Ten amazing “green” adventures

Eco-adventures are all the rage these days with environmentally conscious travelers choosing to visit far flung places, all the while fully aware of the size of their carbon footprint. They want an amazing travel experience, and are willing to go to great lengths to get it, all the while adhering to the principles of sustainable travel.

With that in mind, the Times Online has an excellent article listing ten top “green” travel experiences, or what they call “clean breaks”, each of which offer cultural immersion, amazing scenery, and a fantastic experience that is far off the beaten path. For instance, the article recommends heading to Lebanon to hike the Mountain Trail, the country’s first long distance trek, which runs through the Mount Lebanon range from Qbaiyat, in the north, to Marjaayoun in the south. The trail is roughly 270 miles in length, with regularly spaced stone inns offering up a place to sleep, good food, and plenty to drink.

For a completely different experience, hop a flight to New Zealand to spend a little time on the slopes. The authors of this piece recommend heading to Craigieburn Valley in the Southern Alps for some amazing skiing, minus the resort. Yep, that’s right, no chairlifts or groomed trails here. Just a couple of rope tows that will pull you to the top of the mountain, where you’ll get the opportunity to ski through untouched wilderness. And at the end of the day, relax in one of the nearby huts, which are comfortable but primitive.

Other suggestions include a swimming vacation in Finland, camping in France, and hiking in Estonia. There is a little bit of something for everyone, and you won’t need to feel guilty about your impact on the environment while you travel.

Gadling Take FIVE: Week of March 21 –March 28

I’m psyched. As soon as I set this puppy to post, I’m heading to Cleveland to go to the Cleveland International Film Festival where I’ll meet up with Brook Silva-Braga for the showing of his film A Day in Africa. There’s also a load of stuff going on to commemorate the inductions at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

It’s been busy around here at Gadling as well. Kent has been posting about his Competitours Race in Europe, Aaron is posting about his Heathen in the Holy Land experiences which includes why wearing stripes is a good thing. For anyone who wants to be a flight attendant, Heather has the scoop on that . And Karen, with her artist’s eye, tells about color in photography. Her post is gorgeous.

Here are six more.

Big in Africa: Spotlight on Rwanda

This month, Big in Japan is on vacation in Africa, and will be bringing you travel news and happenings from around this often misunderstood continent.

Although Africa is usually viewed in the West as a singular entity, the continent is incredibly varied. From the Saharan desert and the Sahel to equatorial rainforests and acacia-lined plains, Africa offers up an impressive amount of biodiversity.

While most first-timers on the continent choose to safari in classic destinations such as Kenya and South Africa, there is one tiny country that is turning heads in ecotourism circles. Bordering Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda is emerging as one of the continent’s top attractions.

Whether you trek along the Congolese border in search of rare mountain gorillas, or unwind with a passion fruit cocktail on the sandy shores of Lake Kivu, Rwanda is a remarkable tourist destination that deserves its share of the spotlight.

Mention Rwanda to just about anyone with the smallest measure of geopolitical conscious, and they’ll no doubt recall images of the horrific genocide that brutalized this tiny country in 1994. In the span of just 100 days, an estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were systematically butchered by the Interhamwe militas.

While the scars still run deep, Rwanda has done a remarkable job of healing its wounds and turning towards the future. The government has eliminated the very mention of tribes, and rallied the country under the common Rwandan identity. And, in order to help stimulate its developing economy, the country is protecting its most vital natural resource – the mountain gorilla.

A string of volcanoes run along the Congolese border, forming the backbone of the world famous Parq National des Volcans, the national park where Dian Fossey wrote Gorillas in the Mist. Here, seven groups of mountain gorillas inhabit the montane forests along the slopes of the volcanoes.

Since 1999, tourists have been once again allowed to track these rare primates, and a face-to-face encounter with a silverback in the wild is easily one of the highlights of any trip to Africa. If you want to learn how to obtain a highly coveted tracking permit, check out tomorrow’s column of Big in Africa.

Parq National des Volcans is also home to the endangered golden monkey, while Nyuwenge Forest in the southeast contains chimpanzees and enormous troops of colobus monkeys. Of course, Rwanda isn’t just monkey business – Gisenyi on the shores of Lake Kivu is a relaxed and low-key resort town, while increasingly cosmopolitan Kigali is one of the most beautiful capitals in East Africa.

Rwanda is also home to a number of genocide memorials, which offer perspective on the past rather than accusations. The Kigali Memorial Centre in the Kigali suburb of Kisozi is a poignant and heart-wrenching testimonial that catalogs the tremendous human sacrifice paid by Rwandans.

Perhaps Apollon Katahizi said it best: “When they said ‘never again’ after the holocaust, was it meant for some peope and not for others.”

If you find yourself in East Africa, be sure to spend your tourist dollars in Rwanda – the country needs it.

Photo of the Day (1/17/08)

Appropriately titled “Smiley,” this wonderful shot by Fiznatty perfectly captures that spontaneous grin that occasionally greets travelers in remote lands where simply catching sight of a foreigner is enough to trigger a child’s irrepressible smile.

What makes this shot even more amazing is that it was taken in northern Rwanda–a place more commonly associated with horror than with our smiley friend above. It’s certainly a testament that no matter how bad a place might be, a child’s resiliency will always shine through.

Paris Hilton Plans to Travel to Rwanda

Fresh off of getting kicked out of this year’s Oktoberfest, Paris Hilton is planning a trip to Rwanda to “bring more attention to what people can do to help,” she told E! Online.

I’m not arguing the fact that more attention should be directed towards countries like Rwanda, but is the type of attention that’s wanted or needed? I’m not sure. On one hand, hordes of Hilton fans will actually hear the word “Rwanda” mentioned, and maybe half of those will realize it’s a country (and not just a Don Cheadle movie). A few of the remaining might bother to look it up on a map or check Wikipedia to figure out why the hell Paris Hilton is going there in the first place. So I guess not all is lost.

Unfortunately for her, there’s no Hilton hotel in Rwanda.