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Feel-Good Travel: Nine Adventures That Won't Cost the Earth

Indulge your wanderlust by being mindful of how you travel.
By Orlaith Costello
November 30, 2023
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By Orlaith Costello
November 30, 2023
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in partnership with

Embarking on an adventure need not be at the expense of the planet. In a world where conscious living is becoming a mantra, wanderlust and sustainability now walk hand-in-hand. Say goodbye to travel guilt with this list of ten feel-good adventures that promise awe-inspiring moments and a lighter impact on our precious planet. Together with B Corp-certified travel group Intrepid Travel, we've selected the trips that allow you to explore the planet with a green conscience. 

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EUROPE BY RAIL

One of the best low-impact ways to explore Europe is by train. The countries of the continent are all interconnected by rail networks. You can hop on a train in London and travel under the English Channel to arrive in the City of Lights: Paris. Spend a couple of days exploring the French capital, from the Eiffel Tower to the artistic neighbourhood of Montmartre in Paris — once home to artistic legends Van Gogh and Picasso. Then hop on a train south to Nimes to discover ancient Roman monuments and swim or kayak in the Gardon River. Next, it's on to Catalonia in Spain to the colourful city of Barcelona before journeying to the heart of Spain, the capital city of Madrid. Not only is this adventure more convenient — no long airport queues or driving days — it's also more carbon-friendly as you will travel by public transport the entire way. 

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HIKING THE DOLOMITES

If an adventure for you includes lacing up your hiking boots and traversing a mountain range, then The Dolomites should definitely be on your travel list. The stunning, rugged scenery of the epic mountain range in the northern Italian Alps is next to none. You will make most of the footprints on this journey, not carbon emissions. This adventure to The Dolomites covers the Three Peaks of Lavaredo loop, a full-day walk that is widely regarded as the most scenic hike in the region. The trip will require you to hike up to 14 kilometres a day — although there is a cable car ride one day — so you'll want to pack light and consider hiking poles. You'll be fuelled on your hike with breakfasts, an apple strudel tasting, a cheese tasting, a gourmet picnic lunch and the guesthouses along your route have bustling restaurants with schnitzel and beer on offer for hikers.

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NEW ZEALAND BY BIKE

Jump in the saddle and follow the Central Otago Rail Trail through the unforgettable landscape of South Island. Kick things off in the outdoor paradise of Queenstown at the base of The Remarkables mountain range, then meander through valleys, wine regions and small gold-mining towns. Not only will you see the epic landscapes of New Zealand without impacting the environment, but also by travelling on this trip, you'll directly support Intrepid Foundation partner World Bicycle Relief. It provides school kids, health workers, and farmers in remote areas with bicycles that provide access to education, healthcare, and income.

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TREK OR TRAIN THE INCA TRAIL

Machu Picchu is on the bucket list of most wanderlusting travellers. The fascinating ancient Incan civilisation perched atop a mountain range in the Sacred Valley. As you journey to the iconic site, you will pass through local villages, marketplaces and maize crops. Stop for lunch and chat with locals — see if you can pick up a few words of the local Quechua language — before climbing to the summit. Did you know you have many options to see this epic clifftop wonder? This trip allows both trekkers and non-trekkers to visit Machu Picchu with the Inca Trail and Quarry Trail for those who want to travel by foot and train option for those who wish to have a more comfortable climb. 

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MOROCCO BY FOOT

Where are my ladies at? This women-only trekking tour of Morocco promises an epic adventure off the beaten path. Take in the beauty of the M'goun Valley over four days of hiking. You'll need to be relatively fit for this adventure as you'll be walking up to seven hours daily meandering through picturesque valleys and rocky terrains. By travelling on this trip, you may only make a low environmental impact, but you will make a major impact on the lives of the young women and girls of the High Atlas Mountains — as this trip directly supports Education for All, which helps local girls through secondary school.

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EXPLORE THE RED CENTRE

The spiritual heart of Australia is Uluru. The Red Centre is a must-visit for all Australians and visitors to this country. Circumvent the sandstone monolith and witness heart-soaring sunsets and sunrises where the red ground changes to orange and purple. Lace up your hiking boots and walk the Kings Canyon Rim Trail in Watarrka National Park. Then, wind through two of the Kata Tjuta's towering domed rock formations on the Walpa Gorge Walk. This is a camping and trekking adventure for those who want an action-packed trip that doesn't cost the earth.

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CENTRAL AMERICA BY BUS AND BOAT

Feel the calming sea breezes on Playa del Carmen, trek through the lush jungle and cruise to Rio Dulce on this three-country trip to Central America. Amble down the coast by ferry, shared boat and bus with options to hire a bike to explore the region on two wheels. Public transportation allows you to live like a local and reduce your impact while exploring the local wonders of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.

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VIETNAM BY TRAIN

Travel by sleeper train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City on this adventure to Vietnam. Bike through the countryside of Hue, kayak between the limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island and enjoy a cycling tour of the road less travelled to Ninh Ninh and Hoa Lu. Take in the stunning scenery without the carbon guilt.

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HIKE, BIKE, KAYAK THROUGH JAPAN

Embark on an epic adventure from Tokyo to Osaka by boat, public bus, metro, bullet train, train, taxi, walking, bike and kayak. This is an adventure for those adventurous travellers who love to get their hearts pumping. Cycle along the Shimanami Kaido to the Inland Sea, hike between the preserved post towns of the Nakasendo Way and traverse the World Heritage-listed pilgrimage trail (one of only two in the world), The Kumano Kodo. This trip also supports World Bicycle Relief, which provides bicycles to school kids, health workers, and farmers in rural areas.

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WALK THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

If you spend your weekends walking the bush and hiking up mountains, amp up your adventuring travel with this iconic 100-kilometre trail, the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Uncover the real Galicia as you trek through quaint hamlets, ancient bridges, and Roman ruins on your journey from Sarria to the ancient city of Santiago de Compostela. This is more than just a physical challenge, it's a journey to the past and one that respects the environment you'd be travelling through — there are no buses or cars on this adventure, just your own feet, so be sure to pack sturdy (and comfy) walking boots. Also, this trip directly supports Intrepid Foundation partner Open Arms, which helps safeguard the rights of migrant people.

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Intrepid Travel offsets emissions on its trips on its travellers' behalf. The company also has a carbon reduction target you can read about on the website. Get out, explore, dive into adventure and find your WOW with Intrepid Travel. Find out more on the website.

Published on November 30, 2023 by Orlaith Costello
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