If you’re interested in learning new languages, then you’re likely also interested in seeing other parts of the world. Traveling is a great way to immerse yourself in another language and to learn about another culture, but in the current climate crisis, we know that international travel can be tough on the environment. But travel doesn’t have to have a negative impact! Ecotourism provides a potential solution to this problem.
Not sure what ecotourism is? Here’s a brief guide, with some examples of trips that are out there right now.
What Is Ecotourism?
Ecotourism began in the 1980s, but it only became widely popular in the last few years. It essentially means traveling in a way that is sustainable, respecting the natural and cultural environment of your destination, and supporting local communities.
Those are the three main pillars of ecotourism, but there are a number of related principles that many of the trips follow. These include financially contributing to conservation efforts or the local community, spreading awareness and education about environmental issues, minimizing your impact on the environment, respecting and working with local people, and sometimes participating in rehabilitation and conservation efforts.
6 Ecotourism Trips For Language Learners
If you’re looking for ways to travel and practice a new language while also conserving the environment, here are a few trips to consider.
1. Sleep In The Peruvian Amazon
What better way to appreciate the beauty of the planet firsthand than to stay in the world’s largest rainforest? A company called Rainforest Expeditions has lodges and a villa in the Amazon’s Tambopata National Reserve.The lodgings are completely carbon neutral, and trips include hiking and wildlife viewing, as well as the opportunity to learn from scientists about conservation efforts on behalf of native Macaws. And while your stay in Peru will be largely human-free, you may be able to practice your Spanish with your fellow lodgers, or at least at the airport on the way in and out of the country.
2. Go Whale-Watching In Iceland
If you prefer a cooler climate and want to practice your Icelandic skills, a trip to Iceland might be more your style. The country is full of natural wonders, including the famous geothermal spas. But for a less over-Instagrammed experience, check out this company’s eco-friendly whale-watching tours. North Sailing offers tours on a silent, electric whale-watching boat that doesn’t disturb the ozone or the whales. The boat, named Andvari, also takes visitors out to see the Northern Lights.
3. Plant Trees In Costa Rica
Another opportunity to practice Spanish comes in the form of a trip that’s a bit more hands-on. Rios Tropicales is a carbon-neutral adventure company that offers myriad expeditions in Costa Rica, all of which involve a key activity: planting a tree. Itineraries vary, but in addition to tree-planting, their trips include activities like hiking, exploring volcanoes, visiting coffee plantations, white-water rafting, and learning about conservation and reforestation efforts in Costa Rica. Plus, you’ll be able to practice your Spanish with your bilingual guides and with the locals you meet along the way.
4. Explore The Natural History Of Italy
Learning Italian? Italy is a stunning destination for any vacation, and you can help the planet while visiting. EcoQuest Travel offers an Italy trip that focuses on the country’s wildlife and its natural history. You’ll start with the cultural and historic sites of Rome, and then continue to a number of national parks and reserves in the mountains. EcoQuest supports and raises awareness for local conservation projects, and ensures trips are environmentally responsible. There will be plenty of opportunities to practice your Italian skills on this adventure.
5. Rescue Sea Turtles In Bali
If you really want to get away, head across the world to the tropical island of Bali, Indonesia. Not only is it a beautiful place to relax on the beach, but it also provides the opportunity for some hands-on ecotourism. GoEco runs a sea turtle rescue program in Bali, during which participants volunteer at a sea turtle sanctuary, work with turtles and eventually release rehabilitated ones back into the wild. And if you’re studying Indonesian, this trip will allow you to practice the language with members of the local community.
6. Take A Bike Tour Along A French Canal
Last but not least, an ecotourism adventure for all the Francophiles out there. This self-guided bike tour along the Canal du Midi in Southern France is a carbon-neutral way to see some of the prettiest sites and quaintest towns France has to offer. The trip, organized by France écotours, takes you past bridges and aqueducts, and through ancient Roman cities and medieval towns. The canal itself is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is one of the towns you’ll visit. Stop along the way at local cafés and shops to practice your French with the locals!