Green Travel List: Summer Activities
Specialist tour operator for walking, cycling, and winter holidays mainly in Europe but also in Morocco, New England, Canada and India. Many of its holidays use small locally owned hotels, which help sustain local economies, especially in remote, rural areas. Inntravel includes a 'rail inclusive' price for those holidays that are reached easily by train in a day from St Pancras International. The company has carried out a carbon audit of its eco-friendly offices in Yorkshire and in its final holiday documents, customers receive a page on environmental awareness, focussing on lighting, heating and laundry. See a typical Inntravel trip on greentraveller
Voted by readers as one of the top five small tour operators in the 2009 Guardian and Observer Travel Awards, Saddle Skedaddle organises road cycling and mountain biking holidays mainly in Europe but also in a few long haul destinations, including Cuba, Japan and Brazil. It also runs sightseeing trips to several developing countries, such as Peru and Nicaragua, in collaboration with Traidcraft and Christian Aid, where you get to stay with the small scale farmers that make fair trade products. Skedaddle is a member of Tourism Concern's Ethical Tour Operators group, which shares best practice in responsible tourism among operators. See a typical Saddle Skedaddle trip on greentraveller.
Edinburgh-based adventure travel company, which specialises in kayaking, sailing, walking and photography holidays in the Highlands and Islands. All the start and end points of its trips are designed to link in with train timetables at mainline train stations, including the England-Scotland sleeper service, to encourage clients to reach Scotland by train rather than flying. An example is a 10-day holiday in the Outer Hebrides, where you're met at Mallaig train station and then walk over to its yacht mooring to embark on 10 days of sailing and walking around the archipelago. It has developed a Wilderness Guide Training Programme which includes a Leave No Trace policy (as published by the Centre for Outdoor Ethics) and guidelines on environmental leadership. See a typical Wilderness Scotland trip on greentraveller
Dorset-based, low impact outdoor and adventure specialist for Sweden, including dog sledding, timber rafting and wilderness canoeing for stag and hen parties. Most of its local partners have been independently certified by the respected Swedish Ecotourism Society label ‘Nature’s Best’ and it does not offer any experiences based on motorised transport, including snowmobiles. Nature Travels donates 2% of its pre-tax profits to small-scale conservation projects in Sweden (such as the Swedish-Finnish-Norwegian Arctic Fox Project and the White-tailed Sea Eagle conservation programme run by the Swedish Nature Conservancy) and has subscribed to 10:10, the campaign to cut its carbon emissions by 10% in 2010. See a typical Nature Travel trip on greentraveller.
Surfing company based in Penzance that is doing its bit to green Cornwall's overcrowded surf scene. It runs small group and family surfing holidays (with lessons for all levels) from April to Ocotober at alternative destinations throughout western Cornwall, including the lesser known beaches at St Ives, St Levan and Lands’ End. In partnership with the Eden Project, it is trialling sustainable surfboards, and surf lessons include a talk on the important of marine conservation and keeping beaches clean. www.globalboarders.com, 01736 711404.
The Eco-Frontiers Ranch, Poland
A 60 hectare organic farm in the heart of the Carpathian mountains close to the Ukrainian and Slovakian borders and two hours by train from Kraków. The focus of the ranch is on riding Hutsul horses (a traditional Carpathian breed) for short trips of 1-3 hours or longer rides through forests, villages and abandoned agricultural land. Guided walks are provided for in or around the Eastern Carpathians Biosphere Reserve and Bieszczady National Park, tracking deer, wild boar, wolves and bears. The ranch is totally off-grid; electricity is provided by windmills and solar panels, and the owners have created a private wetland nature reserve for wild orchids, junipers and beavers. www.ecofrontiers.net, +48 601 912965.
Low impact mountain biking holidays run by English owners in the Sierra Nevada in Southern Spain. Trips are based at a mountain cortijo (traditional stone farmhouse) at an altitude of 1700m from where you have the choice of taking the high mountain route or dropping down to the verdant valleys of the Alpujarras. The remote setting means that everything is run off-grid: power is provided by solar panels (a wind turbine is planned), water is from a natural spring and waste is recycled or composted. www.puremountains.com, +34 686 032 003.
The Canoe Man/Activ-8, Norfolk Broads
The best way to get closer to nature in the backwaters of the broads is by canoe. Paddling under your own steam among the tangled branches of quiet, narrow channels and shallow waters that are inaccessible to motorboats, you are far more likely to see the wetland’s wildlife, including otters, kingfishers and bitterns. The Canoe Man runs guided canoe trips along the broads, stopping off overnight at B&Bs, or you can guide yourself and choose the canoe collection service so that you can cycle back to the start. Also available is a bushcraft course in the woods at Weasenham, which includes a stay in a woodland Tipi camp. www.thecanoeman.com, 01603 499177.
Off the Rails, England
Cycling tour company that runs 2-3 day tours around Bowland and day trips in the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland. It "Big Idea" is to offer the combination of an uphill train journey and a downhill bike ride. An example is a trip up the scenic Settle-Carlisle Railway to the top of the line at Ribblehead or Garsdale where cyclists are met by the company's fleet of bikes (carried on a purpose built trailer) and then follow prepared routes downhill along quiet country lanes, stopping off at village pubs. It's hardly rocket science, but it's proving popular so the company is planning to offer similar trips from Skipton to Lancaster and along the Leeds-Liverpool canal towpath from Skipton to Bingley. www.offtherails.org.uk, 01729 824419.
Jersey's only specialist sea kayaking company provides guided tours around the rugged coastline of the Channel Islands. Open year round, the company is British Canoe Union-approved and accredited by Wild Life Safe (WiSe) to run low impact tours and observe marine life, from a couple of hours paddling along the coast to longer paddles over to Les Ecrehous and Les Minquiers reefs, Sark, Herm, Chausey or Ille De Brehat. Also runs courses in coastal navigation and trip planning. www.jerseykayakadventures.co.uk, 07797 853033.
Preseli Venture, Pembrokeshire
Outdoor activity centre near the village of Mathry on the South Wales coast for sea kayaking, surfing, biking and coasteering - the heady combination of climbing, swimming and cliff jumping. For partners that prefer something a little gentler, the lodge is just a ten minute walk through National Trust woodland to the sandy beach at Abermawr, and a convenient place from which to explore the north Pembrokeshire coastline. The Centre's accommodation is billed as a five-star 'eco lodge', having several low carbon technologies, including a ground source heat pump for heating and hot water, and there's free pick up in a biodiesel bus from the nearest train station at Haverfordwest. www.preseliventure.co.uk, 01348 837709.