• Richard Hammond

Sustainable Holidays featured in the Guardian Green Travel List 2011

Updated: Feb 17


Kayaking holidays in the wilds of Sweden.
Kayaking holidays in the wilds of Sweden with Nature Travels. Photo: Joakim Hermanson

From kayaking around Sweden'sJämtland Triangle to fascinating village-to-village walking holidays throughout India and Ethiopia, here are the five sustainable holiday providers featured in this year's Guardian Green Travel List.

>> For more information on the kinds of projects that made it onto the list, see: Graham Miller's Introduction to this year's annual Green Travel List.


Log cabin escape in Värmland, Sweden
Log cabin escape in Värmland with Nature Travels

Nature Travels, Sweden Kayaking around the Koster Islands, ski touring on the Jämtland Triangle, and timber rafting down the Klarälven are among the adventure holidays available with Nature Travels, a UK tour operator that focuses exclusively on small-scale, low-impact eco-tourism. It is operated by locally owned partners in Sweden using only local guides and services, particularly those vetted by the Swedish Ecotourism Society. Holiday packages don’t even include flights, customers are encouraged to take alternative transport from the UK, such as by ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg, Denmark, or overland by train via Germany. More than 90% of its clients travel within Sweden by public transport. Five days self-guided ski touring on the Jämtland Triangle costs from £286 per person for including four nights’ self-catering accommodation and maps but not transport or equipment.


Sicilian Experience, Italy Renovated traditional stone cottages in the laid-back seaside village of Sant’Ambrogio near the beautiful Madonie National park on the northern coast of the island are available to rent through a unique community tourism initiative that has breathed new life into this ancient corner of Sicily. The scheme encourages locals, especially the young people, to become more environmentally savvy, to take pride in their heritage and promote local traditions, so traditional Sicilian organic gardening is flourishing and you can expect to find local olive oil, preserved vegetables and organic jams in your apartment. A mezzanine apartment for two in one of the first stone buildings in the village, with a large terrace and views of the sea, costs from €300 for a week (a green flower icon singles out those accommodations that are part of this initiative).

La Ruta Moskitia, Honduras Jungle trekking, tubing, crocodile spotting and miskito dancing are just some of the actitivities included on these action adventure ecotourism holidays in the heart of the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a two-million acre Unesco world heritage site in north-east Honduras that’s home to jaguars, monkeys, manatees and more than 300 bird species. La Ruta Moskitia is an alliance of six indigenous communities that have joined together to host travellers in palm-thatched ecolodges and transport you expertly by dugout canoes through the rainforest as you tick off each adventure. Profits from this enterprise have gone directly back to the villages, which has generated economic opportunities for locals as alternatives to overfishing and illegal logging. From $425 per person for a seven-day “overland adventure,” including full-board accommodation and activities but not international flights or transfers.

Traidcraft Meet the People tours Witness spectacular sunrises and sunsets over the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas at Nagarkot, then explore the ancient city of Kathmandu, ride on an elephant back safari in Chitwan National Park then chill out in the lakeside city of Pokhara. This is just one of the whistle-stop itineraries on Traidcraft’s novel sightseeing trips to developing countries. Others trips include Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cuba, Peru and Vietnam. En route to exploring some of the country’s best attractions, you get to stay with the smallscale farmers who make fairtrade products. There are currently 14 tours a year. Prices start from £1,325 per person for a 13-day tour of Nepal, including all accommodation, most meals, transport and activities but not international travel.

The Himalayas offer countless treks and challenges. Photo: Holly TuppenVillage Ways If you’ve ever dreamed of walking in the Himalayas but have been put off by high altitude, energy-sapping mountain treks, then a Village Ways trip could be for you. Beginning at Based Binsar, a wildlife sanctuary in the Himalayan foothills, in sight of the great peaks of Nanda Devi, Trisul and Panchachuli, you’ll go on gentle, privately guided walks from village to village staying in specially built guest-houses in the heart of the communities with delicious home-grown vegetarian food and picnic lunches. You’ll get to see the spectacular views and still have the energy at the end of the day to enjoy the fabulous home cooking and age-old rhythms of traditional village life.

The Village Ways formula is has been to introduce small-scale tourism to rural communities to help sustain their communities and to offer tourists the chance to engage with people and cultures they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to. Village Ways has established village-to-village walking holidays in five locations across India and two locations in Ethiopia; another project is scheduled to launch in Kenya next year. Prices for a typical nine-night trip to the Binsar region of India start from £610 per person, including transport, full-board accommodation and guiding but not international travel.

Read about the other initiatives that made it onto the Guardian Green Travel List in these categories:

Community tourism >>

Accommodation >>

Visitor Attractions >>

Transport >>