Wildlife tourism focused on wildlife conservation can be an important economic factor in communities around the world, but irresponsible wildlife experiences that harm both animals and the environment are a sad side of the equation, a money-making scheme for sometimes impoverished communities, selling an experience to tourists that will pay to take a photo with a tiger cub or ride a dolphin. For a responsible wildlife experience that benefits everyone (and that’s enjoyable for the whole family), check out the options below.
A perfect choice for families with teenagers, this vacation skips the elephant rides and typical tourism associated with these magnificent beasts and takes travelers to a Thai elephant refuge, catering to animals rescued from the streets of Bangkok. Prepare food, feed the elephants, bathe them — all while enjoying accommodations right in the heart of a larger wildlife sanctuary, home to more than 400 animals.
You’re likely already familiar with the natural wonders of the Galapagos. Enjoy stays in eco-friendly resorts with wildlife experiences that limit your impact on the unique environment as much as possible. Adventure activities are plentiful, from mountain biking to zip lining, horseback riding to white water rafting.
If your family dreams of a once-in-a-lifetime African safari, head to Kenya for a 13-day safari and beach vacation. The accommodations are all eco-friendly and the tour providers are closely linked to community projects and practice responsible tourism, for an experience that limits your impact on the environment and the wildlife, while benefiting local communities.
A tour with a focus on marine life, this five-day expedition on the Baja California peninsula includes recording vital data on sea turtles, monitoring gray whales and exploring mangroves. Additionally, tourism in the region promotes economic development in an area that previously relied heavily on overfishing and poaching.
For a multigenerational, adults-only expedition in northern Germany, team up with scientists monitoring the return of the wolf population to Lower Saxony. You’ll be placed on a small team to record wolf tracks and kills, as well as survey prey species.