Ecotourism – Sometimes Its Not Just Buzz Word

Its often hard to take the term ecotourism seriously. It started out as a well-meaning way of distinguishing traditional tourism, with the associated impacts on the environment, from tour companies that actually care about the resources they utilize. More often then not, however, its just a way of green-washing a tour company that hasn’t changed its ways and continues to exploit the environment.

Sometimes, though, the company really and truly does work to conserve their slice of nature so it will be there for others to see in the future. And sometimes they go even further and try to reverse some of the damage it has already experienced.

Ventanilla Asomate A La Aventura is one company that strives to give ecotourism a good name. The office and ticket counter is located in the small town of La Ventanilla, just a short collectivo ride from the beach haven of Mazunte. This company provides tours of the brackish local lagoon, home to crocodiles, turtles, iguanas, and a variety of bird species. The tour also includes a walk through the small island ecological preserve and rescue facility the company has created.

There are just a few of the projects supported by tourist dollars:

  1. Patrolling the beach for new turtle nests and collecting the eggs. The eggs are provided a safe environment in which to grow. When they have hatched, tourists are given the opportunity to release these turtles into the ocean. The protection of turtles from both natural predators and humans has significantly increased the survival rate of baby turtles, resulting in a much higher turtle population in the local waters.
  2. Housing and treating injured animals such as birds, crocodiles, and other local fauna.
  3. Providing a home to confiscated exotic animals.
  4. Breading and caring for baby crocodiles to release back into the swamp.
  5. Replanting mangroves damaged by storms.

Of course however, there is always a catch. Seeing the success of Ventanilla Asomate A La Aventura, another company has started up just down the road. This alternative organization doesn’t contribute to any of the above projects, doesn’t have access to the island preserve, and yet actually charges more money for their tour.

If you find yourself in Mazunte, Zipolite, or another nearby beach town, do yourself and the turtles a favour and head for the lagoon!

I should note, this isn’t a paid post, I just think what the company is doing is that awesome!