Top Destinations for Ecotourism in India

Of late, ecotourism has become quite the buzzword in the travel space. Whether it is by using local guides, staying at eco lodges, supporting backwater kayakers, visiting lesser-known bazaars, bicycling to villages or eating at small family-owned restaurants… there are various ways in which travellers are indulging in immersive local experiences in order to preserve the ancient heritage, art, traditions and culture of a region, promote local livelihoods and protect the environment. We handpicked some of the top destinations where you can head to if you’re keen to take a “guilt-free” ethical holiday.

Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal: Boasting of the world’s largest natural delta and mangrove forest, the Sundarbans are also famous for being home to the Bengal tiger. The region, which consists of 54 deltaic islands, is also a shelter to several bird, reptile, invertebrate species and amphibians. The park is a haven for endangered species like the saltwater crocodile, river terrapin, olive ridley turtle, Gangetic dolphin, ground turtle, hawks bill turtle and mangrove horseshoe crab. Since it is located on the confluence of many distributaries of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal, the park receives several unique geographical features.

Chilka Lake, Odisha: India’s largest coastal lagoon and the world’s second largest, the Chilka Lake is home to various migratory birds as well as animal and plant species. The region comprising a group of small islands has been declared a wetland of international importance. The Irrawaddy dolphin, green sea turtle, dugong, blackbuck, spoon-billed sandpiper, limbless skink and fishing cat are some endemic species that can be found here. The milk fish, Indo-pacific tarpon, ten pounder, bream, hilsa and mullet are some of the aqua fauna; greater and lesser flamingos, Goliath heron, grey and purple herons, egrets, spoonbills, storks and black-headed ibis are some of the migratory birds.

Kaziranga National Park, Assam: A World Heritage Site that is home to the one-horned rhinoceros, Kaziranga is one of the finest national parks in the northeast. Due to its proximity to the Brahmaputra River and its tributaries, the park consists of fertile and alluvial soil and has some distinctive geographical features, such as sandbars, beels and chapories. The sanctuary is also one of the largest homes to reptiles like the reticulated python, rock python and king cobra. The tiger, leopard, hispid hare, fox, jackal and bear are often sighted at the park. Among the birds, the great Indian hornbill, wreathed hornbill, old world babbles and vultures are major attractions.

Andaman and Nicobar Island: A treasure trove of exotic flora and lush green tropical rainforests, the Andamans are the perfect embodiment of nature’s bounty, fringed as they are by splendid beaches and fascinating coral reefs. Blessed with an amazing variety of timber, foliage and blooms, the Andaman paduk, the yellow hibiscus, the while lily, the pandanus as well as a striking array of orchids, mangrove forests, palms and evergreen creepers, a holiday to these islands is as green and memorable as it comes.

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra: The oldest national park in Maharashtra, Tadoba inhabits a variety of wildlife, the most prominent of which is the tiger. Covering the Chimur, Moharli and Kolsa ranges, Tadoba has a thriving ecosystem of animals, like the tiger, leopard, deer, jungle cat and marsh crocodile. The lake within the reserve is a paradise for bird lovers, having about 195 species of birds. Further, the Taru tribe also still lives in the forest.

Munnar, Kerala: Covered with extensive forests, grasslands and tea orchards, Munnar is the ultimate hideout for eco travellers. Located in Idukki district in the Western Ghats, the town is home to several endemic species of flora and fauna, including the Nilgiri tahr, grizzled giant squirrel, Nilgiri wood-pigeon, elephant and gaur. Among the avifauna, the Nilgiri wood pigeon, Malabar whistling thrush, orange- crowned warbler, Nilgiri pipit, scarlet minivet and broad-tailed grassbird can be spotted here. Further, there are a number of national parks around Munnar, including the Eravikulam national park, Mathikettan Shola national park, Chinnar wildlife sanctuary, Anamudi Shola national park, Kurinjimala sanctuary and Pambadum Shola national park.

Mawlynnong, Meghalaya: Located in the midst of the rich diversity of the East Khasi hills, Mawlynnong is considered to be one of Asia’s cleanest villages. The area surrounding the charming Mawlynnong village is a basket of abundant natural beauty, comprising an evergreen forest that is shelter to a large number of animal and bird species, the intriguing living Root Bridge at Riwai, the boulder that balances on a rock, waterfalls and natural caves.

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