Do you know someone who switched to veganism to protect the animals? Maybe you’re a vegan yourself, and while you initially transitioned for health purposes, you’ve grown an appreciation for how it prevents animal cruelty. No matter how long you’ve been a vegan, you must already know that your choice to avoid animal products also means that you’ve sworn off tourist activities that exploit animals. This might make you feel like you’ve cut off every opportunity to bond with them whenever you go on vacation. Fortunately, that isn’t the case.
Sustainable eco-tourism is a growing trend, and more and more countries are enabling tourists to enjoy wildlife without harming them in any way. If you’re new to this idea and not sure what your options are, here are five activities you should check out ASAP.
Galapagos Wildlife Cruises
Once you get a glimpse of the Galapagos Island, it won’t be so difficult to imagine why it inspired Charles Darwin to pursue his Theory of Evolution. The place is simply brimming with a large diversity of wildlife, most of them a startling variation of animals you’re already familiar with, and others just fresh to the eyes altogether. Some of the most amazing animals you’ll want to spot are the Galapagos tortoises, marine iguanas, Galapagos penguin, Galapagos finches, and blue-footed boobies.
This is a UNESCO World Heritage site that can be found off Ecuador’s coast. Cruises skirt the island to view its wildlife without disturbing their natural habitat. This is truly a great way to appreciate animals while respecting their ecosystems.
St. Petersburg Dolphin Tours
Want to get up close and personal with dolphins without supporting aquariums and zoos? Thankfully, you can do that through dolphin tours. Dolphins swim in pods, meaning that you’re likely to see more than one at a time once you spot them from a distance.
Dolphins are friendly and curious animals, so they normally don’t shy away from tourists. There are also professionals in these tours who can make noises that attract them to your location so that you’ll enjoy an amazing view of them while on deck. Like the Galapagos wildlife cruises, you won’t be encroaching on their territories or performing activities that make them uncomfortable, so you can rest assured that going on this tour won’t cost them anything.
Laos Gibbon Experience
Do you want a wildlife experience that will give you an adrenaline rush? The Gibbon Experience in Laos is just what you’re looking for. It’s located in Vietnam’s Bokeo Nature Reserve, where professionals have sustainably installed zip lines and tree houses throughout the rainforest.
This allows The Gibbon Project to attract tourists and get the funds needed to preserve the rainforest without cutting down trees or harming its natural ecosystem. Moreover, it’s run by locals, so you’ll be guided and educated by the people who feel the greatest accountability for their wildlife reserves.
You can expect to zip line through the forest and spot a gibbon or two and even lounge in tree houses that are built near the top of the tallest trees you’ve ever seen.
Thailand Elephant Sanctuary Volunteering
Riding elephants is a big no-no for animal lovers. Elephants that are used for tourism in this way are often maltreated, and they end up sick. The alternative? Volunteer at Thailand’s Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary. This is the tourist industry’s efforts to meet the demands of tourism without harming the elephants.
The elephants you’ll see here are mostly rescued from abusive owners and handlers. Upon retrieving them, they’re returned to their natural habitat, where they can interact with other elephants and thrive. Volunteering there allows the sanctuary to keep its operation going while educating tourists about caring for the elephants. You can help bathe and feed them and play with the baby elephants to keep them entertained.
India Tiger Watching
Who wouldn’t want to see tigers in the flesh, right? Fortunately, you can get that opportunity by going to India’s Ranthambore National Park. It’s home not only for tigers but also bears, wild boars, leopards, and hyenas. This is part of India’s Project Tiger reserves, which is an effort to eliminate poaching.
Visiting this national park is your contribution to their preservation. The fund protects the animals in the reserve and whatever upkeep is necessary to prevent their extinction and exploitation. Furthermore, the jeep safaris will give you an amazing view of these glorious animals as you’ve never experienced before.