Sitting here on the eve of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, I know you’re already being bombarded with endless suggestions on how to mark the occasion, from local Earth Day celebrations designed to raise awareness of the planet’s plight to simple environmentally-friendly lifestyle changes you can make to show Mother Nature some love. Unfortunately, based on prior experience, I also know that most of our friends and neighbors are likely to have forgotten all about the subject by this time next week.
Which is why I’m suggesting that you spend just a few minutes on this Earth Day considering a handful of once-in-a-lifetime adventures that offer the opportunity to feel like you’re really giving something back to the natural world. There are any number of organizations that could use your help with ongoing research projects based in some of the most fascinating—and, in many cases, drop-dead gorgeous—spots on the globe. The fact that these ecotourism expeditions also qualify as truly extraordinary experiences you’ll be talking about for years to come, well, that’s just a bonus.
To point you in the right direction, here’s a look at two reputable operations that offer a wide range of ecotourism adventures you’re bound to find both rewarding and fun:
Founded in 1971, this international non-profit organization pairs volunteers with scientific field researchers working on wildlife conservation and related projects. They offer a broad array of intriguing hands-on programs, ranging from helping Peruvian ecologists study pink dolphins in the Amazon jungle to working to reduce the decline of cheetah populations in Namibia.
As one of the first companies to promote the idea of environmentally-friendly travel, this decade-old operation offers one-stop shopping for literally thousands of remarkable ecotourism programs. With this many offerings to choose from, there’s a good chance you’ll find something of interest, from observing whale sharks in the Seychelles to doing population surveys of elephants in South Africa’s Tembe National Park.
MORE EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES: