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Green escapes: the best new eco tours for 2022

Whether you're after an e-biking adventure in the Scottish wilderness or an immersive conservation project in Rwanda, don't miss these new green-minded getaways for the year ahead.

Published 6 Dec 2021, 06:05 GMT, Updated 6 Dec 2021, 10:17 GMT
Wild Discovery has teamed up with e-biking outfit eguide Scotland to create an e-bike safari adventure weekend in ...

Wild Discovery has teamed up with e-biking outfit eguide Scotland to create an e-bike safari adventure weekend in the Highlands.

Photograph by Dan Brown

1. Scotland

Best for off-road e-biking

Head off the beaten track into the Highlands with new Scottish wildlife-watching company Wild Discovery. The operator has teamed up with e-biking outfit eguide Scotland to create an e-bike safari adventure weekend, overnighting in glamping huts. Led by two natural history experts and an e-biking guide, you’ll explore upper Deeside and the eastern Cairngorms, home to eagles, grouse, mountain hares and beautiful, delicate flora. Up to ten guests can take part, riding full suspension mountain e-bikes with enough oomph to bring a shot of adrenaline to the experience. E-bike Safari Adventure Weekends from £499 per person for two nights. 

2. Norfolk

Best for flight-free adventures

Who says you need to travel to the world's remotest corners for some off-roading action? Sink your teeth into a proper four-wheel-drive expedition in a Land Rover Defender, eating foraged food cooked over an open fire and sleeping in a rooftop tent in Norfolk.Wildnis, a new climate-positive luxury adventure company, offers an action-packed break in the county, featuring challenges such as sailing, packrafting and sea swimming. Based on a leafy private estate, you can expect expert guides, a fine dining chef and — no surprise, given that Wildnis’ founders are former officers from the Royal Marines, British Army and Special Forces — top-notch logistics. From £2,500 per person for three nights. wildnis.co.uk

3. Italy

Best for mountain walking

Crossing dramatic landscapes on foot and hearing stories about its ecosystems as you go is a wonderful way to travel. It’s what’s on offer with Exodus Travels’ new Rewilding the Apennines tour; the operator has chosen Italy's beautiful Central Appenines for its ambitious Nature and Carbon Corridors project, run in partnership with Rewilding Europe. The aim is to give rare Marsican brown bears space to roam safely, while enabling rural communities to benefit from their presence through ecotourism. Exodus will rewild 100sq metres of the region for every traveller that joins this or any other of its trips. From £2,099 per person for five nights. 

4. Jordan

Best for desert trailblazers

Sustainable active holiday specialist Much Better Adventures has come up with an unforgettable new itinerary in Jordan, which includes a starry night in a Martian Dome — a geodesic glamping pod — surrounded by the red sand and rocky outcrops of Wadi Rum. Before that, your group will take a dip in the Dead Sea, enjoy a hike through the Dana Biosphere Reserve and cross the desert to Petra on foot. Launching in March 2022, each trip runs from Thursday to Tuesday. From £975 per person for five nights. 

The eco-friendly Ellen DeGeneres Campus in Rwanda will provide a new headquarters for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and an exhibition space for visitors when it opens next year. 

Photograph by Getty Images

5. Rwanda

Best for primate watching

There’s always something going on in the high-profile arena of mountain gorilla, chimpanzee and monkey conservation. The latest coup is the opening of the eco-friendly Ellen DeGeneres Campus in Rwanda, providing a new headquarters for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and an exhibition space for visitors. To feel like an insider in this rarefied world, join Rainbow Tours’ new small-group tour of Rwanda and Uganda, which takes you behind the scenes in areas where successful, community-based conservation projects are underway. As well as locking eyes with primates in the wild, you’ll meet local experts including rangers, researchers and wildlife vets. From £8,055 per person for 15 nights, including flights from Heathrow. 

6. South Africa

Best for rhino conservation

Visitors to Greater Kruger, South Africa’s safari heartlands, would be forgiven for not noticing that there’s a war on — a war on rhino poaching, that is. Patrols and arrests typically take place in the background, well out of sight. Knowing that the issues can seem intangible to visitors, the Balule Nature Reserve’s unarmed, all-female Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit — who are educators by nature — are happy to share their stories. Ker & Downey’s new Conservation Experience safari begins with a leisurely tour of Cape Town, the Cape Winelands and Grootbos, then visits Balule, where you’ll meet the Mambas, hear their tales and learn about their crucial work with Ker and Downey. From £5,916 per person for 13 days. 

7. Brazil

Best for birdwatching

The best birding itineraries include an interesting mixture of habitats, and the experts at Birdquest have put together a new guided tour of south and southwest Brazil that covers wetlands, canyons, grasslands and forests. Although relatively little-visited compared to the Brazilian Amazon, this part of the country contains a superb variety of birds. Highlights to look out for include sickle-winged and white-winged nightjars, blaze-winged parakeets, cock-tailed tyrants, hyacinth macaws and the critically endangered saffron-cowled blackbird, along with fascinating mammals such as giant anteaters, crab-eating foxes and the rare but beautiful maned wolf. The group will stay in ecolodges and spend most days with binoculars in hand, by day and after dark. From £4,030 per person for 15 nights. 

8. Antarctica

Best for polar exploring

Would-be Antarctic adventurers often quake in their thermal boots at the prospect of rough seas in the notorious Drake Passage between South America and the South Shetland Islands. The crossing, which usually takes a couple of days, can be gnarly enough to fling a fridge across the room. The answer is to pick an expedition ship that’s designed to cope, such as the sleek new Ocean Albatros. Although small, it’s swift and stable enough to reach calm waters far faster than traditional expedition vessels, and its low-energy engines ensure its carbon footprint is over 50% lower, too. Glaciers, icebergs, penguins and whales await. Chimu Adventures has an eight-night trip from £4,435 per person. 

Published in the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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