I caught up with Laura Greenman — founder of Magnetic North Travel — to talk about how we can minimise the impact of our travels on the world around us.
What makes a vacation eco-friendly?
The term ‘eco-friendly’ has become a buzzword. While its popularity stands testament to an increasing demand for a more sustainable approach to travel, we think that it’s important to revert back to the positive intentions behind the ‘eco-friendly’ label. The original idea behind eco-travel was to act responsibly when visiting new places.
This responsibility goes beyond being eco-friendly or green. Helping locals preserve their home is equally important to preserving nature itself.
On an operational level this means that we’ll take the authenticity of the experience, its impact on the environment and local community into consideration when creating tours for our clients. Also, we select suppliers based on their ecological and social conscience.
Scandinavian countries, and Norway in particular, seem to be able to maintain a really strong connection with nature and the outdoors. What can travellers learn from the Norwegian way of life?
Friluftsliv — loosely translated as ‘free air living’ — describes the art of spending quality time outdoors. It’s a simple yet powerful philosophy emphasising the importance of enjoying nature. Rather than pushing limits in punishing conditions, time spent in nature is seen as an opportunity for leisure. A successful outdoor adventure, by Norwegian standards, is less about the mountains conquered or miles covered, it’s about the experience, the views, and the adventures.
Friluftsliv is also reflected in the Scandinavian travel style. Travellers can choose from a wide variety of soft adventures such as kayaking, hiking, dog-sledding, or snow-shoeing — each aiming to build a connection with nature. Locals and tourists travel to pick up or hone a new skill as they discover the beauty of their surroundings in an active but gentle manner.
Do eco-friendly vacations have to be expensive?
The aim of an eco-friendly vacation is to connect with nature in a mindful and responsible way — the trick is to select places and activities that have a positive impact on their surroundings. This doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in budget, it’s more about finding a host or activity provider who feels passionate about the surrounding nature.
How does travel help us to better understand the environmental issues that need our attention?
The Arctic is facing massive challenges — as its wildlife and landscapes undergo rapid changes, its impact will reach far beyond the Arctic Circle. Travel can help value these landscapes at risk, and help us to understand the complexity behind the changes. Many tour providers in those jeopardised regions share an inspirational passion and respect for the pristine landscapes surrounding them. Their enthusiasm and local knowledge offers unique insights into their everyday life and the future at stake.
While media reports on climate-change tend to take a scientific or social angle, travel often paints a more wholesome, subjective picture. These observations may encourage travellers to make small lifestyle changes, further nurture their connection with nature or raise awareness based on personal experiences.
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Travel Tuesday: Faro and Algarve
In today’s Travel Tuesday destination guide, we take a look at Faro and Algarve in Portugal.
When to go
The Algarve is one of the most beautiful regions in Portugal. Very friendly but also very gay friendly. The best time to go there is between April and November when you can have really nice temperatures. This region is known for its Atlantic beaches and golf resorts. Discover fishing villages on low cliffs overlooking sandy coves, and the central coast between Lagos and Faro is lined with villas, hotels, bars and restaurants.
Faro and its surrounding area offers loads of possibilities to meet people. You have the choice of bars and dance clubs around Faro. After Lisbon and Porto, Faro is without a doubt the new gay destination to discover in Portugal.
- Zablucha, Cupido and Afrodite (sex shops)
- Prestige dance club
- Connection bar
- The loft gay bar
- Heaven club
If you enjoy being naked and enjoy an all-over tan, the following gay nudist beaches are the perfect places to also meet new friends and enjoy yourself!
Clothing-optional beaches around Faro:
- Praia Grande
- Praira do cavalota Preto
- Praia do Submarino
- Manta Rora
Unofficial nudist beaches:
- Praia Da Bordeira
- Praia do Beliche
- Praia Cabana Velhas
- Praia Das Furnas
- Praia Do Zavial
- Praia Dos Pinheiros and Meia Praia in Lagos
- Praia Do Trafal
- Praia Da Futeza
- Praia De Ancao reached by boat from Sitio da Fabrica in Vila Real de Santo
- Antonio just west from Monte Gordo
In terms of accommodation in Faro, I would strongly recommend the Pine Cliff Resort. I had the chance to stay there for a couple of days last year and I really enjoyed it. This amazing resort is very well situated in the Algarve. The resort is what I would call an affordable luxury resort. With your other half or a group of friends, the Pine Cliff offers standard rooms but also townhouses, standard villas, deluxe villas with private pool, suites and penthouses, and golf suites. Your private transfer and breakfast is included and you can also request a private cook. The resort also organises cooking classes. There’s also a private beach, and of course a swimming pool and spa. Experience the Pine Cliff you won’t regret it!
As an alternative, I would also suggest the Thermas Pride Guest House and Spa for men in Albufeira.
Traditional food in Algarve includes:
- Conquilhas a Algarvia (succulent clams fresh from the sea in a garlic sauce.
- Cataplana de Marisco (mixed sea food and vegetables)
- Petiscos de Taberna (Similar to Spanish tapas)
- Feijoada (bean stew with pork and beans)
- Dom Rodrigos (Tarts and pastries very popular in Potugal)
- Leitao (suckling pig smothered in herb and roasted)
- Caldo verde (succulent soup with potatoes, kale, bacon and sausages)
- Queijo (local cheese)
Don’t forget to try the Portuguese wine which is one of the best in the world!
Gay restaurants in Algarve:
- Aperitivo bar (Faro)
- Cocktail and wine bar Columbus (Faro)
What to do
- Bus tours
- Horse riding
- Kite Surf
- Yachts and private boats for parties
- Reef fishing
- Big game fishing
- 2-hour boat ride to see the coastline and caves
- Jeep safaris
- Theme parks
- Cooking classes
- Wine testing
- Yoga classes
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