Responsible vacations in Natural parks
To a greater or lesser extent, we have all felt this year the need to get out of the city and get closer to nature. It seems that this summer people are choosing to travel, even more, to rural areas and natural parks. So, today we are going to talk about how to enjoy a great responsible vacation in Natural Parks.
Visiting a Natural Park is a perfect option for a family vacation, and even more so after this weird year. Nature, fresh air and away from big crowds. It seems the perfect mix to disconnect from everything we are living. But we cannot forget that the fact that it is still perfect will depend on how responsible we are during the trip.
It seems obvious, but first things first: we must know where we are going. It is not the same to go to a Natural Park near the coast, than to one inland or in the mountains; or to travel to areas with water, or to desert areas; with nearby villages, or to almost isolated places; to sleep in free camping areas, campsites, or in rural houses or nearby hotels. So, first, choose well where you are going to go depending on your tastes and needs. From there, you can prepare suitcases, food, and everything you need to take with you.
Need some advice on what to bring if you go camping with your family? Check out our post on what to bring when you go camping.
When you have decided which Natural Park to travel to, find out which areas can be visited and if there are activities and/or guided tours that you can book. Touring the place with local people is the best way to get to know the area, and at the same time you will be contributing to the local economy.
As for the particularities of traveling to Natural Parks, there are certain basic rules common to all, such as not making fires or not leaving garbage in the area. Others, perhaps less obvious, but just as important, such as walking only on marked trails, not disturbing (or feeding) wild animals that we may encounter, not plucking flowers or plants… All with the aim of not getting lost, which could mean having to resort to rescue teams, and reducing our impact on the environment as much as possible, trying not to disturb wildlife.
In addition, it is advisable to consult the specific rules of each place: is it allowed to fish or bathe in the water areas?; are there areas for barbecues?; can we go around the park, or part of it, by bike?; can we go climbing? Etc., etc. There is a lot of information on the Internet about the different Natural Parks and the peculiarities of each one, but if you prefer to make sure personally, you can call the town hall of the municipality to which it belongs, or the Interpretation Center of the park in question. They will give you updated information and will be able to make specific recommendations according to what you plan to do and the time of year you plan to go.
And remember the ecotourism maxim: leave the place better than you found it.
For example, you can always take a bag and gloves on your excursions and pick up any trash you find along the way. It doesn’t cost much, and it has a very positive effect! First, because it is the most obvious way to leave the place cleaner. Second, because with this simple action we become more aware of the garbage we generate and it helps us to reduce our waste or, at least, to make our environment less dirty.
Get information and research about the flora and fauna of the area. The experience is totally different when you know what native animals and plants you can find in each place, and you propose to look for them and learn about their habitat and how to preserve it. In addition, trying to discover which birds sing, counting how many types of beetles you can find, or guessing the names of the aromatic plants and flowers you see, can be a very entertaining activity for the kids. Enjoying a hiking route looking and admiring what surrounds us is the best gift we can give ourselves on this type of trips.
Another way to contribute positively is to consume local products and services. As far as possible, make a stop to eat in bars or restaurants in the area where you are staying, or in the nearest town. Visit museums, if there are any, and hire activities and routes with local guides. How about a souvenir? Get some traditional handicrafts from the area, better if they are also useful, try a typical dessert… you can also take them as a gift, and there is no better souvenir than having contributed positively to the local economy.
Reducing our impact to the maximum also means not modifying, whenever possible, the environment. For example, the trens of piling up stones at certain points along the route may seem harmless and even pretty, but if you find out more, you will see that it has a very negative effect on the ecosystem of the place. The same happens with marking places or “signing” them, leaving pieces of cloth or padlocks to indicate that “you have been there”, etc.
Enjoy responsible vacations in Natural Parks. Because nature gives us a lot; let’s return the favor!