When it comes to tourism, there is so much beauty the world has to offer through nature and nature alone. Walking away from mass tourism, ecotourism provides an outlet to find a blissful reconnection with nature. You will find yourself amidst pristine landscapes, walking in the midst of conserved wildlife. Ecotourism enables you to witness nature at its finest while ensuring that your environmental footprint is kept at a minimum. Not only do you get to partake in witnessing the natural environment at its best, but you also get to help preserve these amazing sights for future generations to witness.
Ecotourism is rather popular around the world, with destinations across various continents. There truly is a whole lot that nature has to teach us, and ecotourism enables us to find the balance between travel and nature.
Here are some of the most affordable ecotourism destinations from around the world. Compared to spending money drinking champagne on a yacht, these excursions enable you to retie your connection to mother earth.
30 Most Affordable Must-Visit Ecotourism Destinations
There is so much nature can teach us and there are so many ways in which nature can inspire us. This is the reasoning why ecotourism is so popular. With more and more people looking for ecotourism destinations to visit, finding the right destination can be tricky. Often, it is the budget that is the deciding factor.
Here we have a list of 30 affordable ecotourism destinations that should be on your bucket list. We’ll give you a rough idea of how much it costs for a week’s travel, so you have a better idea of what to expect on your travels.
Please don’t expect the costs to be exact amounts as they are estimates as reported by past travellers and don’t include costs of travel.
1) The Galapagos Islands
One of the most famous ecotourism destinations, the Galapagos Islands are referred to as the ‘living museum.’ It is home to some of the world’s most unusual wildlife who dwell within the volcanic islands of the Pacific Ocean. Located around 1,000 kilometres from the coast of South America, you can access the islands through air flight.
Sustainability is inbuilt in these islands, and when you visit you will realise this first hand. You get to witness some of the most uncommon wildlife and all the beauty that nature has to offer. With abundant and rich marine life, snorkelling and scuba diving are popular activities amongst tourists who visit the island. Meanwhile hiking up the volcanoes offer breathtaking landscape views.
What makes these islands uncommon is the fact that you can witness penguins which is a rare sight. You may also happen to sight the endemic iguanas, who are native to these islands. About 97% of the islands are protected national parks. Ecotourism enables the conservation of these sights and forests; the fees collected from tourists go to support the conservative efforts within the island.
The cost per person per week is around $800.
2) Himachal Pradesh, India
Himachal Pradesh, situated close to the Himalayas is an ecotourism hotspot for travellers from around the globe. Homestays that are offered in the region enable cosy accommodation, nestled in the cooler climates of the Himalayas. The greenery within the area is something to surely witness. They also provide eco-friendly vehicles, which are great for transport within the region.
Some of the popular activities include paragliding and garden walks within the many gardens in the region which are home to a host of wild species of flowers that are not found anywhere else in the world.
You can even get a taste of Tibetan food in the region and visit some of the amazing temples and monasteries which are of religious importance.
A week’s stay in Himachal Pradesh will cost roughly $300 per person.
3) Mai Chau, Vietnam
From the friendly locals to the water buffalos, Vietnam has much to offer the ecotourist in you. There are miles and miles of paddy fields in Mai Chau that you can witness first hand. Coupled with this, there are some amazing landscapes that will simply leave you feeling revitalised.
The eco-lodges in Mai Chau is affordable and has the making for something really great. You will experience great hospitality, nestled in the bosom of mother earth. Mai Chau is located in the north of Vietnam and is not a very touristy region. This is why it is great for ecotourists because the region is unspoilt and not crowded.
With a slow pace of life, you will be able to go for a guided bike tour around the fields and villages, allowing you to absorb the culture while enjoying the many views. You will get the chance to interact with the locals, even have tea with them and have a look at what the lives of these villagers look like. The locals are very friendly and all the smiles will make you feel more welcomed than ever.
A week’s stay in Mai Chau will cost around $500 per person.
4) Ulu Temburong National Park, Brunei
Fortunate to be in the oil-rich region of Bornea, Brunei has been unspoilt by tourists or the commercial ventures of palm oil farming. As a result of this, Brunei is home to some of the many unspoiled rainforests in the region. This is why ecotourism is so popular in the region.
Ulu Temburong National Park is one of the best-kept rainforests with amazing biodiversity. All the food in the Ulu Ulu resort is sourced locally and in partnership with the Government of Brunei, it employs the expertise of the local villagers to provide for visitors. Sustainability is key in the resort and recycling is mandatory. Coupled with this, you are not allowed to carry bottles with you. Accommodation is limited to 17 rooms, which is why you should book early if you plan on visiting.
One of the most iconic attractions the resort has to offer is the canopy walk which begins early morning at 5:00 AM. It involves a trek which is a climb to the top, in time to catch the sunrise. You will bask in the morning calls of mother earth and soak everything this rainforest has to offer. Trust me, after you experience this, you will have a true sense of serenity in connection to nature.
The average cost per week per person to visit Brunei ranges from $400 to $600.
5) Apo Island, Philippines
Considered one of the top dive spots in the world, Apo Island is a must-visit destination for eco-tourists around the world. Located within the Coral Triangle, it is diverse in marine life and is considered the most diverse marine region on the planet. With initiatives declared to preserve the coral reef of Apo Island, there are several initiatives today to preserve the natural beauty of the marine life in the region.
The local government practices sustainable and responsible tourism to ensure that they seek a balance between travel and environmental conservation.
If you visit Apo Island, diving is a must-do activity. Snorkelling is another favourite activity amongst travellers who visit the region. The tours are regulated so as to protect the sea turtles who find the region home. Ecotourism helps support the locals in the region and enables furthered investment into preservation and conservation efforts.
The average cost per week per person to visit Apo Island is around $800.
6) Saloum Delta, Senegal
The Saloum Delta National Park is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers some spectacular experiences to come closer to nature. The national park is a host to mangroves and saltwater vegetation and is home to many bird species. Hence there is a lot of natural beauty to witness in the region.
Compared to the rest of Senegal, Saloum Delta is quieter and more peaceful, allowing you to exchange the hustle and bustle of the city to get a closer look at nature at its finest.
You will rest in some of the remote accommodation locations, often finding yourself hosted in a small hut powered by solar panels. There is little light in these hotels, which makes nights very romantic. Food is usually sourced and prepared in the region by the locals and the hotels will pamper you with everything they have to offer.
You can spend your days swimming or fishing or even going kayaking. There are also many day trips which you can choose from to experience the natural sites and wildlife of the region.
On average, you should plan for about $600 for a week’s stay.
Ecotourism is natural to the region of Bulgaria with a long list of nature parks and reserves. You will find many eco hiking trails to take you through the walks of nature, witnessing everything the country has to offer to visitors. It has something for either the sea or mountain lover.
You will experience some amazing food, and bask in some breathtaking views of nature while enjoying a hike, ski or surf. You could also enjoy camping, which is a very popular activity amongst visitors to Bulgaria.
There are many national parks to choose from. However, if you wander away from the main national parks, you may find spots like Apriltsi, a small town in the Central Balkan National Park. There you will be able to taste some amazing organic cuisine and catch a trail to an amazing waterfall. There are some well-organised yoga retreats, which will revitalise you as you bask in everything Bulgaria has to offer you.
On average, a week’s trip to Bulgari will cost $500 per person.
Considered one of the ultimate trekking destinations, Kyrgyzstan is home to Tien Shan and Pamir mountains, which makes it ideal for adventurous travellers. This is because the country is unspoiled and the crowds are low, which makes it more serene when it comes to experiencing everything this country has to offer.
With some of the most untouched and undiscovered mounts on the planet, the country is great for people who simply want to be further immersed in the natural beauty of the planet.
You will find nomadic camps of locals living the way their ancestors did. You will wander amidst great mountains and stay with the nomadic people, experiencing their way of life and culture. It will really give you a chance to disconnect yourself from the outer world and experience something you had never experienced before.
On average, a person could see themselves spending $300 per week.
9) Bardia National Park
Located in Nepal, if you love wildlife trekking, then this is surely something to add to your bucket list. Bardia National Park found in the remote Nepali village of Thakudwara is beautiful and surrounded by jungle from all sides. Hence it is a hotspot for wildlife, such as tigers, elephants and rhinos.
The park fees go to maintaining the national park while the immersion of Thakudwara village supports the local communities. All the food is provided by the locals and you will be staying in a family-style lodge.
It is a great place to witness all the amazing wildlife in their natural habitat. You can walk through the jungles on a jungle walk and witness the animals first hand.
On average the cost per person is $400.
10) The Daintree, Australia
Considered the oldest rainforest on Earth, it is one of the most favourite places to visit on the planet for eco-tourists. There is an abundance of wildlife and unique flora and fauna making for some amazing landscape sceneries. It is rated as one of the best ecotourism destinations in the world.
The Daintree outdates the Amazon by 140 million years. The Discovery Centre at the Daintree will give you a chance to climb high into the trees and overlook the canopy.
Experiencing all the wildlife and natural beauty this rainforest has to offer, you can cruise down the Daintree River where you will see the saltwater crocodiles in their natural environment. There are also many birds native to the region and some lizards and snakes. You can even witness the Great Barrier Reef through an iconic dive at the Daintree and go for a snorkelling trip to experience marine life.
The average cost per week per person is $1500.
11) Christmas Island, Australia
Located closer to Indonesia than Australia, Christmas Island is a paradise for the ecotourism lover. It is a destination that is waiting to be explored. There is a limited number of tourist beds on the island, hence if you would like to visit, you would have to book early.
The island works really hard to preserve the endemic species that call Christmas Island home. They really care for the coastlines and the landscapes of the region which is enjoyed by all the visitors that travel to Christmas Island.
Home to the famous Christmas Island red crab, the island is 75% national park. Between December and January, you can witness millions of crabs in the coastlines of the island that come to the rainforest to breed and spawn. It is truly an amazing sight to witness.
There are some hidden caves and beautiful beaches where you can witness the amazing bird species which are native to the region. With a host of marine life, it is a great place to experience not just land animals but marine life too. It is the abundance of both land and marine wildlife that makes it one of the most desirable and must-visit ecotourism destinations in the world.
The average cost per person per week is $1200
12) Eco Igloo, Portugal
Experience falling asleep inside a bubble as you gaze up at the starlit night sky. Moinho do Maneio is an ecotourist’s dream accommodation situation in central Portugal.
You can enjoy some fresh breakfast which includes some mouth-watering dishes. It is truly a place where you can disconnect from the outer world and experience nature and the stars at their finest. You will enjoy the quiet sounds of nature while going kayaking in the Bazagueda river. There are countless opportunities to relax and soothe your senses.
The average cost per person per week is $1200.
13) Church Camping, England
Churches in England are beautiful buildings. With some of the older churches have gone into disuse, the Churches Conservation Trust had come up with a unique way to conserve these monumental buildings. They combined churches with camping and called it champing. You can spend a couple of nights in these beautiful buildings.
Champing falls within ecotourism because the proceeds from visitors go directly to maintaining and restoring these beautiful churches. You will experience centuries of rich history and ensure that tradition and culture is preserved for future generations to come.
The average cost per person per week is $1400.
14) Ethical Shark Cage Diving, South Australia
Ethical shark cage diving in South Australia uses music rather than chum to attract sharks. If you ever wanted to experience sharks close range but was worried about the ethics of the whole thing, then this could be the solution for you.
The problem with chumming is that the sharks begin to associate humans with blood and the smell of chum. This has been linked to triggering the brains of sharks to attack more humans; as a result, more shark attacks. You will also sidestep the foul-smell that comes with conventional shark cage dives.
If you choose not to disrupt the delicate ecological balance of the ocean, consider ethical shark cage diving in South Australia.
The average cost per person per trip is $500.
15) Trinidad and Tobago
There is so much biodiversity to experience in the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. With over 470 bird species and 3,300 plant species, the region is dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and wildlife of the region. There are dense jungles and forests and wetlands and mountains; a variety of ecosystems for the ecotourist in you.
You can take one of many boat tours to witness the amazing birdlife and watch the sunset in the evening. You can also witness hundreds of giant leatherback turtles coming ashore to lay eggs.
It is truly a must-visit destination for the nature lover, which is why Trinidad and Tobago have made this list.
The average cost per person per week is $900.
16) The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Considered the largest living thing on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef hosts a diverse range of marine life in a beautiful ecosystem.
With man being the leading cause behind the destruction of the reef, more than two-thirds of the reef has been lost in tragic events. Hence all preservation and conversation efforts are underway to preserve this great reef for future generations.
There are a host of sustainable companies that provide ecotourism tours to the reef. The proceeds from these tours go to preserve and conserve the reefs. Visiting this destination allow you to express your opinion about preservation and conservation and take a stand to fight for the reef. If you don’t do it, who will?
The average cost per person per trip $800.
17) The Otter Trail, South Africa
There are so many nature reserves in South Africa that offer a great way to experience the local wildlife. With many national parks, you can spend several days hiking the trails in the iconic scenery of the hiking routes of South Africa.
The Otter trail is a 5-day, 45-kilometre hike with an overnight stay in wooden huts with no electricity. You will have a great opportunity to spot some amazing land and marine wildlife. Trails of dolphins are a common sight, so are seals.
You are not allowed to feed the animals and are instructed not to litter. Sustainability is inbuilt and conservation and preservation of the environment is part of the package.
You will experience much of the biodiversity that South Africa has to offer and see some amazing landscapes and views.
The average cost per person per week $900.
18) Chiapas, Mexico
One of the main impacts of tourism is how tourism affects the local community. This is why culture and local people are as integral elements of ecotourism as nature and wildlife. With many cultures around the world disappearing, minority groups are becoming a tourist attraction for photos. They are stripped of their culture and values and slowly turned into forms of entertainment for the western world.
That being the case for mass tourism, ecotourism works to better conserve these cultures of indigenous people. This is effectively managed in Chiapas, Mexico. Hiring local guides, these tour companies in Chiapas take tourists to small cities where the Tzozil Maya communities live.
You can visit the local churches and experience the local forms of spirituality which are a combination of Catholic beliefs and Maya rituals.
Chiapas in Mexico is an example of how you can bridge tourism with the conservation of people, culture and heritage.
The average cost per person per week is $400.
19) Elephant Nature Park, Thailand
Though Thailand hosts many animal attractions including animal rides and shows, there are ways to experience these beautiful creatures in their natural habitats of Thailand. Riding elephants don’t fall within the elements of ecotourism, however, experiencing them in their natural habitat does. With many people wanting to help these animals in Thailand, the Elephant Nature Park in the jungles of Chiang Mai have found the means to do just that.
They allow you to feed the animals, accompany them and even bathe these gentle and giant creatures. They focus on animal abuse and helping elephants that are injured by human activities.
If you care for animals and would love to take care of these beautiful creatures of mother earth, then the Elephant Nature Park would be an ideal place for you to find a true connection with elephants.
The average cost per person per trip is $200.
20) Highland Forest Retreat, New Zealand
The retreat is situated in the middle of a lush rainforest in New Zealand. The retreat will give you a chance to experience the amazing biodiversity of the region while accommodating yourself in a completely off-grid setting. With no electricity, lighting is provided by solar panels. The accommodation has a good bridge between humanity and nature.
You can explore the forest and experience all the wildlife and biodiversity and witness some pristine natural streams. You can lie back and relax and listen to the birds in the trees while enjoying everything this retreat has to offer.
The average cost per person per week is $1500.
21) Khonoma in Nagaland, India
Home of the indigenous warrior tribe of Nagaland in India, Khonoma is blessed with rich flora and fauna. You will be able to experience the age-old traditions of these people, who look to find a balance between tradition and western life. While there, you will be able to experience the traditional cuisine of the land and hike through the terraced farmlands.
You will surely get a chance to interact with the local people and experience much of the rich culture the land has to offer. With tourism really slow due to conflict in Northeast India, the numbers of tourists pick up during the Hornbill Festival which is a blessing for people who are in search of everything natural.
Hunting and logging are completely banned in the area to save the endangered Blyth’s tragopan. You will experience a true connection with nature and find bliss within the culture of these people.
The average cost per person per week is $1100.
22) Bonito, Brazil
Bonito is one of the best examples of ecotourism done right. Considered one of the more popular destinations amongst eco-tourists, Bonito has a number of natural attractions and activities which will make it an experience to be remembered. Snorkelling is probably the most popular activity with rich marine life in the brilliantly coloured waters.
Bonito enforces strict sustainable tourism practices. Be it snorkelling or trekking the jungle, you have to partake in these activities in small numbers. It is because of this, the rivers are so clean and looked after. There is no trash floating around and when you swim, you can experience this first hand.
Bonito has won the Best Destination for Responsible Tourism award, which is why it is on this list of must-visit destinations for eco-tourists.
The average cost per person per week $500.
23) Pulau Tioman, Malaysia
Blessed with beautiful beaches and amazing coral life, the islands are spectacular to view with ranges of mountains and amazing landscapes. At Pulau Tioman, you can volunteer in the Juara Turtle Project, which is an NGO that works to protect the two remaining turtle species in the region.
You will collect eggs and transfer them into hatcheries and release baby turtles after they hatch.
You will really enjoy working with this project to help the turtles. If you are passionate about conserving marine life, then this could be the destination for you.
The natural beauty in Pulau Tioman is rather breathtaking. The bay is calm and safe for swimming which makes it wonderful for snorkelling. You can even go kayaking through the mangrove forest.
The cost per person per week is $700.
24) Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Situated in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has a rich culture of people. The Yala National Park
is a host for a wide variety of wildlife; birds, reptiles and leopards, all of who call the region home.
You will experience much of the wildlife that the region has to offer in the 130,000 hectares protected land area of the park.
You can also see elephants, water buffalos, sloth bears and crocodiles who are in the midst of the rich biodiversity of the region.
If you love wildlife, then this destination is a must-visit for you.
The average cost per person per week is $800.
25) South Tyrol, Italy
Situated at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ski Resort Carezaa Ski in South Tyrol, is an eco ski resort. If you are worried about the fragile environment of the Alps, then this is the destination for you. Sustainability has been a key component for ski resorts in the region. Hence most of the area is now powered by renewable energy.
Carezaa works to lower their ecological footprint, which is why they are on this list of destination considered a must-visit for ecotourists.
You will enjoy yourself with everything this resort has to offer while ensuring and knowing that you are doing your part to sustain the regional environment and aid investments towards sustainable progress.
The average cost per person per week is $1800.
26) Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda
Africa is a great place to visit if you are considering responsible wildlife trips. Conservation efforts are essential in the region to maintain wildlife numbers and conserve biodiversity. Rhinoceros are considered an endemic species in Africa and Asia due to poaching. This is where the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda comes to light.
Committed to increasing the numbers of Rhinos in Uganda, there are 22 rhinoceros in the reserve. Treks will lead you to see these animals in their natural habitat. At the sanctuary, conservation is the integral point and they are partnered with the Rhino Fund Uganda to create a place where white rhinos can live peacefully.
If you care about these amazing creatures, this is a must-visit destination for you.
The average cost per person per week is $400.
27) Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia
The Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia are an ecotourism hotspot for travellers from around the world. Considered one of the last remaining wild elephant corridors of Asia, the area is host to a community-based tourism project. With the assistance of the local people, ecotourism has seen to flourish in the region.
There are jungle treks and waterfall spotting. If you enjoy cave-exploring, then this is a destination to visit for sure. If you like things on the quieter side of life, you can go on a bicycle tour and bask in the sight and sounds of the jungle and wildlife.
You can sleep in hammocks and eat forest vegetables and truly be one with nature. Don’t forget that you may encounter many wild animals on your trek through the jungle.
The average cost per person per week $300.
28) Akaroa, New Zealand
Native to the region, Hector’s dolphins are an endangered species. These dolphins are the smallest dolphins on the planet and their numbers have depleted to only 7,000 remaining in the wild.
In Akaroa, you can find an eco-tour which lets you swim with the dolphins. These eco-tours offer nature cruises and tours to help conserve the numbers of these amazing creatures. Resources are diverted into research, education and advocacy to conserve the numbers of dolphins in the wild.
If you care about these beautiful creatures, then you may want to do your part by helping them conserve their numbers.
The average cost per person per trip is $700.
29) Corcovado, Costa Rica
Considered the most biologically intense place on Earth, Corcovado is the largest national park in Costa Rica. It is rich in biodiversity and a great place for bird watchers. Wildlife photography opportunities are endless. It is one of the few remaining lowland tropical rainforests in the world.
You can go on some amazing hikes through the highland cloud forest and mangrove swamps and rest on the sandy beaches.
The national park boasts a diverse selection of wildlife. If it is wild animals you are hoping to see on your trip, then this is for sure the destination for you. There are some amazing eco-lodges you can stay at or simply camp in the various campsites of the park.
The average cost per person per week is $900.
Known for the beautiful turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches, Jamaica is one of the most popular ecotourism hotspots in the world. You can go bamboo rafting in the Martha Brar River, or hike the Blue Mountains (a UNESCO World Heritage Site.)
If you just want to sit on the beach and relax, Jamaica has to be the place to visit. Hosting to diverse marine life, the island has rich biodiversity and a friendly local community of people.
Jamaica is a must-visit for beach lovers. However, it must be kept in mind that to best enjoy this destination, you should travel during the off-peak season when the crowds are smaller. The off-peak season is in April.
It is the perfect place for relaxation and taking a break from the rest of the world.
The average cost per person per week is $800.
Destinations Worth Your While
As popular as ecotourism is becoming, it is good that we are starting to realise the impacts that travel has on the environment. It is good that we try to do everything we can to help mother earth and conserve the planet for future generations.
Be it saving the rhinos, helping elephants or sitting on a beach in Jamaica, when you do travel, it is good to understand the implications of your decisions. We hope you found this article worth your while and that all the destinations or at least some of them will make your bucket list.