Responsible Tourism & Eco-Friendly Travel | EF Ultimate Break
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Travel gives us so much—new experiences, fresh perspectives, and a deep admiration for people who can pronounce words like “fyrirgefðu” (that’s “excuse me” in Icelandic). As travelers, we all have the responsibility to protect the environment, respect wildlife, and support the communities we visit around the world.

It’s simple. Planet Earth is our home (also a fantastic docuseries). When we travel, we leave footprints wherever we go. And it’s up to all of us to be mindful and respect the environment.

What we’re doing

We work with local suppliers to design eco-friendly activities that minimize our footprint. Whether it’s planting trees outside the Santa Elena Cloud Forest in Costa Rica or snorkeling (with reef-safe sunscreen) off the coast of Baru Island in Colombia, we are constantly evaluating and improving our experiences to lessen our impact on the environments we visit.

Help us plant

20,000 trees

We're partnering with One Tree Planted to support their mission of global reforestation.

How you can help

Start fundraising today. University students across the country can raise money for a chance to win an EF Ultimate Break trip to Costa Rica.

Make a donation. Every dollar plants a tree. Donate to a tree planting project that inspires you.

Our favorite eco-friendly activities

  • Visit Tikal National Park, an ancient Mayan city in present-day Guatemala, and walk among the remains of temples, palaces, and pyramids with a local guide.
  • Plant some trees outside the Santa Elena Cloud Forest in Costa Rica.
  • Snorkel around Cayo Arena mangrove, an ecoregion in the Dominican Republic that feels like paradise on Earth.
  • Stare in wonder at the sheer power of water at Pailon del Diablo, or “Devil's cauldron,” a waterfall in the Ecuadorean Andes.
  • Check out the giant wild tortoises on Santa Cruz Island in the Galápagos, and then cool off with a swim in the crystal-clear waters of Las Grietas.
  • Go sky high as you explore Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel situated 8,000 feet up in the Andes mountains of Peru.
  • Hike through Colombia’s Chicaque Natural Park, and keep an eye out for sloths, birds, and butterflies.
  • Slow down with a lazy river float through a series of sacred Mayan caves on the southern coast of Belize.

What you can do

7 eco-friendly travel tips, brought to you by our travelers

Eco-friendly adventures

Encountering animals in the wild is one of those classic “omg, is this really happening?” moments we all hope for when we travel. But there is a right way to enjoy the experience (selfies are totally cool—as long as they’re in the wild and you keep your distance), and then there’s a wrong way.

What we’re doing

EF is proud to work with the non-profit organization, World Animal Protection, to implement animal welfare guidelines throughout all our travel programs worldwide—because truly experiencing a destination should not mean harming the animals that call it home.

We rely on guidance from World Animal Protection and align with the 5 Freedoms of Animal Welfare

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury, or disease
  • Freedom from fear and distress
  • Freedom to express normal behavior

All five must be met in order for an activity to meet our standards at EF.

What you can do

6 tips for taking the perfect animal selfie

Take a trip on the wild side

Before we can truly enjoy new cultures, we must seek to understand them. And no, that doesn’t mean reading a Wikipedia page or watching some vlogger on YouTube and calling it a day. It means taking time to learn the customs, norms, and traditions of the communities we visit. A thoughtful traveler is a genuinely curious traveler.

What we’re doing

We actively engage with the communities we visit—we treat locals with respect and listen to their needs. Our Tour Directors educate travelers about each destination, recommend local businesses to support, and point out the local restaurants or food stands that can’t be missed.

Activities that support communities we visit

  • See how coffee is planted, harvested, and roasted at a coffee plantation in Costa Rica.
  • Join a local guide on a street art tour of the Candalaria neighborhood in Bogota, Colombia.
  • Eat and dance to your heart’s content at a traditional Caribbean dinner and dance lesson in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic.
  • Grab a late dinner and sample some local ouzo at a taverna in Athens.

What you can do

5 ways to put communities first while traveling

Engage with locals on these trips