Ecotourism is defined as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." Ecotourism tends to give you a closer connection and appreciation to nature.
There are many popular ecotourism destinations around the world, but today I'll focus on what's closer to home - destinations in Louisiana!
Farmland in South Louisiana
Louisiana has about 20 national wildlife refuges and almost 20 state parks, giving visitors many opportunities to get closer to nature while staying close to home. These areas provide visitors with miles of hiking and biking trails and have lands for bird watching and exploring. Many areas have long canoe trails - and canoeing is a great eco-friendly form of transportation! Your arms are the only fuel you need!
Canoeing at Vermilionville
For nature lovers, the unique fauna and flora provide opportunity to enjoy Louisiana's unique (usually hot and sticky) environment. Go out for a swamp tour (take a tour of Cajun Country or Pearl River), go deep-sea charter fishing, fish along the inland waterways, or go bird watching.
Charter fishing trip in Cocodrie, LA
Another aspect of ecotourism is agri-tourism, where you can visit and take a tour of local food businesses or working farms. Louisiana is known for many crops, such as rice, sugarcane, cotton, soybeans and corn. And don't forget all the delicious seafood! Hot sauce may not be considered an actual crop, but it's certainly one of our finest local products!
The beauty of ecotourism is that it gives you a closer look at nature in the area, and you learn a bit of history in how our ancestors truly had to live off the land. Sometimes a trip out of civilization and into nature is just what you need to reset yourself.
As with any trip, ecotourism or not, it's important to remember the basic rules of environmentalism. You should make the smallest impact possible on nature. Bring reusable items, recycle what you can, DON'T LITTER (we all remember those photos of turtles getting stuck in six-pack rings, right?), and don't use more than what you need. If you're camping, make sure you leave your campground exactly as you found it.
It's also important to follow the laws wherever you are. For example, if you're fishing, you need the proper fishing license for where you are, and you must adhere to the fishing limits. Many areas in Louisiana are protected natural habitats, but even if they aren't, wouldn't you want to make sure the areas stay clean and natural for future visitors? Littering and trashing nature hurts everyone.
More Louisiana ecotourism resources:
- Louisiana Agri-tourism Blog
- UL Lafayette Center for Cultural and Ecotourism
- Visit Louisiana Coast - Ecotourism
- Louisiana Wildlife Refuges
- Louisiana State Parks
- Louisiana Charter Fishing options
What's your favorite ecotourism spot close to your hometown?