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Ecotourism in India: Your green travel guide

Have you ever wondered why, in recent times, incidents of flood in India have increased besides very frequent heavy rain and landslides? This year, to date, India lost more than 2,000 lives as a result of the monsoon season due to floods, lightning strikes, and landslides. From April to October, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim, the renowned tourism spots in India, experienced catastrophic rainfall that resulted in the overflow of lakes and rivers and destructive landslides. Not only lives but the economy! A report by the State Bank of India (July 2023) assessed the economic damage, caused by these natural calamities to be in the range of Rs 10,000-15,000 crore.

Women wearing saree  standing with kids and family in a flooded village

According to scientists, the monsoon in India has been changing patterns led by global warming and climate change, which are largely caused by human activities. In fact, tourist spots pave the easiest way to pollute and exhaust planet fitness by exploiting its natural resources and trapping a massive carbon footprint with increased CO2 emissions required to commute, excessive water consumption at hotels, and exploiting what biodiversity is all about, with boating and rafting during tours.

Sad meerkat on tree stump and deforestation and fire smoke leading to air pollution

Despite challenges, traveling remains an essential pursuit. So, choose to go on ecotourism and contribute to a greener future. Here is a guide about how you can set on for ecotourism in India:

What does it mean to go for ‘ecotourism’?

Sustainable travel also known as ecotourism or responsible tourism, involves making green choices that not only benefit us but also leave a positive impact on the places we visit and the world as a whole.

By choosing to go for ecotourism one can minimize pollution, waste, and energy consumption; help preserve cultural heritage by respecting local customs and supporting local businesses; avoid activities that may harm biodiversity and choose local and organic options while shopping or eating out.

Happy female  solo traveler  standing near a  beautiful waterfall

Your ‘green gateway’ to an eco-friendly travel diary–

Plan your ‘green travel’:

Opting for an eco-friendly travel destination is a responsible and admirable choice for both the environment and local communities. Look for destinations that have a clear and well-executed sustainable development project, which demonstrates their commitment to economic, environmental, and social sustainability while contributing to the betterment of their local communities and the preservation of natural resources and keep in mind the following key factors:

1. Sustainable accommodations and local cuisine: eco-friendly accommodations, such as hotels, lodges, or resorts, that have adopted energy-efficient systems, water conservation measures, and waste management efforts. Choosing local restaurants and markets that prioritize sustainable, locally sourced ingredients can reduce the carbon footprint of meals.

Happy indian street vendor preparing food - chapatti,

2. Efficient transportation: offer sustainable transportation options, such as efficient public transit, walk or bicycle-friendly infrastructure, or carpooling options.

3. Support for eco-friendly activities: responsible wildlife encounters, eco-friendly adventure tours, and nature-based experiences.

4. Certified tour operators: Especially, tour operators if certified in eco-tourism, encourage eco-friendly tourism practices.

5. Enables low-carbon commute: to travel sustainably, prefer trains as they are one of the most eco-friendly modes of transportation for long-distance travel than airplanes, so try to opt for places that can be reached by trains.

Train travel through a lands of tea cultivation

Pack your ‘green bags’

Heavier luggage contributes to increased fuel consumption and carbon emissions during transport. To set on for ecotourism, pack your bags light to not only reduce environmental impact but also make your travel more convenient. Next time, take these with you:

1. Zero-waste kit: Keep a cloth or mesh bag for organizing your belongings or shopping. Take reusable items like cloth napkins, cutlery, straws, and a reusable container for leftovers.

Self Care Beauty Boxes with Natural Cosmetics. Eco-Friendly Packaging, Zero Waste, Sustainable Lifestyle.

3. Versatile yet multipurpose clothes: Pack reusable clothing that can be mixed and matched for different outfits. Opt for natural material outfits like organic cottonwear that you can get from brands like no nasties+, I was a Sari, Doodleage, Sui, and the like.

4. Solar-powered gadgets: Take solar-powered chargers for your mobile and carry solar-powered torch to reduce the need for disposable batteries.

5. Reusable water bottle: Carry a refillable water bottle to avoid buying single-use plastic bottles.

6. Digital Documents: Save boarding passes, itineraries, and travel guides on your mobile device to reduce paper waste.

Top 5 green tourism spots in India, you must explore!

India, with its rich history and diverse culture, is a sought-after ecotourism destination. From the glorious Himalayas to the serene backwaters of Kerala, there's an array of travel choices that offer ecotourism in India for cultural and adventure experiences.

Group of people trekking through wild - travel adventures

In recent times, there's been a growing awareness of the environmental impact of travel, and in India, the government is actively promoting eco-friendly tourism through policies and guidelines like the "National Strategy for Ecotourism 2022."

Popular tourist spots in India that have embraced ecotourism with more eco-friendly practices and offer unique experiences include–

1. Sikkim, is the first state to ban plastic in India, promoting the use of eco-friendly bamboo bottles by implementing the Sikkim Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, of 1997. Sikkim is characterized by lush green valleys, breathtaking glaciers, pristine lakes, and abundant national parks, making it a true haven for nature enthusiasts.

Scenery of Buddha Park, Rabangla  and Tsangmo Lake in Sikkim

2. Nagaland harbors the Khonoma Village, India's first green village, where the Angami tribe values tree preservation and cleanliness. In this village, the agricultural practices have a strong emphasis on sustainability and organic farming. Terrace farming is the prevailing method, with rice as the primary crop cultivated. The trees are not felled but instead pollarded, serving multiple purposes, including providing wood for fuel and light construction. Importantly, these trees play a crucial role in nitrogen fixation, enhancing soil fertility. The cultivation cycle involves fallow periods before the plots are replanted, ensuring a responsible and eco-friendly approach to farming.

 Khonoma Village in Nagaland and their cultivation methods

3. Meghalaya has become an eco-tourism destination too. A stay at Mawlynnong village would offer you a premier destination for ecotourism in India as it is known for its clean streets, traditional Khasi architecture, and abundant greenery. Cherrapunji is one of the wettest places in the world and boasts mesmerizing waterfalls, living root bridges, and breathtaking hill panoramas. Shillong is the state capital that charms you with picturesque landscapes in your Meghalaya tourism. Presently, Meghalaya, stands out as a shining example of minimal chemical usage in its agricultural practice, with an average of just 17 to 20 kilograms of chemicals applied per hectare of land, highlighting a commitment to eco-friendly and low-impact farming as per the Meghalaya State Organic and Natural Farming Policy 2023.

Breath-taking image of Nohkalikai Waterfalls and Dawki River In Meghalaya

4. Himachal Pradesh offers a harmonious blend of culture, adventure, and scenic beauty. From the popular destinations of Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, and Dalhousie to the pristine national parks like the Great Himalayan National Park, Pin Valley National Park, and Khirganga National Park, the Himachal Pradesh tourism will also gift you with rare flora and fauna. The Great Himalayan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcases remarkable biodiversity, while Pin Valley National Park is renowned for its snow leopards and Tibetan antelopes. Himachal State Pollution Control Board, Government of Himachal Pradesh, implemented the Himachal Pradesh Green Star Rating Initiative for Hotels (Him-GRIH) scheme, which recognizes and awards resorts, hotels, homestays, and other accommodations that demonstrate a strong commitment to conserving and protecting the environment by implementing green initiatives such as waste management, water conservation, and using renewable resources.

5. Assam's natural beauty and the rich biodiversity of Assam, make it a prime destination for ecotourism in India. Explore renowned Assam tourist places like Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Majuli Island, the world's largest river island, that beckons Assamese culture and birdwatching. Haflong, often dubbed the "Switzerland of the East," is a hill station surrounded by stunning landscapes and famous ‘Assam tea’ gardens.

Two rhinos from Kaziranga National Park and image of Assam tea plantation

From exploring pristine landscapes to supporting local communities, every eco-conscious adventure is a step in the right direction. Choosing ecotourism with eco-friendly choices, including the impactful practice of carpooling, is not just a trend; it's a promise to aim for planet fitness. The POOLit community encourages carpooling, through which we not only reduce our carbon footprint but also ease the strain on tourist destinations and their often limited infrastructure.

Two people enjoying a ride : Carpooling with POOLit

From now on, in every journey we undertake, let's embrace a greener way, where nature thrives with our green choices. Together, we can aim for planet fitness with one responsible and eco-friendly adventure at a time on Earth. Enjoy a ‘green travel’ every time and leave only footprints of wonder while leading a sustainable life!

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