July 18, 2024

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11 Top Sustainable Travel Companies That Support Eco-Friendly Tourism

10 min read

We love to travel—but if you’re like us, the conflicting eco-anxieties and GHGs associated with globetrotting can cast a grey cloud over your grand adventure.

For a better way to see the world, discover our favorite sustainable travel companies that enrich not only your life, but the places you visit.

From conservation projects and off-grid lodges to all-inclusive safari tours, boutique hotels and bespoke luxury itineraries that really do help the local communities, the below eco-friendly tourism companies wear their green hearts on their sleeves.

How Can The Travel Industry Be Sustainable?

It’s no secret that the tourism industry has its fair share of ethical and environmental issues. 

Carbon and fuel-intensive flights, over tourism, exploitation, animal cruelty—the list goes on.

Not to mention tourism leakage, a process in which most of the money generated by tourism goes into the pockets of billion-dollar travel companies rather than into local communities that need it. 

However, you don’t need to hang up your suitcase for good. If done responsibly, tourism can have a profoundly positive impact on both the traveler and the destinations they visit.

With the right planning or travel companies, sustainable travel supports livelihoods and funnels your money directly into the local economy. 

It allows small businesses to flourish, funds community projects, and helps protect the environment by showcasing its economic value if left intact. 

To us, the environment is already priceless, but what we mean here is that sustainable tourism (whether solo or with the assistance of eco travel agents and tour operators) can help conserve the natural world by preventing it from being turned into farmland or apartment buildings! 

While tourism still has a long way to go, sustainable travel companies are pioneering positive change in the industry. 

From employing local guides to offering flight-free holidays and measuring their environmental and cultural impact, these tour operators make sure they benefit every destination they facilitate trips to.

Keep reading to find our top recommended environmentally conscious trips and jump to the bottom to learn what we consider when planning a trip with eco-tourism and sustainable travel in mind.

11 Eco-Friendly Tourism Companies To Book Your Vacation With

1. Responsible Travel

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by Responsible Travel
Images by Responsible Travel

The clue is in the name with Responsible Travel. They’ve led the way in eco-friendly vacations and ecotourism tours since the turn of the century.

This eco travel agency has over 5,000 adventures on offer to destinations all over the world.

Choose from hiking, conservation, diving, kayaking, cycling tours or head off to track snow leopards, swim with the whales or cruise Antarctica.

Responsible Travel has a give-back program, which campaigns for positive change with NGOs and activists.

Its eco travel options focus on local culture and local people, making sure your money goes to independent businesses and supports animal conservation.

You won’t find any elephant rides or exploitative practices here. In fact, they’re an excellent resource for learning about the difference between ethical and unethical wildlife experiences. 

2. &Beyond

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by &BeyondSustainable Travel Companies Images by &Beyond
Images by &Beyond

One of the top eco-friendly travel companies for luxury safaris, &Beyond goes above and beyond investing back into the local environment. They focus on small-group and tailor-made tours in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Indian Ocean.

If you’re keen to tick off the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino), you have plenty of ethical choices with their range of responsible luxury safaris in 11 African countries with 29 camps and lodges that all employ local guides.

Search for wildlife on the Serengeti, track the great migration, explore Masai Mara national park or glide in a hot air balloon over the Namib Desert.

One example is their Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp in Botswana which has a state-of-the-art Tesla solar power plant that gives them 80% of their energy.

They also have a responsible travel policy which looks after the land, people and animals. Environmental projects in Botswana include rhino conservation, supporting local isolated communities and providing them with access to safe drinking water. 

3. Kynder

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by KynderSustainable Travel Companies Images by Kynder
Images by Kynder

Kynder cuts to the chase.

This eco-travel platform brings together the best hotels, cafés, bars and restaurants in Europe and the USA that are eco-friendly, humane, kind and community loving.

We’re talking kind to the planet, to staff, their locality and kind to you, too. 

Find the off-the-beaten-track places that make your sustainable trip, from coffee shops hiring only refugees to the coolest eco hotels and holistic retreats.

All hotels and hospitality establishments must pass a rigorous set of guidelines to be accepted onto their platform. 

That way, you can be confident that these small businesses are truly genuine. No greenwashing here. 

4. Undiscovered Mountains

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by Undiscovered MountainsSustainable Travel Companies Images by Undiscovered Mountains
Images by Undiscovered Mountains

Undiscovered Mountains is one of the top travel companies for sustainable tourism in the French Alps.

From skiing and snow-touring to building an igloo in winter to mountain biking, rock climbing and cycling in the summer, it’s all here. 

It’s possible to do horse riding, wildlife holidays, walks, kayaking and fishing holidays. Any active, outdoor adventure holiday you can think of, you will most likely find it. 

It has special packages for families and singles, so you can guarantee you’re always paying a fair price. 

Plus, Undiscovered Mountains only works with local guides, independent accommodation and responsible partners. 

Rest assured, all your hard-earned cash goes to the people who deserve it and those who help protect this stunning European mountain range.

5. Adventure Alternative

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by Adventure AlternativeSustainable Travel Companies Images by Adventure Alternative
Images by Adventure Alternative

Among sustainable travel companies, UK-based Adventure Alternative is calling other mountain enthusiasts with sights set on remote, rugged adventures worldwide.

This responsible travel tour operator is based in Ireland but takes intrepid souls all over the world, from Borneo to East Africa. This is the company for you if you’re interested in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or making the trek to Everest Base Camp. 

For slightly more laid-back trips, there are also wildlife tours and safaris. 

As well as hiking and trekking, Adventure Alternative is a member of Fair Trade Volunteering. 

The sustainable travel company runs volunteering trips through Moving Mountains in various countries across the globe, which makes sure each project is needed and useful.

They also invest heavily in their whole supply chain, from local guides to community projects, and they works to a framework set by sustainable travel principles.

6. Intrepid Travel

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by Intrepid TravelSustainable Travel Companies Images by Intrepid Travel
Images by Intrepid Travel

While Intrepid Travel has been around for years, the eco-tourism operator is no slow coach when it comes to slow and sustainable trips. 

They’re not just a Certified B Corp, but the largest travel company in the world to become one.

They pride themselves on incorporating the principles of sustainable development in the way they provide travelers with authentic and real-life experiences.

Simply put, these are small group trips all over the world, from Greenland to Oman that get you up close and personal with wildlife and cultural highlights with local guides and specialist experts.

You can book cycling, sailing or wildlife trips with them, too. There are family-friendly tours, expedition cruises, women’s expeditions, tailor-made itineraries, National Geographic expeditions and budget-conscious tours for those aged 18-29. 

Whatever your travel style, you’ll find your perfect eco travel experience. 

The Intrepid Foundation also supports 50 community and conservation projects all over the world. Plus, they cover all administration costs so 100% of your donation goes directly to the project of your choosing. 

7. Kind Traveler

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by Kind TravelerSustainable Travel Companies Images by Kind Traveler
Images by Kind Traveler

Kind Traveler is a socially conscious ‘Give + Get’ hotel booking platform that empowers travellers to be a force for good.

$10 goes to a local community or charity close to where you’re staying, and you’ll unlock an exclusive rate at that hotel or destination across the US and beyond.

Kind Traveler is one of a growing number of eco travel companies that want to harness the power of routine bookings we already make and use them to benefit the planet. It’s a simple yet effective way to give back when booking your trip. 

An example of one of the best traveler companies that have implemented sustainable tourism policies, Kind Traveler’s goals are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): preventing poverty and hunger, protecting the planet, and promoting well-being for individuals and animals.

8. Aracari

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by AracariSustainable Travel Companies Images by Aracari
Images by Aracari

One of the top sustainable travel companies South America-bound travelers have, Aracari organizes eco-luxury holidays and boutique trips around Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador—including the Galapagos Islands.

In recognition of their ethical efforts, sustainable brand consultants Positive Luxury has awarded the tour operator the prestigious Butterfly Mark.

They’re also a favorite with Conde Nast Traveller, and their specialist guides are some of the best in the business.

They infuse all of their tours with environmental and social good, foster long-term relationships with local communities, help you reduce your environmental footprint, and ensure everyone gets paid a living wage.

Really experience Latin American culture with authentic homestays on Lake Titicaca or get access to exclusive local accommodation from Aracari’s black book of contacts that no one else has. 

For a more hands-on experience, spend time with community projects like Tierra de los Yachaqs, a philanthropic organization determined to preserve the history and traditions of local people in Peru’s Sacred Valley.

9. Rickshaw Travel

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by Rickshaw TravelSustainable Travel Companies Images by Rickshaw Travel
Images by Rickshaw Travel

Rickshaw Travel has a whole host of independent and authentic trips that get under the skin of Southeast Asia.

Explore Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand with their ethical and impactful itineraries.

The global sustainable tour operator also offers trips to India, Japan, China, and Bhutan as well as destinations in Central and South America plus Europe and North America.

This company is all about meaningful travel experiences, meeting people and discovering unique local cultures and customs.

Choose to go trekking, discover landscapes by bike, tuck into amazing street food and meet the people that make an eco-travel trip an unforgettable experience.

10. Byway

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by BywaySustainable Travel Companies Images by Byway
Images by Byway

Head out on a flight-free holiday with slow travel experts Byway.

This eco-friendly tour company arranges slow travel adventures across the UK and Europe by train, bike, ferry and foot – no planes in sight here. 

Their dynamic trip builder creates personal trips and tours based on your interests, while your virtual guide can assist with your journey via WhatsApp. 

Byway manages all your itinerary and bookings and comes up with the perfect sustainable tours for solo, couple, or family travelers.

We love their commitment to authentic travel without the carbon footprint of flying. 

All your accommodation is locally owned, too. Think: family-owned B&Bs and boutique hotels, all with the utmost comfort—and of course, fabulous breakfasts!

11. Earth Changers

Sustainable Travel Companies Images by Earth ChangersSustainable Travel Companies Images by Earth Changers
Images by Earth Changers

Inspirational, transformative tourism is what’s on offer at Earth Changers, an online travel booking platform which features a list of environmental holidays whether it’s adventure, active breaks, or conservation trips. 

At the moment there are ten destinations which include the first-ever marine conservation reserve in Tanzania to Floreana, which is the smallest of the inhabited islands in the Galapagos archipelago.

You don’t have to book far-flung destinations either. Join an authentic mountain ranch in Croatia or do an adventure trip in Wales much closer to home. 

Earth Changers is a global eco-tourism project that truly has a positive impact, and you’ll get to meet world-changing pioneers along the way. 

How Did We Choose The Top Eco-Tourism Companies?

Eco-tourism and sustainable travel are often used interchangeably. 

So what is an eco-tourism company? And how does it differ from a sustainable travel company?

An eco-tourism operator tends to focus on low-impact, nature-based tours that conserve the environment through culture and education. 

Think gorilla trekking in Rwanda with Intrepid Travel, staying in an eco-lodge with Aracari or booking a conservation holiday with Earth Changers. 

Sustainable tourism is the umbrella term for eco-friendly travel. It’s based on the three pillars of sustainability: economic impact, sociocultural impact and environmental impact.

The idea is that travelers have the option to choose sustainable practices in all aspects of their trip. Kind Traveler’s hotel booking platform and Kynder are perfect examples of this. 

Let’s explore some of our essential criteria for evaluating each sustainable travel company.

Carbon Goals & Achievements: 

A truly eco travel company should prioritize carbon footprint reduction by offering flight-free alternatives, promoting train, bike, and ferry travel over flights.

If flights are part of the experience,they should be utilizing some of the best carbon offset programs to counteract the carbon footprint of those flights.

Sustainable Accommodations:

We want to explore with sustainable travel companies that curate experiences with eco-friendly hotels and restaurants, guaranteeing that your stay supports businesses that are kind to the planet and their communities.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: 

Respect for cultures being visited is an obvious essential, sustainable travel or not, but we also want companies that support local communities with meaningful cultural exchanges, fair employment of local guides, and additional investment in economic development in destination regions.

In other words, your money should be mostly staying in the community you’re visiting.

Pay It Forward:

We love to see charitable initiatives that give back to these communities in additional ways, such as supporting local conservation and social programs.

Closing Thoughts On Sustainable Tourism Companies

As you can see, eco-tourism and sustainable travel work towards creating an industry that gives back, uplifts local communities and protects fragile environments.

 They also provide you with much more authentic and rewarding travel experiences.

Have a green travel lover in your life?

Share this list of the top eco tour companies and spark their eco-friendly wanderlust.

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