If you’re like me, you love a good vacation but many well-intentioned trips end up being pretty much the same: trying not to fall asleep at a museum, checking out another glitzy mall containing nothing you’d actually buy, or if you do get out of the city, you’re sitting on a tour bus with 50 strangers. How do you get out of this vacation rut? Try planning an eco-vacation!
What is ecotourism / eco-vacationing? By definition it’s “a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, relatively undisturbed natural areas […] its purpose may be to educate the traveler, to provide funds for ecological conservation, or to benefit the economic development of local communities.” Basically, I view it as getting lost in nature and having a ton of fun while doing it.
What’s an example of an “ecotourism” trip? My life-changing “vacation” moment occurred when Sandy and I visited Puerto Rico in 2013. We knew we wanted to visit the El Yunque rainforest but we didn’t want to just do the typical hikes that everyone else did. So I spent some time on TripAdvisor looking up different options and found a small tour company called Kalichi Adventures that took people canyoneering in the rainforest. It seemed a bit sketchy at first as Kalichi Adventures didn’t have a website but the photos looked amazing and the few reviews they did have sounded unbelievable. We signed up and the rest was history.
We started the day by waking up at 4 AM in preparation for Ricardo, one of the Kalichi guides, to pick us up from our San Juan, PR hotel at 5 AM. We then drove 1.5 hours south into the heart of the rainforest. We arrived at base camp and suited up – life vests, helmets, and gloves – and descended into the rainforest where 3 rivers came together in the mountains to form hundreds of waterfalls. We spent the next 6 hours pushing our bodies to the limit – a 40 ft cliff jump, repelling, body rafting through rapids, and swimming through waterfalls. Never had I felt so small and trivial while in awe of the beauty and power of Mother Nature. Never had my body felt so utterly exhausted yet thoroughly exhilarated.
My canyoneering trip with Kalichi Adventures was life-changing, I now knew what types of trips to plan in the future. Some people like to vacation on a beach, and while I do enjoy a 15 minute power nap on some white sand, there’s no other endorphin rush like pushing your body to the breaking point, overcoming it, and becoming stronger, wiser, and an overall better person because of it.
Next time you’re planning a vacation, do a quick google search for “ecotourism” in the city you’re planning on visiting and open yourself up to a whole new way of vacationing!
Heading to Puerto Rico? Check out these other spots:
- Bioluminescent bay in Fajardo
- Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island (we took the Air Flamenco 8-seater propeller plane. Super fun!)
- Snorkeling on Culebra Island to see adolescent sea turtles
- Eat at Jose Enrique (stunning food)! You cannot skip this place!