La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

 

 

 

Windmill on the Malecon

 

La Paz is a popular eco-tourist resort on the east coast of Baja California Sur in Mexico. It is has a semi-arid climate,  300 days of sunshine annually as well as the Sea of Cortez also known as the worlds aquarium.  Main attractions for Eco-Tourism in the area of La Paz include the following;

  • The Malecon, a wide sidewalk on the waterfront, with beaches, sculptures, tourist pier, marinas, hotels, restaurants and unimpeded sunsets.
  • El Coromuel Aquatic Park located just past the Malecon was awarded a Blue Flag, the worlds leading Eco-Label in 2016,
  • The Espiritu Santu island group, a Unesco World Heritage Site,  is about 3 miles off the coast of La Paz that offers world class kayaking, snorkeling, diving, a variety of marine life to view such as  sea lion colonies, in addition to, unique flora and fauna. It is also home to Ensenada Grande considered to be one of most beautiful beaches in the world.
  • La Ventana, another beach close to La Paz on the sea of cortez, offers world class kiteboarding, windsurfing and international tournament events.
  • The Balandra and Tecolote Beaches are about 15 miles from La Paz and are only separated by a protected area consisting of small mountains, sand dunes, mangroves and lagoons. Balandra has clear, calm and shallow water ideal for snorkeling and kayaking. It is also  considered to be the best beach in La Paz.  Next door, Tecolote Beach features camping, restaurants, tiki bar and beach rental gear.

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Palermo Woods, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

 

Palermo is the largest residential area of Buenos Aires and it includes Palermo Woods, an expansive park of 915 acres with a variety of unique attractions that improves the quality of life for both residents and visitors alike. The most popular features of this park as shown in the photo gallery below include 4 lakes, a rose garden, a Japanese garden, several well equipped outdoor exercise stations, as well as paved and unpaved paths for hiking, biking, rollerblading or jogging. If needed there are also bicycles, roller blades, paddle or peddle boats available for rent. In addition, there is a small strip center in the middle of the park that features a Starbucks cafe, McDonalds, fitness clubs and beer garden. Other attractions around the perimeter of Palermo Woods include the city Zoo, a Planetarium, a world famous Polo Field and a horse racing track  called the Hipodromo. Needless to say, Palermo Woods is one of the cities major attractions for both visitors and residents alike.

 

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Pucon, Chile a superb Eco-Resort

 

Lake Villarrica, Pucon

 

Located in the lakes district of southern  Chile, Pucon is one of the most  popular eco-tourist destinations in the country. Outdoor attractions in the area include volcanos, caves, lakes, rivers, national parks, natural hot springs, waterfalls, beaches, stable climate, and pristine natural environment.  A few of the related recreational activities consist of trekking, mountain biking, white water rafting, kayaking, fishing, sailing,  horseback riding, zip line canopy tours, guided accents of the Villiarica Volcano, snow skiing in winter, water skiing in summer and bird watching,. If that’s not enough,  Pucon has arguably  the best small town infrastructure in South America. This means quality accommodations and good restaurants offering a variety of international cuisine. If your the type that would rather prepare your own meals, there are  also 3 large supermarkets in this village of 20,000 people that you normally do not see in cities with less than 500,000. Last but not least, if you prefer greenbacks instead of trees, there is also a casino with 488 gaming machines and 44 table games. All things considered, there are few eco-tourist destinations that have this much variety to offer visitors.

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Bariloche, Argentina

 

Puerto Panuelo, Bariloche
Puerto Panuelo, Bariloche

Bariloche is best known for its Swiss style alpine architecture, chocolates, ski resorts and picturesque natural environment. It lies at an altitude of 893 meters along the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi in the middle of a national park of the same name. This Eco-resort is also surrounded by the Andes Mountain Range and the lake district of Patagonia. So, there are many outdoor recreational activities to enjoy in Bariloche besides skiing such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, beaches, boating cruises, camping, golfing and horseback riding.

When in Bariloche for the first time, it is advisable to take a tour called “Circuito Chico” to get familiar with the natural attractions in the vicinity that can be revisited based on your individual preferences and length of stay. The half day tour is  37 miles with round trip transportation from your hotel. There is also a full day tour which includes the “circuito chico” as well as a boat ride with lunch on board and short hikes to explore some of the areas unique waterfalls. Weather permitting, another option for those who are physically fit  is to rent a bike and take in the most iconic views of this area at your leisure. Which ever option suits you best, the highlights of the circuit include a 1000 meter cable car ride to the top of Mt. Campanerio with spectacular views of  Nahuel Huapi National Park and Lakes, Puerto Panuelo, the famous Llao-Llao Hotel, and the architectural gem, San Eduardo Chapel. The slideshow below includes the landmark town hall of Bariloche, the museum of Patagonia, the Llao, Llao Hotel and landscapes from the Circuito Chico tour.

 

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The 7 Lakes Tour, San Martin de Los Andes, Argentina

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National Park Los Arrayanes, Villa Angostura

San Martin is a small village in northwest Patagonia on the banks of Lake Lacar at an altitude of 640 meters. It is known for its alpine style wooden buildings, proximity to the Chapelco Ski Resort and  Lanin National Park where tourist will find numerous glacier lakes, diverse wildlife and the Lanin Volcano. In addition to skiing during the winter months, there is a wide variety of outdoor activities to keep things interesting all year around such as boat tours, fishing charters, adventure parks, river rafting, biking tours, camping, hiking trails, beaches, and hot springs. It is also home to the South American annual birdwatchers fair attended by nature lovers from all over the world. San Martin is said to be an ideal location for this event because  it is where 3  distinct bio-geographical regions converge each with their own birds.

Perhaps the most popular day tour from San Martin de los Andes is the 7 Lakes trip which is approximately 120 miles round trip. On the first half of the trip to Villa Angostura, the turnaround point, the tour van stops at all seven lakes long enough to make a few photos and briefly explore the beaches and campgrounds. The names of these lakes are Espejo, Lacar, Escondido, Faulkner, Machonico, Villarino, and Correntoso. Once the van reaches Villa Angostura, it stops long enough for tourist to have lunch and shop for souvenir’s if interested. There’s still more sights to see on the way back, however, they include a waterfall, Correntoso River, the Bahia Manzana Resort and the National Park Nahuel Huapi. Travelers can save at least 50 percent by purchasing tour tickets locally rather than booking a tour  online in advance.

 

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Lake Atitlan Nature Reserve and Botanical Gardens, Guatamala

Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan and Volcano Toliman

The Botanical Gardens and Nature Reserve of Lake Atitlan are about a 3 hour drive from the border of Mexico by shuttle bus or only a few hours hours drive from Antigua, Guatemala.  Altogether, there are said to be over 500 species representing some 250 plant families found in the separate and distinct gardens that surround the upscale Hotel Atitlan. The Antique, Modern and David Austin rose gardens, for example, have over 200 varieties of roses on display. In other theme gardens there are over 50 varieties of hibiscus, arbors of vine, 25 or more colors of bougainvilleas and azaleas, along with a variety of orchids to be seen. Other theme gardens include the wedding gardens, the coffee gardens, the helicona gardens, and english style knot gardens.

The Atitlan Nature Reserve is located directly behind Hotel Atitlan and the botanical gardens. It is a must for visitors of Lake Atitlan and a force in the environmental cause: Atitlán Azul.  The reserve’s zip lines, butterfly preserve, trails, hanging bridges and lodgings bring you in close contact with nature. On the zip lines you pass by waterfalls,  oak stands and the steep cliffs that surround the lake. At the Butterfly Geodome you enjoy the colors and forms of hundreds of butterflies surrounded by flowers and humming birds. The small sample of images in the gallery below is representative of what you can expect to see if you have the opportunity to visit the Atitlan nature reserve and botanical gardens

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Banos, Eco-Resort, Ecuador

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Waterfalls and Hot Springs near the center of town

 

Due to its natural beauty, spring like climate year around and many outdoor adventure sports; Banos is one  of Ecuadors most popular tourist attractions. At 5,900 feet in the Andes mountains this small village has international appeal and is surrounded by 60 waterfalls, deep river gorges, steep bluffs, lush green mountains, expansive plateaus, and hot springs heated by the nearby Tungurahua Volcano.The list of outdoor adventure activities includes white water rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping, mountain biking, horseback riding, amazon jungle tours, waterfall tours, zip lines, atv trails, cable car rides, canopy tours, trout fishing, rock climbing, mountain climbing, trekking and most anything else you could  want at an eco-tourist resort.

In addition to these outdoor adventure activities, Banos also has many festivals, special events and parades. So the mood in town is usually festive and upbeat.  There are also quite a few good restaurants with international cuisine from around the world at very reasonable prices. I recall seeing German, Italian, Danish, Chinese, Mexican, Uruguayan, and Japanese restaurants, as well as a variety of pizzeria’s. If restaurants are not what your looking for at the end of the day,  you can also find a bar zone with a variety of nightclubs.

The Maya Riviera, Mexico

Monument Tribute to the Maya Civilization on the Beach in Playa del Carmen
Monument to the Maya Civilization on the Beach in Playa del Carmen, MX

The Maya Riviera extends about 236 miles from Cancun to Chetumal on the Caribbean Ocean. The main attractions for  the eco-tourist are found in the city of Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Akumal where there are natural water theme parks, archeology, cenotes and a variety of coastal and reef aquatic activities.

There are many  attractions in and around Playa del Carmen. Some  of the best beaches in the world can be found in this area along with miles of offshore coral reefs that offer what are just about  the most spectacular snorkeling and scuba diving sites anywhere in the world. If the beach or scuba diving are not your cup of tea, than there are several major natural water theme parks near by such as Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor, as well as the tropical bird sanctuary Xaman-Ha Avairy.  Each offers its own unique blend of outdoor recreational activities. These are just a few of the reasons why Playa del Carmen was selected as  the second best destination resort in Mexico for 2012 by travelers choice.

Akumal, or place of the turtle in Mayan, is a small Americanized beach community located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is not only a nesting ground for sea turtles but home to Centro Ecological de Akumal which is dedicated to sea turtle protection, environmental marine research, education and sustainable tourism development. The bay of Akumal is sheltered from waves so conditions for snorkelers  are arguably the best that can be found within the Maya riviera. Snorkelers can expect to see a variety of colorful tropical fish and coral thanks to the clear and calm waters of this bay. The  Yalku lagoon, found at the north end of the Akumal, is another ideal location for snorkeling. This happens to be  a unique environment where  fresh waters from the yucatan’s underground system merges  with the caribbean sea  to form a lagoon  sheltered from waves.

Tulum is  a  mixture of 3 separate and distinct areas which consist of  the archeological zone, Tulum Playa and Tulum Pueblo. In the past, the main reason to visit Tulum was to see the archeological site but many new additions  to both the beach zone and central zone are now attracting tourist  for a variety of others reasons.  The focus of new developments in the Tulum Playa area is overwhelmingly  on  Eco-tourism and preservation of the natural environment. So, new construction projects are kept to a minimum and must also meet strict standards for sustainable development.

The beach area is the  main attraction for most people and Tulum beach road is where it’s all happening. This is where you  find all the new ecologically designed boutique and spa hotels along with beach clubs, beach parties, stores and a decent selection of  restaurants   and nightlife. This road is the only way into and out of Tulum Playa and it is surrounded by jungle on one side and the caribbean on the other. This is the same road that leads to the Sian Ka’an Reserve  and Punta Allen which is a fishing resort at the tip of the peninsula.

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El Chiflon Waterfalls, Chiapas, Mexico

El Chiflon Waterfalls
El Chiflon Waterfalls

.The El Chiflon waterfalls are located about 45 km. from the city of Comitan in the state of Chiapas and is a community run cooperative of great natural beauty. The falls are surrounded by a reed valley, mountains and tropical jungle with rich and dense flora. There is a chain of 5 five waterfalls in this park ranging from approximately 25 feet to over 250 feet that can be observed by hiking a guided trail about 1 mile long. The first part of the trial is fairly level  and swimming is allowed in areas where the water is still relatively calm and shallow. The second half of the trail becomes very steep and the water alongside very rapid as you approach the 250 ft.bridal veil falls (Velo de Novia). The last 800 meters is the most difficult to climb and takes you to  Quinceanera  falls at the top of the chain but it’s worth the effort if you have the time and energy to go the whole nine yards.

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