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Environmentally friendly fun

The United Nations has designated 
2017 as the International Year for Sustainable Tourism. This was long overdue as modern travellers are not only concerned with the sights and attractions of their destination, but often worry about their environmental footprint. Does that mean dull and boring travel? Hardly! Even a sustainable hotspot offers plenty to enjoy.

Go green
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Costa Rica

Among the howler monkeys

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Costa Rica’s big goal? To be fully carbon neutral within 5 years

Take for example the Costa Rica Treehouse Lodge. These nature suites near Punta Uva, which include a breathtaking tree hut perched among the howler monkeys, combine sustainable tourism with pure luxury. Don’t expect an electricity-guzzling jacuzzi, but you can soak in an equally decadent outdoor tub. This one is cleaned with bio-degradable cleaning products, filled with spring water and heated by a cosy fire fuelled by demolition wood.

Costa Rica is often seen as the cradle of sustainable tourism. With more than 150 national parks and nature reserves – a quarter of the country’s territory – the greenest student of the international eco-class has been a favourite destination for sustainable travellers for decades. The country aims to be fully carbon neutral in 5 years, and eco-lodges play an important role in proving that green policies are so much more than just reusing your hotel towels.

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Tree House Lodge

Destination: Costa Rica.
Location: Central America, between Nicaragua and Panama.
KLM flight: daily from Amsterdam to San José and v.v., with one stop.

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Tree House Lodge
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Tree House Lodge
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Washing elephants

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BLES Elephant Sanctuary

Not only should the natural environment of accommodations be important for sustainable travel, the local entertainment should also fit the environmental footprint. For years, Thailand has attracted visitors with elephant rides until it recently came to light that these animals are horribly abused behind the scenes.

“Responsible fun in Thailand: wash the elephants and help gather their breakfast”

Today more and more destinations offer a responsible way to enjoy these majestic animals. For example, visit Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, an award-winning sanctuary for released and retired show elephants in northern Thailand. These animals now live freely in their natural habitat. As a guest, you have the unique opportunity to hike and even camp among the elephants. Visitors can also assist in the nature reserve’s daily chores. How about scrubbing down the elephants’ thick hides or helping gather them breakfast? 

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Katherine Connor: BLES Elephant Sanctuary

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Destination: Thailand. 
Location: South-east Asia.
KLM flight: daily non-stop from Amsterdam to Bangkok and v.v.

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San Francisco

Urban jungle

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©  f8grapher / Alamy Stock Photo

©  Sergiy Tryapitsyn / Alamy Stock Photo

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Destination: San Francisco.
Location: On the west coast of the US.
KLM flight: daily non-stop from Amsterdam to San Francisco and v.v. 

“San Francisco constantly launches new sustainable initiatives”

If you think only pristine jungle qualifies as a sustainable destination, San Francisco will surely change your mind. The greenest metropolis in the USA was the first city to outlaw plastic bags and bottles, and new sustainable initiatives are constantly being launched. Downtown ‘Frisco’ teems with rooftop farms, indoor gardens and mini-parks. This is the result of a local bylaw that states that all new office buildings must provide a public green space.

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[Left] Alice Musbach - [Right] Sergey Novikov / Alamy Stock Photo

The city is also home to plenty of wildlife: near the port, hundreds of wild sea lions have staked out their spot on the floating docks at Pier 39. Looking for an environmentally friendly dining destination? Veggie paradise Al’s Place in The Mission is lauded as one of the most fun, delicious (one Michelin star) and most affordable new restaurants in the US. Night owls can enjoy a late drink at Hangar 1: this local distillery makes vodka with water collected from San Francisco’s famous fog.

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South Africa

Brotherly bushmen

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“The sustainable Xaus Lodge not only protects the natural environment but also supports the local population”

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Sustainable travellers love accommodations that protect the local flora and fauna. But most sustainable travel destinations are also able to preserve the environment and support the local population at the same time. 

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One of the best examples is Xaus Lodge: a dozen eco-chalets in South Africa’s northern Cape, an area tightly wedged between Namibia and Botswana. For centuries, the ‘bushmen’ of the Mier and the Khomani San – two local tribes – in this part of the Kalahari Desert were sworn enemies. This was until 15 years ago when the two warring parties finally buried the hatchet and took on the responsibility of running the lodge. Together, the two tribes organise unforgettable walking safaris, birdwatching excursions and the opportunity to go stargazing under the deep dark sky. 

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Greatstock / Alamy Stock Photo

Destination: The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Location: In South Africa’s northern cape, on the border with Botswana. 
KLM flight: daily non-stop from Amsterdam to Cape Town and v.v.

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    Susanne Baumgarten | Alamy Stock Photo
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    Looking into the future

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    “For 12 consecutive years, AIR FRANCE KLM has been named the most sustainable airline group”

    The final but perhaps most important item on the sustainable traveller’s checklist is the trip itself. The airline industry generates approximately 2 to 3 percent of all man-made CO2 emissions. That is why KLM is taking responsibility for its share. We strongly believe in our sustainable practices and have been very successful in doing so. For 12 consecutive years, AIR FRANCE KLM has been named the most sustainable airline group by the Dow  Jones Sustainability Index: an international indicator for sustainable companies.

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    Together with Delft University of Technology, KLM is developing the CleanEra: an aircraft that is 50 percent more fuel-efficient and makes less noise than previous models. The project should be flight-ready in 2025. But our environmental policies impact even the smallest details: eco-friendly luggage claim tags, the use of sustainable chocolate in our catering, and the implementation of a paperless cockpit. Check KLM Takes Care to stay up to date on all our initiatives for a better world.


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