By Libby Lowe
Oh, the girls trip. If you and your friends are thinking about skipping town, avoid the all-inclusive resort trips, pretend Vegas doesn't exist and steer clear of cruises. Instead, set off on a true adventure at one of these eco-friendly destinations. Because girl getaways on cruises are so 1988.
SeaHorse Eco Safaris
(Above) Attention equestrians: South Africa is calling. SeaHorse Eco Safaris offers adventurous, educational horseback experiences in Vleesbaai, a breathtakingly lovely coastal town. Spend three, five or seven days on a riding/yoga adventure. A lifelong horse lover, the owner and guide, Cornelia, focuses on providing the best experience for both riders and animals. On horseback, you'll explore Renosterveld landscapes, the coast and the dunes learning ecological facts along the way. Keep an eye out for whales, dolphins, tortoises, porcupines and more. What to know: Groups are limited to four, $98 - $120(varies based on season) per person, per night. Includes beach house accommodations, riding, yoga and food.
The name alone makes me want to book a trip to Bison Quest in Townsend, Montana. The ranch and camp are primarily wind and solar-powered, the veggies are organic and while the main dish for many will actually be bison, vegetarian meals are available. Learn from wildlife biologists, participate in wildlife studies, interact with the herd, visit Yellowstone, hike, canoe, go white water rafting and more. And, never fear, you and your pals can get your spa fix with botanical facials and a visit to a traditional Native American sweat lodge. Check out the Modern Homesteading Package if you'd like to learn to garden, add solar panels to your home, keep chickens and more. What to know: All-inclusive, most three-night trips are about $2,000/person, but packages vary. A percentage of your deposit will be donated to students at Fort Belknap Community College on the Fort Belknap Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Reservation.
Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge
Nothing says girls' getaway like a yoga retreat. Grab your mat and head to Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge, Costa Rica. Wake up to a healthy breakfast then head outside for a 90-minute yoga class. Spend your afternoons hiking, surfing, kayaking or touring the gardens to learn about tropical fruits, spices and herb. Wind down with a restorative evening class. Ojo del Mar is situated between beaches and the tropical rainforest on the Osa Peninsula, home to more than 350 species of birds, 115 species of reptiles, 750 species of trees and 10,000 species of insects. Be sure to take time out to explore the 100,000 acre Corcovado National Park. What to know: Shared accommodations, $1250-$1400 buys you six nights, three meals a day, two cooking classes, two yoga classes a day and taxi transfers. No TVs, phones or air-conditioning.
Tundra Buggy Adventure
Party with polar bears on a Tundra Buggy Adventure in Churchill, Manitoba. Adventurous groups can book a stay at the mobile Tundra Buggy Lodge while those who like their travel a little less rustic should check out the Churchill Town and Tundra Experience - home base will be a hotel in town and you'll head out in buggies to bear-spot. The organization is committed to preserving the environment and well-connected to local conservation groups. All of the trails you'll travel were naturally-formed. Parent company Frontiers North also supports and contributes to researching ecosystems to ensure its tours don't negatively impact the environment or the animals. What to know: These trips are pricey-about $5,000 CAD - and you'll want to pack warm clothes.
Mountain Lake Conservancy and Hotel
If you're like me, Dirty Dancing was your first lesson in sexy (hello, Solomon Burke!), your first introduction to abortion and the first time you realized traveling without parents would be awesome. In Pembroke, Virginia, you and your friends can experience a Dirty Dancing weekend at the eco-friendly Mountain Lake Conservancy and Hotel where the movie was filmed. Join Conservancy naturalists to learn about the cycles and history of the lake, flora and fauna and Appalachian culture. Hike to breathtaking views of Bald Knob, Bear Cliffs, and the Old Golf Course. Make all the "Nobody puts Baby in the corner" jokes you want, you're in a safe place.
What to know: Fly into Roanoke; rooms start at $230/night. Get ready for your trip with these eco-friendly travel tips and 10 songs to inspire travel.
ALSO CHECK OUT:
10 Tips for More Sustainable Travel
10 of the Best Travel and Tourism Sites
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Photos: SeaHorse Safaris, Bison Quest, Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge, Tundra Buggy Adventures, Mountain Lake Hotel
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