Ecotourism is entirely a new approach in tourism. Ecotourism is a preserving travel to natural areas to appreciate the cultural and natural history of the environment, taking care not to disturb the integrity of the ecosystem, while creating economic opportunities that make conservation and protection of natural resources advantageous to the local people.
In short, ecotourism can be categorised as tourism programme that is - "Nature based, ecologically sustainable, where education and interpretation is a major constituent and where local people are benefited."
Eco Destinations in India
The land of snow capped peaks translucent lakes and stretches of barren terrain is often known as the Hermit Kingdom. Nestled between the magnificent Himalayas and the Karakoram mountains and traversed by the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges, Ladakh lies in the easternmost corner of Jammu and Kashmir and forms India’s highest plateau with much of it being over 9800 ft. It is also one of the most sparsely populated regions in the country.
Shielded by lofty mountain ranges, rain bearing clouds rarely blow up to Ladakh keeping the area relatively dry at times when the rest of India is soaking in the rains. However the breathtaking beauty of the snow-capped mountains, the sparkling clear water of the snow-fed rivers and the stretches of almost fewer fields tend to soothe your senses. If you are looking for some adventure, the region’s rolling mountains and rivers provide ample opportunities for an action packed holiday. White water rafting is a popular sport on the gushing Indus and its tributaries. You can either take the professionally guided run between Spituk and Saspol or simply float along the relatively calm waters of the river up to Karu - an option recommended for amateurs and leisure-seekers.
If you prefer the mountains, then the lofty ranges around are excellent for treks. The nun-Kun massif in the Himalayas, Stok-Khangri massif in the Zanskar range, the peaks of Gulap Khangri, Matho West and Kantaka are popular trekking destinations, despite the rather inhospitable terrain.
Among the must visits is the 17th century Leh Palace, which is the capital of the ruling royal family. A few kilometers up the Indus is the Shey Palace, the ancient capital of Ladakh. After a tiring day, packed with sight seeing tours and adventure activities, lie back and gaze at the sky.
Nisargadhama is a 65 acre beautiful Riverine Island near Kushalnagar town in Coorg district, located 280 km from Bangalore or about six hours drive .A big attraction is the suspended bridge that connects the mainland to the island.
The Cauvery River which originates in the Brahmagiri hills in the Western Ghats in Coorg district splits into 4 branches near Kushalnagar forming riverine islands and the largest among all is the Nisargadhama.
Established in 1989, this beautiful island is also home to wildlife, ranging from crocodiles that bask on the rocks to elephants and sambars. The island is lush with trees from rosewood to teak to species of terminalia. Most nature freaks who have enjoyed visiting Nisargadhama have remarked that one can spot beautiful butterflies, woodpeckers and various kinds of birds in the mornings. The picturesque picnic spot offers boat rides and elephant rides. Nature lovers can also visit the deer park and the Orchidarium.
Perched on the southern ranges of the Sahyadris, at a height of 2265 ft, this quiet village is the last mountain resort along the western coast, before the Sahyadris give way to beaches. With gently rolling slopes and dense vegetation, Amboli is mesmerising in the rains! In summers, the slopes with their multi-hued flora are a popular trekking destination. The forts of Manohargad and Mansantoshgad are only a few kilometers away.
The first showers transform this busy tourist spot into a quiet green monsoon retreat covered with mist and fog. The hill station is the wettest place in Maharashtra, receiving 269 inches of rainfall between June and October. One can soak in the cool breeze and gaze at the beauty of the Konkan plains that stretch out below or go for a stroll in the early morning. The aroma of fresh, wet earth, the cool monsoon breeze, a panoramic view of the lush Konkan plains and the glistening sea are sure to leave your mind and body rejuvenated. Walking over to the bank of river Hiranyakeshi, you can watch the waters gush over rocks and pebbles. A few metres away is the Nangardas Falls, frothy and gushing in their monsoon glory. In the evening the action shifts to sunset point where the sky glows in its flaming evening hues.
Khekranala doesn’t boast of magnificent beaches or imposing mountains. It is one of those places one heads to unwind and take a break from the daily grind of a crowded city. What makes it a holiday destination is the idyllic lake around the Khekranala Dam. The Lake is surrounded by dense forests of the Khapa range in the north-eastern Vidharba region. Since there aren’t many visitors to the place, chances are that you could be lying alone on the lake side in the solace of the nature. You can also take a boat and float around in the lake.
Just 55 km from Nagpur, Khekranala is popular among trekkers. One can set base at Khekranala and then move upwards on the rugged Khapa hills. The lush forest is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Occasional roars and growls are a testimony to the presence of tigers in the forests as well.
What attracts tourists to Khekranala is its climate and environment which remains wholesome all year round. Khekranala also boasts of a Shiva temple, popular with locals in Vidarbha. Once you are here, do not forget to visit Tadoba National park which is in north Vidarbha.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal were once a hill range stretching from Sumatra, 120 kms to the south of Burma. Many of these islands are still covered with rich tropical evergreen and tropical moist deciduous forests and are home to many endemic birds and reptiles. Many of these islands are also refuges for ancient and highly threatened indigenous people, struggling to maintain their tradition and identity despite the pressures of the 21st century.
The temperature of the islands ranges from 20-30° C. The rainy season lasts from June to December. The bird and forest life is absolutely fascinating and the islands are also refuge to marine life. Rodents and bats are predominantly found. Most of the mammals are introduced species which include the Andaman pig, chital, hogdeer, elephant and palm civet. Of the indigenous mammals the crab-eating or Nicobar macaque, the Nicobar tree shrew and the dugong are significant. Of the 255 bird species, 112 are endemic to the islands and many are highly endangered.
The best time to visit is from January to March. The Barren Island is located approximately 60 kms east of the main Andaman group of islands. It is about 125 kms north-east of Port Blair. The waters around the island are home to dolphin and dugongs, a frequent sight near the coast. There are several wildlife sanctuaries here. The Marine National Park is situated about 30 kms west of Port Blair. Bird life includes white-bellied sea eagle, Andaman wood pigeon and Andaman teal. This sanctuary is home to an important range of marine reptiles including green sea leather backed Olive Ridley turtles, hawk billed turtles and salt water crocodiles. The Middle Button Island National Park was established in 1979. These small island parks have few mammals. The water monitor lizard is also found here. The Narcondum Island Sanctuary is located about 260kms north east of Port Blair. This sanctuary protects the sole habitat of the Narcondum hornbill. The South Sentinel Sanctuary is located about 125 kms south of Port Blair. Olive Ridley turtles and leather backed turtles can be found laying eggs here and the white bellied sea eagles hunting in the surrounding waters. If you are lucky, you may spot some robber crabs too!