One of our favorite pieces of content to write every year is our new summary of our most coveted eco-travel trips. You can browse our first one here. Last year we focused on eco-travel to places that may soon disappear due to climate change. We even have one piece dedicated to eco-travel fantasy trips specific to forests. This year, when we sat down to brainstorm how we wanted to address our eco-travel list for the year, we had plenty of ideas. In the end, we decided to focus on our top five eco-travel destinations in northern climates. Why are we showing you snow in a travel list that we publish in June? It’s because we want to encourage everybody to embrace the beauty of cold and winter. It will help inspire you to do things to preserve our planet’s cooler (well, really, cold) environments and that can only help slow the tide of global warming’s sources.
We do, as always, caveat that there’s some debate about whether eco-travel is really eco-friendly at all. We’re on record as coming down on the side of the idea that the value of travel in a globalized world is such that it lessens (but does not negate) some of the carbon footprint. We also as always want to warn you that even in the world of eco-travel there are consumer traps. Now, with all that said, on to the list!
Pick Number One: Torres del Paine National Park in Chile
Not surprisingly, many of our picks for colder, snow-included eco-travel will include both mountains and national parks. Our first fantasy trip is to Torres del Paine, a national park at the southern tip of the Andes in Chile. Yes, we immediately concede you’ll have to create some carbon footprint to travel to this relatively remote location, but it will be worth it for the life-changing experience. The park is actually in what is considered to be Chilean Antarctica, and the natural beauty includes not only ancient forests and glaciers but fjords! Yes, fjords! The other great benefit of this trip is that tourism and oil extraction compete for the top economic activity in the region. If we can ensure that tourism is the most important economic activity, then we may be able to slow (or even stop) land decimation for oil extraction.
Learn more about Torres del Paine here.
Pick Number Two: Take a Twist on a Safari in Lapland, Finland
This is another one where we add a caveat that there are certainly pros and cons to taking a safari when it comes to being eco-friendly. However, this safari primarily travels by traditional reindeer drawn sleigh, which decreases a bit of what footprints you’re leaving behind. (The reindeer are well treated, not to worry!) Your destination is the Jaakkola Reindeer Farm in the Sami indigenous region of Finland. You’ll be above the Arctic Circle and almost certainly guaranteed snow (it snows up to 200 days of the year here). You’ll be supporting small business as the farm is a family-owned endeavor. Not only will you get to see the stunning snowscape (and let’s be honest, who knows how much longer that will exist), but you’ll get an education on reindeer and reindeer preservation. Dress warmly, you’ll need it! If we’re being honest, this is our biggest dream vacation on this list.
Pick Number Three: Take a Bike Ride in the Snow. No, Really.
What’s more eco-friendly than biking when it comes to a form of transportation? Pretty much only walking and running! You may know of Jackson Hole, Wyoming as a famous ski destination, but it’s also the home to the Grand Targhee Resort. What’s so special about that? The Grand Targhee Resort has opened its Nordic trails to bike riders using specially customized bikes with large “fat” tires to handle the snow. Forget the souped up snow mobiles. See the amazing natural beauty of the Tetons from an eco-friendly bike.
Pick Number Four: Soak in a Hot Springs in Idaho
To be fair, there are actually plenty of places across the globe where you can soak in a natural hot springs outdoors while enjoying beautiful winter weather. We selected the The Springs Hot Springs Resort in Idaho City not only for its pristine surrounding mountainscape but also because Idaho doesn’t get a lot of love outside of its potato industry. We suspect that many Idahoans like it that way so that they can preserve the amazing natural beauty around them, but we also suspect that your tourist dollars wouldn’t be denied. Natural hot springs. Natural mountains. Natural snow. Visit Idaho!
Yes, we missed our calling writing advertising jingles!
Pick Number Five: Iceland’s Blue Lagoon
Iceland has been a popular travel destination of late, and we can understand why. From the admirable social goals of the people to the fantastic nature of the destination, it’s worth a trip (and likely a purchase of some very warm and insulated clothing). Not only does the 10,000 square foot natural geobath of the Blue Lagoon stun, but you’ll be surrounded by amazing snow-capped lava rocks. Iceland is also a great place to truly learn a lesson about “eating locally.” It’s our final pick in the list, but we’re ending with a bang!
Did we miss a winter climate eco-trip that blew your mind? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.
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Hero Photo Credit: McKay Savage via Flickr