You don't have to go far in Belize to find a property that is eco-friendly. Perhaps one of the destination's most popular green resorts is Tranquility Bay Resort (www.tranquilitybayresort.com), which opened its doors in 2006. In the Ambergris Caye region of Belize, the resort is made up of 11 beachfront cabanas on 12 acres within Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tranquility Bay Resort is known for its modern amenities, direct access to the Belize Barrier Reef and views of the Caribbean Sea. The resort offers diving, fishing and numerous adventure activities. Call 888-843-2293 for more information. Agents can also call Robin Gordon in the reservations department at 281-298-2256 or e-mail [email protected]
In Costa Rica, we recommend booking the Doubletree Cariari by Hilton San Jose (www.hilton.com) for a green experience in Latin America. Clients get a pretty diverse taste of eco-adventure in the property's Eco-Exploration Package, which starts at $199 per night and is available now through October 31. It includes a full-day's tour for two to Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens, access to the fitness center and transportation to the airport (between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m.). Agents should call Laura Espinoza or Antonieta Roman, reservation coordinators, at 011-506-2-239-0022 or e-mail [email protected] or [email protected]
Operators and Packages
Avanti Destinations ( www.avantidestinations.com) is one of the leading Central and South America tour operators offering popular eco-packages. Here are just a few to pitch to your clients.
The Tortuguero, Arenal & Guanacaste Avanti RVP Package is one of Avanti's best-selling packages that combines highlights of Costa Rica. It begins with one night in San Jose and includes visits to Tortuguero National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Tabacón Springs and Guanacaste Beach. It lasts nine days/eight nights and starts at $877 per person, double occupancy.
Another popular package is the Costa Rica & Panama Combo Package, which includes some of the most popular sightseeing in Central America. The itinerary features San Jose, Tortuguero National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Tabacón Springs, Bocas del Toro in Panama and Panama City. It also includes air from Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro and from Bocas to Panama City. The package runs 12 days and 11 nights and starts at $1,779 per person, double occupancy.
One of Avanti's new packages, the Costa Rica Eco-Discovery RVP is also a great pitch for ecotourists. It ranges from the northern Caribbean coast to the southern Pacific coast. In addition to Tortuguero, it provides visits to the San Gerardo de Dota Cloud Forest (the largest cloud forest in Costa Rica) and Cocovado National Park (the crown jewel of Costa Rica's national park system with amazing marine life and Central America's tallest trees). The package starts at $1,737 per person, double occupancy.
Avanti offers agents a 10 percent commission with overrides based on volume. Agents should call Leigh Young at Avanti at 503-295-1100 or e-mail [email protected]
Latin Trails (www.latintrails.com) offers a host of water-based ecotours in Latin America, many of which include excursions to the Enchanted Islands, the Mystic Andes and the Amazon. It offers clients the opportunity to experience the pristine nature of South America's smallest Andean state and the Amazon region of Iquitos up close.
The Galapagos Islands are unique among other islands around the world because of their wildlife, which is so rare that it has become an attraction for scientists and nature lovers. The islands can be visited year-round and are famous for the variety of tame animals. Visitors get to explore them during three- (departure day Tuesday), four- (departure day Friday) and seven- (departure days Friday and Tuesday) night cruises onboard the luxury catamaran Galapagos Journey I.
The boat carries 16 passengers and offers visits to some of the most interesting islands of the archipelago, such as Española or Floreana Island. All cruises comprise a specialized naturalist guide, all meals and excursions. This package starts from $1,575 per person.
The most recent cruise ship available in Galapagos, constructed especially for nature cruises, is the Galapagos Odyssey, which holds up to 16 passengers. This boat is undergoing the final stage of its construction process and will be ready for its maiden voyage in mid July 2008, starting cruises on Sundays.
The Amazon Journey covers the routes of the Ucayalí and Marañon Rivers, offering its passengers an environment of comfort as it navigates through the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, which presents a diverse variety of wildlife and bird species. Bird lovers will be kept busy: The National Reserve has registered 449 different bird species in the region.
There could also be trees that contain more than one variety of insects. Experienced guides who will share knowledge on the flora and fauna of the area accompany wildlife expeditions through this jungle. This package starts at $2,270 per person.
Agents receive a 10 percent commission on all Latin Trails packages. Agents should call Marcel Perkins, general manager and expedition master, at 011-593-2-286-6898 or e-mail [email protected]
Mexico's Hidden Eco-Gem
Los Cabos has an array of eco-adventures, from hiking and biking to snorkeling over coral reef at Cabo Pulmo to kayaking to the famous El Arco to exploring the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains.
Often described as the "jewel of the East Cape," Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park is 60 miles north of Cabo San Lucas on the Sea of Cortes. An ecologically rich and unique ecosystem, Cabo Pulmo offers some of Baja's best diving and snorkeling and is also home to the only living coral reef in western North America.
Desert Park is another great Cabo eco-gem. The 50,000-acre Cabo Real Ecological Preserve is filled with breathtaking waterfalls, unique wildlife and hidden desert oases. Mountain bike rentals are available for the day or by the hour at Desert Park.
Off-road voyages are another unique way to explore the desert outback. Cabo Adventures' (http://www.cabo-adventures.com/) Desert Safari tour takes adventurous travelers in a Mercedes-Benz Unimog through bumpy terrain and streams through remote villages on a mission to reach the heart of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains. Baja Outback's Hummer Tours, which let guests drive these rugged vehicles, make for exceptional day and side trips with adventures to Todos Santos, Rancho La Verdad, Santiago and the East Cape. For more information, visit www.bajaoutback.com.
Getting Your "Green Card"
If you're looking to become green certified, we recommend contacting Guido Bauer, CEO of Green Hotel Certification. Bauer's company certifies everyone from hotels to operators to agents, so long as the agent is a member of a host agency. To learn more about how to qualify, call 310-929-7460 or e-mail [email protected] Bauer can also offer insight on how to critique a hotel that claims to be green.