This forest hideaway is a real eco paradise for campers in the mountains of Italy…
750m up and nestled high amongst the trees of Italy’s Parco della Fessa natural forest, the Forest Camp campsite is ready to share its love of eco-responsible culture through outdoor activities and experiences.
Everything on the farm-based site is geared towards living a more sustainable lifestyle with campers offered the chance to take part in some great workshops and excursions such as hiking, mountain biking and donkey trekking (no motorised transport here!). A nearby lake also offers the chance to hire kayaks or pedaloes.
This small, friendly and peaceful campsite has room for regular tents, caravans and campervans, and also offers the chance to stay in a Native American-style tipi. The tipis are equipped with beds and bedding, plus basic gas and electricity supplies, and the use of a shower.
With a farmers’ market nearby and barbecues allowed on site, there’s no excuse not to prepare at least one meal of locally-sourced food to enjoy al fresco!
The surrounding area
This beautiful protected area is ideally located for exploring Monti Sibillini, Ascoli Piceno, Macerata, and many medieval villages. The campsite is around 40 minutes from the sea.
Recommended for… Those who love a bit of wild camping (but with some basic amenities thrown in!)
Be aware that… The site is small and peaceful and not for those who want lots of bars, shops and restuarants on their doorstep
Emphasis on eco-friendly and sustainable living
Eco-friendly workshops and activities offered
Located in a protected natural area, home to a wealth of wildlife
There’s more to Austria than skiing in the Alps. During spring and summer, the fresh air and natural open spaces make this country a great destination for nature lovers and fans of the great outdoors. It’s also a country that is well-ahead of the curve in terms of offering sustainable, eco-friendly options for tourists. Here are Goodtrippers’ tips on enjoying Austria the natural way this summer…
Go hiking – Think of Austria and thoughts of mountainous Alpine landscapes are never far away. But there’s more to enjoy than your own ‘Sound of Music’ moment (can you resist running up that grassy hillside?) – there are dozens of mountain trails to suit novices and experienced hikers. Visit the region of Bartholomäberg for beautiful flora and fauna, and stunning panoramic views.
Get on your bike – Austria is well-equipped for those on two wheels with a huge choice of clearly-marked routes for easy cycle rides to more challenging mountain bike outings. Many hotels and lodges welcome cyclists and even offer cycle sheds or full service repairs if you come unstuck. And if you’re not so confident in your fitness levels, try an E-Bike – available for hire across Austria these modified battery-powered bikes make light work of uphill rides!
Visit the National Parks – This is where you can really breathe in that unpolluted, fresh Austrian air! Kalkalpern National Park is home to Austria’s largest uninterrupted forest and is home to canyons, waterfalls and lakes. Hohe Tauern National Park contains over 100 peaks of over 3,000m high where you can hike and go gold panning. Gesäuse National Park is the natural habitat of 90 species of breeding birds, marmots, chamois and deer plus around 50 different types of wild orchid. National Park Thayatal offers meadows, cliffs and wooded hillsides that are home to rare animal and plant species including the eagle owl, black stork and coloured iris.
Explore the Danube – One of the world’s most famous rivers winds through Austria and is the scene of many relaxing day trips whether by boat, by bike or on foot. The history of central Europe was born on the banks of the Danube and so you’ll find a fascinating mix of monasteries, castles and palaces in the area. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wachau beside the Danube is a beautiful, pastoral site dotted with medieval villages. A cycling holiday along the Danube Cycle Path in upper Austria will take you from Linz to capital city Vienna.
If that has inspired you, take a look at some of the stunning scenery and outdoor pursuits to enjoy in Austria in this video…
(This post is sponsored by Hotel Phoenicia) Guest blogger Nikki Schinas reviews a luxurious eco-friendly stay at Malta’s oldest 5-star hotel.
Amidst the stress of work and winter routine, one could always do with a short relaxing break and escape to a warmer climate. I recently did so and treated myself to a luxurious stay at the 5 Star Hotel Phoenicia in Malta.
Hotel Phoenicia, the island’s oldest luxury five star hotel is situated at the entrance of a unique UNESCO World Heritage site, Malta’s capital city, Valletta. This 450 year old city is teaming with culture and has a colourful and exciting history to tell. With grand fortifications, baroque architecture, old theatres and magnificent churches, I was never at a loss for what to do.
The hotel proudly welcomes you on entrance to the city and invites you to a comfortable and eco-friendly stay.
The Hotel Phoenicia boasts 128 guest rooms and 8 suites.Each room was designed with a touch of class, contemporary elegance and a sense of history to compliment the magnificent art déco of the building. My room overlooked the breathtaking views of the Grand Harbour which was a wonderful treat to wake up to each morning.
The hotel has incorporated a sophisticated IT system to analyse room temperatures and electricity usage to decrease energy waste.
Not just a magnificent building, Hotel Phoenicia has a large kitchen garden which provides fresh produce for the hotel’s restaurants. Award-winning chefs use the fresh food from the garden to create a range of delicious Mediterranean dishes. Food and beverages are carefully chosen to make certain that the majority of the food served is 100% organic.
After waking up to the beautiful view of the Grand Harbour, I’d head down to the Phoenix restaurant for a scrumptious local breakfast. Phoenicia has some beautiful facilities to explore.
A stroll through the 7.5 acre garden, which boasts colour and variety, will lead you to the stunning bastion swimming pool overlooking Valletta’s impressive fortifications. This is the place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city on a sunny day. Treat yourself to a light lunch by the pool and if you’re feeling indulgent try the range of cocktails by the pool bar.
Although tempted to spend my days relaxing by the Bastion swimming pool, I ambled along the streets of the capital to get a taste of the Maltese culture. Experiencing the laid back hustle and bustle of life in Valletta gave me a perfect insight into the charming Mediterranean lifestyle and visiting the many museums and churches offered me a healthy dose of culture and history.
Recommended for… Those looking for a luxury, cultural and a relaxing eco-friendly escape
Be aware that… During the Summer months, temperatures have known to rise to 39 degrees, so it’s important to be prepared for the heat.
The hotel is one of the first 5 star hotels in Malta to be awarded the MTA’s international ECO- certificate
The hotel plants its own trees to improve air quality
Staff training in eco-housekeeping methods means the hotel saves 150 gallons of water per year
Sophisticated IT systems were installed to read energy use and location to decrease energy waste
LED lighting was installed everywhere and plugged to intelligent systems to deploy Room Energy Management System
This post is sponsored by Hotel Phoenicia. Goodtrippers retains editorial control over all content and only selects sponsored posts that fit the Goodtrippers ethos.
(This post is sponsored by Air Malta) The Maltese island of Gozo has more than enough for those looking for an eco-friendly holiday…
Gozo, just under 70 square kilometers in size, is part of the Maltese archipelago consisting of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Located in the centre of the Mediterranean, Gozo has embarked on an ambitious yet achievable vision to transform into an eco‐island by 2020.
Supported by a keen and committed sustainable community the quality of life in Gozo is constantly improving through education, economic development and social progress. The Gozitan lifestyle, the island’s environment, resources, culture and identity are all being protected, and all play a significant part in attracting more visitors and investors to the island. Here are some eco-friendly ways to holiday on Gozo…
Residing in a farmhouse
Gozo is famous for its beautiful farmhouses available for rent all year round. Typically these farmhouses are surrounded with spectacular countryside and sea views, and all equipped to the highest of standards. A majority of these farmhouses keep their carbon footprint down to a minimum. Gozo is fortunate to be a sun soaked island almost all year round and many of the farmhouses available for rent make use of photovoltaic systems and solar water heaters. Using solar energy goes hand in hand with the vision of transforming Gozo into an eco-island
A tranquil lifestyle
You may easily encounter farmers working their land, and get to meet the authentic cottage‐type entrepreneurs managing their shops on the main street or tucked away in the Lilliputian villages. Life on Gozo is tranquil and soft‐paced. The capital, Victoria, is slightly more upbeat with the amenities of a modern town centre.
Gozo, (and Malta) is known for its fresh produce, either caught from the surrounding sea or grown on land. Dolphin fish (known as ‘lampuki’ to the locals), tuna, octopus, prawns, mussels, grouper and sea dates are always available as is fresh Maltese bread, known as Ħobż biż-żejt. The bread is baked in a traditional way spanning back hundreds of years. It is then rubbed with local tomatoes while olive oil is spread onto it with the addition or mix of tuna, olives, onion and cheeselet known as ‘gbejna’.The latter is a traditional small Maltese cheese made from goat’s and sheep’s milk, either served plain or coated in cracked black pepper. The very best ‘gbejna’ can be found in Gozo.
Landscape and activities
Gozo is quite rural and known for its scenic hills, which are also featured on its coats of arms. The landscape offers unique opportunities to experience a day out cycling with a difference. The landscape changes with every twist and turn, cycling through the gentle undulating slopes, often with country and sea views on either side. Cycling in the Maltese Islands as a leisurely or sporty activity is on the increase for people of all ages and shops catering for the needs of the cyclist can be found in most main towns, offering rentals and repair services, as well as organised tours for groups.
Gozo has some really excellent walking areas which present varying levels of difficulty. The best months for walking are April, May, early June, then later on in the year in October and November, weather permitting of course! You can obviously go in the hot summer months as well but do ensure you seek shade frequently and always carry enough drinking water (it’s best to head out early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the scorching midday sun).
Rock climbing on Gozo was first developed by The English Army with a number of climbers developing a small guidebook with traditional routes in the 1970’s. Since then it has been forgotten as a climbing destination. Gozo is an undiscovered heaven for rock climbers. The limestone rock, washed out by millennia of rainfall, has steep walls and overhangs which provide excellent routes and invite climbers to go to their limits. Gozo is gaining in popularity amongst the climbing fraternity. It offers enough variety and challenges to fascinate even the most experienced climber.
If climbing, cycling or hiking is not for you then Gozo has several very nice beaches that are useful for recreation and they are all remarkably unique. Besides the physical differences in the beaches themselves, accessibility and services are also factors.
Gozo’s relative isolation means that the beaches don’t get as overcrowded as most of the better beaches on the larger island of Malta, but during the hot summer days many are full of tourists and locals. Ramla and Marsalforn are two of the most popular beaches on the island, mainly because of their location and close by facilities.
Other beaches are equally unique and beautiful, but may see fewer visitors due to their remote locations. Ghajn Barrani, for example, which is on the road that runs from Xaghra to Marsalforn, is a beautiful and quiet beach, but not very accessible.
Getting to Gozo is fairly simple as it is only a short 15 minute ferry ride away from Malta, the main island. Located in the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta is just a few hours’ flying time from Europe’s main cities and Air Malta, the airline of the Maltese Islands, operates flights to and from all the major airports in Europe.
This post is sponsored by Air Malta. Goodtrippers retains editorial control over all content and only selects sponsored posts that fit the Goodtrippers ethos.
Guest blogger Andrew Lisa takes to the slopes at this Swiss eco resort
Switzerland’s Whitepod resort is not only located in a pristine, pollution-free section of the Alps, but it works hard to keep it that way. Combining the charm of a childhood camping trip with the amenities of a luxury hotel, Whitepod’s eco-friendly strategy boasts a surprisingly low environmental impact. Their ecological policy is the blueprint for their goal of being a model to sustainable tourism.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to explore the Alps without ruining them.
Switzerland is a beautiful, majestic destination — especially the mountain region. Whitepod offers a glimpse of life camping in the mountain wilderness without actually having to camp in the mountain wilderness. A slew of impressive amenities provide creature comforts to a resort that blends into — and protects — the surrounding environment.
Available in both summer and winter, each guest or group of guests reserves a pod, which is a globe-shaped structure that looks like a giant golfball anchored to a wooden platform. They are decorated and stocked with local art and furniture, and offer astounding views of the Alps. They feature fully-fitted bathrooms, wood-burning stoves, and a king-size bed in all variations, from single size to family unit.
No need to bring tinned goods like you would on an ordinary camping trip: all meals are provided on site. Cuisine described as “traditional yet refined” can be found at the Les Cerniers restaurant, which offers spit-roasted barbecue, daily specials, and authentic mountain fare.
You’ll run out of holiday before you run out of things to do at Whitepod. Many of my favourite activities, both indoor and outdoor, are included with the cost of your pod. You can also take a wellness or survival course, enjoy the Japanese bath and sauna, or explore the Alps with a day of hiking or mountain biking.
Recommended for… The environmentally conscious; nearly every aspect of Whitepod is geared toward sustainable tourism. And for those that love the snow-capped mountains.
Beware that…Due to their environmental policies, there are no motorized vehicles to carry your luggage, which means you’ll have to lug it up to your pod yourself. Also, there is no wi-fi in your individual pod.
Conservation of energy and resources – pods are heated by wooden stoves and lit by oil lamps; water usage is limited
Local, sustainable materials and fuels are used where possible
Bedding is organic
Pods are designed to blend into the natural surroundings
Whitepod works to educate guests on responsible environmental practices
For more information including prices and booking at Whitepod, Les Giettes, Switzerland, visit www.whitepod.com
About the author: Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about European travel and profiles business leaders such as Steve Wynn.
La Francesca is situated in the La Spezia area of Italy and is the natural doorway to the Cinque Terre National Park. Perched on the Ligurian Eastern Rivervia in Italy, near Bonassola and Levanto, the owners of this 50-year old resort are making the most of the beautiful natural surroundings. Visitors are lured with the promise of wild, rugged coastlines, beaches, woodland, medieval villages, olive groves, farms and an abundance of flowers in the Spring/Summer months. The resort clings to the steep coastline and leads down to a bay – the surrounding marine area is protected (whales and dolphins often pass by).
Accommodation: La Francesca consists of 55 villas and apartments – which all face the sea – dotted around 15 hectares of protected area rich in pine trees and Mediterranean plants. Choose from one bedroom apartments or family cottages – all have bedrooms, living areas and basic kitchenettes.
Food: The on-site restaurant offers magnificent sea views from the terrace, plus a menu based on Mediterranean and Ligurian traditions and food and wines from the region. There’s also a bar on site.
Activities: The resort itself has all the usual sports facilities (swimming pool, tennis courts, bowling, table tennis etc) but surely most enjoyment comes from exploring the surrounding area with a number of treks (easy and slightly harder) available straight from La Francesca. There are plenty of outdoor activites for nature lovers and adventure seekers available through the nearby National Parks including cave and wreck diving; snorkeling; surfing; horse-riding; cycling; hiking; plus tightropes and zipwires at ‘Tree Adventures’ (Parco Avventura Val di Vara). As a family-friendly resort, a 10,000 sqm play area is a dream for children. There is also a small mini-market on site.
The National Parks: Alongside Cinque Terre you will also find –
Regional Natural Park of Portovenere, which besides Portus Veneris, the ancient port of Roman triremes, includes the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. The park still keeps traces of the prehistoric people who inhabited the Grotta dei Colombi.
Regional Natural Park of Montemarcello-Magra, an area of 4,320 hectares. Not only a set of wonderful landscapes, but also home to organisations such as the Centro Regionale Fauna Minore and the Orto Botanico of Montemarcello.
Regional Natural Park of Portofino, situated on Portofino headland, 1,800 hectares and 13 kms of coasts. The headland summit is accessibile only through the paths network.
Recommended for… Those who love nature and outdoor activities. Also very family-friendly.
Be aware that… This is not a self-catering holiday to escape from it all: the basic kitchen facilities mean you will have to eat in the (albeit lovely) resort restaurant or drive further afield.
La Francesca has installed solar panels and uses solar-generated power whenver possible
Management of the site is respectful of the natural surroundings and encourages guests to consume less power
Situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, and next to several protected areas and National Parks
The owners promote traditional Ligurian culture, food and history (through cookery courses, wine tasting and more)
Volunteering NGO Frontier has added a new conservation project to its volunteering trip roster. The Greece Sea Turtle Conservation project gives volunteers hands-on opportunities to help monitor and relocate endangered loggerhead turtle hachlings.
Frontier works with a local Greek partner organisation that has been conducting vital research in the Kalamata area of Greece since 1983. The Peloponnese coastline here is an important breeding area for the loggerhead sea turtle in the Mediterranean and the projects aims to protect them through monitoring and research, developing and implementing management plans, habitat restoration, raising public awareness and rehabilitating sick and injured turtles. Protecting loggerhead sea turtle nests against predation by mammals, and inundation by incoming tides ensures that as many hatchlings as possible are added to the global population each year. Alongside this, public awareness activities and environmental education days help educate the local people to adopt friendlier attitudes towards the natural environment and gain a deeper understanding into the importance of conserving loggerhead turtles.
Activity: Work will vary depending on the current needs of the project but you could expect to be involved in turtle egg collection, nest excavation, scientific monitoring and tagging of hatchlings and turtles, and educating visitors about the project. You could also get the opportunity to learn about marine flora. During the first two weeks volunteers prepare for the oncoming nesting season and carry out beach clean ups. During peak nesting season (mid May-mid August) tasks may include morning surveys to look for adult turtle tracks and locate nests, ‘caging’ or relocating threatened nests and night surveys to observe and tag nesting females. During hatching season (mid July- late October) volunteers look for baby turtle tracks, monitor hatching nests and tag adult female turtles during nesting.
When not at work, everyone has a chance to relax on the beach, or explore the surrounding area to get a flavour of Greek culture.
Accommodation: All volunteers stay in beautifully scenic surroundings on a campsite right on the beach. You need to bring your own tent, camping equipment, bedding etc, but cooking facilities, showers and toilets are provided – the campsite also has a small restaurant, telephone and internet facilities. There’s a strong communal atmosphere with everyone pitching in with cooking and cleaning.
Recommended for… People who love wildlife (and the sea) and want to help protect an endangered species
Be aware that… Life on the project is communal (except for your own private tent) with a shared food kitty, cooking and cleaning duties. It may not suit you if you’d rather spend time on your own or in very small groups.
Helping to protect an endangered species
Aiding an established conservation organisation that has been operating in the area since 1983