As more people become aware of the importance of sustainability and taking care of the environment, there has been a rise in eco-conscious travelers who are looking for an experience beyond the usual touristy attractions. Here are some you can go on to show your support for the sustainable movement.
Antipolo, Philippines – Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Tucked away in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range is Mount Purro Nature Reserve, a sweet escape away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Just an hour away from downtown Manila, it’s the perfect place for outdoor lovers, with its cool mountain weather, sprawling forest trails surrounded by lush tropical greenery and gushing waterfalls.
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Take part in adrenaline-filled activities such as zip lining and rope courses, then connect with nature through programmes such as tree planting. Visitors can also acquaint themselves with the Dumagats, the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, to learn about their experiences and how to build a fire and cook using nothing but wood and bamboo. In partnership with the MPNR Foundation, each visit contributes to efforts in rehabilitating the Upper Marikina Watershed and empowering the Dumagat tribe.
Luang Prabang, Laos – Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens
Explore Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens – Luang Prabang’s first – which is dedicated to plant conservation and sustainable agriculture. Located at the base of a rocky cliff overlooking the Mekong River, nature lovers can marvel at the surrounding flora. Many of these are native to Laos, such as gingers, orchids, ferns, bamboo and palms, and share a special relationship with the local people as they are used in everything from medicine to handicrafts and spiritual ceremonies. As most of the these skills are passed down orally, the gardens provide an avenue for in-depth study, so that the knowledge may be preserved for generations to come. Botanical study aside, visitors can also go on a leisurely boat ride down the Mekong River, or join activities such as herbal tea tasting and bamboo handicraft workshops.
Chonburi, Thailand – Khao Kheow Open Zoo
Zoos can be a point of contention for many – some see them as cruel, confined spaces; others view them as sanctuaries for animals and a necessary part for conservation and education. Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chonburi belongs to the latter. As Thailand’s first zoo, it is committed to providing a spacious and humane environment for its over 8,000 animals from over 300 species who live in an open-concept, uncaged world. Spanning over 2,000 acres within the Khao Yai National Park, the zoo has several themed areas, including an African Savannah housing zebras, impalas, ostriches, rhinos and giraffes, A Night Safari for an after-dark experience, a Cats Complex which features wild animals from the cat family, an Aviary and a relaxing deer park. Feeding and interacting with the animals are encouraged in many parts of the zoo, making it an ideal place for families and young children to learn about conservation.
Luang Prabang, Laos – Buffalo Dairy Farm
Take a detour from visiting ancient temples to learn about the sustainable dairy industry in Laos at the Laos Buffalo Dairy farm, a social initiative run by a non-profit organisation that aims to benefit the local community by providing them with a regular income stream.
The farm works by renting female buffaloes from villagers in and around Luang Prabang and milking them for dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese for a period of six months. The animals are then returned until they are ready to calve, and the process starts anew. In the meantime, the buffalo and their calves are fed, vaccinated and well cared for, and the farm’s breeding programmes help to improve calf survival rates. Visitors can know more about the farm’s initiatives through a half day tour, where they can also visit the dairy and production facility, an interactive mini farm, training centre and cafe.
Tagaytay, Philippines – Nurture Farmacy Interactive Farm Experience
Witness the wonders of sustainable farming at Nurture Farmacy, an eco-friendly destination located in the mountain city of Tagaytay, Philippines. Part of the Nurture Wellness Village, one can opt to stay overnight at the resort and spa for a complete experience, or go on the interactive farm tour to learn more about how the farm to table process works.
The tour takes visitors through their organic farm where a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and medicinal plants are grown, with useful information on their practical uses and health benefits. There are also demonstrations on traditional practices involving medicinal plants, sessions on vermiculture and fungiculture, as well as how to make organic pesticides and fertilisers. To top it off, explore the Balik Tanaw, a museum showcasing the beautiful art of weaving of the Tingguian tribe from Abra.