Together, they have a combined experience of more than 25 years of professional, high-end bike trip leading and development. Their expertise ranges from custom trips in far-flung locales to large-scale charitable events. The three have put together a volunteer staff of professional trip leaders and guides.

“We engage in the Climate Ride events to support a collection of beneficiary organizations that are working to engage citizens in the possibility of a green economy, educate the public about the interconnected web of environmental issues related to the climate crisis, mobilize government and businesses to enact sound energy policies that promote renewables, and raise the profile of green transportation. Your fundraising helps these beneficiaries continue to provide the critical services and education needed to address sustainability and active transportation issues.  Right now, your fundraising and your effort to raise awareness are more critical than ever.

“We can create communities with cleaner air, where we ride bikes, drive efficient cars and live and work in energy-saving, healthy buildings. If you demand it, our legislators and business community will promote clean energy and smarter transportation systems. By joining the Climate Ride events, you can take a step in this direction.

“So ditch your car and join us for a few days of human powered activity—all for a good cause!”

See www.climateride.org

_______

© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at moralcompasstravel.info and goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.

 

Ecotourism Company, Tropic, Explores Chocolate with New Program Giving Entree into Pacari

Tropic, an award-winning ecotourism company specializing in Quito, Ecuador, has a new program, “May We Introduce You” featuring visits to artisanal workshops in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The program, which is launching toward the end of 2014, features a 90-minute tasting tour at the new showroom of Ecuador’s award-winning indigenous chocolate company, Pacari, that made a clean sweep of the dark chocolate field in a 2013 international competition in London.

Pacari is the first single-origin, 100 percent organic chocolate made entirely in Ecuador. (The word Pacari means “nature” in Quechua, an indigenous language of the Andean region.)  The new tasting room scheduled to open at the end of the year is in Quito’s trendy, bohemian La Floresta neighborhood, home to top restaurants and boutique hotels.

A journey by story and video takes guests through the history of Ecuadorian cacao, followed by a tasting of the award-winning Pacari chocolate. The presentation also focuses on the agricultural side of chocolate cultivation and production and the communities that work with Pacari to bring the product to market.

The tastings will reveal the ingredients and secrets of 10 varieties of Pacari chocolates (four single origin chocolate bars, one special-edition chocolate bar and five dark chocolate bars). The complete tour with tastings is expected to be approximately 90 minutes.  Each guest on this tour receives a complimentary gift box of chocolate. The tour cost per person is $107 for groups of 2 to 4 (Current Special: $54 per person through September 2014). See: www.destinationecuador.com/chocolate-tasting.html)

When his schedule permits, Santiago Peralta, founder of Pacari, will lead the tours. He was recognized as the outstanding Chocolate Maker of 2013 by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association at the organization’s winter event in San Francisco.  With his wife, Carla Barboto, he has revolutionized the chocolate industry in both Ecuador and Latin America by creating a transparent model of tree-to-bar manufacturing based on innovation, ecological and social responsibility, and direct trade with certified organic farms throughout the country.

Pacari was also the main winner of the 2013 prestigious International Chocolate Awards World Final in London, winning six gold medals and a silver in the important category of Unflavored Dark Bars. The World Final took place within the framework of the Salon du Chocolat of London and Pacari bars competed against the 200 winning bars of three national rounds and two larger semi-final contests (European and Americas) that had taken place in the United States, England, Italy, Canada, and Israel during 2013.

Obsessed with purity of flavor, Peralta spends much of his time in the field sourcing cacaos from genetically diverse old farms that capture the full range of flavor and aroma of the best cacao regions of Ecuador, the largest producer of cacao in the world. Paying higher prices for quality-certified organic cacao, Peralta and his company benefit more than 3,000 farming families.

In addition to fighting to position their brand and chocolate on the international market, entrepreneurs Peralta and Barboto are promoting locally the benefits of cacao and chocolate.

On small farms, the cacao trees have been growing and intermingling for hundreds of years. The cross pollination of cacao which occurs in natural settings greatly reduces the possibility of a plague destroying the trees in Ecuador. Much like seed banks that exist for other crops, supporting family farms in Ecuador ensures that there is genetic material that can be used in the event that a disease does affect cacao in other countries.

In spring 2014 Tropic’s “May We Introduce You” campaign began guiding guests to La Mundial, a luxury custom boot company which now offers a factory tour in Quito. Please see http://www.destinationecuador.com/ecuador-custom-boot-tour.htm. This full day tour which also includes a tour of Quito’s Colonial Center and Middle of the World Monument with lunch runs $151 per person.

Established in 1994, Tropic is an award–winning ecotourism company specializing in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. Programs combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability in three distinct areas:

For information and reservations contact: Tropic / Phone: +593-02-2234-594 / 202. 657.5072 (US) / 593. 2. 222. 5907 (EC) / US Toll-free: 1.888.207.8615 / Website: www.destinationecuador.com.

___________________________

© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.

Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, Malaysia Eco-Experience Explores Southeast Asia’s First UNESCO Geopark

One of the creatures that might be encountered on the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia's new family-friendly Mangroves & Eagles Safari through the dramatic Kilim Karst, Southeast Asia's first UNESCO Geopark
One of the creatures that might be encountered on the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia’s new family-friendly Mangroves & Eagles Safari through the dramatic Kilim Karst, Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO Geopark

The Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia now offers a family-friendly Mangroves & Eagles Safari through the dramatic Kilim Karst, Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO Geopark.

Guest take a private boat from the Resort’s Serai beach and in just a few minutes are sailing past a maze of 550-million-year-old limestone cliffs, craggy rock formations and tangled mangroves.

The eco-adventure is led by one of the resort’s three resident naturalists through one of the world’s most accessible mangrove forests. The trip affords up-close encounters with majestic eagles and kites, mischievous macaques, fish that walk (mudskippers), colorful tree-climbing crabs, shy otters, elegant monitor lizards, coiled snakes and hundreds of sleeping bats. With the entire experience conducted from the comfort and safety of the Resort’s boat, this family-friendly safari offers an experience only pure nature can offer complete with Four Seasons-style commentary and refreshments.

With little intrepid solo explorers in mind, an hour-long kids-only Mangroves & Monkeys Safari has also been designed. Aboard a floating classroom, adventurers aged 4 – 12 (young-at-heart parents welcome too!) join the resort naturalists for an educational eco-experience to discover the magical mangrove world and watch the antics of hundreds of mischievous macaque monkeys.

The Resort also offers a Rainforest Immersion, a three-hour excursion to the uninhabited islet of Pulau Langgun, where the pristine rainforest encircles a karst lake. Here guests can ascend on foot through the vibrant rainforest, enveloped by thousands of plants and animals, before trekking downhill to the hidden sanctuary of Tasik Langgun – a freshwater lake in the middle of the jungle. To end this extraordinary experience, the return cruise takes in the intriguing Gua Cerita (Cave of Legends) – mythical home of a giant phoenix, a captive princess and a deadly giantess.

Back at the resort, the newly launched Geopark Discovery Centre serves as an educational tool for guests and the local community to learn about the Geopark’s key attributes, from the most complete Paleozoic sedimentary sequence in Malaysia to labyrinthine mangroves, lush rainforests and unique animal and bird residents. Through a series of exhibition boards, interactive presentations and display cases, the resort’s naturalists guide guests through Langkawi’s natural environment. The Centre also inspires deeper exploration of local wonders, from the resort’s impressive rock-climbing outcrop to the animal-filled mangroves of the Kilim Karst Geoforest, as well as towering sea stacks and ancient salt-water lakes, linked to the sea by cave tunnels.

 

Four Seasons Resort Langkawi is a luxury Malaysian retreat in the Langkawi UNESCO Geopark, offering 90 pavilions and villas in tropical beachfront gardens, a family pool with private coves, plus a 55-m adult quiet pool, an expansive range of natural and outdoor pursuits and an immersive Geo Spa that draws on Langkawi’s natural healing energies. Dining options include three waterfront restaurants and the atmospheric Rhu Bar.

For reservations, contact Four Seasons Resort Langkawi at tel: (60) 4 950 8888 or email: reservations.lan@fourseasons.com or visit www.fourseasons.com/langkawi.

___________________________

© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Offers New ‘Walk in the Wild Serengeti’; Hosts Serengeti Lion Project Exhibit

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti has introduced a new "Walk in the Wild Serengeti" experience with Masai guides.
Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti has introduced a new “Walk in the Wild Serengeti” experience with Masai guides.

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti has introduced a new “Walk in the Wild Serengeti” experience with Masai guides, park rangers and the Lodge’s resident naturalists leading the way through the bush in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stop by the Discovery Centre for a viewing of the new Serengeti Lion Project Wildlife Photography Exhibition, August 1-31 by Serengeti Lion Project researcher Daniel Rosengren.

Proceeds from sales of photos will support the Serengeti Lion Project Research, the world’s most extensive daily mammal monitoring project, which has gathered detailed data on more than 5,000 lions since the 1960s. Rosengren, a Swedish biologist and senior field researcher who is passionate about travel and nature, traded in his globe-roaming bike for a Land Rover in 2010 to study the daily habits of the Serengeti’s lions. The exhibition will feature 40 or more of his most stunning images.

Inspired to follow in Rosengren’s photographic footprints? Visit The Lodge now and be among the first to experience its new Walk in the Wild Serengeti, a transformative 90-minute guided walk where you’ll help install a “camera trap” that digitally records the Serengeti’s majestic animals on the move. Elephants, cheetahs, lions and even notoriously hard-to-spot leopards are known for their cameos.

This guided walk shines a light on the wildlife sanctuary’s most subtle and unusual characteristics. Led by the Resident Naturalist at Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, Masai guides and national park rangers, you’ll explore the beautiful landscape of Serengeti National Park as your guides point out animal tracks, interesting insects and useful plants.

Guests can also help The Serengeti Lion Project classify the different animals found in images caught by over 200 remote camera traps that have been set up in the Serengeti by visiting the Snapshot Serengeti website.

The Walk in the Wild and the Serengeti Lion Project Photo Exhibition are among the many innovative experiences undertaken by Four Seasons Safari Lodge and its pioneering Discovery Centre.  Part museum exhibit, part lecture theatre, it’s the first lodge-based conservation research and education platform in Serengeti. Chat with Lodge experts and explore a series of displays, exhibition boards and interactive presentations, or attend periodic talks by guest speakers. Participate in special research projects with local experts closely involved with Serengeti’s wildlife research and conservation projects.

Make your base camp in The Lodge’s two-story great house, with guest rooms and suites that all offer stunning views of the Serengeti landscape.

A more private escape can be had in one of the five freestanding villas. Ideal for couples and families, The Lodge is one of the first on the continent to welcome children ages 8+, a significant milestone for families with young ones and teens. The entire property is accessible via raised wooden walkways making short excursions into the bush not a far venture from the Lodge.

In addition to taking your exploration to an intimate new level during the Wild Walk in the Serengeti, The Kijana Klub offers children their own opportunity to learn about local culture and wildlife through a series of planned activities including short walks in the bush with a Maasai guide and learning basic wildlife research skills such as radio tracking and camera traps.

Other memorable guest experiences include sundowners at the infinity pool while elephants gather at the watering hole below, private romantic dinners in the bush, the Lodge’s celebrated Boma Grill and signature spa treatments featuring Africology spa products at purpose-built Spa.

For more information, visit www.fourseasons.com/serengeti.

___________________________

© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.

Galapagos Small-Ship Cruise Operator Ecoventura To Launch the Islands’ Newest Premium Class Vessel

Ecoventura is now taking bookings for MV Origin’s inaugural cruise Jan. 3, 2016.
Ecoventura is now taking bookings for MV Origin’s inaugural cruise Jan. 3, 2016.

Ecoventura, which operates an environmentally friendly fleet of small expedition yachts in the Galapagos Islands, plans to debut the region’s newest ship in early 2016.

Construction of the 20-passenger motor vessel is underway at the shipyard in Guayaquil, Ecuador but Ecoventura has begun taking bookings for MV Origin’s inaugural cruise Jan. 3, 2016. When launched she will be the newest and most comfortable 20-passenger yacht operating in Galapagos.

The vessel’s owner, Ecoventura, has more than two decades experience in sustainable tourism.

“We are exploring ways to make the Origin the most comfortable and environmentally efficient yacht in Galapagos,” Ecoventura founder and owner Santiago Dunn. “Our first goal is to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 45 percent (from 1800 gallons to 1000 gallons per week),” he explains. “This is no simple achievement when you consider our plans to sail at 12 knots on two engines so that guests can spend as much time as possible at each visitor site.”

MV Origin, designed for guests with a highly evolved lifestyle, will combine modern sophistication and a high level of comfort and service, with quality guided land excursions in small groups, gastronomical experiences, exciting physical activities and a dose of intellectual science for a life enriching experience. A veteran crew supervised by a master-level captain, two expert naturalist guides and a concierge will be at the beck and call of guests. Social areas offer private moments on board with a library, boutique, computer station, lounge areas, dining room, bar, Jacuzzi, sun deck, recliners and wet bar.

Guests aboard Origin will enjoy locally sourced, healthy, gourmet-style menus designed by top local chefs and creatively prepared by Ecoventura’s culinary school trained chefs. Some lunches will be served al fresco on deck. Passengers will have an open bar policy, including wine and local beer.

The vessel will feature 10 deluxe staterooms all located on the main deck with panoramic windows and private bathroom. Each stateroom is 140 square feet, with two twin beds that convert to a king, two connecting cabins, two triples, fine linens, bathrobes, and satellite TV.

Guests wishing to stay in shape will enjoy a fitness center with cardio equipment. The services of a professional masseuse can also be arranged at an additional charge on private charters only. Twice daily cabin cleanings are provided. Laundry service is also available. Guide lectures, cooking demonstrations and yoga will be part of the on-ship activities.
Ecoventura’s Director of Sales & Marketing, Doris Welsh, explained that MV Origin rates reflecting a premium class vessel will be higher than those on its three existing first class vessels, the Eric, Flamingo and Letty.  A per person double rate for an eight-day all-inclusive cruise will be $6,500. Rates include cabin accommodation, all meals and snacks, all beverages including open bar, Captain’s welcome and farewell party, guided shore excursions, services of a concierge, use of wet suits, snorkelling equipment, stand-up paddle boards and sea kayaks, and transfers in the islands between the airport and dock.

There are two distinct itineraries on weekly (Sundays), year-round departures from the island of San Cristobal. The tours visit the most spectacular visitor sites of the archipelago; western/northern and central/southern.

Ecoventura is a family-owned company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with sales offices in Quito and Miami. In operation since 1990, the cruise company transports 4,000+ passengers annually aboard its fleet of at present three identical, 20-passenger first-class motor yachts, Eric, Flamingo and Letty, and the 16-passenger luxury dive live-aboard the MV Galapagos Sky. Departures are every Sunday from San Cristobal offering two unique seven-night itineraries.

Contact Ecoventura, at 800.633.7972, or e-mail info@galapagosnetwork.com. To access current rates, schedules and itineraries log on to www.ecoventura.com.

___________________________

© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.

ResponsibleTravel.com Is Portal to World of Experiences That Benefit Traveler, Locals Alike

Pedal back in time in the deserts of Jordan (photo credit: Exodus Travel)
Pedal back in time in the deserts of Jordan (photo credit: Exodus Travel)

by Karen Rubin

Travel and tourism has been a boon to communities and cultures around the planet. For example, abandoned factories have been turned into art studios and hotels, providing a new base to support jobs and local economy instead of families having to migrate to find new sources of income. That means the culture and heritage stays intact, and the community has more of an incentive to preserve natural splendors as well.

Over the past couple of decades, as technology and globalization, economic recessions have caused such dramatic impacts on communities, there has also been a quietly growing interest in people traveling to see places before they literally disappear, and to have “authentic” experiences, engaging with local people and the ecology.

And this has given rise to companies that offer “ecotourism,” “green travel,” “sustainable travel” and “responsible travel.”

It came about first with the interest in soft adventure – the trips to sensitive ecologies of the Antarctic and the Galapagos. But with growing interest in visiting these places, there was also increasing threat to destroy those very ecologies.

That sparked a greater sensitivity among the travel providers, themselves. Lars-Eric Lindblad, whose company, Lindblad Travel, was a pioneer in such expeditionary-style travel, voluntarily restricted the number of visitors who could travel, and set a standard for the rest of the industry that has also been taken up by government authorities.

Increasingly, though, there are companies that not only bring travelers to destinations of particular ecological or cultural interest, but that also give back to those communities in order to sustain them.

That’s why they use the monikers “Sustainable” and “Responsible”.

ResponsibleTravel.com, established in 2001, is one of the first and leading online travel agents promoting responsible/ethical/eco/green travel. The company serves as a portal website, marketing a range of holidays on behalf of some 3,000 specialist tour operators, day trip providers and accommodation owners. With over 8,000 holidays worldwide, it claims to be “the world’s largest curated travel site for those seeking a more authentic, more immersive travel experience, as an alternative to the mainstream package tour.

“For us, responsible tourism is tourism that makes places better places to live in, as well as better places to visit. In that order,,” said Sarah Bareham, marketing executive for the company, based in Brighton’s North Laine district, England. “This is not just about reducing energy consumption or recycling – we look at holidays which are beneficial both to local environments, but also crucially to local communities as well. We believe that there is no “one size fits all” solution to responsible tourism – to be successful efforts need to be relevant to the people and place in each specific destination and take into consideration local priorities – and these will be vastly different across the globe.

“Authentic experiences and responsible tourism go hand in hand. If we treat people fairly and look after local environments they are more likely to open their homes, hearts and lives to us – resulting in a much deeper, immersive and authentic holiday experience. We believe in championing the small, local suppliers who know and love where they are, and want to share it with us and make us love it as much as they do. These are also the people that want to keep their places special and protect them for years to come. Travellers wanting authentic, responsible experiences should look for trips which use local guides, locally run accommodations which source local food, experiences which let them get closer to understanding the landscape they are visiting among others.”

Many companies have hijacked the “green,” “ecotourism.” “sustainable” labels. Some good tips on how to choose one that helps, and doesn’t exploit, can be found at: www.responsibletravel.com/copy/tips-for-responsible-travel 

and at: www.responsibletravel.com/copy/tourism-greenwashing-ecotourism-greenwashing.

“Each of the holidays on our site has been carefully screened to ensure it meets our criteria for responsible tourism – each needing to show compliance with environmental, social and economic criteria relevant to the destination in which it is based, with a focus on grassroots initiatives and local providers.

“As such each holiday offers a much more authentic experience, rooted in local cultures and ways of life and offer the chance to see a place as it really is, rather than just passing through. Additionally we publish honest, open two minute guides to destinations and activities worldwide, which give a bite-sized overview to travellers, and do not shy away from controversial responsible tourism issues or overrated activities.”

Responsible Travel has recently published 2-minute travel guides also contain a section on responsible tourism issues – with tips and advice specific to each destination. Examples include:

The Inca Trail

Thailand

The company has also been an activist for change in the tourism industry, raising important issues and bringing them to the attention of the wider tourism industry, consumers and media.

“Last year we removed 42 orphanage volunteering trips from our site following extensive research and concerns, and working with key industry leaders and child protection organisations including Save the Children and Friends International developed a set of guidelines for volunteering trips in settings with vulnerable children, to put child protection back at the heart of these projects,” Bareham said.

“Currently we have an ongoing campaign to ‘Stop the Orca Circus’ calling on the travel industry to stop keeping orcas and dolphins in captivity for public entertainment purposes, in conjunction with the World Cetacean Alliance. Our petition has so far been signed by over 10,000 people, travel companies and animal welfare organisations, and in a recent independent poll commissioned by responsibletravel.com and the Born Free Foundation (UK) we found that 86% of UK holidaymakers surveyed said  they ‘would not wish to visit a marine park to see whales and dolphins as part of an overseas holiday’.”

(More information on this can be found at: www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/whale-watching/travel-guide/say-no-to-orca-circuses).

Responsibletravel.com is also the founder and organiser of the World Responsible Tourism Awards, now in its 11th year, and held annually at World Travel Market, London.

‘Six of the Best Cycling Holidays You Never Knew Existed’

In my mind, cycling trips are the ideal for “responsible, sustainable” travel – you are out and about without a window separating you, you are part of the local scene, you travel at a pace where you can really see things and can stop when you want, and you do not burn fossil fuels (beyond calories).

Here are ResponsibleTravel.com’s selection of “6 of the Best Cycling Holidays You Never Knew Existed”:

1. Cycling Safari

Discover the back roads of East Africa on a ride through from the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro to the sparkling seas and white sand beaches of the Indian Ocean, through tucked away villages, lush rainforests and wildlife-filled savannah plains. The 16 day journey cost starts from £3,302 per person excluding flights and local bike hire.

2. Desert Adventures

Unleash your inner-Indiana Jones in Petra and pedal back in time in the deserts of Jordan. Ride along remote desert roads, camp out under the stars with the Bedouin in Wadi Rum and treat yourself to a soak in the salty waters of the Dead Sea. 9 days of desert adventure costs from £1,399 per person including flight, but excluding local bike hire.

3. Head in the Clouds

A tour to quite literally take your breath away, across the top of the world. A 16 day two-wheeled trip across the Tibetan Plateau, taking in the iconic Potala Palace, Everest Base Camp and dramatic Himalayan passes costs from £2,718 per person excluding flights and visas.

4. Your own Tour de France

The competitive with a love for lycra might want to consider a holiday to race your own Tour de France. This 5 day break gives you the chance to participate in the “Etape du Tour”, the very serious, amateur version of the main event. Last minute places available with a £175 discount for the already fit and well-prepared only. From £1,079 per person

5. Coast to Coast across India

From the backwaters of Kerala and the lush Western Ghats, to the vast plains of Tamil Nadu and the beaches of the Bay of Bengal. This 2 week cross-country epic takes you through some of India’s most stunning natural and cultural landscapes from £1240 per person excluding flights.

6. Foodie Finds

Just because a holiday is active doesn’t mean it can’t be indulgent. Your two wheels on this trip allow you to explore more vineyards, restaurants, olive groves, fishing ports and markets than you could on two feet. Spend 8 days cycling and sampling your way round a hidden Costa Brava from just £741 per person excluding flights.

For more unique cycling experiences visit www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/cycling.

___________________________

© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.