Rainforests - It doesn't get any more biologically diverse! No wonder they`ve been labelled 'jewels of the earth`. Ecotourism in a lush, vibrant, colourful and downright exotic ecosystem makes your ecotourism traveling experience so much more fruitful. If you're going on an ecotourism trip in a rainforest be prepared to be awestruck by their grandeur and mysteriousness. And, if you really want to expand on the opportunity, pick a destination with tropical beaches and islands, that way adding a lot more to your ecotourism vacation.
- Half of the world's species call rainforests their home
- It takes rain ten minutes to reach the ground because of the dense canopy
- The livelihoods of 90% of people living in extreme poverty worldwide (a shocking 1.2 billion people!) depend on rainforests
- Every second, the equivalent of a football field is cut down in the rainforest; that`s a total of 86,400 football fields of rainforest cut down per day, and 31 million football fields per year
Like every ecosystem, rainforests provide us with many goods and services. Goods derived from rainforests include coffee, timber, cocoa and medicinal plants that have been used to treat cancer. Some of the services they provide include weather regulation, water purification and flood control.
Most of us will agree that ecotourism can offer local communities with a more sustainable source of income. In fact, a study that was carried out in Peru in 2010 found that ecotourism generated more income for locals than farming, timber logging and cattle ranching. Ecotourism had given the locals a financial incentive to keep the rainforest intact. In addition, the study found that rainforest designated for ecotourism outweighed carbon emissions from different means of transport by ecotourists in Peru.
One of ecotourism's main principles is to ensure that locals benefit from it. So, if ecotourism is going to play a key role in conserving rainforests then the proceeds of ecotourism businesses must be shared with the local communities, who ultimately take part in all ecotourism activities, rather than find its way back to developed economies - usually via tour operators, airlines, etc.
Being environmentally luxurious, rainforests offer a wide range of activities such as alligator spotting, birding, jungle trekking and sunrise tours. Not to mention the unique indigenous people which inhabit rainforests, which means you can always add a cultural exchange to your ecotourism itinerary.
Here are some tips for those of you planning an ecotourism trip in a rainforest:
- It is highly recommended that you travel with a local guide, and also listen to that guide at all times
- Be attentive to your surroundings while you simultaneously enjoy them
- It's going to be hot and humid but you're going to have to cover up, or use insect repellent, if you don't want to be bitten by all kinds of insects
- Drinks lots of water to avoid dehydration
- Depending on where you're trekking, you'll either need comfortable shoes or boots to protect you from any potential bites
- Silence is golden! You don't want to scare away any wildlife
- Be most cautious during evenings and during dusk and dawn
- Don't forget to bring a bathing suit!
Since we'd all be taking photographs while we're there, here are a couple of useful tips:
- Keep a small umbrella handy to be able to take photographs in the rain
- Keep your camera and lenses in an air-tight case filled with moisture-absorbing packets to avoid moisture from condensing on your camera and lens (usually caused by change in temperature)
Here are some countries with rainforests that offer great ecotourism experiences:
- Costa Rica
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As always, please do your homework before you begin planning for your ecotourism voyage into the rainforests; learn about ecotourism in the region and please make sure the country you're visiting is politically stable and safe.
Coming up next.....Ecotourism in Deserts!
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