Share your travel story and win a holiday! “The only footprint you leave is your story!” Such were the excellent sentiments of the Ecotourism Travel Blog Contest when it was launched in September of 2011 by MyNatour, an online community of people who believe in healthy, authentic and responsible tourism.
Such too were the reasons why whl.travel, the global online travel-booking network of mindful local travel experts, stepped up to sponsor it, working from within its extensive network of local partners to find fitting ecotourism prize material for the winners.
Participants were given a limit of 1,000 words and five evocative photographs through which to tell their stories. They were also required to provide tips about ecotourism in their selected destinations or reflections about how they might help better preserve that particular destination through ecotourism practices.
See the promotional video here:
And now the winners have been identified. From dozens of submissions, a shortlist of 10 finalists (determined by public vote) was reviewed by a panel of judges that included representatives from The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), Tourism Concern, MyNatour and the WHL Group, the parent company of whl.travel.
Ethan Gelber, the Chief Communication Officer of the WHL Group, said (see the video directly below) that he was looking for three qualities when determining the best of the ecotourism travel blog contest finalists: the first was “how much time and effort was taken by the person to think about what an ecotourism experience is”; the second was “how carefully they made a choice of the experience they wanted to live through”; and the third was “whether or not the experience was as rich as they thought it would be.”
And now the winners have been announced and decided on their prizes:
FIRST PLACE: A Garden Lady in India’s Cold Mountain Desert by Shivya
As her prize, Shivya will escape to the highland region of the Albanian Alps. Hosted by Outdoor Albania, the whl.travel local connection in Albania, Shivya will set off on a five-day guided trek through some of the country’s most vivid scenery. With overnights spent in the traditional houses of the Albanian highlanders, daytime activities include a ferry trip along Lake Koman, a visit to the Valbona Valley and a trek to the Theth Valley surrounded by high mountain passes and peaks.
SECOND PLACE: Reef to Rainforest by Hobbers
Hobbers will head deep into Estonia’s Soomaa National Park (soomaa translates more or less as ‘land of the bogs’). Surrounded by vast floodplains and crisscrossed by rivers, she and a companion will enjoy a wilderness experience in an area known for its canoeing, ‘bog-shoeing,’ beavers and berry-picking – all courtesy of Soomaa.com, an operator based out of Estonia.
THIRD PLACE: My Trip to Mali – Halt in Terya Bugu by Mario Difra
Mario will travel from his home in Italy to southwest Laos, a region replete with jungles, raging rivers and outstanding cultural heritage. Once there, he will embark on a high-flying treetop adventure by zipline, followed by a Mekong cruise to the World Heritage Site of Wat Phou – all made possible by Teamworkz, the whl.travel local connection in Laos.
The three ecotourism packages that were not selected were a rainforest adventure in Ecuador made possible by the Yachana Lodge, the whl.travel local connection in Quito; a Galapagos Island tour through Yacu Amu Experiences, the whl.travel local connection in the Galapagos; and a visit to Sana’a and Soqotra in Yemen with Eternal Yemen, the whl.travel local in Yemen.