Help promote ecotourism in Thailand

Are you a supporter of ecotourism, and responsible volunteer tourism?  Do you want to help protect and preserve marine national parks

I’ve been selected to help the Tourism Authority of Thailand promote these types of activities in Phuket, and I could really do with your help.

I’m working with a great team at Openmind Projects, and together with my Thai team mate Wimalin (Fha), we are trying to help them win $5000.  We’re doing many things, and focusing on the amazing work the Park Rangers are doing to protect and preserve the marine national parks.

Please help out this great organisation by following the steps below. Continue reading

How to Win a Volunteer Ecotourism Trip to Thailand

Have you ever won a holiday? I’m slightly surprised, delighted and grateful to say that I have been selected to join a 20 day volunteer ecotourism project in Thailand.

Here are three tips to help you get selected and win your own Inspiring Adventure:

1. Be Connected

You have to hear about relevant competitions from somewhere.  Start a meet up  or a twitter account or a Facebook page around something you are passionate about.  Connect with other people who are interested in the same things.  Help these people find relevant, exciting, interesting opportunities, and they will help you too. I saw the competition on Facebook in April, entered it, and shared it on the Inspiring Adventures Facebook page and Twitter.  Did you see it?  Did you enter? What are you doing to build your own relevant connections?

2. Enter the competition

As Woody Allen says, “90% of success is just showing up”.  If you don’t enter because you don’t think you will win, you will never win.  Do you know how many other people entered?  Do you definitely know that someone else is going to win?  Sign up for the competition and try. You might just surprise yourself. Continue reading

Eco Bonito – Ecotourism entrepreneurs

Bonito – it’s not just about the water.

There is at least one attraction that involves none of the wet stuff.

Ecotourism entrepreneur, Senor Modesto Sampaio used to be a farmer. In 1986 he acquired an unusual piece of land.  Part of the land included a giant sink hole, a natural sandstone crater with it’s own unique ecosystem. The largest sink hole in South America, and second largest in the world.  Of course, engineers advised him to cover or fill it somehow, so that he could use all the land for farming, but Modesto, now in his 70s, realised its unique potential.

Continue reading

Eco Bonito – The most fun you can have in a wet suit

Bonito is the centre of responsible travel and ecotourism in Brazil.

It’s a small, fast growing town in the central region of Brazil, and it was my home for 3 days.

Thanks to the recommendation of Fabio Pellegrini, I was able to connect with one of the leading tour operators of Responsible Tourism in Bonito – Ygarape.

Ygarape’s founder, Juca Ygarape, really seems to be the father of eco-tourism in Bonito.  He discovered many of the attractions of Bonito over the last 20 years. Juca is the man that the Discovery Channel or National Geographic call when they need a local expert.  (Juca showed me his videos, where he tracked a huge wild anaconda in the water, and introduced it to scientists and professional photo-journalists).

Over the years Juca and his friends have also been responsible for designing many of the guiding principles to keep the tourist trade here sustainable.

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What is Agro EcoTourism? Finding out in San Francisco

San Francisco. The home of Agro EcoTourism?

Not the San Francisco with the Goldengate Bridge or all those tech start-ups. This is the San Fransico Lodge in the Pantanal region.

What does Agro EcoTourism mean?  I asked owner Robert Coelho the same question.

“Agro because we teach people about farming, and Eco because we introduce people to our unique wildlife and nature.

Fighting Crocodiles for Piranha in The Pantanal

Arriving in the Wet Lands

We arrive at Santa Clara Guest House, and are checked in by a friendly Macaw. All around us are giant Hyacinth Macaws. This part of the Pantanal is one of the only regions in Brazil where you can see the this large Macaw species in the wild.

It’s not just the Hyacinth Macaw around here. Hundreds of birds and dozens of species fly all around the farm grounds.  Another macaw welcomes us at the check-in desk.  Hawks patrol the garden.  Parakeets fly by in pairs. A toucan in the distance. But it wasn’t the birds that really surprised me.

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Getting Lucky with The Queen

I was welcomed into the 4th region of my journey (Central) by local expert, photographer, journalist, and author Fabio Pellegrini.

I’d taken an overnight flight, and Fabio met me at the airport.  We spent the day planning my next 7 days in the region, discussing must see sights and Eco-Tourism activities. He was able to connect me with the right people at the right time.  Fabio knows everyone, and is certainly the go-to person in the Pantanal area.  If you are planning a trip, get in touch with him.  Fabio

After a morning of phone calls and making plans in the Pantanal with Fabio’s connections, we had received one strange request, which turned out to be the best of the day. Continue reading

Staying Eco in the City – Belem, Brazil

I arrived in Belem, the northern port city of the Amazon region. I was not sure what to expect.  I had been deliberating whether to go to Manuas, in the heart of the Amazon, or this less well known city on the Amazon Delta, where the river meets the sea.

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In the end, I chose Belem. Why? There were 3 excellent reasons.  Fernanda from 100% Amazonia, Sergio from Preserva Mundi, and Leonilda from Bio EcoBrazil.  I talk more about them in following posts.

In Belem, I chose to stay at the EcoPousada Miriti.  A tranquil, peaceful guesthouse, designed with sustainable values in the heart of the city. I decided it would perfect base from which to explore the city, and meet local social entrepreneurs.

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I wanted to learn more about why it was an “Eco” guesthouse, so I spoke with the owners, Geraldo and Priscila Barata, to learn more.

Pricila was a tourism student, who wrote her final dissertation on sustainable guesthouses.  With advice from her at that time boyfriend Geraldo, they wrote what would become the future business plan for EcoPousada Miriti. After graduation,  Priscila’s mother bought a property in need of renovation, and Geraldo and Priscila set about the task of converting it into a eco-friendly guesthouse.

Geraldo talked me through the reasons they chose to renovate the existing building, instead of demolishing the old one and starting again.  Demolishing and rebuilding is easier, cheaper and faster.  So why not do that?

If you demolish, the waste must go somewhere, and that means landfill. Rebuilding after complete destruction means using and buying more new materials.  Renovation means you spend less on materials, but more on human labour.  For Miriti, it was better choice to reinvest the money in the local workforce, than in new materials.  The materials they did use, were sourced locally.

Apart from this example, Gerald gave me many more.  The water filtration system cleans 70% of the chemicals out of the water, before it is returned to the water table, where natural processes can filter the remaining 30%.  Most guesthouses don’t filter at all. Solar power is installed to heat the water, and the system will have paid for itself in 6 years.

Miriti also supports native artisans, who create toys from the leaves of the plant from which the guesthouse gets it’s name. These toys have a long tradition, but without a place like EcoPousada to sell them, the toys don’t get bought, and the skills used to make them get lost.

If you are looking for an ecofriendly guesthouse in Belem, I recommend you check out Miriti.  And don’t forget to try their tapioca with banana and cinnamon for breakfast!

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